Sefton History - Southport | Bootle | Crosby | Formby | Maghull | Hightown

The History of Sefton - Liverpool City Region

Looking on over Crosby Beach from the coastal borough

The Metropolitan Borough of Sefton is one of the six boroughs that make up the Liverpool City Region. Sefton was officially incorporated as a 'Metropolitan Borough' in 1974, when it became responsible for the administration of the county boroughs of both Southport and Bootle, as well as taking control of Crosby, Formby, Litherland, Maghull and some rural areas from Lancashire. With its 22 miles of coastline, Sefton is predominantly a coastal borough.
The seaside town of Southport is the largest in the borough, its early history as a resort destination goes back over many centuries. The second biggest town in Sefton is Bootle, which in contrast, owes much of its growth to the Industrial revolution. With its mass of docklands stretching all the way along the whole of the river front.
The Sefton region has a great history of hosting world famous sporting events, such as the Grand National, the Golf Open Championships and the Ryder Cup.


The History of Southport Town

There was as many as 50 huts populating around 200 people in Southport at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, with the area being called 'Otergimele'. The name Southport is believed to derive from a late 18th century inn baring the name, the 'South Port Hotel'. It was constructed by William Sutton in the virtually uninhabited dunes to the south of the main thoroughfare, at South Hawes. The plaque dedicated to William Sutton on Duke Street in Southport The inn was demolished in 1854, however, its presence and the impact of its founder is still marked by a plaque in the vicinity.
During the 19th century, Southport gained a reputation for being a more refined seaside resort than its northern neighbour Blackpool. By 1820, Southport had over 20,000 visitors a year. The iron built Southport Pier erected in 1860 at a cost of around £8,700, is referred to as the first true 'Pleasure Pier'. The early growth of the Southport saw it gain Municipal Borough status in 1866. By the beginning of the 20th century it expanded to encompass the adjoining areas of Birkdale and Ainsdale, becoming a County Borough. In 1915, as its population surpassed the magic 50,000 figure required for independent status, it became a County Borough independent of the administrative County of Lancashire.
Under the 1971 Local Government White Paper, Southport would have lost its County Borough status, becoming a non-metropolitan district within Lancashire. Rather than accept this fate and lose its separate education and social services departments, Southport Corporation lobbied for inclusion in the nearby planned metropolitan county of Merseyside. It joined Bootle, Crosby, Formby and other areas to form the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton.
Today, Southport is still one of the most popular seaside resorts in the British Isles. It hosts a variety of events including an annual air show and the largest independent flower show in the UK. The town is also at the centre of England's Golf Coast and has hosted 'The Open Championship' at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club.


The History of Bootle Town

The name Bootle derives from the Anglo Saxon word for dwelling. In the Domesday Book in 1086 it was recorded as 'Boltelai' and later 'Botle' in 1212. During the 14th century it was also called 'Botull', 'Bothull' and 'Bothell'. The original village of Bootle began life as a seaside resort, it was the rise of Liverpool during the 19th century and subsequently the increased trade that changed what was once a small hamlet, into a thriving industrial community. The Liverpool, Crosby and Southport Railway arrived in the 1840s and the huge stretch of docklands by the end of the century. The rapid growth brought about by the heavy industry saw the town incorporated as a Municipal Borough in 1868. The old Liverpool Overhead Railway overlooking Bootle By the end of the century it became a County Borough independent from the administrative county of Lancashire. The town hall and other municipal buildings were built as the population of the town dramatically increased, brought about by an increase in work and immigration, particularly from Ireland. The skilled workers lived in terraced houses in the east of the town, while the casual dock labourers lived in cramped dwellings near the dockside. There are still large areas of distinctive pressed red brick Victorian terraced houses in Bootle today, formerly occupied by the skilled workforce.
By the time of the 2nd World War, Bootle with its huge industrial quarter was a significant target for Germany. So much so, that it was the most heavily-bombed borough in the United Kingdom, with around 90% of homes being damaged during the Liverpool Blitz. Post war regeneration saw large council housing estates built in areas to the east, while offices and a new shopping centre were built in the town centre. An unfortunate decline in the dock workforce during the latter part of the 20th century, brought about high unemployment and a declining population.
Today however, Bootle is very much on the up again. Massive regeneration has seen much improvement, with many of the old homes demolished to make way for new housing projects. A number of other significant development projects completed include the refurbishment of Oriel Road Station, whilst new retail outlets are helping to drive the regeneration of Bootle as a retail destination.


The History of Crosby Town

Like other areas in the city region, Crosby derives its name from Viking roots. It is believed to mean 'Village with the Cross', with various versions of the name throughout the ages. It was recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as 'Crosebi', later 'Crosseby' in 1212 before finally being known as 'Crosby' in 1645.
Up until the end of the 18th century, Crosby remained a small village. Like Bootle to the south, it quickly became absorbed by the Liverpool metropolis as the Industrial Revolution took hold of the region. Modern art on Crosby beach The opening of the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport Railway in 1848, helped to bring about this change. With wealthy businessmen opting for suburban life, moving northwards to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, Great Crosby merged with Crosby Village, Blundellsands, Brighton-le-Sands and Thornton, to form the 'Great Crosby Urban District'. In 1932, it annexed Little Crosby, and five years later, the district was combined with the 'Waterloo with Seaforth Urban District' to form the 'Municipal Borough of Crosby'. This remained the case until the formation of the wider 'Sefton Metropolitan Borough' in 1974.
The several miles of beach in Crosby was greeted by a modern art installation in 2006, a hundred distinctive cast iron statues made by British sculpture Antony Gormley. The works are a major tourist attraction for Crosby, attracting visitors from miles around.


The History of Formby Town

The Formby Lifeboat Trailblazers

Like some of the surrounding areas, Formby was settled by Norse Vikings around the 10th century. The name Formby is believed to derive from the well-known Norse family name, 'Fornibiyum'. The name may of belonged to the leader of the invading Viking expedition which took possession of the coastal region. Possibly the oldest building in Formby is Formby Hall, a Grade II listed building dating back to the 13th or 14th century. Formby Beach is the where the first lifeboat station in the United Kingdom and possibly the World was established. This particular claim to fame for the town, was brought about by the former Liverpool Dock Master William Hutchinson in 1776. The foundations of the last remaining lifeboat station building remain today, along with a remarkable film documenting the last launch which took place in 1916.
On the outskirts of the town is RAF Woodvale, a former World War II fighter station with three active runways. It opened in 1941, it is still used by both the RAF and civilian aircraft today. In 1957, the airfield saw the last Spitfire take off on an operational mission adourning the British military markings.
While Formby itself doesn't have much industry, its affluent population have strong economic ties to Liverpool and often commute to the city for employment.


History of Maghull Town

Maghull Railway Station in Sefton It's believed that the name Maghull is either of Celtic origin meaning a 'flat land in a bend of the river', or of Anglo-Saxon origin meaning a 'nook of land where mayweed grows'. The area was scarcely populated prior to the Domesday Book of 1086, when the town was recorded as 'Magele'.
It wasn't until the middle of the 17th century when its first school was founded that the town reached a significant number of occupants, with as few as 600 inhabitants. Only gradually increasing over the next few centuries, reaching its peak in 1971 with around 22,000 residents. The Town council was established in 1974, when along with the other local towns of Southport, Bootle, Crosby and Formby, combined together to create 'Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council'.


History of Aintree Village

The Statue of Red Rum at Aintree Racecourse in Sefton The earliest mention of Aintree dates back to 1226. The name is thought to be of Saxon origin, meaning 'one tree' or 'tree standing alone'. There has been different spellings for the village including 'Ayntre', Eyntre, Ayntree and Ayntrie, all preceding the 17th century.
The Grand National was founded by William Lynn in 1829, after he set out a course and built a grandstand on land he leased from William Molyneux, the 2nd Earl of Sefton. In doing so, he layed the foundations for an annual event that has brought the world stage to the small village.