History of Fleetwood Museum

History of Fleetwood Museum

It’s the only officially accredited museum on the Fylde Coast and is unique within local heritage tourism. Explore the history of Fleetwood Museum.

It was originally built as the towns Custom House, then became the council office and later the town hall when Fleetwood became a borough in 1933.

Supported by more than 60 volunteers, the past is brought to life at Fleetwood Museum – it’s real history with real people!

History of Fleetwood Museum on Queen's Terrace
Fleetwood Museum on Queen’s Terrace

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You can use the excellent Coffee House and Museum Shop without paying for Museum entry.

Why don’t you take a group trip or hold an event there? It can be arranged during the day or in the evenings, with or without catering.

Take a look here for information about opening times, and details of current/upcoming events at Fleetwood Museum.

Fleetwood Museum Cafe and Shop

Why don’t you pop into the Museum and enjoy a coffee and a piece of cake, then call into the shop for a browse? You can use both without paying admission fees for the Museum.

Fleetwood Museum cafe and gift shop
Fleetwood Museum cafe and gift shop

In the cafe you’ll find great cakes and a full range of drinks. In the shop you’ll find all kinds of nice gifts, local history books and unusual things that you just won’t find anywhere else.

Fleetwood Grammar School Stained Glass Memorial Window

Alongside the delicious cakes, the one feature that you can’t miss is the huge stained glass window on the back wall of the cafe.

Stained Glass window - explore the history of Fleetwood Museum
Stained Glass window at Fleetwood Museum

This beautiful piece of stained glass was once in the sixth form study at Fleetwood Grammar School. When Fleetwood Grammar School closed in 1977 the window was taken into storage in Preston by Lancashire County Council Museums Service.

The coffee shop in the Museum opened in May 2010 and provided an opportunity to re-site this beautiful window. Fleetwood Museum Trust made an appeal for funding. The newly formed Fleetwood Town Council generously contributed to, along with local groups and ex grammar school students.

History of the Fleetwood Grammar School Stained Glass Memorial Window

The Fleetwood Grammar School stained glass Memorial Window is a tribute to the 25 former pupils who lost their lives in the Second World War (1939-45).

The work was commissioned and paid for (by subscription) by the Old Scholars Union for Fleetwood Grammar School. It depicts the horrors of war and the motto “Cogitate Altiora” (Think on higher things).

The window was originally unveiled on Sunday 31 May 1964, and dedicated to those Old Scholars who lost their lives.

It was specially designed by Mrs A Howarth, the senior art mistress (and a former pupil) at Fleetwood Grammar School. Some of the pupils helped to enlarge her original design to its full size of 10ft x 6ft. The vivid stained glass window itself was made by Blackpool firm Beaumont and Parkinson.

Why don’t you call into the Museum and have a look at it?

History of Fleetwood Museum

The museum is located in the heart of the Victorian new town of Fleetwood. It’s easy to find on the promenade at Queen’s Terrace, with plenty of free parking. Inside the museum you can find out all kinds of fascinating things about the past of Fleetwood, the fishing industry, and the surrounding area.

History of Fleetwood Museum

Fleetwood Museum was financed by the town’s founder Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood and designed by the eminent architect, Decimus Burton. In 2018 a statue was erected to the town’s Founding Father, Sir Peter, in Euston Gardens.

The museum occupies Fleetwood’s oldest complete building. It was the original Custom House, dating back to 1838, and is one of the oldest buildings still in use today. It retains many of the original features, including this impressive original tiled floor which greets visitors in the entrance.

Entrance of Fleetwood Museum, find out about the history of Fleetwood Museum
Entrance of Fleetwood Museum

The Custom House originally stood on its own, surrounded by gardens to the sides and at the rear.

‘Wyre Holm’ guest house was first added, then in the 1890’s it became the local council office. When Fleetwood became a Municipal Borough in 1933 it became the Town Hall. Many thanks to Museum Trustee Dick Gillingham for providing this photo of Fleetwood Museum in its Fleetwood Urban District Council days.

History of Fleetwood Museum
Fleetwood Museum in its Fleetwood Urban District Council days

In 1991 the old Town Hall building was converted into the Fleetwood Museum that we know today. Take a little look inside…

Inside Fleetwood Museum

History of the Fleetwood Museum Collection

Fleetwood Museum itself began in the early 1970’s as a local history collection in the Dock Street Library (Fielden Institute).

Originally the Dock Street Library (Fielden Institute). History of Fleetwood Museum collection began
Originally the Dock Street Library (Fielden Institute), where the Fleetwood Museum collection began

The Margaret Rowntree Room was first established as a permanent showcase. (Margaret Rowntree was Fleetwood’s first female Mayor).

Then in 1982, which was also Maritime England Year, the ground floor and basement of Dock Street Library was converted into Fleetwood Museum. It was mostly a maritime history collection, which was moved to the present site in 1991.

The buildings designed by Decimus Burton around and near to the museum form the most impressive collection of heritage buildings in the Borough of Wyre. Fleetwood’s image as a working seaport has detracted from these architectural gems, which in a more ‘genteel’ location would have won far greater acclaim.

Knowledge of the History of Fleetwood Museum

One of the outstanding features of Fleetwood Museum, frequently remarked upon by visitors, is the huge volume of knowledge possessed by the volunteer guides.

There’s a rota of around 50 volunteer staff. Most of them are proud Fleetwood residents but there are also volunteers from Thornton, Cleveleys and Poulton. Their joint knowledge relating to Fleetwood and its history is immense.

Fishing History at Fleetwood Museum

Fleetwood Museum is also home to Harriet. She’s the last surviving fishing smack that was built and registered at Fleetwood, and is being preserved for future generations. The deep sea fishing galleries are often staffed by ex deep sea fishermen. They bring real life experience to visitors.

Harriet Fishing Smack - history of Fleetwood Museum
Harriet Fishing Smack at Fleetwood Museum

In 2015, Harriet was added to the National Fleet List – the list of major historic vessels in the UK.

Saving Fleetwood Museum

A more recent incident in the history of Fleetwood Museum was when it was threatened with closure.

In November Lancashire County Council announced that funding would be withdrawn for the Museum from April 2016 as part of wider cost-cutting measures.

The people of Fleetwood weren’t having any of that! A public campaign ran, spearheaded by Fleetwood Town Council, and the Museum lives to see another day.

More about Fleetwood Museum

Learn about Fleetwood’s heyday as a Victorian seaside resort. Its cargo trade and ferry services. The lifeboats and brave lifeboat men. About the docks, the invaluable and heroic role which trawlermen played during the wars. The chemical giant ICI at nearby Thornton and much more.

Two galleries tell the fascinating story of Fleetwood’s hugely successful endeavours at deep and inshore fishing.

Fishing displays - history of Fleetwood Museum
Fishing displays at Fleetwood Museum

The exhibitions tell the story of Fleetwood’s unique and fascinating history. Find out about Lancashire’s first planned Victorian seaside town and its development throughout the two last centuries.

It’s an amazing collection of images and objects, all related to Fleetwood. Explore local entertainment, recreation, shops, business, sport, streets, buildings, railway, fishing, docks and more.

Links to External Websites

Join Fleetwood Museum Trust and Friends on Facebook

Fleetwood Museum website

Find out More

Have a look at the Visit Fleetwood website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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