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The History of Formby


The earliest signs of settlement in Formby date back to thelate Neolithic/early Bronze Age. Erosion of sand on the beach at Formby is revealing layers of mud and sediment, laid down and covered approximately 4,000 - 3,500 years ago. These sediments often contain the footprints of humans, animals (most commonly aurochs) from that period.
The village of Formby was originally spelt Fornebei and means "village belonging to Forni" (the place-name ending "by" is from the Scandinavian abyr meaning "homestead", "settlement" or "village"). At that time Fornibiyum was a well-known Norse family name. He could have been the leader of the invading expedition which took possession of this coast. In Norway, until its closure in 1998, Oslo Airport was situated in a town called Fornebu. It was from Ireland in about 960 AD that these Norsemen or Vikings first came to the west coast of Lancashire, first trading or raiding and then settling. Tradition says that the Viking invaders failed to defeat the native Anglo-Saxons on the coast of Formby, so they sailed inland, up the River Alt, and attacked from the rear. It is more probable that the Viking invaders simply found that the area was thinly populated and took control without any blood being shed. It is thought that the Romans used Formby as a major pass through for their troops during the time of their settlement.
Formby Hall is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1223. It has traditionally been the home of the Lords of the Manor.
Formby beach is the location of an early lifeboat station. Established perhaps as early as 1776 by William Hutchinson, Dock Master for the Liverpool Common Council. It was the first lifeboat station in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world. The foundations of the last of the lifeboat station buildings remain on the beach. The last launch took place in 1916. Remarkably a film survives of this event.
Formby is home to RAF Woodvale, a small RAF station on the outskirts of the town. It is used by RAF light aircraft as well as civilian aircraft. The station is also home to Merseyside Police's helicopter, known as 'Mike One-One'.

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