St Stephen's Church
|Population||4,146 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Banks // is a large coastal village in Lancashire, England, south of the Ribble estuary four miles (6 km) north-east of Southport. The village is administered by West Lancashire Borough and North Meols Parish Council. It is in the South Ribble parliamentary constituency. At the 2001 census the population of the North Meols civil parish was 3,792, rising to 4,146 by the 2011 census.
Banks is the largest village in the parish of North Meols on the West Lancashire coastal plain. It was primarily an agricultural community due to the excellent soil, although there was fishing activity for many years. Production of flowers and vegetables is common on the farms surrounding the village. The proximity of Southport and Preston have led to its expansion as a dormitory for commuters.
Banks is believed to have been named for the many artificial embankments built in the north of the village to protect it from winter floods from the River Ribble and the tide. The old embankments can be seen when entering Banks at Marsh Road and at the end of George's Lane. However, these embankments became redundant when the River Ribble retreated in the 1900s and larger ones are in place further north creating more farmland. Local people refer to the village as Bonks //; retained from the Middle English pronunciation.
The earliest recorded history commences with a deed concerning Far Banks, made in the reign of Henry II in 1154. It relates to a Guide House for travellers who forded the River Ribble from the Fylde to North Meols. At this time the area was on the most northern fringe of the ancient division of West Derby and the local area was called meles, meaning sand dunes.
The area was isolated to the north and west by the Ribble estuary, to the south by a chain of barren sand hills, to the east by a lake called Martin Mere – which at the time was the largest lake in England covering 3,132 acres (12.67 km2).
The biggest coastal disaster in the area was in 1719 when 5,000 acres of the Ribble estuary, from Crossens to Hesketh Bank and Tarleton were flooded, when the sea banks broke. A total of 47 houses were carried away by the tidal flood. Nine people drowned and cattle, sheep and crops were lost.
Dating from before the Norman conquest, this area of small farming and fishing villages was originally known as Otegrimeles, from the Norse word melr, meaning sand dunes. Historically, North Meols centred on St. Cuthbert's Church in Churchtown, although there were vicarages in Crossens, Banks and Birkdale. Parts of the parish were almost completely surrounded by water until the drainage of Martin Mere and other marshland was completed. This was done by the irrigation and sluice ditches constructed by Thomas Fleetwood of Bank Hall in 1692 with further attempts in 1780. The drainage was completed in the 19th century with the construction of Crossens pumping station. This left a legacy of fine agricultural soil, which continues to be exploited – the primary industry in the area is farming, especially of flowers and vegetables.
Banks railway station
Banks had a station on the West Lancashire Railway which opened on 19 February 1878, on the line between Southport and Preston railway station to carry passengers and produce to be sold at town markets. The station had a depot and goods yard for coal merchants. The line crossed Hoole Lane, Long Lane and Square House Lane where there were manned level crossings. Low passenger numbers led to the railway's decline and its closure was assured by the Beeching Axe on 7 September 1964. The stone bridge supports that carried the track across the sluice ditches in Banks can still be seen and the station platform still exists. The route is used as a public footpath.
Thomas Talbot Leyland Scarisbrick was born in 1874. He grew up in Southport and was educated in Lancashire. In 1900 he built Greaves Hall on a 124-acre (0.50 km2) site. It had a porter's lodge by the main entrance, a gardener's lodge, engineer's workshop, laundry and general workshop, all built close to the hall in a mock Tudor style. The mansion was surrounded by lawns and gardens filled with ornamental trees and flowering shrubs. The hall had approximately 55 rooms, open areas situated on the ground, first, second and attic floors and a vast basement.
The Scarisbrick family lived at Greaves Hall until after the First World War when they moved to Scarisbrick Hall and sold the estate to a consortium of Banks farmers. The mansion stood empty while the land was cultivated by the consortium. The mansion and grounds were occupied by Sherbrook School for Girls. The school was closed when the Health Authority took over the hall as a TB hospital and subsequently for patients with mental health and learning disabilities from Liverpool during and after the Second World War. Greaves Hall Hospital had wards built in the grounds and the mansion house was used for administration. In the early 1990s the facility was moved to Southport.
Given Grade II listed status in 1997, Greaves Hall suffered many fires and vandalism. Its owners claimed it was beyond repair and two planning applications to demolish it were refused. On 4 August 2009 a small section of the roof collapsed, within days it was cleared and full demolition commenced on 13 August. The site of the Greaves Hall mansion house and former hospital maintenance area has been redeveloped for housing.
The water tower off Aveling Drive dominated the skyline from the 1960s. It could be seen from miles around and from Winter Hill, 20 miles (32 km) east from the village. The tower was built for Greaves Hall Hospital and was decommissioned in 1992 when the hospital closed. After a failed preservation attempt, it was demolished in 2018 under protest by local residents.
At North West England. The closest cities are Preston approximately 12 miles (19 km) to the north east and Liverpool approximately 18 miles (29 km) to the south west. The nearest town is Southport, 4 miles (6 km) south west of the village., Banks is situated in
Situated on the West Lancashire Coastal Plain, most of the village is only slightly above sea-level and parts can be susceptible to flooding. There are embankments to the north of the village and there are drainage systems across the area, most notably the pumping station on Banks Road, Crossens.
The drainage of Martin Mere in the mid-19th century created a legacy of fine agricultural soil which is exploited to this day - the primary industry in the area is farming, especially of flowers and vegetables.
The area has a maritime climate like most of the UK. The area rarely sees substantial snowfall and temperatures rarely fall below –5 °C so it does not have frequent frosts. Banks generally has moderate precipitation, unlike the rest of western UK.
Banks Village is the central part of Banks and where most of the shops, both the religious sites and the primary schools are situated. It is also where Greaves Hall was situated. Far Banks is the east side of the village from Smithy Corner to the border with Hundred End and Tarleton. Banks Enclosed Marsh is former marshland in the north which has been reclaimed for agriculture. This area is sparsely populated, consisting mostly of farmhouses. Banks Marsh is the far north of the village and is part of the Ribble estuary. There are no houses in this area as it prone to flooding.
There are three other areas in the civil parish of North Meols: Hundred End is a hamlet on Marsh Road between Banks and Hesketh Bank, Churchtown/Crossens Moss is south west of the village and mostly used for agriculture. The villages of Churchtown and Crossens are part of Southport.
Banks Marsh forms the largest area of marshland within the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. It is one of the most important sites in the United Kingdom for wintering wildfowl. The reserve, established in 1979, occupies over half of the total area of the Ribble Estuary, including extensive areas of mud and sand flats and almost all of the salt marsh habitat - one of the largest such areas in England. Its 4,697 hectares (11,613 acres) contain large areas of intertidal mud and sand flats.
The reserve has been declared a Ramsar site and a Special Protection Area (SPA). In summer the salt marsh supports large numbers of breeding birds including black-headed gull, European herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, common tern and common redshank. Skylark, meadow pipit and linnet nest in significant numbers on the grazing marsh. Management of the site involves grazing the salt marsh with cattle to maintain the short sward on which wintering wildfowl (especially Eurasian wigeon and the pink-footed goose) depend. The main area of salt marsh is grazed by approximately 800 cattle from May to October, forming one of the largest single herds of cattle in the UK. Wildfowling takes place on much of the reserve and improved management has contributed to the increase in the number of birds visiting the site. A group of volunteers led by the local Wildfowlers Association carries out much of the valuable maintenance work on the reserve.
The Ribble Estuary is an important part of the network of wetland sites in Western Europe. It supports over a quarter of a million waders and wildfowl each winter, and is an internationally important site for twenty species of birds. Recreation, fishing, wildfowling and farming all take place within the estuary in balance with the wildlife interest.
At local government level, Banks is one of the two remaining settlements within the historical civil parish of North Meols and has its own parish council. North Meols is also a ward under the administration of West Lancashire Borough Council.
|Population growth in North Meols from 1901–1961|
North Meols CP/AP
Even though modern Banks is primarily a commuter village for Southport, Liverpool and Preston, there is farming activity which has been the core of the community for hundreds of years. Most of the produce grown on the farms was sold to local markets, but now most is either sold to national supermarkets like Marks and Spencer or to countries in the EU.
Banks once had a thriving shrimping industry but this has dwindled to almost nothing due to cheaper foreign competition. Recently there has been interest on Banks Marsh in the edible seaweed, samphire, (locally known as Sampi). It is found on few coastal areas in Europe. It is picked by local people in the summer months and mostly sold to Booths supermarkets that sell local produce.
There are two business areas made up of small businesses that provide local services. One is on the A565 (Southport New Road) and the other is a Granite worktop manufacturing business (Granite House) in the former grounds of Greaves Hall. Banks has a post office, Co-op store, a hairdressers, and a newsagents. Healthcare facilities include the North Meols Medical Centre on Church Road, a doctor's surgery and a pharmacy. A new care home was completed in August 2014 (located just off Guinea Hall Lane on Greaves Hall Lane). Shortly afterwards a learning and head injury home was built adjacent to the care home. There is also a community centre on Hoole Lane.
The village attracts walkers to its many public footpaths, and Banks Marsh attracts bird watchers. In addition many cyclists pass through the village and in recent years The Tour of Britain has passed through Banks on the A565.
|No.||From||To||Via||Bus operator||Bus timetable Link|
|2||Preston bus station||Southport town centre||Lower Penwortham, Longton, Tarleton, Hesketh Bank, Banks, Crossens||Stagecoach|||
|X2||Preston bus station||Liverpool||Lower Penwortham, Longton, Tarleton, Banks (A565), Southport, Formby, Crosby, Bootle||Stagecoach|||
Ralph's Wife's Lane is the main road connecting Banks with Crossens to the south. Its name has two origins: one that Ralph was a fisherman lost at sea or Ralph was a smuggler, again lost at sea. His wife's ghost is supposed to be looking for him. It has been reported that people have seen the ghost on dark winter nights walking from by St Stephens Church to Fiddler's Ferry holding a lamp waiting for her loved one to return home. The story states that she lit a lamp in her window every night and sat by it so he knew that she was waiting for him to return home. The site of the house is occupied by two bungalows.
Sugar Stubbs Lane is situated in Far Banks down the A565 road towards Mere Brow. The road was once a track across the marsh. In the 1980s the road was extended across the Banks Moss towards Hundred End and Tarleton. Its history is that it was the route taken by monks from Lancaster who travelled by boat across the marsh to Liverpool, and marked their way across the marsh and estuary by dropping the stubbs from the sugar canes along the way so they could find their way back giving the name to Sugar Stubbs Lane and Sugar Stubbs Farm where a small farm shop is run from the house.
There are four properties on the lane, one, the former Mock Tudor gatehouse to Greaves Hall at the junction of the A565 road and Sugar Stubbs Lane. The driveway to Greaves Hall was restored in 2005 and is a public footpath.
The village has two primary schools, Banks Methodist Primary School on Chapel Lane and Banks St Stephens Primary School on Greaves Hall Avenue. (Banks St Stephens school relocated to its present site from Hoole Lane in July 1998.) There is also a children's nursery on Station Road.
There are no secondary schools in Banks and most children aged 11–16 attend Tarleton High School or secondary schools in Southport. In 1973 the education office announced that there may be the possibility of a new secondary school being built on Station Road in Banks. But on 29 January 1974 the government said that the necessary funding was not available and so the plan was cancelled.
The village has two places of worship: Banks Methodist Chapel situated on Chapel Lane and St Stephens Church in the centre of the village on Church Road.
Banks Leisure Centre on Greaves Hall Avenue was known as North Meols Leisure Centre. It has two 7-a-side all weather football pitches, a sports hall and a fitness suite.
The Riverside Holiday Park is on Southport New Road. The site is operated by Harrison Leisure, who have a large caravan showroom complex which now dominates the site. There is a small cafe in the building previously used as the gym, the pool building remains, but only used by guests. The former nightclub was demolished in 2017 to make way for a retail development.
Once a year (usually in late October) Banks Methodist Primary School holds a scarecrow competition to celebrate Halloween. It was started in 2007 and it involves people (mainly children) making scarecrows in their gardens for a week before the judging begins at the school.
The W.I. holds meetings in the small hall on Meols Court. The hall is used for other recreational purposes, such as bingo for the senior citizens.
Banks is well known for the marshland which lies on the coast of the Ribble estuary which is highly regarded for bird watching and attracts many visitors. It is a site of special scientific interest.
There are footpaths across the village including the old railway line from Southport New Road to Rydings Lane in Far Banks. It is owned by the Environment Agency and is open to the public, dog walkers and horse riders. Hoole Lane is the starting point of a 10-mile cycle route that extends down the coast through Southport to Ainsdale.
The Sluice, sometimes called the River Crossens and the Back Drain flow through Banks and are popular with anglers.
There are two recreational grounds in Banks, one which is mostly used for cricket, the other was once part of the Greaves Hall grounds and is now used by the football team. There are three children's play areas.
Most residents get two weekly free newspapers, the Southport Midweek Visiter and the independent Southport Champion. The village shops sells the Southport Visiter on Fridays. The Ormskirk and West Lancashire Advertiser is sold in the area.
Banks receives the local radio station called Dune FM closed down in 2012, which is based in Southport. Other radio stations based elsewhere in the region are popular such as Rock FM based in Preston. Because the village is on the border of Merseyside and in Lancashire, the village picks up signals from both BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Lancashire.
Banks has significantly increased its size and population. More housing and facilities have been constructed, particularly the housing estate on the former grounds of Greaves Hall by Seddon Homes. Since it was demolished in August 2009 there are plans to use the site for further residential development. Elsewhere in the village, new homes by the Redrow group were built in 2014 on Guinea Hall Lane. A care home, as well as a brain injury and learning facility were constructed on Greaves Hall Lane. In 2016 further housing was built on Hoole Lane.[needs update]
The area floods during long, heavy spells of rain, due to extra surface water from poor drainage. The local council has addressed this problem and works closely with developers.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- "Demolition men move in on Greaves Hall". Champion newspaper. 19 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- Met Office - Mapped Averages Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "Merseyside's National Nature Reserves: Ribble Estuary". gov.uk. Natural England. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
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- "Banks Leisure Centre". West Lancashire Borough Council. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Hawtree Grove". Seddon Homes. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
- "Banks flood tag will kill village, councillor says". Champion newspaper. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
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