Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Taking The Genteel Airs Of St Annes, Lancashire

Sunday 29 May 2016. It's Spring Bank Holiday weekend and we decide to have lunch out at the Beach Cafe, St Annes. It's a beautiful day. We park on a side road off the Promenade near to the Pier and walk along to the cafe which is family owned and run.

The Fylde coast does from time to time see a bit of rough weather - as witness what used to be the end of the pier standing forlornly a distance from the current end of the pier... But today the temperatures are up, the ice cream is selling fast - and melting fast - and some jaunty blue umbrella sunshades have sprung up to convince you that this is Hawaii.

St Annes is just a few miles south of Blackpool and was always a little more genteel. A half-way stop between Blackpool and Lytham. Stone designs in the bridge pathways were laid down in 1909. A little hard to see on this photograph admittedly, but a few minutes searching around this spot and you will find stone depictions of anchors and windmills and geometric designs all made out of pebbles set into the cement.

The bridges take you over the waterways and gardens. For the more adventurous there are some stepping stones over the waterway at one point. They too have been there a hundred years or more and I have some ancient cine film of myself as a baby being carried over them by my Grandad!

These gardens are still unspoilt by the change in national pasttimes and tastes from the 20th to the 21st century. The ducks can enjoy their use of the water, largely undisturbed by the shouts or chasing of children.

At the southern end of the water garden is the waterfall, with the path leading through a little grotto behind the fall. Behind the waterfall and the rockeries, topped by that luxuriant shrubbery is the Promenade.

Back to the Pier and turning inland, we come to the centre of St Annes. This looks away from the seafront along St Annes Road West. The traffic lights control the crossing of the main coast route from Blackpool to Lytham, a little further along the coast.

Whilst it is no different from any high street in that it has been affected by changing shopping habits, St Annes has reacted by enhancing the existing flower beds and garden layouts, creating new social spaces which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

A sad occurrence locally was the loss of the department store J.R. Taylor. The largest independent department store in the area went into administration in December 2014 and closed its doors for the last time on 17 January 2015 when no buyer could be found. The property is currently available to rent.

Garden Street is another shopping street leading from St Annes Road West, the main street, to the entrance to Ashton Gardens. This municipal park has a bowling green, children's playground and the Pavilion Cafe.

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