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West Lancashire

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The Civil Parish of Downholland lies in the southwestern corner of West Lancashire, it includes the village of Haskayne and the settlements of Barton and Downholland Cross as well as scattered farmhouses and cottages. The Parish extends from Lydiate Brok to Halsall in the North and Formby in the West. It is a parish with highly fertille and farming country drained by brooks and ditches. It has a total area of 12 square miles most of which is prime agricultural land. The nearest towns are Southport, seven miles to the west and Ormskirk five miles to the east. The Leeds and Liverpool canal runs through the parish and is said to be one of the parish’s most attractive features.
Initially the Leeds Liverpool Canal had been intended to facilitate the transport of coal from Wigan to Liverpool, but once it was completed it was used for every kind of cargo. Passenger barges brought visitors to the area and many holidaymakers passed through the village. In fact the canal opened up the countryside giving easy access to villages, like Haskayne, that had been virtually inaccessible during many days during the winter when the lanes were knee deep in mud and the moss lands were flooded.
However it was probably the farmers who benefited most from the canal. They were able to send their produce to the markets in Wigan and Liverpool, and in return, manure from the town's many horses and the night soil from the many houses were brought back to fertilise the fields. Agriculture prospered in Downholland as the labourers continually filled their wheelbarrows at the manure wharves and returned to spread the contents on the fields. The effect of all this labour is still to be seen today as the fields produce prolific vegetables and grain.
The village can still boast some of the old thatched cottages, albeit modernised for up-to-date living. Unfortunately Haskayne Hall, a fine Georgian building that stood in the centre of the village, was demolished in the early twentieth century.



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