‘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.

Aintree & Melling – Pen portraits of a community’s fallen heroes – 1914 – 1917

No sooner had I blogged about Lydiate’s fallen in World War 1 than Bill Honeyman got in touch to tell me about a similar project covering Aintree and Melling undertaken by two friends of mine Bill Borland and Peter Gill, what’s more Bill supplied me with a copy of their excellent booklet. Here’s a link to the Lydiate booklet blog:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/07/lydiate-and-its-great-war-1914-1918-a-lovely-remembrance-booklet/

The deaths of 81 servicemen from Aintree & Melling are attributed to the Great War

Many of the deaths are commemorated on memorials at St. Giles Church Aintree and St Thomas’ Church Melling including Henry Mattocks who died aged 21 on 13th October 1915. He worked at Melling Potteries and was a member of the Melling Brass Band. His name together with those of Michael May & Thomas Clark caught my attention because they all worked at in the now long gone Melling Pottery business. Some years ago when I was the 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 page 13 is an undated photo of Melling Pottery Band and I can’t help but wonder if Henry Mattocks is in that photo.

The vast majority of what we now know as Aintree Village was agricultural land back around the time of the Great War but I spotted a Richard Kirby who died aged just 19 on 14th November 1916. He was the son of Myles and Ellen Kirkby (nee Quick) of Aintree Lane. He died at the Somme and is buried at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, Montauban, France.

This booklet is another great addition to the local history of the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough. My congratulations to the authors and thanks to Bill Honeyman for providing me with a copy.

We will remember them