Extracts from the Newsletter

The Newsletter is sent by post to all members, there are three editions a year, one each in Spring, Autumn and Winter.

You can read some extracts from past newsletters below.

If you would like to recieve a copy of the Newsletter by post then please consider joining the Friends of Real Lancashire.

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Westmorland for ever

… is the slogan of the Westmorland Gazette, but people from outside the area have no idea where Westmorland is because it is not shown on maps. Now moves are afoot to form a group to promote the identity of this lovely and important county.

"The Westmorland Association exists to celebrate the traditional county of Westmorland: its people, towns and villages, landscapes, wildlife, history, heritage and cultural life."

The Westmorland Association

The traditional county boundary on the A59

County boundary sign on the A59

Nigel Evans MP, Rowland Hailwood (Town Crier) and Matt Goode (bugler) at the unveiling ceremony on the true county boundary.

The picture above shows the stone boundary marker with metal nameplate that was unveiled by Nigel Evans MP for the Ribble Valley constituency on Saturday 23rd October 2004. Matt then played us a bit of “She’s a Lassie from Lancashire”. Mr Evans reminded those present that the traditional county boundaries still exist despite changes made to administrative areas since 1974. Just prior to the unveiling of this sign a similar sign marking the boundary of the “Historic West Riding of Yorkshire” was unveiled on the other side of the road. Both these signs – are adjacent to Smithies Brook which runs under the road at this point and is the boundary between Real Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

The idea to mark the true boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire in the Ribble Valley area was the brain child of Geoff Hoyle the Chairman of Unite Craven. At a meeting in 1999 between representatives from the County Council, Unite Craven, FORL and the Yorkshire Ridings Society agreement had been reached for signs to be erected on four roads where they cross the true boundary, within the area administered by Lancashire County Council. At that time, the A59 was controlled by the Highways Agency and they refused permission for the signs to be erected on this road. On 1st April this year the A59 was handed over to the County Council who then gave permission for the signs to be erected.

Unite Craven raised the money to pay for the signs on the other three roads. FORL has paid for the Lancashire sign on the A59 whilst the Yorkshire Ridings Society has paid for the Yorkshire sign.

Thanks must go to Geoff Hoyle for seeing this project through.

Department of Communities and Local Government to fly county flags

On 10th September it was announced that Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP had asked that English county standards be flown alongside the Union Flag outside the department’s Eland House Headquarters in Victoria. Each flag – including the Red Rose of Lancashire and the White Horse of Kent – will fly for a week at a time throughout the year. Mr Pickles was invited to raise the first of these flags – his adopted home county of Essex – in a ceremony also attended by celebrity astrologer and long-time English county campaigner Russell Grant.

Mr Pickles said “The Union Flag has pride of place outside the Department but I’m delighted it will now be flown alongside our traditional and ceremonial county flags”.

“English counties continue to form an important part of our cultural and local identity in this country and many people remain deeply attached to their home county – both the traditional ‘cricket’ counties and in some cases their more modern administrative successors. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together and it’s right that the Government department responsible for communities and local government should be actively recognising the important role they play.”

Russell Grant said “Our counties are over a thousand years old and are steeped in history. They give us a sense of identity, of community, and a great pride in where we live. I am delighted that they are being recognised in this way.”

We wrote to Mr Pickles at Eland House requesting that the Lancashire flag is flown to celebrate Lancashire Day – 27th November and have offered to supply a Lancashire flag. Our offer of a flag has been accepted and it will be flown during the week ending 27th November.

ABC is liaising with the Department to supply several county flags.

We trust that only real county flags will be flown.

Royal Mail and Counties in Addresses

There was much in the press in the summer about Royal Mail wishing to drop county names from postal addresses. As long ago as 1995 Royal Mail removed county names from their recommended postal addresses because of the widespread use of the Post Code. However, many companies asked for county information to be retained to help them where customers supplied incomplete addresses. Royal Mail then offered a County Alias File which listed 3 types of county “Postal County Former” (no longer in use), “Traditional County” and “Administrative County”.

On 31st July the BBC reported that Royal Mail had decided to remove all county information from its PAF-based products from 2013. This would have the advantage of removing fake county names such as Cumbria, Cheshire for the Warrington area and Merseyside. etc. It will not stop people including their traditional county name in their address. The Association of British Counties has recommended that Royal Mail retain traditional county names in its Postal Address File.

Marking the extreme points of Lancashire

Negotiations are taking place to obtain permission to mark the most southerly point of Lancashire at Hale Head on the banks of the River Mersey with an A4 size plaque. Hale is the most southerly village in Lancashire and is now part of the Borough of Halton. Hale is the only village in the world with a Lord Mayor, an office that dates back to 1317. The Freemen of Hale are also very active in the village and celebrate Lancashire Day with a Lancashire Night every year. We hope to involve the Lord Mayor and the Freemen in this venture. For more information about Hale visit www.visithalevillage.co.uk

Walney Island is the most westerly point in Lancashire and we have been given permission to fix three A4 plaques at various places on the island, to remind people that the island is still a part of the traditional county of Lancashire. The island is part of the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness and Cllr John Murphy, who is the Mayor, has kindly agreed to unveil one of the plaques for us.

The most northerly point of Lancashire is a spit of land running out into Elterwater where the River Brathay runs into and then out of Elterwater. We believe that this area belongs to the National Trust, but any local knowledge would be welcome. Please contact Chris Dawson 0151 928 2770.


The Association of British Counties

ABC promotes all the traditional counties throughout the United Kingdom. It was after attending a meeting of the Association at Coventry in 1992 that a few people from Lancashire who had contacted ABC met together in Great Crosby to discuss how we could promote the true identity of Lancashire. The result was the Friends of Real Lancashire, which over the years has grown into a respected organisation.

We have many more reasons to thank ABC for, here are just some of them.

1. The inclusion of traditional county names in the Royal Mail Postal Address File.

2. The gazetteer which lists the traditional county for some 50,000 places in the UK. Royal Mail and other companies use this as a reference, which helps to promote real counties.

3. Digital mapping of the traditional counties of the UK.

4. Offering financial support for projects such as the signing of traditional county boundaries.

5. Working with the Flag Institute to design and register flags for traditional counties that do not have a flag. So far 21 traditional county flags have been registered (including the Lancashire flag) with more in the pipeline.

So why not visit the ABC website where you can access these features – and where you can become a member for £5 Full Membership or take out Supporter Membership free of charge.

Alternatively contact the chairman – Peter Boyce on 02920 333 728

The Association of British Counties

Marking county boundaries

... where footpaths cross the boundary between the traditional counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire

Members of the Friends of Real Lancashire, the Yorkshire Ridings Society and the Saddleworth White Rose Society, met near Littleborough on Saturday 19th March to discuss marking the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire where footpaths cross the border. Also present was Andy Strangeway who has over the past winter slept out for one night at each of the extreme points of Yorkshire and at the highest point of each of the three Ridings.

Map locations of places where footpaths, tracks and roads cross the boundary were identified from pre 1974 OS maps of the area supplied by Chris Dawson of FORL. Roger Sewell of YRS produced samples of 4 inch square aluminium plaques on which had been printed the name Yorkshire surmounted by a Yorkshire Rose. Similar plaques for Lancashire can be produced. He also produced plaques bearing the wording “Lancashire’s Most Northerly Point”, “Yorkshire’s Most Northerly Point”, etc. These plaques could be fixed to timber posts or existing fence posts, etc. with adhesive and screws.

After some discussion it was agreed to seek the permission of landowners to erect these signs on their land. Once permission had been granted, the group will decide which locations to mark first of all. It is envisaged that it will take some time to mark all the crossing points. A suggestion was made that it might be possible to eventually mark some of these locations with more permanent markers such as concrete posts, large boulders, cairns etc. to which plaques can be fixed.

The most southerly point of Yorkshire has already been marked with a plaque and Andy Strangeway is planning to sleep overnight at the extreme points of Lancashire during the late summer. It is hoped to obtain permission to mark each of these points with plaques.

During the summer Andy Strangeway, who has slept overnight on most of the Scottish Islands, is planning to land on Rockall in July to replace the plaque claiming the rock for the Queen, that was placed there in 1955 by men from HMS Vidal. Two friends, one from Lancashire and one from Nottinghamshire will accompany him. They plan to sleep overnight on the rock and to also to plant a flag for each of their three counties.

Marking the most westerly point of Lancashire

The Friends of Real Lancashire have embarked on a project to mark the extreme points of the traditional county of Lancashire, north, south, east and west with information plaques.

Photo of the plaque outside The Queens Arms, Biggar Village, Walney Island, Lancashire

Sign outside The Queens Arms Biggar Village

On Friday 19th August three plaques were placed on Walney Island the most westerly point of Lancashire by members of the Friends of Real Lancashire. Cllr John Murphy, the Mayor of Barrow in Furness, had identified three suitable places on the island for the plaques and had obtained permission for them to be installed. One was at Earnse Point, the second was at the Round House Restaurant and the third was at The Queens Arms at Biggar Village. Cllr Murphy lives on Walney Island and is very interested in the history and culture of the island.

The mayor unveiling the plaque

At 1.00 pm The Mayor unveiled the plaque outside The Queens Arms at Biggar Village at a ceremony attended by members of the Friends of Real Lancashire.

These plaque are designed to remind people of the true extent of the traditional county of Lancashire, whose boundaries remain unchanged by the various Acts of Parliament introduced to create new administrative areas.

Plans are well advanced for the installation of plaques at Hale Head, on the banks of the River Mersey, to mark the most southerly point of the traditional county of Lancashire. Hale Village is the most southerly village in Lancashire. The traditional county of Lancashire which is synonymous with the County Palatine of Lancaster still stretches from the River Mersey in the south to the River Duddon in the north. Lancashire shares its boundaries with the traditional counties of Cheshire, Cumberland, Yorkshire and Westmorland.

The most northerly and easterly points of Lancashire will be marked with plaques once permission has been obtained from the land owners.


County Watch active again

On 8th December this group from the south of England marked the boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland with road signs at Black Beck stream, near the eastern shore of Lake Windermere, by the existing county marker, and at Skelwith Bridge, which has the boundary marked in stone in the middle of the bridge.

The site of Duddon Bridge was also inspected by them, on the Cumberland Lancashire border, for erection of further county signs.

The Westmorland Gazette ran a story about these signs and asked readers to vote whether they were in favour or against the marking of the boundary between Westmorland and Lancashire. The vote reached 76% of people in favour of the boundaries being signed. This surely demonstrates that the majority of people favour the recognition of our traditional counties.

The North West Evening Mail also ran the story which received support from a number of people interviewed, including a spokeswoman from Cumbria Tourism. There was also an editorial pointing out that despite the passage of time people are still loyal to the traditional counties within administrative Cumbria.

It would be much better if Cumbria County Council would agree to mark the boundaries of the historic geographical counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland within its administrative area. These counties embody the history, culture, traditions and geography of the area, elements which are of interest to the many tourist who visit the Lake District.

On a recent visit to the area I was extremely depressed by the widespread use of the term "Cumbria". Many historic events were claimed to have taken place in "Cumbria" which did not exist at the time. People seem to have been brainwashed into using this name invented for their area by those who drew up the 1972 Local Government Act.


Extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

It seems that Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair, is about to decide on the proposed extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As it is proposed to take parts of Westmorland and the Leck Fell area of Lancashire into the National Park, we wrote to the Secretary of State in September urging her to insist on a change of name should she approve this proposed extension. We wrote “Should parts of Lancashire and Westmorland be labelled as Yorkshire, it will be a further erosion of the geography of this country, which began with the ill thought out wording of the 1972 Local Government Act which labelled the new administrative areas as counties. The term county ought to apply only to the long standing traditional, historic and geographical counties which have existed in most cases for over a thousand years. Central government has on many occasions stated that the traditional counties remain unchanged by legislation drawn up to create new administrative areas. These statements ring hollow unless the boundaries of these traditional counties are respected and recognised.” We proposed that should the park be extended that a suitable name would be “The Yorkshire and Western Dales National Park”. We asked our MP patrons to write to the minister about this, which many of them did. Sir Bernard de Hoghton, our president, also wrote letters to various people about this proposed extension. At the time of writing we await the Secretary of State’s decision

Saddleworth White Rose Society to mark the border again

Plans are well advanced for the positioning of boundary signs at a second site on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border in the Saddleworth area. The location of the signs is on the A669 at County End at Lees on the outskirts of Oldham. The signs will be affixed to stone plinths to be built on either side of the road which means that these signs will cost in the region of £1,000 each. FORL has contributed £500 towards the cost. We are grateful to the Saddleworth White Rose Society for all their hard work in raising funds and obtaining planning consent for the installation of these signs. Once the signs are in place there will be an official unveiling ceremony, hopefully in the Spring. The Saddleworth White Rose Society was instrumental in getting signs erected at Grains Bar, which were unveiled at a ceremony on 24th April 2010. They plan to erect further signs where roads cross the Lancashire/Yorkshire boundary in their area. This will be the sixth location where boundary signs have been erected to mark the boundary between the true counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, all joint efforts by FORL and our fellow Yorkshire campaigners. The more of these signs there are, the more people will recognise the true county boundaries. However, the BBC and others will no doubt continue to ignore the true geography of Britain.

Saddleworth White Rose Society

Marking the extreme points of Lancashire

Having marked the most westerly and southerly points of Lancashire with plaques in 2011, we plan to mark the most northerly point, Nab Island, with one or more plaques situated where they will be seen somewhere in its vicinity. Nab Island is so remote a spot with no access to it, that no one would see a plaque placed there.

It is hoped that we can co-operate with the Yorkshire Ridings Society during the summer in marking Lancashire’s most easterly point with a boundary marker where the Pennine Way footpath crossed the boundary between our two counties near Bleakedgate Moor just south of the M62.

We would also like to mark the highest point in Lancashire, The Old Man of Coniston, with a plaque. Getting permission for this might be both difficult and expensive as a suitable plaque would probably have to be carved out of stone. Which would then have to be carried up the mountain and be cemented in position to deter thieves.


Marking the most northerly point in Lancashire

This has proved to be the most complicated point to mark so far. First of all Nab Island, which is the most northerly point in the county is inaccessible and there seemed to be no suitable site to place a plaque. Then when we located a site that was suitable to place a plaque, even though it was not adjacent to the island, we had to seek permission to site it. We discovered that the car park belonged to the Lowther Estate and sought permission from the Estate manager who agreed to our request. We then had to obtain planning permission from the Lake District National Park Authority for what was classed as an advertisement. This cost us £335 plus a certain amount of further correspondence until we had satisfied all the planning requirements. The plaque is mounted on a 4 inch square treated wooden post and so a hole had to dug to allow the post to be concreted in place.

Finally our plaque was in place to alert visitors to the car park that Nab Island is the most northerly point in the traditional county of Lancashire.

Map showing Nab Island, the most northerly point in Lancashire

More boundary signs unveiled

On Saturday 19th May two new boundary signs were unveiled to mark the true boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire at County End on the A669 in Lees on the outskirts of Oldham. Members of Saddleworth White Rose Society and of FORL gathered to see the signs unveiled on a sunny but cold day. The Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Richard Knowles assisted by Cllr Val Sedgewick unveiled the Lancashire sign, pictured above.

We have to thank the Saddleworth White Rose Society for obtaining permission to site these signs, for having the stone plinths built and affixing the signs and also for making arrangements for the unveiling ceremony.

After the ceremony members of both societies made their way to the Milan Bar and Restaurant to enjoy a potato pie lunch.

The event was covered by a reporter from Granada TV and shown during their evening news bulletin. Did you see it

Discovery at Lancashire Abbey

Unexpected medieval treasures have been discovered in a grave at one of the UK’s most beautiful abbeys along with the bones of the abbot they belonged to. The discoveries were made at Furness Abbey, on the outskirts of Barrow in Lancashire, a place that in its day was one of the most powerful and richest Cistercian abbeys in the country.

Archaeologists found a silver-gilt crozier (a kind of staff of office) and a jewelled ring in remarkable condition. The discoveries were only made because stabilisation work was needed at the abbey, with wooden foundations giving way and cracks appearing in the walls.

During excavations by Oxford Archeology North to investigate the seriousness of the problem, members of the team came across the undisturbed grave of the abbot together with his personal paraphernalia.

Curator Susan Harrison said it was particularly surprising because the grave had not been disturbed by 16th-century post-dissolution robbers, nor Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen antiquarians. Everyone had missed it until now.

The crozier is unusual and the first to be excavated in this country for 50 years. It has a central gilded silver plaque which shows the archangel Michael slaying a dragon with his sword. The ring – quite large, probably for a man with big or chubby fingers – is likely to have been given to the abbot on his consecration. “It is an unusual ring,” said Harrison. “The bezel is a pyramid shape and is pointed – it would stick in to your finger. You would have felt it when you wore it and it might have been a reminder of the piety of the office.” It is also possible that the ring might have held a relic in place on the abbot’s finger.

An examination of the skeleton has shown he was big, overweight, probably aged between 40 and 50, arthritic and “had a decent way of living”, said Harrison. There is also evidence that he had later-onset diabetes.

Harrison said the finds were exciting and would help us learn more about Cistercian burial practices in general and Furness Abbey in particular.

The abbey, an inspiration for both Wordsworth and Turner, was founded in the early 12th century by Stephen, later king of England. By the time Henry VIII ordered its dissolution in 1537 it was the second richest in England.


One of the last Merseyside signs to be removed.

Knowsley Borough Council have agreed that the "County of Merseyside" road sign on the Netherley Road (B5178) in Tarbock, Lancashire should be removed. If you know of any others please let us know.

Traditional county boundaries to be marked in Cumbria.

We wrote to the leader of Cumbria County Council in April 2011 pointing out that the recently published Pevsner Guide "The Buildings of England - Cumbria - Cumberland, Westmorland and Furness" recognised the three traditional county areas within administrative Cumbria. We pointed out that when County Watch had erected signs marking the boundaries of Lancashire and Westmorland that this had achieved a vote in favour of 64% in a poll carried out by the Westmorland Gazette. We further pointed out that the history, culture and geography of the area was bound up in these traditional county areas and that their recognition would enhance interest in the area for tourists and local residents.

We asked if the council would agree in principle to the erection of signs marking the traditional county boundaries. We got a positive reply from the leader of the council. With the help of ABC we supplied the council with the location of these boundaries. Burton-in-Kendal Parish Council are now proposing to erect a Westmorland sign on the A6070 and we have asked them to also erect a Lancashire sign on the same boundary. This is a start and we hope that other local councils within Cumbria will follow this example.


Our county is called Lancashire, not Cumbria,
Greater Manchester, Merseyside or part of Cheshire.