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Places In The Fylde

Fylde's main towns and communities: A  personal view.
To pronounce Fylde, say "filed". The name means field or green area. It is a rich green plain in North West England that runs from the coast, across gently rolling unspoilt rural countryside, toward the foothills of the Pennines.


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around Preston
Sitting astride the river Ribble, and at the landward edge of the fylde plain, Preston is the de-facto county town of Lancashire - although the honour should probably lie with Lancaster which has both a castle and a Cathedral. How it came by its good fortune is not entirely clear, but Preston is the seat of County Government and has the biggest and best shopping centre. Preston was a centre of support for Roman Catholic families during the Jacobite Rebellion, and later a major textile manufacturing town. It is famous for the Preston Guild celebrations, which happen once every 20 Years, and for the local football team - Preston North End. It also had a thriving dock until the 1960s when it began a decline into dereliction. However, as flow follows ebb in the commercial tide of towns, a major docklands re-development scheme in the 1980s has produced a growing marina, a McDonalds, a multiplex cinema and some out of town warehouse-style retail opportunities to complement the traditional shopping area in the town.

Blackpool Illuminations

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around Blackpool
Blackpool is all the B's. Bustling, brash, bright lights, breezy, brazen and, more recently, boozy. Europe's biggest seaside resort, with more beds than Portugal. Famous not only for its Tower (complete with a spectacular Baroque ballroom and Wurlitzer organ), and Blackpool Illuminations, but also for the Golden Mile, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Fish &Chips. Just as well known are the seven miles of (once) Golden sands (and for the businessman, the ten a.m. " Golden Showers" that drive visitors from the beach, across the promenade, and straight into the amusement arcades of the Golden Mile). Blackpool is a brassy blonde without any airs or graces, who will laugh with you as she relieves you of your money. The fond memories of many east Lancashire mill workers can still be found drifting slowly and quietly under the piers
Lytham St Annes
Sand dunes at St Annes
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around South Fylde
Just the opposite. Reluctant, retiring, refined, and reserved. The twin communities of Lytham and St Annes are a stones throw and a world apart form the bright lights of Blackpool. For many years, the town was the home of Les Dawson, an English comedian who, before his death, described it as "a maiden aunt with billowing skirts". It is just so. It is famous for strong winds, a well restored windmill, a magnificent spacious green on the esplanade, and for occasionally hosting the British Open Golf Championship. It is less well known, but equally important, for International Sandyacht racing and an estuary of international importance for migrating birds. Lytham St Annes is the chosen retirement area of many professional and military notables. This factor is central to maintaining the status quo and successfully avoiding change. (if the rock band preceded the latin soundbite in your thoughts, don't even think of moving here!)
Yacht at Fleetwood
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around Fleetwood
Once a premier UK fishing port supplying white fish for the nation, with cash-rich deckhands rolling from pub to pub during their few days in port, Fleetwood is now in transition. Gone are the Icelandic trawlers. Gone are the busy docks and fish processing installations. Gone are the Isle of Man boats that took rail day-trippers from Blackpool and points south to the Island of Man. Gone, alas, is the railway. Even small inshore fishing boats are hard to find now, but the microscopically (for a non-sailor) small ferry across to Knott-End still survives, and there is a growing marina and leisure shopping destination called "Freeport" which holds promise for the future of the town. You can also still find electric trams running the length of the main street amongst the cars, and even take a trip to Blackpool on one if you have a mind to. Otherwise the town is famous for Fleetwood Market, and the strong flavoured "Fishermans Friend" lozenges that take your head off!
Thornton Cleveleys
Cleveleys Town centre
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Thornton Cleveleys
Like Lytham and St Annes, Thornton and Cleveleys are two separate communities. Cleveleys is the seaside part, and used to be a dead and alive hole except for "The Vic" and "The Queens" - pubs with live entertainment which those of a certain age will remember with affection. The names of bands like Treacle ("Can't let Maggie Go") and compere Brian Rossi will evoke smiles and happy memories . More recently however, and riding on the back of a huge and extremely popular discount bargain store called "B &M Bargains" the town is regenerating into a shopping destination. It is popular with, and caters for, older visitors in particular. This means car drivers have to be especially careful, and lots of traffic constrictions on the main shopping road re-inforce the point. Thornton is the inland bit and an average residential area except for Marsh Mill village which is a popular visitor attraction. In recent years there has been a lot of housing and bungalow development in the Thornton area, partly as a result of a new main road being built, which has made the area more accessible, and partly as a reflection of the popularity of the Thornton Cleveleys area as a seaside retirement venue.

St Chad's Church, Poulton le Fylde
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around Poulton
An ancient town steeped in history, Poulton (pronounced "Pawt'n" by agricultural locals, "Poleton" by ordinary folk, and " Poolton" by the upwardly mobile) is in the final stages of gentrification from its earthy roots as a market town. A very successful and visionary transformation some 25 years ago, turned a waste area into a covered shopping centre with massive car parking and secured the future of the town for perhaps 50 years. Poulton is otherwise famous for its stocks in the town square, and the magnificent displays of crocus each spring in the Churchyard. Poulton is also famous for some of its pubs. The "Thatched House" is a popular venue for Boddingtons drinkers, and the Golden Ball, which stands at the agricultural centre of the old part of the town, near where the tithe barn and cattle market once existed would have been the watering hole for thirsty farmers each market day.

The Wheatsheaf at Garstang
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around Garstang
Garstang is a mostly unreconstructed Poulton. It retains close affinity with its agricultural surroundings and is the product of evolution rather than revolution. An altogether gentler place than many, with people who still have the time to, (and do) ask how you are out of genuine interest. Famous once as a staging post for horse drawn mail and other carriages, now more so for its weekly street market (every Thursday), its Whit Festival, its annual summer Agricultural Show, and its slow rural charm.

Over Wyre
Some Inhabitants of Over Wyre
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Over Wyre
Like the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho, a trip Over Wyre will exhume places where Tolkein-like pre-history still exists. Over Wyre is not a cohesive or defined area, but a term used by outsiders for a tract of mostly agricultural land lying between the river Wyre and the remainder of civilisation. Although some pockets are now almost gentrified, there are areas of deep rural foreboding with their own inscrutable rites and customs supported by an inpenetrable dialect and language. (cf Mosslet, a dweller of the darkest rural peat mossland). Here, it is not safe to let the faint hearted go abroad, especially after dark. The main danger being that outsiders have forgotten how to live life in the real world, without the sterilised cotton wool padding and protective polythene bubble-wrapping of the twentieth century !

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