‘Melling through the Ages’ book review

I was delighted to see that Melling resident Carol Fitzgerald has written a comprehensive book on the history of Melling so purchased a copy direct from her. I was not to be disappointed, this book is an excellent read.

My connections with Melling are that I have lived in neighbouring Maghull and now Lydiate for 52 years, I represented Melling Civil Parish as a Sefton Borough Councillor from 1999 to 2011, my Dad was once given a cabbage (I kid you not) for playing the organ at the church of St. Thomas’ on Melling Rock by local farmer Mrs Roby and I regularly cycle the country lanes through the rural parts of it.

My first thoughts on starting to read the book were – it does not have an ISBN number or a date of publication. I’d not seen that before with such a significant publication but then it dawned on me that it’s a self-publication*. I think it was published in 2020 but stand to be corrected.

What I like about reading through a local history book is that you get to know the meaning of words you know well but have never actually known the meaning of. A case in point is ‘Cunscough’ as in Cunscough Lane, Melling. I now know it comes from Old Norse and means ‘Kings Wood’. And what about the ‘Woodend’ area of Maghull? Well it seems that it was quite literally the end of a forest that stretched from Waddicar to Wood End Maghull as detailed in the Doomsday Book.

Considering the modern-day flooding issues which the East Parishes area of Sefton Borough suffers from the historic references to the draining of the waters of Hengarther Lake and the ditches dug to drain the area into what was then the tidal River Alt (at the direction of the monks of Cockersands) some 800 years ago are interesting. Clearly, the rich arable farmland for which our parts of both Sefton and West Lancashire are famous hark back to such works but it also shows how such interventions (and the more modern works) have not really solved the flooding which was once a natural occurrence.

Melling Rock is the highest natural point in Sefton Borough and that fits uncomfortably well with the previous references to flooding.

There’s an interesting reference to the Tatlock Charity dating back many years to a John Tatlock born in 1653 and which still pays out today. Then there’s the Formby charitable work associated with the Industrial Revolution and the destitution it caused in Melling leading to Poor Relief administered by the Church. The Rev. Miles Formby being the Vicar 1829-1849.

Melling Tithebarn known these days for being a social, artistic and meeting venue was originally built to house the ‘tithe’ which was due to the Rector of Halsall who also collected such tithes from Lydiate, Halsall, Downholland etc.

There’s quite a bit about the development of farming across Melling and a connected modern day project to find evidence for occupation of a possible medieval moated site on the land around Wood Hall Farm which dates from around 1642. I recall having the opportunity to visit that farm, run by Christine and Henry Glover, during my time as a Sefton Cllr for Melling. Great buildings and lovely folk I might add.

I could go on but I hope you get my drift; this is a very significant piece of historical work which covers all aspects of Melling over hundreds of years. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in this historic community.

If you want to obtain a copy (£10) you can e-mail Carol Fitxgerald – cf83230@gmail.com

*Note: This is a self-published book which is printed in batches of 20’s or more, so Carol asks people to pre pay.

Melling – St. Thomas’ Church Lych Gate

Melling folk will know that this lovely lych gate to St. Thomas & The Holy Rood Church on Melling Rock was attacked and burned by vandals last year. I watched the craftsmen repairing it last June:-

I also blogged about lych gates and their history a while back (Jan’ 2017) and here’s link back to that posting should you want to know more about them:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/01/17/sefton-church-brooms-cross-and-lich-lych-or-lyke-gates/

Looking at the new oak wood repairs a few days ago brought home to me the craftsmanship of the past which is still alive today.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Melling – Have you visited The Delph a local wild flower meadow?

Up on Melling Rock at the side of the Bootle Arms Pub is small meadow and wild flower field called the The Delph that is looked after by Melling Parish Council. When the wild flowers are out it looks delightful.

The site has been a sandstone quarry, riffle range and landfill site in the past.

Some years ago when I was leader of Sefton Council I was given a pamphlet-type book written by Irene Birch about her mother Bertha (Mattocks) Birch called A Melling Lassie “Pottery Days” Melling’s Scottish Heritage. In it on the title page is an photo of ‘The Old Melling Delph’ – a different old black and white photo from the one on the entrance board to The Delph above.

Of course that very same area of what is known as Melling Rock was also once known for Melling Pottery – there was even a Melling Pottery Band.

Anyway enough of my rambles why not take a short ramble yourself through The Delph when the wild flower meadow is in bloom next summer, you won’t be disappointed I hope.