Gillett's 'Cross Slack' Farm,
Research by Marjorie Gregson
Gillett’s ‘Cross Slack Farm’, painted by local artist Walter Eastwood, was located adjacent to The Old Links Club House
and home from 1869 to the Gillett family.
The tiny hamlet of Cross Slack probably originated in the late 17th century. The hamlet of four or five cottages was close to what is now the 10th tee on Old Links Golf Course. Originally called Churchyard Slack, it was believed to be the site of an oratory for monks. The word slack means a boggy place or pool. The Gillett family, who farmed there, were well known in the community. An early family member, Nicholas Gillett, who left his initials and date on his new barn in 1796, was reputedly a ‘wrecker’ whose horn lantern lured ships to their doom. By day, he farmed, fished and traded in coals from Wigan.
Name: Thomas Gillett, Age: 63, Gender: Male, Birth Year: 1818, Birthplace: Lytham, Lancashire, England Relationship to Head of Household: Head, Marital Status: Married, Occupation: Farms 42 Acres Employing 2 Men, Address: Cross Slack Event, Place: Lytham, Lancashire, England.
George Gillett, son of Thomas, was born in 1851 and took over Cross Slack Farm in 1869. He often recounted the story of how, as a boy of 13, he witnessed the fall of Lytham Lighthouse whilst gathering mussels. The fall of the lighthouse was not unexpected as workmen had been engaged in underpinning it but strong winds and tides made the piling give way.
George had a railway halt named after him. Gillett’s Crossing was opened in 1913 on the Fylde Coast railway line. It was also known as Gillett’s Crossing St Annes and Gillett’s Crossing Old Links. It closed in 1949.
Sadly, the fourth son of George and his wife, Jane, Private Robert Gillett, died in Mesopotamia in 1916 at the age of 23.
In 1935, George aged 84, was one of 109 elderly people who were entertained at an annual party in St Annes Parish Rooms. He told reporters of how he and his father had farmed Cross Slack Farm for 65 years and that he still worked on the farm, rising daily at 5.30am. George died in 1939. George’s son, William (Bill ) George Gillett, also known as ‘Wagger’, felted the old thatch with starr grass from the dunes. When he died in 1963 vandals moved in, followed by demolition crews. It was the last of the old cobble and thatch homesteads in Lytham St Annes.
Acc No 68
Artist Eastwood, Walter
Artist dates 1867-1943
Size 26.7 x 36.2 cm (10.5 x 14.3 in)
Date painted unknown
Inscr: signed (L.L.)
Donor Mrs Davis, 58 Grange Avenue,
Cheadle Hulme, Manchester
Date donated 19 December 1955
Lancashire Evening Post 23 January 1935
Fleetwood Chronicle 12 February 1937
Kathleen Eyres- Lytham St Annes in old postcards