Poulton was recorded in 1086 as Poltun from the Old English words pull or pōl + tūn meaning “farmstead by a pool or creek”, being as it is, near to both Skippool and Wardleys creek.
Over the years it has had a number of different spellings including Pultun, Polton, Potton, Poolton and Poulton. le-Fylde (“in the district called the Fylde”) came later in 1842 with the arrival of the Penny Post, to distinguish our Poulton from the more northern village of Poulton-le-Sands, which is now part of Morecambe.
Poulton-le-Fylde has a long history, with evidence of human habitation from 12,000 years ago and a number of Roman archaeological finds have been found in the area. In the days of the Norman Conquest Poulton was a small farming settlement in what was known as the ‘Hundred’ of Amounderness. Most English counties were divided into ‘hundreds’ from the late Saxon period and were, with a few exceptions, abandoned as administrative areas in the nineteenth century.
St Chad’s Church was recorded in 1094 when it was endowed to Lancaster Priory. By the end of the Medieval period the area was thriving with weekly and triannual markets being held there, and good were traded through harbours at Skippool and Wardleys Creek on each side of the River Wyre, until in 1837 when it was described as ‘The Metropolis of the Fylde’.
Goods came from all around the world, as far afield as Russia and North America. Flax was imported from Ireland and the Baltic, timber came from across the Atlantic, and tallow from Russia. Records from 1806–08 show that Poulton imported limestone and oats from Ulverston and coal from Preston with Cheese exported back to the same places. By the 18th century, markets for cattle and cloth were being held in the town in February, April and November, with corn fairs every Monday.
It’s not clear where Poulton got its market town status from as it was never granted a market charter and so markets were held by prescription. The market cross probably dates from the 17th century.
The Fylde area had a large linen industry so the importation of flax through Poulton was essential, with large warehouses at Skippool and Wardleys, owned by linen merchants from Kirkham. By the 19th century, craftsmen in Poulton were an important part of the industry. The increase in mechanisation with the start of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s started a significant decline in the craft industries.
As Blackpool and Fleetwood began to grow and develop in the mid 1800s the importance of Poulton started to fade. The construction of the railway line connecting Fleetwood with Preston was completed in 1840, with Poulton as one of the stops. Fleetwood immediately superseded Poulton as a port and the Customs House was also moved to Fleetwood, but Poulton did initially benefit commercially from the rail link, not least of all because the importation of Irish and Scottish cattle through Fleetwood enabled a fortnightly cattle market to be held in Poulton.
At the same time, Blackpool was growing as a resort and for a few years visitors travelled by rail to Poulton and then on to Blackpool by horse-drawn charabancs or omnibuses. A railway line between Poulton and Blackpool was completed in 1846.
Of course there is much more to learn about the history of Poulton-le-Fylde, and there are many publications and sources of information which can tell you much more.
Poulton Historical and Civic Society is a group which are involved in the history and heritage of the area, and making the past accessible to all.
For much more information about them go to their website at www.poulton-le-fylde-hcs.co.uk
Poulton-le-Fylde Market Square
The historic St Chad’s Church