(A simple beach… Yet even this can be dangerous when the tide curls around the main body of the sand and fills the channel)

The treachery of Morecambe Bay has been well-documented throughout its history. Volatile, unpredictable and downright dangerous are words often used to describe it by those in the know.

A ‘sister’ resort to Blackpool, forty miles to the South – Morecambe has managed to cling to a little of its former Victorian glamour partly due to such iconic buildings as the renowned Art Deco Midland Hotel in the middle of its four-mile seafront.

(Above and below: the wonderful Art Deco Midland Hotel, a masterpiece of the 1930s that looks amazing modern, today)

St Patrick’s Chapel on the cliff tops south of its neighbour, Heysham, is an example of how the town protects its ancient as well as modern history, via, in this case, the National Trust.

The original Anglo Saxon chapel at this site is thought to have been established a short distance from the rock-cut graves during the 8th century, around 1300 years ago.

(Above: The rock-cut graves – a mystery…)

The chapel may have been built at the behest of a wealthy patron. Amazingly, remnants of plaster and paint have been found in recent excavations… Also, the chapel would have been too small to accommodate a congregation.

The stone graves remain a mystery, but are not unique to this site.

The chapel was rebuilt and extended in the 10th century, possibly due to the increasing popularity of Saint Patrick as a patron saint

Following this the existing walled enclosure developed as a cemetery. Burials of at least eighty men, women and children have been recorded in the area around the chapel. Whatever its origins, it was a very important place.

The ‘treachery’ associated with Morecambe Bay lies visible through the open door of St Peter’s Chapel, above: the sea; and the shifting and deadly sands on which it flows.

Morecambe’s tide comes in, to use the popular but true expression, faster than a galloping horse.

Faster than a galloping horse…

And there have been terrible consequences…

On the evening of 5th February 2004, 21 Chinese illegal immigrants, who had been put to work by local Chineses gangmasters picking the celebrated cockles, died of drowning and hypothermia when they found themselves lost on the sands of Morecambe Bay, two miles north of Morecambe centre.

The local Coast Guard rescue services knew approximately where they were, but in the fog of that evening, were unable to get to them – even by helicopter.

Those responsible were jailed for several years within UK prisons. The one good thing to come out of the tragedy was the provision of government funds for a second lifeboat station to contain a hovercraft: a vessel that has since been responsible for the saving of many lives and would have been able to reach the poor ‘cocklers’, as they are referred to.

(Above: The hovercraft. From the Morecambe rescue team’s Facebook page)

The joys and the dangers of Morecambe Bay will be centre-stage within the new ‘Eden North’ project. Based of the successful Eden Project in Cornwall, the newly named ‘Eden Morecambe’ development will showcase the diversity and importance of marine life in Morecambe Bay.

The UK Government has recently guaranteed to provide £50 m as part of the ‘Levelling Up’ programme. This will allow the Eden Morecambe development to begin in ernest.

I will be writing regular blogs posts on its progress.

You can find more about Eden Morecambe here.

Eden will be a great boost and an addition to Morecambe Bay’s many faces.

(Above: on a clear day you can see most of the Lake District mountains)
(Above: on a calm day, the sea can look idyllic)
But the storms may not be far away…)

©Stephen Tanham 2023

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

5 Comments on “Treachery and Morecambe Bay

  1. I remember well the 2004 tragedy so awful. Thank goodness for the hovercraft shame they did not have it that February.
    The Eden Project Morecambe sounds very interesting Steve I look forward to hearing more from you.
    You photos are very atmospheric capturing the soul of the sea. I have great respect for the sea.💜

    Liked by 1 person

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