"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on December 29, 2017 by Sioux under General
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With the good weather looking to be around for a while yet, I took a train to the coastal town of Southport for a quick look around, as I knew the annual airshow had been hosted there on the same day. It was over by the time I got there but that didn’t stop me from grabbing the chance to have a photo next to one of my favorite planes – a Spitfire! 

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Southport, considered to be the eleventh most populous settlement in North West England, has had settlements since the Domesday Book, and some parts of the town have names of Viking origin. The earliest recorded human activity in the region was during the Middle Stone Age. The city was founded in 1792, when a bathing-house was established for the use of the more ‘well-to-do’ inhabitants of nearby inland cities. The belief was that bathing in sea water helped to cure aches and pains. The area also became popular with tourists at the turn of the 19th century, due to the easy access from nearby Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and is still one of the most popular seaside resorts in the UK. The  Southport Pier with its Southport Pier Tramway is the second longest seaside pleasure pier in the British Isles.  

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                                                                                                                     Built in 1859, Southport Pier is referred

                                                                                                                     to as the first true “pleasure pier”, being

                                                                                                                     one of the earliest pier structures to be

                                                                                                                     erected using iron, which makes it the

                                                                                                                     oldest iron pier in the country. Although

                                                                                                                     at one stage it spanned 1,340m in length,

                                                                                                                     storms and fires during the late 19th and

                                                                                                                     early 20th century reduced its length and it now reaches a length of 1,108m, making it the second

                                                                                                                     longest in Great Britain. The pier has been host to famous entertainers, including Charlie Chaplin in the 

                                                                                                                     early 20th century and was formerly visited by steamliners in its heyday, however channel silting meant 

                                                                                                                     this ceased in the 1920s. During WWII the pier was closed to the public to house and operate                                                                                                                                         searchlights to detect enemy aircraft travelling to Liverpool docks, and did not reopen again until 1950. It 

                                                                                                                     fell into disrepair throughout the late 20th century, and by 1990, was operating at an annual loss with 

                                                                                                                     maintenance costs mounting. Restorations were undertaken and the pier was restored and reopened to 

                                                                                                                     the public in May 2002. 

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte lived in exile on Lord Street, the main thoroughfare of Southport, between 1846 and 1848, before returning to France to become  President. During his reign, much of the medieval centre of Paris was replaced with broad tree-lined boulevards, covered walkways and arcades, just like Lord Street. It has been suggested that the changes were inspired by memories of Southport’s town centre. 

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As a seaside town, Southport has a long history of leisure and recreation and is still heavily dependent on tourism and was named as the UK’s 14th most popular coastal resort. The lagoon on the waterfront initially formed due while drainage work was going on during land reclamation. It was landscaped to form part of ‘Prince’s Park’ and officially opened in 1921, and the Venetian Bridge across the lake was opened in 1931. 

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Southport War Memorial consists of a 20m obelisk flanked by 2 colonnades in the form of Greek temples and memorial gardens; each containing a Pool of Remembrance and fountains.The memorial was unveiled in 1923 and following WWII and subsequent conflicts, further inscriptions names have been added.

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The Marine Way suspension bridge opened in August 2004 linking Southport and the Ocean Plaza retail park. It’s dramatic height makes it a prominent feature on the town’s skyline. An asymmetric cable-stayed bridge, the deck supported from an A-frame pylon. The main span is 80m, and the bridge is 150m long x 18.5m wide. The tower is 56m tall. Opened in 2004, Marine Way Bridge crosses an artificial lake, which dates back to 1887. The previous road bridge was demolished in1989, and the new bridge restored the connection between the seafront and the main part of town. 

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I spent a few hours wandering through the city, along the seafront, and watching the antics of some swans on the lake. By the time the sun was low in the sky, I was headed back to the station.

A fab day out. Tomorrow was back to work.

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