‘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.

Maghull – Merrick Stott – A life well lived

Long time Maghull resident and former Maghull Town Mayor, Councillor Merrick Stott has sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 93.

Merrick had lived on Melling Lane in Maghull for as long as I had known him, he was a regular attender at St. George’s RC Church and had been a bank manager prior to his retirement I understand.

He was always smartly dressed and rarely seen without his suit on, you might call him an old fashioned gentleman.

He was elected to serve on Maghull Town Council in May 1987, was Town Mayor in 1990/91 and was Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee. It fell to Merrick to uncover a loss of money within the Council which ended up with the Police being involved back in the late 1980’s, but as a former bank manager it was no surprise that he picked up on the matter.

Whilst Merrick could look rather formal he actually had a rather good sense of humour and two incidents come to mind that make me smile when I recall them. On one occasion he was canvassing for the Lib Dems somewhere in Maghull and a door opened to reveal a young lady with a little towel covering her up and nothing else! Always the gentleman Merrick did not flinch and carried on with his doorstep conversation as though nothing had happened. On another occasion there was a slight misunderstanding between Merrick and I. I thought he had told me he was a naturist when in fact he had told me he was a naturalist. Well having commented on Merrick of all people being a naturist the misunderstanding got back to him. Fortunately he thought the misunderstanding was hilarious.

Merrick spent some time on the Management Committee of the former Stafford Moreton Youth Club and he was also involved in the running of Melling Tithe Barn. And with his environmental interests taking the lead he worked up the project to replant many trees within Balls Wood during the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. Those trees are now fully established and a tribute to Merrick.

A nice and decent man was Merrick Stott and my best wishes to his family at this difficult time.

And here are some additional comments from George Barnes paying a lovely tribute to Merrick:-

Thank you Tony, for the fitting and lovely personal tribute to the Late Merrick Stott, an ‘unsung hero’ of local & civic service. Merrick had many interests and supported many good causes; he was ever ready to give his time and professionalism for the benefit of others. Always self-effacing, he had an acute mind in matters financial as Tony points out. Very well-read – nothing ‘light’, and well-informed. Back in the day, he was involved in Scouting within St.George’s parish. He co-founded the Stroke Club which met at Christopher Taylor House, was for many years a Foundation Governor of St.George’s Primary School and very much involved with the Late John Hoople in the Melling Arts Association. He was a keen gardener, kept bees at one time, very interested in Environmental matters. We cannot mention Merrick without Marie to whom he was married for over 50 years; and well-known in Maghull in her own right. They were rightly proud of their three sons and 10 grand-children – always supportive and interested in their careers , achievements and travels. All who knew Merrick acknowledge their loss with deepest sympathy but with the conviction that Merrick contributed much without wanting fuss or praise. May he rest in peace.