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Formby Society Past

I think it is fair to say that we have been very successful for we are still influencing issues in Formby after all these years.

Our contribution to the Millennium Celebration was the organisation of the Parish Boundary Walk - the "rediscovery" of the ancient Parish Boundary, encircling Formby, 14 miles in length, partly over private land and dating back in essence to the early mediaeval period. This was walked and enjoyed by over one hundred people during a two day period. In 2002, after a great deal of thought and work, including two public meetings, the Society officially submitted a submission and petition to allow Formby to regain some of its Civic independence by means of the creation of a Parish Council to replace the Formby Urban District Council lost with reorganisation of local government in 1974. The Parish Council has gone on to have a very positive impact on the village.

In helping guard Formby's 'unique identity', from the beginning we have closely monitored local Planning Applications and made many representations when necessary, often by personal contact with appropriate Council officers.  Some controversial Planning Applications have required a great deal of effort, time and occasionally organising public meetings.

We assisted with the establishment of our only Conservation Area, in the early 80's. We published 'Viking Village' written by founder member, Edith Kelly, in 1973 and later a 'Town Trail'. We have built up a valuable historical archive and local history library, which are both still being added to through the generosity of local people. In addition an valuable record of Formby's past is provided by a high quality pictorial collection, now digitally scanned, including over 5000 images of cottages, farms, houses and lanes; the Sibley Collection of drawings and watercolours and a considerable collection of documents and maps, much now accessible via the Internet. We also have copies of the Formby Tithe Map and Schedule, (1845), a particularly valuable historical resource. The schedule has also been digitised. Using these assets we have carried out research on the history of many local subjects such as the Formby Lifeboat Station, (The First in Britain), Asparagus Cultivation, early Flying at Freshfield (1910 -12), Sand-winning here in the first half of the 20th Century and the story of ‘Formby-by-the-Sea’ - the resort that never was’.

Duke Street Library holds the unique 'Formby Tapestry', created by founder member, Lilian Rushton, which provides a visual record of Formby's history from the Vikings to the 20th Century. Our collections also include a unique collection of ceramic models of old local cottages which are available to view in full at our Flickr site by clicking here (opens in new window)

In addition we have arranged and presented other occasional historical exhibitions or displays such as early flying from Freshfield beach (then designated an aerodrome!), 1910 – 1912. We have conducted historical and environmental, research and written and published several local history books, the latest, ‘Formby, Then and Now’, published by the History press (November 2012). Currently we are leading research to create a number of Heritage Trails in the Ravenmeols area, part of a three year project, coming to fruition by the end of this year (2013)

Revised by Tony Bonney  & Reg Yorke March 2013

The historical origins of the Society are described in a 'Short History' (copies still available) The Society was founded in 1953, 100 years after the coming of the railway to this sleepy and then entirely rural village and 50 years after its inhabitants obtained, (with great difficulty), status as an Urban District Council. Registered as a Charity, later affiliated with the Civic Trust, and now Civic Voice, the Society was founded to "foster the identity of Formby, safeguard its amenities, develop it cultural activities and encourage local studies".

So how successful have we been?

To read about Formby Civic Society Present please click here

To read about Formby Civic Society Future please click here