infobox UK place
region= North West England
os_grid_reference= SD293074 Formby is a town in the
Metropolitan Borough of Sefton[ [http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews/all-reviews/north-west/merseyside/sefton The Boundary Committee] for England (BCFE) began reviewing the electoral arrangements of Sefton on 4 December 2001.] in Merseyside, England.
Historically a part of
Lancashire, Formby was built on the plain adjoining the Irish Seacoast. Largely a residential town, Formby becomes a tourist hot spot during the summer months, with day trippersattracted to its beaches, sand dunes, and wildlife.
Erosion of sand on the beach at Formby is revealing layers of mud and sediment, laid down and covered in the late
Neolithic/early Bronze Age, approximately 4,000 - 3,500 years ago. [The Sands Of Times, an introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast Line, written by Philip H. Smith. ISBN 1-902700-03-1] These sediments often contain the footprints of humans, animals (most commonly aurochs) from that period. [cite book |last=Smith |first=Philip H. |title=The Sands of Time: an introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast |year=1999 |publisher=National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside |id=ISBN 1-902700-03-1 ]
The common place-name ending "-by" is from the Scandinavian "abyr" meaning "homestead", "settlement" or "village". The village of Formby was originally spelt "Fornebei" and means "village belonging to Forni". At that time "Fornibiyum" was a well-known Norse family name. He could have been the leader of the invading expedition which took possession of this coast. Until its closure in 1998, Oslo Airport in Norway was situated in a town called
Fornebu. It was from Ireland in about 960 AD that these Norsemen or Vikings[Viking Mersey, written by Stephen Harding. ISBN 1901231-34-8] first came to the west coast of Lancashire, first trading or raiding and then settling. Tradition says that the Viking invaders failed to defeat the native Anglo-Saxons on the coast of Formby, so they sailed inland, up the River Alt, and attacked from the rear. It is more probable that the Viking invaders simply found that the area was thinly populated and took control without any blood being shed. It is thought that the Romans used Formby as a major pass through for their troops during the time of their settlement. Formby Hallis a Grade II listed buildingdating back to 1223. It has traditionally been the home of the Lords of the Manor. Much of the lanf around it is now a golf course.
Formby beach is the location of the first lifeboat station in the UK. Established perhaps as early as 1776 [ [http://www.formbycivicsociety.org.uk/learning/full_article.asp?storyid=10 (FCS)] Formby Civic Society] by William Hutchinson, Dock Master for the Liverpool Common Council. It was the first lifeboat station in the
United Kingdom, and possibly the world. The foundations of the last of the lifeboat station buildings remain on the beach [ [http://www.liv.ac.uk/facilities/pdfs/travelplan/walkabout_sefton.pdf PDF file] Handout issed by Seftom MBC and Mersey Travel] . The last launch took place in 1916. Remarkably a film survives of this event. [citebook|last=Yorke|first=Barbara & Reginald|title=Britain's First Lifeboat Station, Formby, 1776 - 1918|publisher=Alt Press|isbn=0-9508155-0-0]
Formby is home to
RAF Woodvale, a small RAF station on the outskirts of the town [ * The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force 1918-1988, J.J. Halley, Air-Britain, Tonbridge, 1988, ISBN 0-85130-164-9] . The airport, opened in 1941, is a former WW2 fighter base with three active runways, the main runway being a mile in length. [http://www.merseyreporter.com/history/historic/woodvale/index.shtml Mersey Reporter History Section] It is used by RAFfor light aircraft and fighter training, as well as a few civilian aircraft. The station is also home to Merseyside Police's helicopter [ [http://www.merseyside.police.uk/html/aboutus/departments/air-support/whereabouts/index.htm Merseyside Police] ] , known as 'Mike One'. [ [http://www.aeroflight.co.uk/waf/uk/police/ukaf-police-home.htm#mersey Aeroflight - UK Police Aviation] ] The RAF Station was also home to the last ever operational service of the British legend, the Spitfire. In 1957 the last Spitfire was to fly with military markings in British took of from Woodvale on an operational mission. [http://www.merseyreporter.com/history/historic/woodvale/index.shtml Mersey Reporter History Page] Woodvale is also home to the Woodvale Rally, one of the biggest shows on an active MOD station in the North West. [http://www.woodvale-rally.org.uk/01b_general_information_page.htm]
Until 1974, Formby was an
urban district(Formby Urban District) within the administrative county of Lancashire. Since 1 April 1974, it has formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside.
Formby forms part of the
constituencyof Crosby and is represented in the House of Commons by Labour Member of Parliament Claire Curtis-Thomas. In the last local electionin 2006, the Labour Party won with 48.2% share of the vote, some 17,000 votes, while the Conservatives' share was 32.1% and the Liberal Democratsreceiving 17.4% of the vote. There is also small support for the United Kingdom Independence Partyin Formby; with 1.3% of the votes.
Formby is a coastal town roughly 17 km², part of Sefton in the north west of
Merseyside. The town is built upon the west of a large flat area of land called the West Lancashire Coastal Plainthe town is 0.5 metres below sea levelat its lowest point. Formby’s highest point is within the sand dunesthat separate the Irish Seafrom Formby, sand dunes are ever changing in shape and formation so there is no fixed point. [# The Sands Of Times, an introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast Line, written by Philip H. Smith. ISBN 1-902700-03-1] The River Altruns in to the Irish Sea just south of Formby at Hightown.
The town is rurally
landlocked; the land between Formby and the areas of Southport, Ormskirkand Liverpoolis green beltland and is used for arable agriculturalpurposes. The areas around the urban fringe are drained by irrigation ditchesare open areas get boggyin the winter months. Earth in urban areas is well drained, very loose and sandy.
The section of land between Formby and the coast is varied in
vegetation, wildlife and terrain. This area includes pineforests: natural and man-made, sand dunes, marram grass, deciduouswoodland, seasonal pondsand lakes. Large areas of this land are protected by the National Trust.
Formby is in a
temperate climatezone, with mild winters and warm summers. Formby’s biggest threat is global warmingas the town is built on a flood plain, being situated next to the coast and being below sea level.
shoppingarea is locally known as The Village; here the town upholds an array of shops including a Boots, Dorothy Perkinsand a New Look. These shops are located around the main shopping street of Chapel Lane and Brows Lane, and, unusually for a major shopping street in England, it is not pedestrianised. The tree lined Avenue runs for about a third of a mile with shops either side. There are several other smaller shopping areas around Formby and Freshfield mostly convenience storesand some specialist outlets like independent Opticians Silver & Rose with both qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. There are several other smaller shopping areas around Formby and Freshfield. Formby also has a main post officeand three smaller post offices.
The town also has a several
supermarketsincluding a Tesco, an M&S Simply Foodand more recently, Waitrose, previously a Safeway.
Formby has no major
industries; however there is a small industrial estateon the outskirts of the town. The most recent building to Formby is the new swimming pooland leisure centre.
Formby has a significant tourist industry most notably between the warmer months of May and September [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/hub/A5210056 BBC] . In particular it’s popular with day trippers from Liverpool and other industrial towns in Merseyside and West Lancashire. There are two main spots along the Formby Coast which are particularly popular with the public.
The Lifeboat Road site is about 1½ miles from the town centre; there are three linked unpaved car parks with several routes cascading out in to the sand dunes and woods. The car parks are about 900 yards from the beach.
Victoria Road is north of Lifeboat Road and is busier due to the red squirrel reserve being here. From the junction of Larkhill Lane and Victoria Road is where the reserve begins and there is a charge to park from this point onwards. Parking is available adjacent to the reserve and at the end of the road there is a large unpaved car park for easier beach access, the beach from the car park is about 100 yards.
There is a privately run
caravan parkcalled Formby Point on Lifeboat Road, open between March and October. There are around 300 caravans on the park and 20 plots for touring caravans. There is a phone box on site, public toilets, a play area and until 1995 there was a small convenience store.
Due to its proximity to the city of Liverpool, various current and former Liverpool and
Everton Football Clubplayers have lived in the town, including Steven Gerrard, Alan Stubbs(who owns a bar in the Village) Neil Ruddock, Emlyn Hughes, John Toshack, Stig Inge Bjørnebye, Ray Clemence, as well as Alan Shearer, during his time at Blackburn Rovers. Footballer Wayne Rooneyalso lived there. Former Liverpool F.C. players David Faircloughand Phil Nealstill live in the area. Other famous Formby residents include snookerplayer John Parrott. St Lukes Parish Church in Formby is the burial place of the Irish songwriter and entertainer Percy French. Past residents include the novelist Beryl Bainbridgeand John Birtthe former Director General of the BBCalong with Sir John Moores, the founder of Littlewoods.
The Formby Bypass (A565) was built over fifty years ago to take the major
Liverpoolto Southportroute out of Formby and cut alongside the fringe of the town. The bypass is a dual carriagewaywith two roundaboutsand two sets of traffic lights. It has been the scene of many accidents, some fatal and there are calls from some for the scrapping of a proposed motorway link as a result [Formby Times] The B5195 links Formby with Ormskirkand Maghull. Motorwayaccess is easily accessible, the M58 and M57 are both 8 miles from Formby.
With the town’s major growth period around the early 20th century and Formby never really having any major industry, the road system followed an American style method of road building. Major roads in the town are wide and in an almost block formation with
housing estatesbeing built in to those blocks. The vast majority of residences have drive-ways for parking. Thus traffic congestion is rare in the town and usually only experienced in the town centre locally known as The Village.
There are two
railway stations, the first being Formby railway stationand the second less than a mile north, Freshfield railway station. Both are on the Northern Line of the Merseyrailnetwork, which runs from Liverpool to Southport. Trains are frequent and are a popular way of commuting, especially to Liverpool.
The nearest airport is
Liverpool John Lennon Airportwhich is 25 miles away. Manchester Airportseconds that, which is 43 miles away.
In addition to motorized transport, Formby is served by excellent cycle routes, mainly centring around the pinewoods along the coast leading to both Southport and Liverpool. There are also many cycle lanes on the roads leading to the larger conurbations to the north and south.
There are seven primary schools in Formby; Woodlands, Redgate CP, Our Lady’s, St Jerome’s, Trinity St Peters, Freshfield CPS and
St Luke's C. of E.Trinity St Peters in Formby is the amalgamation of two former primary schools - Holy Trinity and St Peters - which closed down in July 2006. The school was formed as part of a major reorganisation of primary education in Sefton. In 2006 Our Lady’s performed has the best results with a Key Stage 1 and 2 combined averages of 289, way above the national average of 242. Ravenmeols primary school closed as a school and is now used as the Raven Meols Community Centre. [ [http://www.schoolswebdirectory.co.uk/leasearch.php?lea=Sefton&submit=go schoolswebdirectory.co.uk] ] Formby has two large high schools, Formby High Schooland Range High School, both schools are high performers. With a national average of 45.8% of students gaining five or more A*-C at GCSE, Range scored 74% and Formby scored 76% in 2006. Formby High School saw one of the biggest increases in grades in the country in 2006. After years of hovering around 50-60% mark the school increased 20% outdoing their rival Range.
["Country File", BBC TV, 28.89.2008] . The red squirrels may not be native to Britain but possibly accidentally introduced from Scandinavia in the 20th century.
Formby is also famous for the presence of
natterjack toads. Formby is only one of a few sites in England where they will breed. Later in the evening the male’s distinctive song can be heard and is known locally as the ‘ BootleOrgan’. In spring the males gather at the edge of shallow pools in the dune slacks and sing to attract a mate. The Sefton Coast and Countryside Service are working hard to keep these pools from growing over so that that they are ready each spring for this annual event. [ [http://www.seftoncoast.org.uk/articles/03winter_reds.html Coastlines] ]
This stretch of coast is famous for links golf courses such as Southport & Ainsdale, Hillside, West Lancashire, Hesketh and
Royal Birkdale. Formby is home to another championship quality golf course - Formby Golf Club[ [http://www.southportreporter.com/139/southportreporter139-11.shtml Local] Pager Report] . However, the club, unlike its neighbour Royal Birkdale, does not have the capacity to host large events such as The Open Championship [http://www.englandsgolfcoast.com/site/courses/formby-golf-club UK Golf Info. website] . It also has a cricket club based down Cricket Path in Freshfield; this also has squash courts and a large AstroTurfhockey pitch. Formby has a football team called Formby F.C.who play in the North West Counties Football LeagueDivision One. They play at Altcar Road, behind Tesco just off the A565 Formby Bypass. In the summer of 2002, the club left their previous home at Brows Lane. The site is now occupied by Formby Pool which opened on January 27, 2007.
In addition a variety of youth sporting groups are based in Formby. These include Formby Junior Sports Club (FJSC) known locally as "Rourke's League" after Jim Rourke
MBEwho founded the club in 1959. Over 600 children ranging in age from 5 to 16 years meet at Deansgate Lane Playing Fields to play football at various times throughout Saturday mornings during the football season. The club welcomes children of all abilities, there are no trials or criteria to meet; every member plays every week. The club also fields numerous representative teams in local junior leagues (e.g. the Craven Minor League) [ [http://www.formbyfcjuniors.co.uk/MATCHREPORTS22.html Formby FC Juniors] ] . Formby is also home to Deansgate Rovers and Redgate junior football clubs.
In 2007, Formby Vikings Rugby Union Team was established to include a wide range of ages including a colts first 15 team.
* [http://www.formbycivicsociety.org.uk Formby Civic Society]
* [http://www.dunefm.co.uk Dune Fm] (Local Radio Station)
* [http://www.champnews.com "Formby Champion"] (free local newspaper)
* [http://www.formby-reporter.com "Formby Reporter"] (free local newspaper)
* [http://icseftonandwestlancs.icnetwork.co.uk/icformby/ "Formby Times"] (local newspaper)
* [http://www.seftoncoast.org.uk "Sefton Coast"]
* [http://www.livedepartureboards.co.uk/ldb/summary.aspx?T=FBY&R=1 Formby station timetable] from
National Rail's Live Departure Boards
* [http://www.merseyside.police.uk/html/aboutus/departments/air-support/whereabouts/index.htm Merseyside Police] Air Support
* [http://www.my-formby.co.uk Formby Community website]
* [http://stlukes.merseyside.org/History.htm Parish Church of St. Luke: History]
* [http://y2u.co.uk/&002_Images/Formby%20Point%2001.htm Photos of Formby Point]
* [http://liverpoolstreetgallery.com/thumbnails.php?album=39 Photos] of St. Michael Church just outside Formby in
* [http://www.films.mod.uk/north_england/woodvale.htm MOD] Film locations page.
* [http://www.woodvale-rally.org.uk/01b_general_information_page.htm Woodvale Rally]
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