Popularly regarded as a small village outside of Blackpool, Poulton-le-Fylde is a thriving Market Town that hosts a lively market that takes place each Monday. There is a variety of stalls, including fruit & vegetables, textiles, hardware, foodstuffs and other sundries. The town is part of The Fylde coastal plain that covers an approximate area of a 13 mile (20km) peninsula.
The bedrock of the area consists of Permo-Triassic sandstones and particularly Triassic mudstones. These old rocks lie beneath sea-level and are invisible beneath drift made up of glacial till deposits and post-glacial colluvium and alluvium deposits; there is a smaller amount of peat.
Way back in time, 10,000 BC, there appears to have been human habitation in the area and, in 1970, the bones of an Elk dated as 12.000 years old was discovered on Blackpool Old Road, Carleton and this caused Poulton-le-Fylde to gain international recognition.
What made the find so important was the discovery of hunting barbs embedded in the leg bones, indicating that human hunters had lived in this area around 10,000 BC. This is the earliest evidence yet found of man living this far north, in the days when Britain was part of the continent of Europe and it would have been possible to walk from Poulton to the Ural Mountains in Russia.
At the time of the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century AD, the area was inhabited by the ‘Thesetanti’, a Celtic tribe of the time. Several interesting discoveries have been made in Poulton and Skippool that, in addition to a 4th century hoard of 400 Roman coins, have included a medal of Germanicus, a prominent general of the Roman Empire, who was known for his campaigns in Germania.
In 1086 Poulton was recorded as Poltun, derived from the Old English words pull or pōlor tūn meaning “farmstead by a pool or creek”. In later years it was recorded variously as Pultun, Polton, Potton, Poolton and Poulton. The addition of ‘Le-Fylde’ (“in the district called the Fylde”) was added in 1842, to distinguish the town from Poulton-Le-Sands, a village that is now part of Morecambe.
The people of Poulton fought on both sides in the 17th Century Civil Wars, but more men of the Fylde were on the side of the Royalists. No actual battles took place in or even close to Poulton but the area was affected, along with the rest of the county, by the widespread poverty that resulted from the wars.
Poulton became an important centre for trade in the area.
With harbours on either side of the River Wyre, at Skippool and Wardleys, it was able to import goods from as far away as Russia and North America. Flax was imported from Ireland and the Baltic.
Timber came from over the Atlantic Ocean and tallow arrived from Russia. Also imported were such commodities as L and Oats from Ulverston, Dumfries, Wigtown, Whitehaven and Liverpool, and coal was brought in from nearby Preston. Cheese was exported to the same places. By the 18th century, markets for cattle and cloth were being held in the town in February, April and November, with corn fairs every Monday.
The linen industry was widespread in the Fylde during the 18th century and so Poulton’s importation of flax was essential. By the 19th century, craftsmen in Poulton had become an important part of the industry.
In the early part of the 19th century, however, there was a serious decline in the craft industries because of increased mechanisation, as well as increased demand for labour. In contrast to neighbouring Kirkham, Poulton appeared to suffer from a lack of enthusiasm for new industrial techniques and opportunities among its industry leaders.
Poulton’s commercial importance was affected by the growth in the 19th century of two nearby coastal towns. In 1836 the first building was constructed in the new, planned town of Fleetwood, 7 miles (11 km) north of Poulton, at the mouth of the River Wyre. Fleetwood was conceived by local landowner and Preston Member of Parliament Sir Peter Hesketh. It became a major port and a link for passengers travelling from London to Scotland.
To achieve these ideals, a rail link was installed and a line connecting Fleetwood with Preston was completed in 1840, with Poulton as one of the stops. Although Fleetwood immediately superseded Poulton as a port, Poulton initially benefited commercially from the rail link. The importation of Irish and Scottish cattle through Fleetwood enabled a fortnightly cattle market to be held in Poulton. Blackpool was then developing as a resort and, initially, visitors travelled by train to Poulton and then on to Blackpool by horse-drawn charabancs or ‘buses.
A railway line between Poulton and Blackpool was completed in 1846. As Fleetwood and Blackpool’s own commercial capabilities developed, and Kirkham’s prominence in the linen industry continued to grow, Poulton’s importance sadly declined.
A prominent feature of the town is St.Chad’s church that bears a Grade2 classification and is situated in Market Street in the centre of town. In the United Kingdom, the term “listed building” refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance. Grade II includes particularly significant buildings of more than local interest; Grade II consists of buildings of special architectural or historical interest.
Very old gravestones can be seen, in some cases underfoot, as one follows the footpath alongside the church’s main entrance. In springtime the land there is covered in a beautiful and impressive carpet of Crocus – a sight well worth seeing.
There is evidence of a church being on the site from1094, although it may have been built earlier. It became the Anglican parish church at the time of the Reformation and was largely rebuilt in the 18th century. It is constructed of stone with a slate roof. The tower to the west was built in the early 17th century of roughly dressed stone. It has two diagonal buttresses, two angled buttresses and four corner pinnacles that were added in 1923. There are belfry louvres on each side of the tower. The church has large, arched windows with Y-tracery and oval windows which were placed above the doors in the 19th century. A round Norman-style apse was added in 1868.
In Market Street, also, is a set of Stocks of unknown date, constructed of a pair of short rectangular stone pillars, the inner faces having slots hewn to house a pair of raised wooden stock beams, now a little worse for wear, with two pairs of leg-holes that have been replaced several times for various reasons, probably due to wear and tear. Part of the whole ensemble is a tall, concrete Whipping Post.
Nowadays, Poulton is a far cry from the disputes and the hustle & bustle of earlier times, boasting a fine, modern shopping complex in the form of ‘The Teanlowe Centre’ with its various trading units, including a major high street store, ‘Booth’s.’ Having said that Poulton-le-Fylde still retains much of its quiet charm.
There is archeological evidence of human habitation in and around the Poulton-le-Fylde area from c. 10,000 BC.
The Poulton Elk
In July 1970, John Devine accidently made a discovery whilst demolishing an old bungalow to begin work on a new family home in nearby Carleton he uncovered the 13,500 year old skeleton of an elk, along with two bone or antler barbed points close to its hind bones.
These were barbed points made by ancient hunters – the earliest evidence of people in north-west England.
The skeleton is currently on display at the Harris Museum in Preston.
Around the 1st century AD at the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, the Poulton-le-Fylde area was inhabited by a Celtic tribe called the Setantii.
The Setantii, whose name is said to mean ‘people of the waters’, were probably a sub tribe of the Brigantes, who dominated northern England.
A 4th century hoard of 400 Roman coins was found in Rossall, near Fleetwood these are also on display at the Harris Museum. Other finds have been made in Poulton-le-Fylde and Skippol in addition to the coins, these have included a medal of Germanicus and a hipposandal (similar to a horseshoe).