Formby has a variety of properties available. From studio apartments to palatial residences, there’s something for everyone. This is a great part of the world.
Formby is a coastal town in the borough of Sefton, with an area of around 7 square miles (17 square kilometres). The town is built upon the west of a large flat area of land called the West Lancashire Coastal Plain. Formby’s highest point is within the sand dunes that separate the Irish Sea from Formby. However, these sand dunes are ever-changing in shape and formation, so there is no fixed point. The River Alt runs into the Irish Sea just south of Formby at Hightown.
The town is rurally landlocked; the land between Formby and the areas of Southport, Ormskirk and Liverpool is green belt land and is used for arable agricultural purposes. The areas around the urban fringe are drained by irrigation ditches and open areas get boggy in the winter months. Earth in urban areas is well drained, very loose and sandy.
The section of land between Formby and the coast is varied in vegetation, wildlife and terrain. This area includes pine forests (both natural and man-made), sand dunes, marram grass, deciduous woodland, seasonal ponds and lakes. Large areas of this land are protected by the National Trust.
Formby is in a temperate climate zone, with mild winters and warm summers. Formby’s coastline faces an ongoing threat from water-based erosion, with high tides washing away yards of sand dunes. In an attempt to stem this, in some years discarded Christmas trees are collected and planted by rangers and volunteers to help slow this effect.
It was from Ireland in about 960 AD that these Norsemen or Vikings first came to the west coast of Lancashire, initially trading or raiding and then settling. Tradition says that the Viking invaders failed to defeat the native Anglo-Saxons on the coast of Formby, so they sailed inland, up the River Alt, and attacked from the rear. Dangus Lane, on the east side of the village, is sometimes called Danesgate Land, being connected by local traditions with this incursion.
Formby Hall is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1223. It has traditionally been the home of the lords of the manor. Much of the land around it is now a golf course.
Formby Beach is the location of the first lifeboat station in the UK. It is believed to have been established as early as 1776 by William Hutchinson, the Dock Master for the Liverpool Common Council. Although no exact record has been found, the boat used is believed to have been a ‘Mersey Gig’. The last launch from the station took place in 1916. Remarkably, a film of this event survived. The foundations of the last of the lifeboat station buildings remain on the beach to this day. In 2016, the newly opened Wetherspoons pub in the town was named ‘The Lifeboat’ in honour of the original lifeboat station.
Formby is home to RAF Woodvale, a small RAF station to the north of the town. The airfield opened in 1941 and is a former Second World War fighter station with three active runways, the main runway being a mile in length. Today it is used by RAF for light aircraft and fighter training, as well as a few civilian aircraft. The station was also home to Merseyside Police’s helicopter, known as ‘Mike One’. The RAF station was also home to the last operational service of WWII fighter plane the Supermarine Spitfire. In 1957 the last Spitfire to fly operationally with British military markings took off from RAF Woodvale. Woodvale is also home to the Woodvale Rally, one of the biggest shows on an active MOD station in the North West
Formby is a town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, Merseyside, England, which had a population of 22,419 at the 2011 Census.
Historically in Lancashire, three manors are recorded in the Domesday Book under “Fornebei”, Halsall, Walton and Poynton. Cockle raking and shrimp fishing lasted into the 19th century. By 1872, the township and sub-district was made up of two chapelries (St Peter’s and St Luke’s), Birkdale township, the hamlets of Ainsdale and Raven-Meols and Altcar parish. Formby was built on the plain adjoining the Irish Sea coast a few miles north of the Crosby channel.
A commuter town for Liverpool, Formby is also a tourist destination with day trippers attracted to its beaches, sand dunes and wildlife, particularly the endangered red squirrel and natterjack toad. The area is conserved by the National Trust, and designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The main shopping area is known locally as ‘The village’, in which the town upholds an array of shops including a Boots, Card Factory and Savers, alongside some independent outlets. The majority of these shops are located along the streets of Chapel Lane and Brows Lane, which also contains a number of coffee houses, including Costa Coffee and Cafe Nero, banks, travel agents, estate agents and charity shops. This tree-lined Avenue runs for about a third of a mile, with shops either side of it. ‘The village’ further branches out onto Elbow Lane, Three Tuns Lane, Halsall Lane and School Lane, where more shops are located.
There are several other smaller shopping areas around Formby and Freshfield, mostly convenience stores and specialist outlets, such as an optician and a model shop. Formby also has a main post office and two smaller post offices.
National Trust – Formby
The town has several supermarkets including a Tesco, Marks & Spencer’s SimplyFood, Waitrose and Iceland. Formby has no major industries; however, there is a small industrial estate on the outskirts of the town, on which a McDonald’s is located. A recent study of the town showed that between 10%–30% of its residents commute to either Liverpool or Southport.