A Brief History of Thornton-Cleveleys

I have only just come to realise I know so much about the history of other countries and cities and towns and yet I know absolutely nothing about my own. I think we can often come to believe that our own home towns can be much less interesting than others and so we tend to avoid reading into them. However, last year I took part in an archaeological dig which revealed part of my local area as a medieval farmland. I found this really interesting and so I have decided to embark on a research project about the different towns surrounding where I live.

First up is Thornton-Cleveleys.

Thornton-Cleveleys is an area combining the seaside town of Cleveleys and the slightly inland village of Thornton. Together they make Thornton-Cleveleys which was labelled with this area name in 1927. In the Domesday Book, the village of Thornton is first mentioned in 1086 and is referred to as Torentum (I love finding the original names of places it’s so intriguing). The population density was remarkably small across both Thornton and Cleveleys and also the neighbouring town of Fleetwood which is what I expected, it is still fairly small now compared to the land mass available. Archaeological research has documented that there may have existed a settlement on this spanning area from as early as 1200BC- the Iron Age. This research has also revealed evidence to suggest a Roman road was once established between these towns.  

Recent restorations of the mill.


The population seemed to remain very low here until 1799 when the marsh lands were drained and agricultural production began to grow on a much larger scale. There is a mill in the centre of Thornton named ‘Marsh Mill’ which functioned from 1794 as a corn mill right up until the 1920s. This is really interesting and depicts how the area as a whole began to grow. The mill is now a Grade 2 listed building and has just had its sails restored and reattached. The mill was commissioned to be built by a local land owner named Bold Hesketh who also cleared the marsh lands previously to its building. I can’t be 100% sure as there isn’t much information online however there is a large (old-looking) house in Thornton by the library named ‘Hesketh House’ which is currently used by the council but may have belonged to the Hesketh family at some point in time or may just be named after them. The Hesketh family holds connections to many neighbouring towns too but I don’t want to spoil any future blog posts so keep watching for more!

An interesting story about the Marsh Mill is that of Mary Jane Bailey and Alice Baldwin. Both women had intent on buying the mill in May 1930 after it halted milling corn in 1928. However, when both women stepped out onto the fantail platform to view the surrounding areas, the platform gave way and the women plummeted to their deaths.

So yes, this was a short history of some of Thornton-Cleveleys. I hope this post has been an interesting read, I have loved researching it. There will probably be a more in depth post about Cleveleys history as I realise I’ve not covered much at all. You only realise how big these places are once you start reading into them.

Marsh Mill Circa 1905

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