History of Preesall in Lancashire
Knott End, Preesall and the lower end of Pilling Marsh (Pilling Lane) form the township of Preesall-with-Hackensall, situated on the east bank of the River Wyre where the river ends its journey from the Forest of Bowland to the sea at Morecambe Bay.
There has been some occupation of the area for centuries probably from middle Stone Age times and most certainly from early Bronze Age and it is known that the Romans passed through the area. Hackensall and Knott End have Norse roots whilst the name Preesall is Celtic in origin. A minor Viking / Norse warrior chieftain named Haakon came ashore in the river estuary and settled in the area thereby giving us the name of Hakensall. Preesall is mentioned in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086. At the time of the first census in 1801 the population of the township was 530, the majority of whom were engaged in occupations relating to the sea, river and land such as cockle gathering, fishing, running the ferryboat and farming.
Industry came to the area in 1872 when a series of trial borings were made in the hope of discovering iron ore. Instead, rock salt was found in quantity and serious exploitation began in 1875. The salt was pumped to the surface in the form of brine and piped across the river to Burn Naze where the Fleetwood Salt Company converted the liquid brine into salt. Subsidence fears led to the development of a salt mine proper with rock salt being extracted by miners using special undercutting machines. Some of the salt was discovered to be of a very superior quality and became world famous at the time.
By 1900 3,500 tons of rock salt were being extracted every week and by 1906 production peaked at 140,000 tons, making it the biggest salt producer in Britain. The salt was loaded into hoppers each containing a ton and a half and taken on tracks to a jetty on the river. It was then loaded onto steamers which carried 16,000 tons for export all over the world. Extraction continued until 1920 when problems began to occur with water leaking into the workings and they were abandoned in 1930. Four years later a 5 acre expanse of ground vanished overnight into an underground reservoir of brine.
Further brine extraction continued up to the 1990's with the brine being pumped across the river to be used in the production of PVC at the ICI Hillhouse site. The Preesall salt seam is now and has been for the last decade the subject of plans by a Texas Energy company to store large amounts of gas in specially created caverns The Local Government Act of 1894 set up the Preesall Urban District Council which controlled the affairs of the township until another reorganisation in 1974 passed this control to the newly constituted Wyre Borough Council. In order to maintain a local focus Preesall Town Council was established in the same year.
It is not clear how Knott End got its name. One theory is that the "knotts" were two large mounds of stones which lay out in the river until they were destroyed in the construction of the entrance to the Wyre Dock. Others believe that the name may have been derived from the "knot", a bird that frequents the sands of Morecambe Bay on which Knott End is situated. Another thought is that, when entering the estuary, the early Norse seafarers used knotted ropes as navigational tools - the knots marking distance with Knott End being at the end of the rope.
A famous visitor to the village, L.S. Lowry, painted various views of Knott End in his well known 'Matchstalk Cats and Dogs' style.Click here to see old photos of Knott End
Click here to see old photos of Preesall
The Knott End to Fleetwood Ferry
There has been a ferry service between Knott End and Fleetwood since before records began with the first ferries operated by fishermen who took passengers across the river as and when required. The first official ferry service began in 1894 and continues today with the Wyre Rose operated by Wyre Marine Services.Click here to see the Knott End to Fleetwood Ferry timetable
There are several attractions to offer the visitor to the villages.
Why not take a relaxing stroll along the Esplanade. The Esplanade, with its Edwardian shelters, commands beautiful views of Morecambe Bay, The Forest of Bowland, and the Lakeland Hills. There are several places to eat and drink and you can also view paintings and artwork of the area in The Gallery whilst walking by the sea. Note the Bronze information plaque at Nat West corner.
There are several footpaths and walks in the area. Why not try the Wyre Way? This walk guides the visitor along the River Wyre and over the Knott End Golf Course where stunning views of the Lancashire countryside are around every corner. Whilst on the walk you will pass the second of our famous 'old halls' - Hackensall Hall. The hall is famous for its Boggart, the ghost of a horse that is said to frequent the area of the hall. Alternatively walk down the disused railway track between Hackensall Road and Park Lane or along the sea wall to Fluke Hall.
There are several shops within the village centre offering local produce and fancy goods. There are restaurants, hairdressers, café's, and all the usual shops associated with a vibrant and bustling village. It is famous for having the 'last bank in town' (Nat West TV advert 2011). Please note Barton Square with its 'Millennium Clock' and Nat West corner with its memorial commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Knott End Gala is held on the second Saturday in July. This is a well established family fun day which includes a visiting funfair for the Gala weekend.
Tourist Information Point
A tourist information point can be found in the Knott End Cafe near the Knott End - Fleetwood Ferry Terminus.
Parrox Hall in Preesall is one of the oldest houses in Lancashire and it has been continuously occupied by the Elletson family for 300 years. The family is able to trace its descendants back 8 centuries and 26 generations to the original Lord of the Manor of Preesall-with-Hackensall, Geoffrey the Crossbowman (Galfridus Arbalastarius), a Norman soldier who was installed by Prince John in 1189 and granted six carucates of land which was the original Hackensall estate.
The Manor and village affairs were run from Hackensall Hall until a lack of male heirs forced a division of the estate between 4 sisters. Parrox and its share of the manor became more important in the community and its owner locally accepted as the squire even though Hackensall Hall and its estate was by far the greater in size and hence proportion of the manor. Hackensall Hall eventually passed out of the family and was bought and sold along with its share of the Lord of the Manor rights. Often its owners were absentee landlords nothing more than investors in the estate and the hall habited by tenants.
The present Squire is still the direct descendant of the original Lord of the Manor. The hall is open for special viewing throughout the year.
A 17th century building now a private home with all its estate sold off. It was built in1656 by the then estate owner, Richard Fleetwood, on the site of earlier halls dating back to Haakon's time and was originally the home of the Lord of the Manor. See also Parrox Hall.
Knott End Golf Club
Overlooking the River Wyre Knott End Golf Club enjoys the best of the coast and countryside. The eighteen hole course benefits from a modern club house built in 1999.
Garstang and Knott End Railway
The railway, first mooted in the 1860's and finally built between Garstang and Pilling by 1870, provided a link between Knott End ( and even Fleetwood via the ferry) and Garstang and, from Garstang, to the LNW line to London. As a result of equity problems and the flawed idea to build a bridge at Preesall the line was not finished until 1908. In 1911 a small branch line was built to service the salt works and to link it to the jetty on the river. The heyday of the line lasted until 1930 with both goods and passengers being carried. In 1930 passengers ceased to be carried due to the competition of motor transport and in 1950 goods ceased to be carried further than Pilling with the line closing beyond Pilling. The whole line was finally closed in 1963. Although the line is no longer the station building at Knott End (now the Knott End Café) along with the station master's house and the crossing keeper's cottage on Hackensall Road can still be seen as can the station at Preesall (now an egg packing plant).
The Mount/War Memorial
The Mount on Lancaster Road is a man-made mound whose age and original purpose is unknown. Is it a Viking burial mound, perhaps Haakon's? Or is it, as suggested more recently, the remains of an observation point for horse racing on the Parrox Hall estate?. The siting of the war memorial on it prevents any explorative examination to determine the truth.
St Oswald's Church
The parish church of St Oswald's was built in 1887. Prior to this worship was carried out at the mother church of St James in Stalmine. Amongst its many features you may wish to look sky wards and identify what it is that resides atop the steeple - is it a fish or a dolphin and why?
Village Facilities and Services
Free Car parks at Sandy Lane playing fields (Preesall), behind Barton Square (Knott End) and at the ferry slip (Knott End)
Public Toilets in Barton Square and at the ferry slip (Knott End)
Post Office, Library and Bank in Knott End
Churches - in addition to St Oswald's, Bethel United Reform Church in Preesall and Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches in Knott End
Take Aways - Fish and Chips, Chinese and Pizza in Preesall and Fish and Chips,Thai and Burger/Chicken/Pizza in Knott End
Pubs - The Black Bull and The Saracen's Head in Preesall and The Bourne Arms and The Squash in Knott End
Health Centre - Wilkinson Way off Pilling Lane, Preesall
Vets ( part time) - Clarence Avenue, Knott End
Police and Fire Station - Sandy Lane Preesall (not staffed 24hr)
Coast Guard Station - ferry slip, Knott End (not staffed 24hr)
Primary Schools - Carters Charity Voluntary Aided School, Pilling Lane, Preesall and
Fleetwood Charity School, School Lane, Preesall
Secondary School - St Aidan's Church of England Technology College, Cart Gate, Preesall
Playing Fields including children's play area - Sandy Lane, Preesall
August News from Preesall Town Council
Each month the Town Council will post information on key issues and decisions following the monthly meetingRead More
Posted on 13th August 2014
Interested in Becoming a Town Councillor?
The Town Council is seeking a new councillor following a recent resignationRead More
Posted on 2nd July 2014
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