Southport wears its end of the line clothes loosely. While it may take the form of the most northerly reaches on the Merseyrail network, anchored to the coastline of the Irish sea, it’s hardly out of reach and easily accessible with a connection via Liverpool on all Merseyrail lines. The views resting either side of the tracks as you enter the latter stages of the journey aren’t bad either. It’s a stop that marks the start of countless opportunity. Tumbleweed and an arid breeze are not the only company here. No, not in Southport. It’s a town in bloom all year round that carries a warm echo of its Victorian heyday.
Whether it be the fantastic array of architecture hugging the perimeter of the marina or the multitude of leisure attractions situated in the surrounding areas, Southport is a worthy destination. We know this northern-line outpost already bears much intrigue, but, just to stir interests that little bit more, we’ve pulled together 9 facts about the seaside town that you may not have previously known.
Lord Street was the inspiration for Paris’ famous boulevards
We’ve all been there, walking around the streets of Paris, knowing there’s something you just can’t quite put your finger on. Is it the abundance of neoclassical architecture surrounding the Place de la Concorde that reminds me of a certain northern seaside town? No, it’s not that. Barcelona maybe, not Southport. But a short walk to the adjoining boulevard, the grandest in the city, it all starts to make sense. There something a little bit Lord Street about the Champs Eylsees, undoubtedly a thought that will rattle through the mind. Southport’s most celebrated street, with its wide road, draped canopies, trees and tranquil gardens interspersed along the stretch, does bear some similarities, even if it is dwarfed by its French counterpart. And the similarities between the two are no freak accident, so it goes. Apparently, Prince Louis Napoleon of France had an extended break in Southport in 1838 and was so taken aback by the town’s, long, straight, roads, with their ornate additions, when returning to France as emperor, he set about replicating the design across the city.
Southport is right in the heart of England’s golf coast
The north west of England is lucky enough to possesses some the country’s top golf courses. Such is the abundance of courses covering the stretch from the Wirral right up to Blackpool the area has been crowned, unofficially, England’s golf coast. Southport is in close proximity to four courses, one of which, Royal Birkdale, is a tried and tested host of the of the British Open Championship amongst other prestigious competitions. Right next to Royal Birkdale sits Hillside Golf Course, with Southport & Ainsdale Golf Course located a little further south towards Formby. To round off an encompassing selection of fairways to practice your swing, just a little further north of Southport Station is Hesketh Golf Club, a fixture within the area from as far back as 1885.
Southport is home to the British Lawnmower Museum
If the seaside embodies something of a fading polaroid of quirky Britishness, then there’s few landscapes better suited to house a shrine to all things lawnmower. It’s clear the British Lawnmower Museum, located in Southport since 1987, has a rather niche interest, yet this is far from limiting in terms of the exhibition experience it offers. The museum covers the continuing history of the lawnmower and even brandishes a collection of mowers donated by celebrities, perhaps non more eye catching than Prince Charles and Diana’s ride on mower. A fascination with the art of grass cutting is not essential, simply an interest in a quintessential British past time that is fading with the inimitable character of the seaside.
Southport is home to the oldest Iron Pier in the country, and second longest
Southport’s seafront is dominated by its seemingly never-ending pier. Completed in 1860, the pier measures at 1108 metres in length and stretches from the promenade, across the town’s marina before reaching out into the Irish sea. In the Victorian era, the pier was the stage for numerous performers including the legendary Charlie Chaplin. Now, the pier’s entertainment comes in the familiar form of arcades at its furthest tip with Funland arcade, located at the opposite end, situated at its beginning on the marina promenade.
Southport has over 100 years of electric train heritage
Travelling up to Southport by way of Liverpool will be a journey that’s been shared by over four generations of people. While the train tracks and trains themselves have been modernised over the years, the coastline hugging route remains similar to that which carried the first electrified trains from Liverpool to Southport in 1904.
In Southport, you don’t often see the sea
Those who frequent Southport on a regular basis, even those who live there, won’t be able to recall many occasions when the sea was coaxed close to sea walls. Therefore, the town has had to live with an enduring myth that the sea tide never comes in. This isn’t entirely true, but its sparse appearances only add to this impression. As a result, it’s a seaside resort with plenty of beach to go around. The reason for Southport’s shy tide isn’t entirely clear, but the length and flatness of the beach is said to keep the tide at bay through most of the year. In 2015 however, thanks to a super moon, the tide ran all the way up to the sea walls.
The first house in Southport was built on Lord Street
Southport began to take shape as far back as the 18th century through the efforts of William ‘Duke’ Sutton. Commonly known as Old Duke, Sutton’s home on Lord Street, the first to be built in the fledgling town, initiated the rapid expansion of Southport to what we know it as today. A monument, located where the house is said to have been erected, now sits on Lord Street in dedication to Southport’s founder first home owner.
Southport Flower show is 94 years old!
Southport is a town steeped in history. Its golfing traditions have been well established over the course of the last century, as has its reputation as a town in bloom. This reputation healthily sprang from the ground through the hosting of the Southport Flower Show, the now annual fair for all things flora. The flower show, which takes over Victoria Park each summer, was first hosted in 1924 and has grown to become one of the town’s biggest attractions.
There are hidden shopping arcades along Lord Street
In between providing the architectural blueprints for the city of love, Southport’s Lord Street is also a favourite with the region’s shoppers. While the street’s face bears a collection of department stores and boutiques, it also carries a couple of surprises up its sleeve. Cut away from the hustle and bustle of the main street and you can find yourself in awe of a number of grand shopping arcades. The largest of which is Wayfarers arcade, opened in 1898, complete with towering balconies and independent shops scattered around its structure. Also located on Lord Street, just by Town Hall Gardens, is Cambridge Arcade which houses multiple restaurants and bars.