Latest News – 2024
Following a fall at home just after Christmas, our friend and key supporter of Formby Civic Society Tony Bonney passed away a few days later. Whenever people who knew him meet up, they all say how they cannot adjust to no longer seeing him again. You almost expect him to walk up to you with his warm smile and begin a happy conversation.
He was at the heart of the Civic Society and had been for many years. His roles included being Membership Secretary, organising the printing and distribution of the newsletters, running the Flickr site of old Formby images and generally managing the Society archives that had been transferred to his house from Briarfield a few years ago and willing to help in any capacity.
I still remember having a coffee with Tony in Woodward’s after speaking to Reg Yorke and learning from him that he and Barbara would need their space at home back because of her health needs and space for mobility vehicles. We were at a loss as to where the archives could go when Tony simply said that actually he had space in his own spare bedroom and garage and would take them in.
Whenever we had one of our Talks, Tony provided the necessary IT. Whenever we needed a memo sending to Members, Tony took care of that. When we received occasional requests for help from people researching their family, Tony was also quick to reply and look for ideas.
When our Amenities Secretaries would need some ‘backup information’ to help fight a case, Tony searched our archives and provided support. Whenever a local property changed what it was offering, or was about to be demolished, Tony was always there with his camera – recording the scene for our archives.
Nor should we forget, either that in the past year he had attended all our meetings with the Imagine Formby group to be a key figure in setting up Formby’s first Heritage Centre.
Yet, doing all that for his Formby community and the recording and protection of its heritage was all that he wanted. He would smile gracefully when thanked for something he had done, but he wanted no more. He was self-effacing and happy to do all that he did.
He is missed already, and the Society faces a major task in finding the best ways in which to move forward. Happily, Tony thought well ahead and has left us clear detail and instruction for taking on that task. Of course he did! Thanks, Tony!
We are all very grateful for the support that Tony’s twin sister Suzanne has given the Society in the very difficult days since Tony’s fall.
Suzanne requests that rather than send flowers, you may wish to make a donation to Queenscourt Hospice.
Thursday 7th March at the Methodist Church In a joint venture with the Methodist Church we will enjoy a presentation with music by local songwriter Stephen Gerrard and FCS member Joan Rimmer on the subject of “3 Local Artists”. Please view the poster here
December 4th 2023
Dr Phil Smith’s Wildlife Notes are added monthly and his notes for November 2023 are now live, please click HERE to view
Tony Bonney our Digital Archivist created a pdf of Formby Police Station from 1894 – 1994 please click HERE to view
Latest Update Devil’s Hole Dec. 2022
Dr Phil Smith has provided a 26 page ‘update’ report on the Devil’s Hole blowout at Ravenmeols, one of several Sefton Coast sites that have been monitored for floristic change over time. To view the latest report (pdf) please click HERE
March 28th 2022
Fascinating snapshots of Formby’s Public Health from Medical Officer of Health reports are now available – please click here
Interesting news and history of the Royal Hotel on Liverpool Road – please click here
Our first involvement this year follows on from the raising of the Blue Plaque to Percy French at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brereton at 26 College Avenue (on the corner of Wicks Lane and close by the railway footbridge).
31st Jan 2022
The Memorial Service for Percy French to mark the centenary of his burial – deferred for two years due to Covid – was very successful with not only FCS members present but also others from our local community and a good Irish representation. We were all very grateful for the input by the Reverend Matt Davies of St. Luke’s and the members of the church congregation who gave a hand to proceedings.
The event was put together and presented by Gerry Molumby of the Triskellion Theatre Company in Derbyshire and he helped us remember the ‘tender tones’ of some of Percy French’s touching and humorous songs with his fine Irish baritone voice. John Phillips representing FCS described Percy French’s links with Formby in the early years of the 20th century and the friendship between him and his cousin Rector Johnny Richardson, Vicar of Holy Trinity. Joe Riley represented the Parish Council in describing how the raising of a Blue Plaque had come about, and events were brought to an end by Sarah Mangan, representing the Consulate-General of Ireland – the organisation that provided the funding for an excellent buffet.
A number of older members of the Percy French Society were unable to attend but sent notes of goodwill to everyone here. This included Berrie O’Neill, the author of the biography “Tones that are Tender”.
Please click here for an article of Percy French’s links with Formby including the Blue Plaque and Memorial Anniversary Service.
Jan 20th 2022
2 new fascinating additions to the Formby archives – please click here to view
Newsletters to Members
We produce two full-colour 16-page Newsletters to Members each year, plus a shorter ‘Christmas Edition’ which will never be on the website as it is a ‘perk’ of membership. They contain reports by Dr. Phil Smith, original research on local history in Formby and latest information on Society affairs.
The Christmas edition 2021 is dedicated to Percy French, following the raising of the Blue Plaque to him, and his cousin John Brooke Richardson, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church for many years and in whose house he passed away in 1920.
You can catch up with previous editions of the Newsletters here
If you are interested in joining us and becoming a member please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The membership cost has been held at £10 per individual or £15 per couple and the cost of our full-colour printed Newsletters is included within that.
Local History Walks
We have devised 4 Local History Walks within Formby that can be downloaded and printed out.
We carried out some of these walks with Society members in summer 2021 and enjoyed ourselves finding any ‘glitches’ in the text and providing further information for future updates. Our idea is for anyone interested in going on any of the walks to print the routes and information about them directly from this website.
To access these Walks, please click here
“The History of Human Influence on the Sefton Coast”
Dr. Phil Smith has provided an updated and fascinating (44 page) report
supported with a wide variety of fascinating images for our Civic Society pages.
To view please click here (pdf opens in a new tab) or it can be found on our ‘Wildlife Notes’ page click here
The Village that was Formby” by Joan A. Rimmer, a member of the Formby Civic Society
This very popular and informative coffee table book – which comprises Joan’s three history books ‘My Formby’, ‘Formby Remembered’ and ‘Formby Today’ – was originally published in 2007. After several years out of print it has recently been re-published in a limited edition. Its ongoing success has proved its value to any reader of any age whether long-standing resident or newcomer alike and is available from Derbyshire’s on Chapel Lane in Formby Village for the price of £18.99. All money goes raised goes to charity. This would make a perfect present for any Formby residents.
In the photo is the award-winning Joan Rimmer, a member of the Formby Civic Society, with her new edition of “The Village That Was Formby
“A Community in Wartime – Formby 1914-1918” – John Phillips and Tony Pawson. Copies of this Formby Civic Society book are still available at Derbyshire’s on Chapel Lane at a cost of £5 each
To view an excerpt of the book please click here (opens in a new window)
Local History Resources
Our resources are often used by local students and are available to all bona fide researchers, but particularly our members. Offers of practical help in our work with research and archive management are very welcome. We get quite a number of enquiries on local history via e-mail from all over the world and try to assist with these when information is available.
Please click here or on the local history navigation tab at the top of the page for articles, online resources ceramic models and others. The Society would welcome any additional images of old Formby. Arrangements can be made to collect these, make digital copies and return them with a CD/DVD. Please contact the Society (see below).
To donate resources, access any of the resources, purchase any of the images, please contact Tony Bonney via email – click here or phone Phone: 01704 872862
Our Collection of Photographs and Images of Formby
We have an excellent archive of digital images of our community from the early days of photography to the present. This collection of photographs is held on Flickr. It is available to view at our site by clicking here. We invite you to delve through the collection and enjoy walking through our village at different times in its history. If there is any image you would like for a small charge to purchase an image in digital format, please contact us at: email@example.com
Using these assets, Society members have carried out research on the history of many local subjects such as:
● The Formby Lifeboat Station (the first in the world, as demonstrated by Reg and Barbara Yorke in their book),
● Asparagus cultivation, having played a major role in developing the ‘Asparagus Trail’ with the National Trust
● The Home Front in Formby 1914-1918
● Walks down Chapel Lane, in conjunction with the Formby Business and Community Partnership
● Early flying at Freshfield (1910 -12), and
● ‘Sand-winning’ in Formby during the first half of the 20th Century
● The Devil’s Hole, with its fascinating wealth of flora and fauna
● The Lost Seaside Resort of Formby-by-the-Sea
Other than helping to develop the Asparagus Trail, we have worked in partnership with Sefton Council to produce two walks along the Ravenmeols shoreline for local people and visitors alike:
We are also available to give Talks and Presentations on topics of local history for local community groups, as well as Talks and Walks for children in our local schools. In addition we have arranged and presented occasional historical exhibitions or displays such as early flying from Freshfield beach (then officially designated an aerodrome!), 1910 – 1912. We have conducted historical and environmental, research and published several local history books, including:
● “A Community in Wartime: Formby 1914-1918” by John Phillips and Tony Pawson (2011)
● ‘Formby, Then and Now’, by Reg and Barbara Yorke, 2012
● “Viking Village” by Edith Kelly, 1973
Duke Street Library holds the unique ‘Formby Tapestry’, created by founder member, Lilian Rushton. This 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 here and in full here.
We work with people of all ages across the community and are always open to fresh ideas and imaginative projects in order to preserve our culture and our heritage whilst also recording it both digitally and in print forms for the benefit of our community members in the future.
We continue to seek ways of making local people more aware of the information we hold and ways of developing our bank of information in text to add to and support these images.