Prior to the St Annes Improvement Act of 1896, the Promenade was a simple area with sweeping views over the Irish Sea and only the Lifeboat Memorial erected on the land. The 1896 Act established plans to cement the identity of the nascent resort.
The Lifeboat Memorial was unveiled in 1888 following the worst disaster in the history of the RNLI, which saw the loss of twenty-seven men, thirteen of whom were from the St Annes Lifeboat Station. A call for help from the German ship Mexico saw three nearby lifeboat stations respond with the launching of their lifeboats, including St Annes’ Laura Janet. The gallantry of these local men is memorialised in a life-size statue depicting a lifeboatman gazing into the sea, engraved with the names of the men who were lost.
With the extension of the Promenade to the north and south, in 1896 and 1914 respectively, St Annes succeeded in providing ample space for promenading, with a small amount of genteel entertainment. A stunning cast-iron water fountain was provided, complemented by the construction of a horse-shoe bandstand, with a viewing capacity of nearly two thousand, to play concerts on Sundays after church services.
An attractive ornamental lake was later added with stepping stones, a footbridge and cascading waterfall. Open-air baths were opened in 1916, with hot and cool water feeding into these sea-water baths. A new scheme in 1934 saw the development of a children’s boating pool, mini golf and a new, improved promenade walk. A miniature railway and children’s playground was added in the 1950s. When the open-air baths were removed in the 1970s, the area was redesigned and a trampoline park created.
The ornamental fountain was restored in 2001 and Fylde Council continues to maintain and improve the area, ensuring its place as a popular attraction for visitors old and young. A full revamp of the children’s paddling pool – Splash! - is set to open in 2019. Many of the original features of the Promenade Gardens remain, with well-maintained and colourful horticulture adding to its appeal.