Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ABC Wednesday - M is for Marshside

For the third week running we are featuring Southport. This time we are going slightly up the coast to the area known as Marshside.

Here there is an RSPB reserve and a carpark. The picture above was taken in 1999 when our son Craig started attending Arden College, an independent specialist Further Education College.

Often, either before or after collecting him from or delivering him to college at the start or end of term or half-term, we would purchase some fish and chips, drive down to Marshside and admire the views across the Ribble estuary. On a clear day you can easily see Blackpool. This and the three pictures below are from April 2003.

Across the nearby marshes is Southport Pier and here you can see the roller-coaster at the now closed down and decaying Pleasureland.

This is a closer look at the end of the pier and the edge of the "sand road".

According to Shoreline Management sand has been extracted commercially from many parts of the Sefton coast since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and continues today at the Horse Bank, Southport.

Extraction began in February 1972, with a limit of 200,000 tons of sand per annum. Only a small part of the area was of worthwhile quality and, from 1976, various permissions were granted for sand winning further seaward, until the quality was found satisfactory.

In December 1977, permission was granted for the winning of 400,000 tonnes per annum from 955 acres on the Horse Bank. Due to a restrictive covenant in the original sale of land, only the northern part of the area was worked until February 1981, when the restriction was lifted.

Sand has continued to be extracted from the Horse Bank since 1977. Southport sand has exceptional qualities for the foundry trade and for polishing glass. At present 20% to 30% of the sand extracted is transported to Doncaster where it is used to polish safety glass. In 2001 a Public Inquiry was held into a planning application to continue sand winning. The Inquiry determined that a further 10 years sand winning was permissible under monitored and controlled conditions, following which it could be reconsidered.

Evidence during the Inquiry demonstrated that the volume of Horse Bank had not declined since sand extraction commenced. The level of the shore was rising slowly and the crest of the Bank was flattening. The Horse Bank was slowly moving landward, but not at a rate that gave cause for concern. These trends were evident long before sand extraction commenced. It was established that the predominant source of shoreline accretion was from the bed of the Irish Sea. About 5% to 10% of the sand eroded from Formby moved onto the Horse Bank. Dredging deposits from the River Mersey provided a further source of accretion.

Mud deposition and salt marsh development were also evident long before the start of sand winning. They result from the large quantity of silt suspended in the River Ribble that is deposited on the shore whenever water conditions are calm.

The Planning Inspector concluded that sand winning from the Horse Bank had no demonstrable effect on coast erosion at Formby and no adverse effects on beach amenity or the coastal defences at Southport. In granting permission, a detailed monitoring programme was specified to ensure that adequate warning could be detected of any adverse physical or environmental trends.

On 17th July 2003 Craig left Arden College having collected the Lee Wilton Memorial Award as Student of the Year and we paid our last visit to Marshside, eating our chips and watching the yellow sand-winning lorries beyond the mellow yellow evening primroses.

This last picture is from 1999, taken from one of the carparks on Marine Drive about halfway between Marshside and Southport. It is just to show that sometimes the sea does reach Southport.

A bonus 1999 photograph can be found at my entry on ABC Wednesday.

More M posts can be seen on the ABC Wednesday Anthology blog.

Others can be found via the ABC Wednesday with Mister Linky which carries a registry of participants.


  1. Wow, you're really on top of things this week. But then it's almost 8 pm where you live. Mine will be up soon, but just wanted to say this was a very interesting post about the area. I love that last shot of the truck infringing upon the flora of the area. Nicely done!

  2. GERALD, This is THE most and interesting post I love the history!welldone.


    (why is the mr linky not up right now?)

  3. Thank you for the introduction to the British sand industry! I almost made a post about a small local municipality where sand has for a long was the only industry. It wouldn't have matched yours.

  4. Hi Gerald
    Great 'M' post.. not an area of Southport I've ever been but sure looks my kind of place.. and the view of Blackpool is just how I like it... ha! from a distance..

  5. I really learned a lot from your post.Nice photos too.

  6. Lovely post, and nice to see England again, even wet . . .


  7. I am always interested in learning about other places. Thanks for such an informative post.

  8. What a flat place. We visited Blackpool a few years ago and drove around the Ribble valley, which was very beautiful.

  9. A very interesting post; I love that last photo--gray sea and gray sky; lovely monochromatic shot.

  10. Gary and I used to be voluntary wardens at Blackpool's Marton Mere Wetlands. These images remind me very much of that place. The Old course St Andrews is falling into the sea. Gary was doing his Phd on that very golf course and coastal erosion and I used to help him collect soil and sand samples when we lived in a stand alone flat at the Uniiversity. This post reminds me of those times, those environmental coatsal erosion issues and me grading sand grain size and documneting the results Another life. Strangely a nostlagic post for me.

  11. I am so ready for another trip to the UK! Love the shot with the primroses...

  12. I never realized until your post today that there is an industry of sand winning.
    A very informative post and again I marvel at how educational ABC Wednesday is for me.
    Thank you.

    Bear((( )))

  13. This write up was vvery interesting. I found the majority of the photos somewhat haunting, I can't explain why but the one with the gorse bush was just gorgeous.

  14. Congratulation to Craig and I believe the father was proud.
    I wold have been

  15. Great M post - Interesting to see that heavy industry doesn't always have to have a negative effect on nature.

    (I concur with Old Tom about Blackpool!! )

    Bodge's Bulletin

  16. What an interesting post! Enjoyed all the detail you explained about Southport!

  17. This is a very interesting post. It is as if we do the tour ourselves! Thanks for showing us around!

  18. Marshside - a great bird watching site. I help the warden with a duck count last winter - really interesting. In Chorley we count ducks in units but at Marshside they use a clicker and count in 100s.

    Love the photo of the flower and the dumper truck.

  19. It's really interesting to read about the sand winning and the fact that it's had no detrimental effect on the coastline, with no additional coastal erosion detected. You'd think the opposite, wouldn't you? Maybe it's actually been beneficial all round in this instance!

    Gosh, it's flat. Just as flat as it is here on the fens.

  20. I love blogland where I learn so much....very interesting....

  21. I always learn SO much from your posts! Great wisdom and great pictures! Thanks for sharing!