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People & Places

The small town of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire is at the heart of my Danson family history, with St. Chad’s Church at its focal point where Dansons were baptised, married and buried down the centuries.

St. Chad's Church in a photograph
taken by my uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson

Poulton is a much older settlement than its more famous neighbour Blackpool.  The Doomsday Book of 1086 recorded three unmade churches in the Fylde, one thought to be St. Chad’s and the first documentary evidence comes from a deed of 1094.  Registers date from 1591 and the oldest part of the present church the Tower dates from before 1638. 

War Memorial
Reminders of the past are visible in the  Market Square, with its market cross, stone slab for selling fish, whipping post, and stocks – and in more recent times the War Memorial with the names of John and George Danson remembered.

St. Chad’s parish at one time encompassed the neighbouring villages of Bispham, Carleton, Clevelys, Hardhorn, Thornton and Staining.

Trap Farn, Carleton

The ancestral trail found the Danson family in Trap Farm, Carleton in the 1841 and 1851 census returns, with great grandfather James Danson born there in 1852.  How did a family of 13 including an uncle, son –in-law  and two servants, all fit into what looked like quite a small farmhouse?

In 1881 James Danson, his wife Maria and two young sons were living in Potts Alley, Poulton, running alongside the church and just off the  Market Square.  Thirty years earlier, Pott’s Alley came in for some condemnation, described in a local history as “the town’s slum quarter…contained some of Poulton’s most squalid overcrowded properties….the subject of severe criticism in a public health report of 1852”.

By 1901 the growing Danson family were in a terraced house in Bull Street, just off the Square (since replaced by a small shopping centre).  It must have been cramped living with a family made up of James, Maria, eight surviving sons and one daughter,  and later orphaned granddaughter Annie Maria.  My grandfather William Danson was the first of the brothers to marry in 1907, making his home close by also on Bull Street

After the First World War In 1924, the family moved to a new house at 146 Blackpool Old Road – with three bedrooms.  I still have the receipt for the deposit of £67.  It looks quite big, but, with only three small bedrooms, it must have still been a squash for parents William Danson and Alice English, 3 daughters (Edith, Kathleen and Peggy) and two sons (Harry and Billy) who all lived at home until they married.  The house had no electricity until the late 1950’s and this remained the family home until the death of my uncle Harry Danson in 2001.

It was in this house that I first saw the shoebox of old family photographs and embroidered cards sent by my grandfather from the battlefields of the First World War.  This discovery set me at an early age on this fascinating family history journey.

Copyright © 2011 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved