Defence and Drainage

During the Tudor period the domestic manufacture of woollen cloth and fustian gained importance and provided additional income to those families previously employed solely in agriculture.Flax and hemp were grown particularly in southwest Lancashire to supply the linen trade. 

By the 1750’s most of common arable and meadowland of lowland Lancashire had been enclosed or was in the process of enclosure.  An integral part of this process was the provision of new land divisions, ditches, hedges and roads, as well as the establishment of new farmsteads to exploit the new land.  This movement together with rapid improvements in agricultural and drainage technology had a far-reaching effect on the landscape as landowners became aware of the greater financial return from reclaiming previously less profitable land.  The most notable example of this was the drainage of Martin Mere, aided by steam pumps, which was successfully completed by the1850’s and produced a vast tract of highly valuable agricultural land. 

The technological and consequent social changes of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a relative depopulation of rural areas and the development of the new industrial towns, such as Preston and Blackburn.  Aided by rapid improvements in transportation in the mid-nineteenth century – particularly of railways – what had been a series of small agricultural and fishing villages along the coast developed into a string of resorts.  Places of entertainment, hotels and boarding houses sprang up along the coastline and grand promenades were constructed along the foreshore defended by tidal embankments and sea walls.  By the turn of the century this had resulted in the demise of the once flourishing fishing industry that saw Southport’s Famous Potted Shrimp exported throughout Britain, and the end of pleasure cruises from the resorts as the sea had effectively left the estuary.

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