Lytham through History

Lytham through History

The Fylde Coast is believed to have been populated since the Bronze Age. Have a look at our potted version looking back at Lytham through history. It might inspire you to find out more!

Back in the Mists of Time…

In Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times the Fylde Coast was known as Amounderness. The Hundred of Amounderness is one of the six subdivisions of the historic county of Lancashire. If you’re curious about this old name, there’s a full explanation on Wikipedia.

Lytham, as we know it, has had a number of different names in the past – including Lidun, Lithun, Lithum (around 1190) and Lethum (around 1347).

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Like other places on this coast, Lytham was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Back then it was known as Lidun.

In 1199, Richard Fitzroger gave his estate, then known as Lethun, to Durham’s Benedictine Monks. They established a small priory at the site of the present Lytham Hall. It remained there until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 when ownership passed to the Crown.

The Arrival of the Cliftons

The manor of Lytham had a number of owners until Cuthbert Clifton paid £4300 for it in 1606. He enlarged the manor house and made it the family seat, which was in use until 1757 when it was replaced with the present Lytham Hall.

By now, Lytham was a town in its own right, and had acquired a name as a seaside resort. Although at this point St Annes still didn’t exist.

In 1873, the Cliftons built a chapel dedicated to St Anne to serve the tiny hamlet of Heyhouses. Heyhouses was at the northern end of Lytham among the sand dunes. Of course this became the parish church of St Annes, and the settlement around it continued to grow from the late 1800’s onwards. Find out more about the history of St Annes here.

The Clifton’s remained the leading family in Lytham until the middle of the 1900’s. You’ll often see the name in the area, and two main roads are also named after them.

Lytham through History

In 1846, a branch of the Preston and Wyre railway made it to Lytham. In 1863 it was continued along the shore to Blackpool with stations at Ansdell and St. Anne’s. An electric tramway once began at Lytham, passing through St. Anne’s to South Shore.

There was once a small pool on the eastern side of Lytham, used when the larger boats couldn’t make it any further along the River Ribble to Preston. A graving dock there led to the establishment of shipbuilding works. The nearby hamlet of Saltcotes is said to be named after a salt refinery once worked there.

The market-house was built in 1848. A cottage hospital was opened in 1871, and Lytham Institute, containing the library, opened the following year. At the same time Mr. Clifton gave the Lowther Gardens at the west end of the town. By this point the public baths are open on the central beach – now the Assembly Rooms.

The Rise and Fall of the Cliftons

Thomas Joseph Clifton (1788–1851) was the one who extensively remodelled the estate by extending the surrounding parkland. A later Clifton, Colonel John Talbot, MP for North Lancashire, passed Lytham Hall to his 14-year-old grandson, the colourful John Talbot Clifton. During his time the railway was built along the estate’s southern boundary and part of the land sold for housing. The house was then used as a military hospital during the First World War.

The Cliftons went to live first in Ireland in 1919, then Scotland in 1922 and the house became neglected. Clifton was a passionate traveller and died in 1928 on an expedition to Timbuktu with his wife, Violet Beauclerk. She was the last person to live in the house. Their wayward film producer son, Henry de Vere Clifton, squandered most of the family’s wealth.

Lytham Hall finally passed out of family ownership in 1979. It went through several corporate ownerships until the present day. It’s now managed by Heritage Trust for the North West. A major restoration programme began in 2012.

Built by the Industrialists

For many centuries, Lytham was dependent on shrimping and fishing. With the advent of tourism it became famous as a seaside resort and for health cures.

It became popular with wealthy industrialists from central Lancashire. They first came to visit Lytham for their health, then built holiday and retirement properties in the area.

East Beach Lytham in 1904
East Beach Lytham in 1904

Some of the oldest buildings are to be found on Henry Street and Dicconson Terrace. All over Lytham you’ll see attractive period properties from the past, along with public buildings. For example some of the schools, which were opened for the sons and daughters of the industrialists.

Large scale development started to take place with the advent of the railways, and Lytham still has its own station. The railway enabled easier movement around the area than on the previously poor road network, and larger numbers of people to visit.

The poor quality sand dunes had previously been of little commercial use, so they were levelled for residential building. Sale of the land generated huge amounts of income and ground rents for the Cliftons, also shaping the Lytham that we see today.

More Old Photos of Lytham through History

Take a look at more old picture postcard views of old Lytham here

Are you on Pinterest? Visit Fylde Coast is. Why don’t you join us there? We’ve got boards for all the local areas, including this one of photos of Old Lytham.

Visit Fylde Coast Pinterest board of photos of Lytham through History
Visit Fylde Coast Pinterest board of photos of Lytham through History

What do you know?

We’re sure that there’s much, much more interesting information about the Lytham area. Have you got anything to add?

Simply leave a message below, or, if you’ve got photos to share, just email Full credit will be given.

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