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Kirkham United Reformed Church, Poulton Street
Kirkham shown within Lancashire
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Kirkham (originally Kirkam-in-Amounderness) is a small town and civil parish in the Borough of Fylde in Lancashire, England, midway between Blackpool and Preston (11 miles west of Preston) and adjacent to the smaller town of Wesham. It owes its existence to Carr Hill upon which it was built and which was the location of a Roman fort. It has a population of 7,127, increasing to 7,194 at the Census 2011.
In his 1878 History of the Fylde of Lancashire, John Porter described Kirkham as ".. probably the earliest inhabited locality in the Fylde district." Remains found at Carleton in the 1970s of an elk with two harpoons embedded suggest that the Fylde was inhabited as long ago as 8,000 BC.
The town is pre-Roman in its origin with a name originating from the Danish kirk (church) and -ham (Saxon for settlement, or "home"). It appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 under the name of Chicheham and is described as lying on the Roman road between Ribchester (Bremetennacum) and the River Wyre. The town's market charter was granted in 1269–70 by King Henry III.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Kirkham remained a small market town. But from the late 17th century the town grew into a thriving textile centre. From 1830 sailcloth was being woven in cottages in the town and later at the Flax Mill, built in 1861 by John Birley.
In 1792 a Roman brass shield boss was discovered by local schoolmaster John Willacy, in the Dow Brook, in Mill Hill Field. Willacy sold the shield to a Scotsman but it found its way to the Charles Townley collection in Burnley and from there to the British Museum. The oval shield, about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, bore the representation of a human figure, seated, with an eagle to the left and an athlete at the side.
Looms ran in the town from about 1850 until 2003. At one time the town had eleven mills, the last to be built being Progress Mill in 1915. On the lower part of Station Road "The Last Loom" of Kirkham is on permanent display. This loom, a crossrod type from the 1920s, with the use of tappets at the side, could produce an extensive range of fabrics including velvets, twills and Bedford cord.
In 1925 Church Street became the subject of a pencil on paper drawing by Salford artist L. S. Lowry In his later "A Lancashire Village, 1935" he painted the scene again, but with a wider street full of people and a house in front of the church.
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The Church of England parish church is St Michael's whose minister is Reverend Rick Bunday. There is also a Roman Catholic church – St John the Evangelist, built in 1845, but known locally as "The Willows" – on the Ribby Road, a United Reformed Church on Poulton Street, a Methodist church on Nelson Street.
Zion (Independent) Chapel was founded in 1818. Although the church has long since been demolished, the graveyard remains. Now associated with Kirkham United Reformed Church, but adjacent to the Manse Nursing Home in the centre of the town, this unusual isolated burial-ground is still well maintained.
Location and amenities
Kirkham lies at the centre of a relatively rich agricultural area. By the mid 18th century, however, the manufacture of sail cloth and the flax-weaving industry had become well established in the town. By 1876 there were several factories employing almost 1,000 workers in the cotton and other industries and by the end of the century the town had grown considerably in importance.
Kirkham and Wesham railway station was opened in 1840 as "Kirkham Station", when the Preston and Wyre Railway and Harbour Company opened its line to Fleetwood. South of the town is Kirkham Prison, an open prison built on part of the site of the Royal Air Force base which closed in 1957.
The town is served by its own free newspaper, the Kirkham and Wesham Advertiser. Both the Blackpool Gazette and the Lancashire Evening Post cover Kirkham news, as does the weekly Kirkham and Fylde Express. Regular bus services are provided by the Ribble branch of Stagecoach Buses and Coastal Coaches.
The town has been visited by a number of well-known authors who have performed book-signings at one of the town's two book shops. These have included Ranulph Fiennes, Michael Parkinson, Stacey Solomon, Michael Caine, Sarah Brown, Joanne Harris, the Wanted, Jacqueline Wilson, Jo Brand, Gervase Phinn, Al Murray, Terry Wogan, Katie Price, Jack Dee and many more. One of these shops, Silverdell, has been voted "Independent Bookshop of the Year (Northern)". The town has a number of garages, but no longer any petrol filling station.
Kirkham Club Day, an annual gala, is held in early June, jointly with Wesham. The day involves the various churches and their chosen "Rose Queens", together with biblical tableau floats, civic dignitaries and brass bands, walking in procession through the town in the morning. In 2013 Club Day was held on 8 June.
Kirkham has two secondary schools: Carr Hill High School a mixed comprehensive school and sixth form, and Kirkham Grammar School, an independent school. Feeding into these two schools are the primary schools of Kirkham: Kirkham and Wesham Primary School, Kirkham Grammar Junior School, St John the Evangelist (also known as "The Willows") Catholic Primary School, Kirkham St Michael's C of E Primary School and Pear Tree Specialist School (for special requirements in physical and sensory).
Kirkham Swimming Baths was erected in 1908 by the bequest of William Segar Hodgson J.P. and has served Kirkham as a public swimming pool for over a century. Open seven days a week, galas, free children swims and adult-only swims are regularly held. In February 2008 a campaign was initiated to save the baths from closure. This included a public march through Kirkham and Wesham on 1 March attended by some 3,000 local supporters A local action group was subsequently formed to organise the longer term survival of the baths, and was successful in presenting a business plan to Fylde Borough Council. The baths, now run by the YMCA, has been re-branded as "Rural Splash".
The town's football club is A.F.C. Fylde. The club was known as Kirkham and Wesham F.C until the end of the 2007–08 season, and was formed by the amalgamation of Kirkham Town F.C. and Wesham F.C. The change of name to A.F.C. Fylde was made to try and encourage a broader fan-base from across the Fylde coast.
A.F.C. Fylde is currently based in the nearby village of Warton and plays in the Conference North. They won the FA Vase in the 2007–08 season, beating Lowestoft Town in the final at Wembley Stadium on 11 May 2008. They were also promoted to the North West Counties Football League Premier Division after finishing second in Division Two. In 2008–09 they were North West Counties Football League champions and so won promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One North. The team now have their own Headquarters and Club Shop on Station Road.
Kirkham is twinned with both Ancenis in Loire-Atlantique, France and Bad Brückenau, a spa town in Bad Kissingen district, northern Bavaria which is situated in the Rhön Mountains in Germany. Kirkham has an active Twinning Association and has regular contact with both Ancenis and Bad Brückenau.
There a number of Grade II listed buildings and structures:
- 14, Preston Street – bearing the date 1729, the initials H JE and above them the coat of arms of the London Curriers Company
- 4, Church Street
- 32, Preston Street
- 4 and 6, Freckleton Street
- Church of St John the Evangelist, Ribby Road
- Churchyard wall and gateway S of the Church of St John the Evangelist, Ribby Road
- Fishstones and Lamp, 4 Church Street
- Jubilee Lamp
- Kirkham Grammar School (boarding house and eastern buildings only), Ribby Road
- Kirkham United Reformed Church
- Hillside and attached wings, 48, Preston Street
- K6 telephone kiosk, 34, Poulton Street
- Railway Hotel, 115 Station Road
- Sundial, in Churchyard, c. 20m S of south porch of the Church of St Michael, 37, Church Street
- Tomb of Edward and Dorothy King, in churchyard c. 50m SE of porch, School Lane
- Tomb of Edward and Elizabeth Birley in churchyard c. 55 yards SE of porch, School Lane
- Tomb of William Birley and Others in churchyard c. 55 yards SE of porch, School Lane
- Trustee Savings Bank, Poulton Street
- "Kirkham: Historic Town Assessment Report", Lancashire County Council and Egerton Lea Consultancy, June 2006.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Fylde Retrieved 8 February 2010
- "Town population 2011". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Porter, J. MRCS, LSA (1878) History of the Fylde of Lancashire, Fleetwood and Blackpool, W. Porter and Sons Publisher, Chapter XII – The Parish of Kirkham.
- Singleton, F.J. (1980), Kirkham – A Short History, Kirkham & District Local History Society.
- Tupling, G.H. "Markets in Medieval Lancashire", Historical Essays in Honour of James Tait, Manchester University Press, p.351.
- Church Street, Kirkham, 1925 at ls-lowry.com
- "A Lancashire Village, 1935" at thelowry.com
- St John The Evangelist, UK and Ireland Genealogy.
- Poulton St Congregational, UK and Ireland Genealogy.
- Nelson Street Wesleyan Methodist, UK and Ireland Genealogy.
- Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0508-1. OCLC 60251199.
- "Welcome to the Library and Information Service web site – History of Kirkham". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
- "Library Refurbishments" – Kirkham Library at lancashire.gov.uk
- "Lytham Today – Kirkham and Rural News". Lytham St Annes Express. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
- "The 50 Best Bookshops", The Independent.
- Kirkham Club Day
- 3,000 march to save under-threat baths, LEP, David Coates
- Rural Splash website
- KIRKHAM PRESTON STREET, SD 43 SW, 9/30 No.14 at britishlistedbuildings.co.uk
- Ramsbottom, M. (2013), Around Kirkham through Time, Stroud, Amberley Publishing
- Ramsbottom, M. (2013), An Historical Tour around the Town of Kirkham, Kirkham, (self-published)
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