5 January 2001

History lives on in

Fylde farm book

A Lancs farmers wife has co-written a history of three

villages tracing back to the Domesday Book. Jeremy Hunt reports

A BOOK that will fascinate readers today and far into the future will ensure that the farms and 350 current inhabitants of three little-known villages secure a place in history.

"When future generations open a copy of Recollections and look back over centuries of history in the villages of Treales, Wharles and Roseacre they will find a full list of every man, woman and child resident in the parish in the year 2000.

"We felt it was important to create a historical record as well as providing a book that traces the history of the villages," says Jennifer Robinson who wrote the book with retired college lecturer Joe Lee (pictured above).

These three rural hamlets are in the heart of the Fylde, a low-lying area renowned for its grassland and dairy cows.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book as Trevles, this area of rich agricultural land has remained relatively unspoilt despite its proximity to the seaside revellers and Preston.

The three villages are still dominated by agriculture and extend to around 4000 sq acres. Much of the land was originally part of Lord Derbys estate and still includes HMS Inskip, a naval signals centre that played a pivotal role during the Gulf War.

&#42 War usefulness

The large area of typically flat Fylde fields that surround HMS Inskip proved invaluable during the Second World War.

"The Fleet Air Arm was stationed there and part of the site was marked out as an aircraft carrier and used by pilots to practise take-offs and landings," says Mr Lee.

But the area has also had its share of unforgettable characters including Isaac Ball, an agricultural engineer from the steam engine era whose machines were a familiar sight on Lancs roads in the days before motor cars.

"But Isaac Bell also gave his name to a type of string that was not only used by farmers for tying bales of hay but also to keep their trousers up!" says Mrs Robinson, who farms with her husband Brian and their three sons at Cross Hill Farm, Treales.

Extensive research undertaken by the co-authors has uncovered a wealth of history about the three villages that fill the books 72-pages, illustrated with archive photographs. The book includes a detailed description and history of all the farms in the three villages and reproduces part of a local newspaper feature article written about Moorfield Farm, Treales owned by the Clayton family.

It appears that even then there was dissatisfaction with commodity prices: "…he never knew wheat so low before and instanced a neighbouring farmer selling it at 10 shillings per windle [a windle was a plaited basket of dry straw or grass]. Had not the straw sold fairly well there would not have been the slightest profit on the growing."

&#42 Desolate landscape

The flat Fylde landscape was a desolate and remote area in early history and remained visited by few outsiders until the arrival of the railway. There are still vivid memories among the older inhabitants of collies sent north by rail from Welsh farms to start work on the Fylde and of calves wrapped in sacks with just their head protruding and bearing a forwarding address label.

The River Wyre, which dissects the Fylde, was a barrier between the communities of this small piece of coastal flatland but occasionally families did move across the river boundary.

During Mr Lees research he heard of a family who made every effort to ensure their children were safe during the hazardous journey across the tidal reaches of the River Wyre.

"They put their children into milk churns to make sure they were sufficiently immobilised to keep them safe and prevent them from falling overboard!" says Mr Lee.

Recollections – Treales, Wharles and Roseacre is available from Jennifer Robinson. (01772-683331).