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Founded in 1970
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2016
Unknown Tetradrachm
The Ormskirk & West Lancashire
Numismatic
Society

Host Society for the

 BANS 2011 Congress

held in Southport

BANS 2011 Congress Report

The British Association Of Numismatic Societies

2011 Congress

Southport - the Host Town

 

Southport does not have a long history reaching back into the mists of time. It is most unlikely that the Romans ever built their seaside villas here; the Vikings passed through on their way inland, and nowt but fisherfolk actually settled on the sands until relatively recent times.

 

Modern Southport owes its rapid development to a Duke. Not a member of the aristocracy, but ‘The Mad Duke’ or ‘The Old Duke’ William Sutton!

The Origin and History of Southport

 

The town began in 1792 when William Sutton opened a hotel, built on a site which is nowadays at the junction of Lord Street and Duke Street. It was in this area that the first houses in Southport were built, and from this time, groups of dwellings arose between Birkdale in the south and Churchtown in the north. One of these groups became known as 'South Hawes'.

 

The present name first appeared as 'South-port' in 1798. Records say that a small stream, nicknamed the 'River Nile,' found its way on to the beach near Sutton's Hotel. The sea ran up some distance inland, forming an estuary. Tradition speaks of a 'fine bay of eleven fathoms of water within half a mile from the shore, where vessels occasionally lay securely at anchor.' To the local fishermen and farmers of that time, it was a port, so it is not surprising that the new village lying south of the 'Domesday Book' village of Churchtown should have been re-named 'Southport' - a name which, with modernised spelling, has been in use since 1826.

 

We could say that Southport is the Paris of the North, but it would be more accurate to describe Paris as the Southport of the South! It's a little known fact that Prince Louis Napoléon (Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, nephew of the ‘Corsican Tyrant’) lived on Lord Street from May 1846 following his escape from imprisonment in France, before returning to his homeland in 1848. He declared himself Emperor in 1851, and just a year later, no doubt inspired by his stay in Southport, set the Prefect of the Seine, ‘Baron’ Georges-Eugène Haussman, to work redesigning the city of Paris. Much of the medieval centre of Paris was replaced with broad tree-lined boulevards, covered walkways and arcades, just like Lord Street.

 

Meanwhile, back at home, a rail service became available from Liverpool to Southport in July 1848, visitors having previously travelled by canal and road. Then, from 1853, people could travel by train to the resort from Manchester,via Wigan, and the lovely seaside town attracted thousands of workers from the Lancashire mill towns.

 

The Victorian era has left the town with a glorious legacy - the spaciousness of Southport, the parks and gardens and wide tree-lined streets. Lord Street, one of Britain's finest boulevards, is the main shopping thoroughfare - straight and wide for almost a mile. Along one side are shops with Victorian glass topped canopies and on the opposite sides are gardens, fountains and classical buildings.

 

Today, Southport has developed into a large town with a constellation of smaller villages such as Birkdale, Ainsdale, Hillside and Churchtown. Over recent years, many millions of pounds have been spent in renovating, restoring and improving the town’s appearance and facilities, and not for nothing is it now known as ‘England’s Classic Resort!

Fortunino Matania’s posters for the Cheshire Lines Railway in the 1930s highlighted the fashionable and modern image of the resort.

Southport Today

 

Southport is not some kind of faded resort, trading on past glories. It is a thriving, modern town which seeks to include the best of the past with the best of today.

 

No sea-side resort is complete without a pier. Southport has the second longest, and the oldest and newest iron pier in the UK! Originally opened in 1860, it was dismantled in the late 1990s, all the parts refurbished or replaced, and then completely rebuilt with a full-size pier tram, and a new, twenty-first century, pier pavilion. But whereas, as recently as the 1920s, there was enough water to float a steam ship, the rising of the land has meant that, now, it is often possible to walk round the end of the pier.

 

There is often a conflict between the demands of man and the demands of nature, but the Marine Lake is a man-made body of water designed to provide leisure facilities to both residents and visitors alike. Boating and sailing, water skiing and other aquatic pursuits remain top of the list. The new Marine Way Bridge has been constructed to provide a link for pedestrians and motorists across the Marine Lake. The effect of the suspension cables is to form a ‘sail’ which highlights the purpose of the Lake, and is particularly spectacular when lit up at night.

 

The natural world is not neglected, however, as the marshlands to the north east of Southport form one of the largest habitats for migratory and water birds in the whole of the UK. Not far from Southport is Martin Mere, which forms one of the principal properties of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Martin Mere Wetland Centre is home to over 100 species of rare and endangered ducks, geese, swans, flamingos...and otters and beavers!

Southport, and Formby to the south, also form one of the few remaining habitats of the native red squirrel, and the extremely rare natterjack toad.

 

There is a thriving social and cultural scene in Southport, too. We are fortunate to have no fewer than three theatres: the Little Theatre offers a varied programme of entertainment from local amateur theatrical companies; the Arts Centre features professional theatrical and musical events, and the Southport Theatre, part of the newly refurbished Conference Centre, offers a wide range from Pantomime at the Christmas Season, through comedy, and ‘shows.’

Cinema is catered for by the new multiscreen at Ocean Plaza, on the waterfront, adjoined by various restaurants, and tenpin bowling lanes.

Being an area designed for visitors, Southport has a number of really excellent restaurants, catering for many different tastes and cuisines, from mainstream British and European, to Arab, Indian, and Asian.

 

But no mention of Southport would be complete without a certain four-letter word: GOLF. Home to the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, and the periodic visits of the British Open Championships, there are more than a dozen other first-rate golf courses within half an hour’s drive of the town. A paradise indeed for devotees of the game.

 

And now, of course, another four-letter-word joins the pantheon. BANS. Southport welcomed all the delegates to the BANS 2011 Congress, and we hope that all of you went home having enjoyed your stay in England’s (and Lancashire’s!) Classic Resort.

Hover your cursor on the image to see it in full detail

The newest, the oldest, and the second longest iron pier in the United Kingdom

London Square and the War Memorial, the centre of Lord Street. Click HERE to learn more about what Lord Street has to offer!

The Marine Way Bridge was opened in 2004. The bold, modern, design was adopted in preference to a reconstruction of the previous Victorian cast iron bridge which had to be replaced.

Click HERE to visit

Martin Mere

Click HERE to go to

Visit Southport

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Congress Pages

Congress Visitors' Book Congress Venue Southport