‘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 & Lydiate – The other serious knock-on effect of flooding

I’ve commented many times previously about the regular flooding of Sefton Lane/Bridges Lane due to the backing up of Dover’s Brook when it can’t empty out into the River Alt. This was the scene in December 2015 along Bridges Lane:-

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

Of course the flooding has happened a number of times since then, most recently within the last week. This is my most recent blog posting on the matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/09/29/river-alt-everything-drains-into-around-these-parts/

Cliff Mainey

But my reason for raising the matter again now, just after another really bad flooding event, is that I’ve been contacted by one Cliff Mainey. Cliff’s a former Maghull councillor and indeed former Mayor of Sefton Borough but it’s his experience as a local fireman which is relevant here. You see Cliff is of the view that an emergency call for Maghull/Lydiate answered from Buckley Hill Fire & Ambulance Station may have up to 6 extra minutes added to its journey if Bridges Lane/Sefton Lane is closed as it has been for a few days. If I’ve understood Cliff correctly this extra time will be caused by the emergency vehicle having to travel from Buckley Hill via Switch Island.

The point here is that this particular flooding site is far from new; I can recall floods there going back to the late 1960’s (when I moved into Maghull) although they were nowhere near as bad as they have been in recent years. So the question is why have the powers that be not been able to resolve the matter? And when you add in the angle which Cliff is now raising………………..

Cliff Mainey’s photo of Showrick Footbridge over the River Alt & flooded fields – Taken 26 01 21.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – Cycling the A59 – Alt Junction to Switch Island

I mentioned recently my concerns as a cyclist (and those of pedestrians) about how the Alt junction has been reconstructed and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/26/maghull-a59-alt-junction-reconstruction/

Sefton Council had told me that two additional pieces of work were to be undertaken along with the junction ‘improvements’ to improve cycling access. So far with contractors having left site one has only been partially done and the other has not been done at all.

The major cycling work is to extend the cycle path/route which comes from Switch Island so that it reaches the Alt Junction. Clearly some works have been undertaken but a section over the River Alt bridge has been left just as it was, a narrow pavement – see photo below. Why?*

The other item is such a small change one wonders why it had not been sorted out years ago. It’s at the junction of Moorhey Road and the A59/Northway Service Road where a cycle route starts taking cyclists towards Switch Island. However, at the very start of it there’s no dropped kerb, which I’ve complained about before and been told by Sefton Council it would be attended to during the Alt junction ‘improvements’. So far, as you can see, the job remains outstanding:-

And yes, I’ve brought my concerns about both these matters to the attention of Sefton Council’s Highways Dept.

* After I wrote this posting but before publishing it I became aware of the plans to redevelop the former Motor Range site for an ALDI etc. so the curtailed works to the cycle path/track could possibly be associated with the changes required should that proposal gain planning permission? Just a thought.

Maghull – More on its challenging land drainage issues

My posting of a few days ago (see link below) regarding the consequences of heavy rain locally was picked up by our local Champion newspaper and in turn a resident contacted me with regard for the potential of flooding in the future associated with Whinney Brook/Dovers Brook.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/02/24/maghull-heavy-rain-reminds-us-of-the-potential-peril-of-building-on-agricultural-land-locally/

To explain I’ve taken a few photos of where 3 brooks/streams combine yards away from the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail on the western edge of the Town:-

Cheshire Lines Path crossing Dovers Brook & looking towards Meadway/ Old Racecourse Road

Footbridge across Dovers Brook where it is joined by Whinney Brook at the far corner of the Maghull High School site.

The confluence of Whinney Brook and Dovers Brook as seen from the blue bridge in the 2nd photo. Whinney Brook crosses Maghull east to west.

Another confluence just few yards further back up Dovers Brook – the stream on the left has come down from behind Fouracres.

The photos above were taken after the recent floodwaters had subsided on 29th February. There are of course other tributary streams joining Dovers Brook and eventually about two thirds of a mile north of the 1st photo Dovers Brook spills into the River Alt.

Looking back towards Bridges Lane and Sefton Church from the confluence of Dovers Brook and the River Alt. This photo is from 2013

Having said that the problem, faced at times of heavy rain, is the long-standing one of the Alt being too high for Dovers Brook to empty into it, which in turn backs up Dovers Brook to flood. As I’ve said previously, there’s nothing new about this problem it’s just that we see it happening more often these days. The next photo shows what happens when things get really bad:-

A flooded Bridges Lane between Dovers Brook and the River Alt – when it all got too much in December 2015

The purpose of this posting has been to try to illustrate the problems on the western side of Maghull due to its low lying land and the drainage system that, other than in flood conditions, keeps in drained. The worry of the resident who contacted me most recently is that with future rainfall expected to more regular and even heavier will the Maghull area suffer bigger flooding events especially as more agricultural land is built upon (as part of Sefton Council’s Local Plan) which presently soaks up much of the rainwater.

Of course I’m no drainage engineer or climatologist but you won’t be surprised that I share such worries……..

Maghull – Heavy rain reminds us of the potential peril of building on agricultural land locally

The recent heavy rain got me thinking about the soon to be built and vast urban extension to Maghull of @1700 houses. I went to have a look at the site on Sunday 23rd February. The photos below really speak for themselves as they start with the waterlogged site as I saw it followed by where the water eventually drains to i.e. Dovers Brook and the River Alt.

Maghull East Site from Ashworth Motorway junction 23 02 20

Maghull East Site from Poverty Lane 23 02 20

Dovers Brook at Sefton Lane looking north 23 02 20

Dovers Brook at Sefton Lane 23 02 20 – the bridge is all but lost under the floodwater.

River Alt 23 02 20 looking south from Bridges Lane.

Having lived locally for over 50 years I can’t say I’m surprised by this situation as our low-lying land has always been liable to flood after heavy rain. Of course climate change is making those floods more regular and at times worse than they have been in the past.

What has not, in my opinion, been effectively resolved is how the floodwater is dealt with as flooding of Sefton Lane is far from unusual each year these days. What worries me is how the local drainage network is going to cope after a vast area of presently agricultural land (the Maghull East Site) is put under concrete, brick and tarmac. The implications will not be just on that site, if the drainage issues are not fully addressed, but potentially to the west of it to the River Alt which takes a great deal of Maghull’s surface water run-off.

That the Maghull East Site site will be developed is a given as Sefton Council’s Local Plan has already designated it for building on but, and it’s a very big but, what guarantees are going to be put in place that this building will not make a presently unresolved flooding problem even worse?

Sefton Council and the developers of the land have to get this right otherwise those of us who fought against the vast site being designated for building will be reminding the powers that be that they were warned about the consequences.

My thanks to Andrew Blackburn for the lead to this posting

Switch Island to Maghull Cycle Route

Cycle path under construction between Switch Island and the River Alt along the A59 – April 2018. This section is now of course complete up to the River Alt bridge.

Regular readers will recall that I’ve raised the issue of the cycle route from Switch Island to Maghull petering more or less where the A59 Northway crosses the River Alt on the Maghull boundary.

My previous relevant posting on the matter can be accessed via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/04/25/maghull-new-cycle-track-from-switch-island-towards-maghull-on-a59/

Where the cycle route presently stops at the Northway/A59 River Alt bridge.

Following the posting linked above I ascertained from Sefton Council’s highway engineers that they intended to deliver a new safe cycle route alongside the rest of the A59 to the Liverpool Road South junction. Seeing the road works and the presently closed access to Liverpool Road South I decided to check on the delivery of the cycle route and my understanding is this. At present Statutory Undertakers are diverting their equipment (which is the works currently on site) and the main contractor is scheduled to start soon. The junction improvements and cycle path should, I’m told, be completed this financial year.

Thanks to Sefton Highways for the update.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.