Kirkham Town Centre

Look Around Kirkham

Kirkham is a small town in Lancashire, not far from the Fylde Coast at Lytham and the River Ribble.

Draw a straight line on a map and it’s midway between the coast at south Blackpool and Preston. Adjacent to the nearby town, it’s often referred to as Kirkham and Wesham.

Google map showing the location of Kirkham
Google map showing the location of Kirkham

It’s an attractive place with a population of approximately 7500 people. We went to take a look around on a cold, bright day in December 2020 –

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Kirkham Today

We enjoyed our wintery walk around the town when we visited in December 2020, and we’ll be going back again in better weather.

There’s a good selection of shops, with some high street names and plenty of independent stores.

Poppies Florist at Kirkham
Poppies Florist at Kirkham

Morrison’s supermarket is conveniently sited on the high street, adjacent to the Memorial Gardens. At the other end of the main road, next to the Market Square, there’s a local Co-op supermarket too.

Kirkham high street adjacent to the Market Square
Kirkham high street adjacent to the Market Square

The old Market Square is a useful local parking place. The cobbled floor is surrounded by shops.

Kirkham Market Square
Kirkham Market Square

If you fancy spending a few hours exploring in this pleasant place, there are plenty of cafes, pubs and takeaways. Grab a bite to eat and refuel before continuing on your look around.

Kirkham In Bloom

Even though it’s December and we’re in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear to see that local people love their town.

Kirkham In Bloom Tribute to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 2012
Kirkham In Bloom Tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2012

Volunteers have been looking after the small garden area at the entrance to Morrison’s. Winter flowering plants there brighten up the day, intermixed with the attractive pieces of permanent artwork, like this one.

In Bloom's Tree for all Seasons
In Bloom’s Tree for all Seasons

Christmas lights are on display and everywhere looks clean, tidy and well presented. We’ll certainly come back again on a warm and sunny day!

Memorial Gardens

On the day that we visited Kirkham, we had an appointment with Santa. He was arriving by Huey helicopter to meet local school children…

Our assignment took us to the Memorial Gardens where we found the beautiful and touching tribute to those lost in World War 1.

Memorial Garden
Memorial Garden

Organised by Kirkham Town Council, the installation of 500 individual poppies tumbles down the rockery behind the cenotaph. It represents the men leaving the Market Square and marching off to war.

Poppy installation in the Memorial Garden
Poppy installation in the Memorial Garden

The town’s Memorial Garden is also home to 105 trees. They commemorate the memory of the lives of 105 Kirkham men lost in the Great War.

Unveiled on 11 November 2018, it marks the Centenary of World War 1.

And this is our video of Santa arriving in the nearby school field, delivered in style by Huey Helicopter!

History of Kirkham

Kirkham is probably the earliest inhabited locality in the Fylde area.

Did you know? The name comes from the Danish ‘Kirk’ (meaning church) and Saxon ‘ham’ (meaning settlement).

Many years ago it was known as Kirkham in Amounderness. The town originated because of Carr Hill, on which it’s built. Also once the site of a Roman fort.

It’s recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, described as lying on the Roman road between Ribchester and the River Wyre.

A couple of hundred years later, the Market Charter was granted in 1269-70 by King Henry III.

Arrival of the Textile Trade

From the late 1600’s, Kirkham grew into a textile centre. From the late 1830’s, sailcloth was being made at home in a cottage industry. Then production moved to the Flax Mill, which was built in 1861. By 1876, 1000 people were employed in the mills.

Progress Mill was the last one to be built in 1915. Kirkham had 11 mills and looms ran in the area until 2003, making velvets, twills and Bedford Cord.

At Lower Station Road near to Kirkham and Wesham railway station you can see the ‘last loom of Kirkham’ on public display.

Favoured by LS Lowry

Northern artist LS Lowry, famous for his ‘matchstick men’ was partial to the Fylde Coast. He painted the Over Wyre town of Knott End, where you’ll see a statue of him at the quayside.

LS Lowry's 1925 painting of Church Street in Kirkham
LS Lowry’s 1925 painting of Church Street in Kirkham

In 1925, Church Street at Kirkham was also the subject of one of his paintings (above). He must have really liked it, because in 1935 he painted it again in ‘A Lancashire Village’.

A Lancashire Village by LS Lowry, 1935
A Lancashire Village by LS Lowry, 1935

Listed Buildings in Kirkham

As you’d expect in a town that’s so old, there are plenty of interesting historic buildings and features in Kirkham. In fact there are 20 such listings – this information about them is from Wikipedia –

14 Preston Street

1729. A house in stuccoed brick with a tiled roof. It’s in three storeys with a cellar, and a two-bay front. Five steps lead up to a central doorway, above which is a plaque containing the date, initials, and the coat of arms of the London Curriers Company.

Sundial at St Michael’s Church

18th century (probable). The top of the sundial dates from the 20th century. In sandstone it consists of a fluted circular column without a base. This carries a Tuscan capital with a round bronze dial and gnomon.

Fishstones and Lamp Standard

1829. The fishstones consist of sandstone slabs arranged as two semicircular counters, formerly used to display fish for sale. A cast iron lamp standard is in the centre. Added in 1872, it was later removed, but replaced in 1982. It has a decorative base, a fluted shaft, and three brackets, the central one holding a lamp.

Fishstones and lamp standard in Kirkham Market Square
Fishstones and lamp standard in Kirkham Market Square

2 Church Street

c. 1765. A brick house with stone dressings and a hipped slate roof. It’s in three storeys with a cellar, and a five-bay front – the central bay projecting forward. Five steps lead up to the central doorway, which has a semicircular architrave with Tuscan pilasters and a pediment on consoles. The windows in the central bay also have moulded architraves.

St Michael’s Church

1822 (rebuilt). Designed by Robert Roper, this church was rebuilt on the foundations of an older one. In 1843–44 Edmund Sharpe added the west steeple, and the chancel rebuilt in 1853. The west steeple rises to a height of 150 feet (46 m). The nave is in Early English style, the chancel is in Decorated style, and the steeple is Perpendicular.

Tomb, St Michael’s Church

Early 19th century. The tomb is that of Edward and Dorothy King. It’s in sandstone and consists of a chest with clasping pilasters. The inscription records that Edward was Vice Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Tomb, St Michael’s Church

c. 1836. The tomb is that of Edward and Elizabeth Birley. It’s in carboniferous limestone and consists of a Greek sarcophagus on a plinth. It has a monolithic roof-slab.

Tomb, St Michael’s Church

Mid 19th century The tomb is that of William Birley, his wife and others. It’s in sandstone with cast iron railings. The tomb’s in the form of a Gothic tabernacle. Elaborately decorations adorn all four faces, with four gables, crocketed pinnacles, and a small spire. Each side has inscribed panels.

Jubilee Lamp

1887. Erected to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the lamp has an octagonal sandstone inscribed base. The decorative cast iron lamp post consists of a circular plinth carrying four twisted columns with a single capital. On this is a moulded shaft with a hexagonal lampshade. There is a plaque on the columns with details of a refurbishment in 1988.

4 Church Street

Early 19th century. A brick house with stone dressings and a slate roof. It’s in three storeys with a cellar, and a three-bay front. Three steps lead up to a central doorway with a rectangular fanlight, and a moulded architrave with a plain frieze and a cornice. The windows have stone sills and lintels.

4 and 6 Freckleton Street

Early 19th century. Originally an inn, later converted into houses and a shop. Built in brick with stone dressings and a slate roof, in three storeys with an attic. In the ground floor are shop windows.

Hillside and attached wings

Early 19th century. The house and attached former stable wings are in brick on a sandstone plinth. It’s in two storeys with cellars and an attic. The house has a five-bay frontage and the central doorway is approached by a double flight of steps. The two-storey wings which flank it have carriage openings in the lower floor and lunettes above.

32 Poulton Street

Early to mid 19th century. A brick house, later used as an office, with stone dressings and a slate roof. It’s in three storeys with a cellar, and has a front of two bays. Three steps lead up to a doorway with Tuscan columns, a cornice, and a semi-elliptical fanlight. The windows are sashes with stone sills and lintels. Cast iron railings surround the front.

Church of St John the Evangelist

1845. A Roman Catholic church designed by A. W. N. Pugin in early Decorated style. Built in sandstone with a slate roof, and consists of a nave with clerestory, aisles, a chancel with aisles, a sanctuary, a south porch, and a west steeple with a broach spire containing three tiers of lucarnes. Pugin also designed some of the fittings and furniture. Others result from a refurbishment in 1906.

Walls and gateway, Church of St John the Evangelist

1845. A. W. N. Pugin designed both the churchyard wall and entrance gateway. The wall has a coping in the style of a Mansard roof. The gateway consists of an arch with stepped coping in a similar style. At the rear are buttresses.

Grammar School

1909–11. The school was designed by F. H. Greenaway. It’s built in rendered brick with sandstone dressings and a green tile roof. It has a long irregular front, with a number of gables, including one in the headmaster’s house on the left. The central block is recessed with a porch in the middle, above which is a square clock cupola. To the right is a full-height hall with a canted and battlemented bay window. Further to the right is a single-storey block. All the windows are mullioned and transomed.

Kirkham Grammar School
Kirkham Grammar School

Railway Hotel

c. 1850. Originally a railway hotel, later a public house. Built in brick it has a slate roof. In two storeys with a three-bay front. The slightly projecting porch has rusticated quoins and a semicircular arch, and the windows have moulded architraves. At the top of the hotel is a rectangular panel containing the word “HOTEL”.

Trustee Savings Bank

1860. Built as a girls’ charity school, and later used as a bank. It’s built in brick with sandstone dressings, and is in Gothic Revival style. From the left are a pair of lancet windows, then an arcade of six lancets, and then an arched entrance with a mullioned fanlight. Further to the right is the former teacher’s house with a semicircular oriel window rising to a gable, and beyond that is an open arch leading to the rear.

United Reformed Church

1896–97. Built as a Congregational church, it was designed by Briggs and Wolstenholme. It is in sandstone with a slate roof, and consists of a nave with transepts, and a steeple.

Telephone Kiosk

1935. A K6 type telephone kiosk, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. Constructed in cast iron with a square plan and a dome, it has three unperforated crowns in the top panels.

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