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Formby is a town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England.

Historically a part of Lancashiremarker, it now forms part of the Liverpool City Region. Formby was built on the plain adjoining the Irish Seamarker coast. Largely a residential town, Formby becomes a tourist hot spot during the summer months, with day trippers attracted to its beaches, sand dunes, and wildlife - most particularly the red squirrels and natterjack toads.


Erosion of sand on the beach at Formby is revealing layers of mud and sediment, laid down and covered in the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age, approximately 3,500 - 4,000 years ago. These sediments often contain the footprints of humans and animals (most commonly aurochs) from that period.

The common place-name ending -by is from the Scandinavian abyr meaning "homestead", "settlement" or "village". The village of Formby was originally spelt Fornebei and means "village belonging to Forni". At that time Fornibiyum was a well-known Norse family name. He could have been the leader of the invading expedition which took possession of this coast. Until its closure in 1998, Oslo Airportmarker in Norway was situated in a town called Fornebumarker. It was from Ireland in about 960 AD that these Norsemen or Vikings first came to the west coast of Lancashire, first trading or raiding and then settling. Tradition says that the Viking invaders failed to defeat the native Anglo-Saxons on the coast of Formby, so they sailed inland, up the River Altmarker, and attacked from the rear. It is more probable that the Viking invaders simply found that the area was thinly populated and took control without any blood being shed. It is thought that the Romans used Formby as a major pass through for their troops during the time of their settlement .

Formby Hallmarker is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1223. It has traditionally been the home of the Lords of the Manor. Much of the land around it is now a golf course.

Formby beach is the location of the first lifeboat station in the UK. Established perhaps as early as 1776 by William Hutchinson, Dock Master for the Liverpool Common Council. It was the first lifeboat station in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world. The foundations of the last of the lifeboat station buildings remain on the beach. The last launch took place in 1916. Remarkably a film survives of this event.

Formby is home to RAF Woodvalemarker, a small RAF station on the outskirts of the town. The airport, opened in 1941, is a former WW2 fighter base with three active runways, the main runway being a mile in length. It is used by RAF for light aircraft and fighter training, as well as a few civilian aircraft. The station is also home to Merseyside Police's helicopter, known as 'Mike One'. The RAF Station was also home to the last ever operational service of the British legend, the Spitfire. In 1957 the last Spitfire was to fly with military markings in British took of from Woodvale on an operational mission. Woodvale is also home to the Woodvale Rally, one of the biggest shows on an active MOD station in the North West.


Until 1974, Formby was an urban district (Formby Urban District) within the administrative county of Lancashiremarker. Since 1 April 1974, it has formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside.

Formby forms part of the constituency of Crosbymarker and is represented in the House of Commonsmarker by Labour Member of Parliament Claire Curtis-Thomas.In the last local election in 2006, the Labour Party won with 48.2% share of the vote, some 17,000 votes, while the Conservatives' share was 32.1% and the Liberal Democrats receiving 17.4% of the vote. There is also small support for the United Kingdom Independence Party in Formby; with 1.3% of the votes.


Formby Beach looking toward Liverpool

Formby is a coastal town roughly 7 sq miles (17km²) and part of Sefton in the north west of Merseyside. The town is built upon the west of a large flat area of land called the West Lancashire Coastal Plainmarker. The town is 1.5 feet (0.5 metres) below sea level at its lowest point. Formby's highest point is within the sand dunes that separate the Irish Seamarker from Formby, sand dunes are ever changing in shape and formation so there is no fixed point. The River Altmarker runs in to the Irish Sea just south of Formby at Hightownmarker.

The town is rurally landlocked; the land between Formby and the areas of Southportmarker, Ormskirkmarker and Liverpoolmarker is green belt land and is used for arable agricultural purposes. The areas around the urban fringe are drained by irrigation ditches are open areas get boggy in the winter months. Earth in urban areas is well drained, very loose and sandy.

The section of land between Formby and the coast is varied in vegetation, wildlife and terrain. This area includes pine forests: natural and man-made, sand dunes, marram grass, deciduous woodland, seasonal ponds and lakes. Large areas of this land are protected by the National Trust.

Formby is in a temperate climate zone, with mild winters and warm summers. Formby's biggest threat is global warming as the town is built on a flood plain, being situated next to the coast and being below sea level.


The main shopping area is locally known as The Village; here the town upholds an array of shops including a Boots, Dorothy Perkins and a New Look. These shops are located around the main shopping street of Chapel Lane and Brows Lane. The tree lined Avenue runs for about a third of a mile with shops either side for 325 yards of it. There are several other smaller shopping areas around Formby and Freshfield mostly convenience stores and some specialist outlets like independent Opticians Silver & Rose with both qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, and award winning independent booksellers, Pritchards. There are several other smaller shopping areas around Formby and Freshfieldmarker. Formby also has a main post office and two smaller post offices. Formby is generally considered to be one of the most affluent suburbs of Liverpoolmarker.

The town also has a several supermarkets including a Tescomarker, an M&S Simply Food and more recently, Waitrose, previously a Safeway.

Formby has no major industries; however there is a small industrial estate on the outskirts of the town.

The most recent building to Formby is the new swimming pool and leisure centre.


Formby Beach
Formby has a significant tourist industry most notably between the warmer months of May and September. In particular it's popular with day trippers from Liverpool and other industrial towns in Merseyside and West Lancashire. There are two main spots along the Formby Coast which are particularly popular with the public.

The Lifeboat Road site is about 1½ miles from the town centre; there are three linked unpaved car parks with several routes cascading out in to the sand dunes and woods. The car parks are about 900 yards from the beach.

Victoria Road is north of Lifeboat Road and is busier due to the red squirrel reserve being here. From the junction of Larkhill Lane and Victoria Road is where the reserve begins and there is a charge to park from this point onwards. Parking is available adjacent to the reserve and at the end of the road there is a large unpaved car park for easier beach access, the beach from the car park is about 100 yards.

There is a privately run caravan park called Formby Point on Lifeboat Road, open between March and October. There are around 300 caravans on the park and 20 plots for touring caravans. There is a phone box on site, public toilets, a play area and until 1995 there was a small convenience store.

Notable residents

Due to its proximity to Liverpool city centre, various current and former Liverpool and Everton Football Club players have lived in the town, including Steven Gerrard, Alan Stubbs (who owns a bar in the Village) Neil Ruddock, Emlyn Hughes, John Toshack, Stig Inge Bjørnebye, Ray Clemence, as well as Alan Shearer, during his time at Blackburn Roversmarker. Footballer Wayne Rooney also lived there. Former Liverpool F.C. players David Fairclough and Phil Neal still live in the area. Other famous Formby residents include snooker player John Parrott. St Luke's Parish Church in Formby is the burial place of the Irish songwriter and entertainer Percy French. Past residents include the novelist Beryl Bainbridge and John Birt the former Director General of the BBC along with Sir John Moores, the founder of Littlewoods.

The notable music hall entertainer George Formby, Sr. adopted his stage name when he was waiting for a train and saw a goods train on its way to Formby. His son George Formby, Jr. used the same stage name.


The Formby Bypass (A565) was built over fifty years ago to take the major Liverpoolmarker to Southportmarker route out of Formby and cut alongside the fringe of the town. The bypass is a dual carriageway with two roundabouts and two sets of traffic lights. It has been the scene of many accidents, some fatal and there are calls from some for the scrapping of a proposed motorway link as a result. The B5195 links Formby with Ormskirkmarker and Maghullmarker. Motorways are easily accessible, the M58 and M57 are both 8 miles from Formby.

With the town's major growth period around the early 20th century and Formby never really having any major industry, the road system followed an American style method of road building. Major roads in the town are wide and in an almost block formation with housing estates being built in to those blocks. The vast majority of residences have drive-ways for parking. Thus traffic congestion is rare in the town and usually only experienced in the town centre locally known as The Village.

There are two railway stations, the first being Formby railway stationmarker and the second less than a mile north, Freshfield railway stationmarker. Both are on the Northern Line of the Merseyrail network, which runs from Liverpool to Southport. Trains are frequent and are a popular way of commuting, especially to Liverpool.

Bus services in the town are provided by Arriva, Stagecoach and Merseytravel. These include services to Southport, Ince Blundell, Liverpool, Southport and Formby District Hospital and Merseytravel's Formby circular routes.

The nearest airport is Liverpool John Lennon Airportmarker which is 25 miles away. Manchester Airportmarker seconds that, which is 43 miles away.

In addition to motorized transport, Formby is served by excellent cycle routes, mainly centring around the pinewoods along the coast leading to both Southport and Liverpool. There are also many cycle lanes on the roads leading to the larger conurbations to the north and south.


There are seven primary schools in Formby; Woodlands, Redgate CP, Our Lady of Compassion RC, St. Jerome's RC, Trinity St. Peters C. of E., Freshfield CP and St Luke's C. of E.marker Trinity St Peters C. of E. in Formby is the amalgamation of two former primary schools - St. Peter's and Holy Trinity - which closed down in July 2006. The school was formed as part of a major reorganisation of primary education in Sefton. In 2006 Our Lady of Compassion performed has the best results with a Key Stage 1 and 2 combined averages of 289, way above the national average of 242. Ravenmeols primary school closed as a school and is now used as the Raven Meols Community Centre.Formby has two large high schools, Formby High Schoolmarker and Range High Schoolmarker, both schools are high performers. With a national average of 45.8% of students gaining five or more A*-C at GCSE, Range scored 74% and Formby High scored 76% in 2006. Formby High School saw one of the biggest increases in grades in the country in 2006. After years of hovering around 50-60% mark the school increased 20% outdoing their rival Range.


Red squirrel in Formby.
To the west of the town lie pinewoods and sand dunes. The whole of the coastline here is managed as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its important wildlife reserves by Sefton Coast Partnership. The pine woods at Victoria Road have been established as a National Trust reserve for the red squirrel, listed on the endangered species list. Formby is one of several sites in Britain were the red squirrel can still be found although it is now being threatened by the grey squirrel. .

Formby is also famous for the presence of natterjack toads. Formby is only one of a few sites in England where they will breed. Later in the evening the male's distinctive song can be heard and is known locally as the ‘Bootlemarker Organ’. In spring the males gather at the edge of shallow pools in the dune slacks and sing to attract a mate. The Sefton Coast and Countryside Service are working hard to keep these pools from growing over so that that they are ready each spring for this annual event.


This stretch of coast is famous for links golf courses such as Southport & Ainsdalemarker, Hillsidemarker, West Lancashire, Hesketh and Royal Birkdale. Formby is home to another championship quality golf course - Formby Golf Clubmarker. However, the club, unlike its neighbour Royal Birkdale, does not have the capacity to host large events such as The Open Championship. It also has a cricket club based down Cricket Path in Freshfield; this also has squash courts and a large AstroTurf hockey pitch. Formby has a football team called Formby F.C.marker who play in the North West Counties Football League Division One. They play at Altcar Road, behind Tesco just off the A565 Formby Bypass. In the summer of 2002, the club left their previous home at Brows Lane. The site is now occupied by Formby Pool which opened on 27 January 2007.

In addition a variety of youth sporting groups are based in Formby. These include Formby Junior Sports Club (FJSC) known locally as "Rourke's League" after Jim Rourke MBE (1912-2006) who founded the club on 2 January 1959. Jim continued to attend the club into his 90s. Over 600 children ranging in age from 5 to 16 years meet at Deansgate Lane Playing Fields to play football at various times throughout Saturday mornings during the football season. The club welcomes children of all abilities, there are no trials or criteria to meet; every member plays every week. The club also fields numerous representative teams in local junior leagues (e.g. the Craven Minor League). Formby is also home to Deansgate Rovers and Redgate junior football clubs.In 2007, Formby Vikings Rugby Union Team was established to include a wide range of ages including a colts first 15 team.

A Snooker Coaching Academy was established by Jimmy Tristram in 2006. It's held at the Gild Hall Club, Church Road each Sunday morning by head snooker coach Jimmy Tristram, and assistants Anthony Scorgie, Dudley Lidiard and Colette Kolassa (who are all volunteers). The club has been teaching youngsters from the ages of 9 to 19. At present, the pupils are making good progress having made breaks of 43, 47, 58 and the highest of 64.


  1. The Boundary Committee for England (BCFE) began reviewing the electoral arrangements of Sefton on 4 December 2001.
  2. The Sands Of Times, an introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast Line, written by Philip H. Smith. ISBN 1-902700-03-1
  3. Viking Mersey, written by Stephen Harding. ISBN 1901231-34-8
  4. Southport.TV
  5. (FCS) Formby Civic Society
  6. PDF file Handout issed by Seftom MBC and Mersey Travel
  7. * The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force 1918-1988, J.J. Halley, Air-Britain, Tonbridge, 1988, ISBN 0-85130-164-9
  8. Mersey Reporter History Section
  9. Merseyside Police
  10. Aeroflight - UK Police Aviation
  11. Mersey Reporter History Page
  13. # The Sands Of Times, an introduction to the Sand Dunes of the Sefton Coast Line, written by Philip H. Smith. ISBN 1-902700-03-1
  14. BBC
  15. Local Paper
  16. Local Paper
  17. Knowhere Guide
  18. St Luke's Church Website
  19. [ BBC]
  20. Formby Times
  22. National Trust
  23. NM BAP Action Plan
  24. Country File, BBC TV, 28.89.2008
  25. Coastlines
  26. Local Pager Report
  27. UK Golf Info. website
  28. Southport Reporter Obituary
  29. Formby Times
  30. Liverpool Echo
  31. Formby FC Juniors

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