Coastal heritage


The impact of sand extraction at Formby Point

For over one hundred years from the early 20th century to the 21st century sand extraction was a major industry along the Sefton Coast. The records of early sand winning activity are sketchy. Much of the landscape of the southern part of Formby Point (the Formby estate) has been modified by sand extraction. The scale of the operation led to concerns in the 1950s about the risk of marine flooding. The response from the local authorities was to confirm the 1958 Coast Protection Order under the Coast protection Act 1949. This effectively stopped further extraction from the dunes at Formby although sand extraction continued on the coast, first at Ainsdale, and then at Southport until the early 2000s.

In a project supported by Natural England through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, Sefton Council carried out a community study to investigate the history and impact of the works on the local landscape.

The project is summarised in a report prepared by Sefton Council's Coastal Defence team. The report the impact of sand extraction at Formby Point brings together information collected from archive research and from field surveys addressing archaeology, geodiversity and biodiversity.

Formby Civic Society has supported the project. Members have helped to search local archives, make contact with local people to record their memories and present the study in public meetings and through the society's website and newsletter. Useful articles can be found on the website (suggest searching for 'sand winning' in the learning online section).

The study confirmed the scale of the works at Formby and raised awareness of this aspect of local history before local memories are lost. The Archaeology and History task group will continue to promote the study through guided walks and publications.

The full set of documents is available on the following link Sand Extraction Reports.