The Marshside Fog Bell in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The iconic Marshside Fog Bell in Southport will be converted into a micro museum dedicated to telling the stories of life, and of saving lives, along the coast. 

The historic building is one of 11 sites around the North West receiving funding today as Historic England announces funding for community-led projects through its Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories.

The celebration of the North West’s Working-Class Heritage focuses on places that link people to overlooked historic places, with a particular interest in recognising and celebrating working class histories.

The scheme has provided a grant of £6,000 to the Marshside Fog Bell.

Local schools and churches, the North Meols Family History Society, North Meols Civic Society and the Southport Lifeboat crew will all collaborate with NW Heritage to create interpretation boards, family trees, oral recordings and video material.

The Marshside fog bell is a renowned local landmark, built following an 1869 tragedy when seven local fishermen drowned after becoming disoriented in fog and cut off by the incoming tide.

A community fund was set up by the working class people of Southport to construct a building with a bell on top of a tall mast that could be rung to guide fishermen safely back to shore in the event of fog.

Paul Sherman, Director of NW Heritage Community Interest Company, said:

 “The Everyday Heritage grant from Historic England means the long hoped for dream of converting the fog bell site into a unique community heritage asset is now within our grasp. 

“By working with members of the community as co creators throughout the project, NW Heritage hopes that the Marshside Fog bell Micro Museum will be able to tell the fascinating stories of our coast and of saving lives along our coast.”

The announcement follows an open call earlier this year, inviting community or heritage organisations across the country to apply for grants of up to £25,000 in a bid to further the nation’s collective understanding of the past.

 The projects in the North West were selected from more than 500 nation-wide applications and are among 57 successful bids being announced today.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said:

 “I’m excited to see the wide range of creative approaches and subjects proposed for Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories. 

“These community-led projects demonstrate that heritage is all around us and accessible to everyone. 

“They will highlight that wherever people live they are surrounded by historic buildings, landscapes and streets, industrial and coastal heritage that can help bring communities together.

 “The histories of castles and great houses and their inhabitants are well documented, but we know far less about our everyday heritage. From council estates, pubs and clubs, to farms, factories and shipyards, these are the places where most people have lived, worked and played for hundreds of years. We want to explore these untold stories and celebrate the people and places at the heart of our history.”

Heritage should be for everyone. But not everyone’s stories are told and not everyone’s history is remembered. Historic England’s Everyday Heritage Grants aim to address this imbalance by engaging with the widest possible range of heritage.

The projects selected contribute positively to participants’ wellbeing, as well as

providing innovative volunteering opportunities for young people or those facing loneliness and isolation.

Each project will enable people to creatively share overlooked or untold stories of the places where they live and encourage communities, groups and local people to examine and tell their own stories in their own ways.

Local heritage gives people a sense of pride in place, a cornerstone of the Government’s levelling up agenda, and can act as a powerful catalyst for increasing local opportunities and prosperity. 

Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories is among many cultural projects that Historic England aims to deliver to highlight the diversity of the nation’s heritage.

The 11 projects in the North West are: 

In Greater Manchester:


  • A project based around Heywood’s Peel Street Mill and its people, will highlight the stories of former workers


  • Unearthing Pendleton’s Past at St. Thomas’s church in Pendleton will revealing gravestones, shedding light on the lives of the working class people behind the industrial revolution in the area


  • In Stretford, The Kathleen Project will uncover hidden tales from people who worked in Manchester’s famed clothing and textile industry from the 1940s


  • Ordsall’s Fault Lines project will document the rich histories of working class communities in the area of Ordsall in Salford, Greater Manchester, gathering and sharing the memories of at least 60 local residents through aural history interviews, music, creative writing and podcasting


  • In Salford, Navvies will commemorate the 17,000 anonymous labourers who dug the Manchester Ship Canal and create a permanent micro-forest memorial in the centre of Media City

In Lancashire:


  • A project will build a new archive documenting and engaging people with the heritage of Blackpool’s working class African and Caribbean community and their relationships to places and buildings in the town


  • In Chorley, the Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors project will bring the history of Lancashire’s hill farming to life, working with local community groups, schools, churches and Withnell Parish Council to collect and record people’s memories


  • In Morecambe, a grant will fund a project by local organisation Morecambe Heritage, which will create 20 oral histories, 12 films, an exhibition at Morecambe Heritage Centre and further web articles exploring the lives and stories of the landladies (and landlords) who ran bed and breakfasts in Morecambe up until the 1980s


In Merseyside:


  • Birkenhead’s Working Class History, will work with the local community to will undertake research, workshops, share stories and hold a community event


  • Southport’s The Marshside Fog Bell project will convert the empty fog bell building which stands close to the Southport shore into a micro museum dedicated to telling the stories of life, and of saving lives, along the coast

In Cumbria:


  • In Workington, the People of Jane Pit project will use film, digital trail, minecraft 3d models, DigVentures to work with young people to reveal and celebrate the contribution that miners made to the Workington’s history and development

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