The Mount is a small hill on Fleetwood Esplanade. At the top of it is The Mount Pavilion and it’s surrounded by the Mount Gardens.
A pavilion building has stood there since the town of Fleetwood was first built in the early 1800’s. The current Pavilion has watched over Fleetwood for more than 100 years, from it’s high point opposite the Marine Hall.
The Mount Pavilion perched on top of the hill is also Grade II listed. Although it’s stood empty for some time, it’s slowly being brought back into use and renovated.
Look inside it during Heritage Open Days in September and during other special events.
Views from The Mount
On a clear day it’s well worth a walk to the top of The Mount, just to enjoy the views. You’ll see far across the landscape, and even Morecambe Bay.
Look to your left across the seafront at The Esplanade, pitch and putt and the boating lakes beyond.
Straight ahead you’re looking over the Marine Hall and Gardens, to Marine Beach. You’ll see the distant shoreline of Barrow and the hills of the Lakes too.
Look to your right over the Wyre Estuary and see across to Morecambe Bay Heysham, Barrow and Lancaster. On a clear sunny day it really is well worth the effort and one of the things you really must do when you visit Fleetwood.
The Mount Pavilion
The Mount Pavilion which we see today is the second building to stand on the site.
Built around 1902/04, it’s one of 43 Grade II Listed Buildings in Fleetwood. With many of its original features still intact, it’s built from brick and tile, with a copper roofed octagonal dome.
Inside, it’s a beautiful building, which retains much of its original detailing and features.
The Mount Clock
The clock at the very top of The Mount Pavilion is a First World War registered War Memorial. It was donated in memory of those who did not return from World War 1.
Mr Isaac Spencer was a fish meal producer and the wealthy port businessman who paid for it. It was donated in memory of those who did not return from World War 1.
The Mount Clock and two chimes is worked from a mechanism inside the building. Inside the glass display case you can see the workings. Look inside the case and see the seconds tick by –
Inside the pavilion is a plaque, dedicating the clock to those lost in the Great War of 1914-18. It was put in place when the clock first ran, on 19 February 1919.
The inscription reads:
The Great War 1914-18
Fleetwood Memorial Clock
This clock is in recognition of the magnificent response made by the men of Fleetwood to the nation’s call.
Their devotion to duty, their noble and courageous deeds on sea and land, and in so many cases their supreme sacrifice in the defence of freedom; also in sympathy with the maimed, the widows, and the fatherless.
History of The Mount
The hill on which the Pavilion stands was one of the largest sandhills in the area, when the port and town of Fleetwood was but a twinkle in the eye…
In the 1830’s the Rossall estate, owned by Peter Hesketh, was a desolate tract of land. It was home to thousands of rabbits and their extensive warrens, plus plenty of sea birds. The area was originally known as Tup Hill or Starr Hill.
The area was also prone to continual flooding, and the port of Fleetwood hadn’t been developed. At the time, Skippool was the busy trading port on the River Wyre, and Poulton was the local market town.
A perfect spot for a new town
Peter Hesketh was Lord of the Manor, High Sheriff of the County of Lancashire and MP for Preston. He was later to be knighted and change his name to Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood.
He believed that what is now Fleetwood could be a busy sea port and popular resort. The river mouth, the natural sheltered harbour, golden sands, sea, air like wine and breathtaking views across Morecambe Bay on clear days were all integral to his plan. All that was missing was a railway from busy Preston. That’s another story, which you can read about here.
In 1836, Sir Peter hired the renowned architect of the day, Decimus Burton, to plan his new town. The area was still nothing more than open farms with an odd dwelling dotted here and there.
The Mount – at the Heart of Fleetwood
This sandhill and rabbit warren of what’s now The Mount rose to a high point at the centre. It was the highest spot where the two men could go to get a good view over the land.
Burton’s plan was to use largest of the sand-dunes (The Mount) on the north-facing shore as the focus of a half-wheel street layout.
So they stood at the top of it and mapped out the radius of streets, which you still see in Fleetwood today.
The Mount is marked by the red star in the Google map above. It was to be the hub of Burton’s half-wheel design. The main residential streets acted as the spokes, and the main commercial area of Dock Street was the rim of the wheel.
Fleetwood was to be the UK’s first ‘new town’, based around Starr Hill which was then also known as Tup Hill. London Street was the first to be marked out, running from the Mount to the River Wyre.
The sand hill itself was landscaped, and became known as The Mount.
How The Mount Evolved
The rest, as they say, is history. And for that history we turn to Nick Moore’s History of Blackpool for the rest of the fascinating story:
The original summer pavilion was built to Decimus Burton’s design by Robert Parkinson of Garstang. A small, decagon shaped building with an adjacent mast/flagpole.
Then in 1838 a second, Chinese-style pavilion called Temple View was erected in its place. Also designed by Decimus Burton, the pagoda-style tea room was locally known as ‘Prophet Place’.
Esau Carter Monk, one of the first town commissioners, served refreshments from it.
In 1841 the single storey entrance building to the site was built. Originally it was Decimus Burton’s office. It later became a private house, although the residents had to cross the open gateway to go to bed! In the 1990’s it was used as The Mount Craft Centre for several years.
Sir Peter first built a cobble wall around The Mount in 1861, intending to establish his own right to that part of his estate. However, after a public meeting on 20 May, members tore the wall apart, claiming that their public right of way had been stolen. Then a storm in 1863 washed most of it away!
In 1886 the Meteorological Office installed an anemometer in the pavilion.
The grounds were opened on 12 July 1902, complete with a new brick wall surrounding the area for the first time.
The two storey, octagonal Mount Pavilion which we know, opened in 1904. The copper cupola, complete with fishing boat weathervane, was added in 1919. Along with the Memorial Clock.
Fleetwood Citizens Advice Bureau occupied the ground floor of the pavilion for many years.
The Role of Fleetwood Civic Society
Fleetwood Civic Society has played a key part in preserving the building which we enjoy today.
For many years there was no mains water and sewage connection to the Pavilion. After the last commercial occupant of the 1990’s left, the Pavilion stood empty for a long time, save for the odd open day and special event.
A period of neglect followed, where the building deteriorated. Then Fleetwood Civic Society stepped in, to enable preservation of the building for future generations.
The ‘Proud to be British’ flag company were the last tenant. Sadly a devastating fire on bonfire night 2007 forced them out.
Fleetwood Festive Lights light up The Mount Pavilion at Christmas.
Restoring The Mount
In 2016, a major restoration of The Mount began, to secure its future for another 100+ years.
Phase One Restoration
The facelift of Fleetwood’s most iconic feature began in 2016 thanks to a generous £1 million donation from Mrs Doreen Lofthouse.
Her personal gift enabled work to reinstate the Victorian railings, restore the shelters, repair the pathways and create new rockeries and planting.
Then in July 2018, Wyre Council was awarded £2 million after a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund. The grant enables them to continue transforming The Mount and Grade II listed Mount Gardens. Plans include improvements to the pavilion, rose garden and gate lodge, restoring them to the original Victorian look.
Phase Two Restoration
The 1901 pavilion is being restored and will be brought back into regular use. It will be an education centre, exhibition space and a function room for public events and receptions.
We went to take a look around in September 2020, while work is underway at the Pavilion and the Lodge –
Samples of paint were taken from various parts of the building then sent for analysis. The team were able to find out and match the colours originally used. They discovered that the outside woodwork was a dark green, and the walls a pale shade of cream.
The lodge building is also being restored. The upper floor will be opened as a tearoom. Lower floors have been inaccessible for a long time and they will also be made accessible. They’ll become a base for volunteers helping on the grounds along with an artist and scientist who will run activities.
Restoring the Gardens
The funding will enable many lost landscape features to be replaced. For example, the Mary Hope garden was originally designed in the 1960s for people who were blind. It’s being rejuvenated for everyone to enjoy.
The landscaping work will include planting schemes for wildlife and new areas of habitats to enhance biodiversity. Views of and from the pavilion will be opened up again by removing a number of pine trees. New trees will be planted elsewhere in the gardens.
There’s a new play area, bringing a mix of play equipment and a play trail to a new location in the gardens. The grant also funds a Development Officer to oversee a three year programme and engage with residents, schools and local groups.
The help of Fleetwood Museum, Fleetwood Library and Fleetwood Civic Society has been vital to this part of the restoration.
Find out much more about The Mount Gardens and their restoration, here
Fleetwood Heritage Open Days
Local historic buildings are open each year during Heritage Open Days. Fleetwood Civic Society open The Mount for you to look round during Fleetwood Heritage Open Days.
You can go inside and take a look at the building. See the workings of the clock, go out onto the balcony and take in the splendid views.
The Mount Crest
The Crest is a relatively new addition, installed in 2015. Find it on the slope to the seaward side of the Mount.
It’s a lasting, year round design that replaces the need for costly and labour intensive seasonal planting of years gone by.
Over at the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian website, there’s an interesting article which delves into the past of The Mount. Including tales of mediaeval sheep enclosures, a Roman well and local riots!
Fly over The Mount
Blackpool Lee filmed this aerial footage in November 2014. It opens with views of The Pavilion, continuing with a flyover of the Esplanade and Fleetwood seafront, on a glorious day.
Own your own Mount Pavilion!
We’re The Rabbit Patch Ltd and we independently publish Visit Fleetwood. We’re a design and creatives company right here on the Fylde Coast and we have an online shop where we sell our own original art.
This is one of two watercolour paintings – available framed or as a plain print. Follow the link and have a look around at our local scenes and traditional seaside views.
While you’re here…
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