FLEETWOOD, a town and a chapelry in Poulton-le-Fylde parish, Lancashire. The town stands on the river Wyre, within 2 miles of the open sea, and 18 NW of Preston. Its site, so late as 1836, was a mere rabbit warren; but was observed by its proprietor, Sir P. H. Fleetwood, to be situated so advantageously for inter-communication between the great marts of England and the seaports of the Isle of Man and the North of Ireland, that he determined to make it a seat of commerce. A harbour was planned; a railway was formed; a quarry was laid out; and buildings of all sorts appropriate to a seaport town were begun. The town speedily took form, sprang into activity, realized the hopes of its founder, and became both a bonding-port and a sea-bathing resort.

The Preston and Wyre railway, opened in 1840, connects it with the general railway system at Preston; the Fleetwood, Preston, and West Riding Junction railway, partly opened in 1849, carries on the connexion from Preston eastward; and other lines of railway, in other directions, have been projected. The town has a post office under Preston, a railway station with telegraph, good hotels, a good market-place, bazaars and fancy shops, a custom-house, gas-works, public bathing establishments, a coast-guard station, a large military school, extensive barracks, a large national school, a mechanics' institute, a literary institution, a church, and Independent, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels. The literary institution was erected, in 1864, at a cost of about 3,000; and is in the Gothic style. The church is a stone edifice, in the early English style. A weekly market is held on Friday; various kinds of industry, suitable to a port, are carried on; and a weekly newspaper is published. Rossall Hall, in the vicinity, formerly the seat of Sir P. H. Fleetwood, is now a collegiate school of high character, but on moderate terms, in connexion with the Church of England; possesses accommodation for 300 pupils; and has a chapel, a music-room, a lecture-room, and an extensive play-ground.

The harbour has a quay 600 feet long, a line of rails to the main railway, and three lighthouses; and, in 1869, was soon to have docks 600 feet long and 400 feet wide. The port's jurisdiction commences at Hundred-end, about 2 miles W of Hesketh bank; continues up to Preston; goes along the coast, on the N side of the river, to Lytham; round the coast, to Blackpool, and on to Fleetwood; thence to the river Broadfleet, 4 miles from Sea-Dyke, including both sides of the Wyre and the river Broadfleet. The vessels belonging to the port, at the commencement of 1863, were 42 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 1,625 tons; 47 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 12,692 tons; 1 small steam-vessel, of 25 tons; and 3 large steam-vessels, of aggregately 1,224 tons. The vessels which entered, in 1862, were 14 British vessels, of aggregately 7,906 tons, from British colonies: 1 foreign vessel, of 592 tons, from British colonies; two British vessels, of jointly 389 tons, from foreign countries; 13 foreign vessels, of aggregately 3,084 tons, from foreign countries; 409 sailing vessels, of aggregately 32,606 tons, coastwise; and 414 steam-vessels, of aggregately 129,973 tons, coastwise. The vessels which cleared, in that year, were 7 British vessels, of aggregately 4,133 tons, to British colonies; 1 foreign vessel, of 170 tons, to British colonies; 3 British vessels, of aggregately 1,024 tons, to foreign countries; 7 foreign vessels, of aggregately 1,712 tons, to foreign countries; 195 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 16,578 tons, coastwise; and 409 steam-vessels, of aggregately 129,329 tons, coastwise.

The amount of customs, in 1867 was 3,716. Steam-vessels sail regularly to Belfast and Londonderry. Fleet-wood has been regarded as a good starting point for tourists from the south to the Lake district, by way of Piel pier and Furness. Pop. of the town, in 1861, 3,834. Houses, 546. The chapelry is part of the township of Thornton-with-Fleetwood-on-Wyre; and was constituted in 1841. Acres of the township, 9,730; of which 4,550 are water. Real property, 16,459; of which 200 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 4,134; in 1861, 5,084. Houses, 708. Pop. of the chapelry, 4,258. Houses, 547. The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Manchester. Value, 150. Patron, Sir P. H. Fleetwood.

John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)