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Do you know the link between 'Ashurst' and Duke Street Park?


Walking down Duke Street towards Formby railway station, you pass Duke Street Park on your left and may have memories of time spent there with children or of time spent there walking or playing sports yourself. It brings to mind happy days past, present and future.

Just opposite the Park you may have noticed old gate posts bearing the name, ‘Ashhurst’. There is a link between the Park and the house – Dr. Arthur Sykes.

Many Formby folk remember Dr. Sykes. His father had owned Ashhurst before him and at the beginning of the century it was an imposing house with a large garden that contained over 400 fruit trees.

He was born in 1876 and, when qualified in medicine, created his surgery at his home. In his early days as a G.P. in Formby he would travel around the village in a trap pulled by Tink the pony. He was popular and well-respected.

Why, though, is there a link between him and Duke Street Park?

The answer lies sometime between the two World Wars, in the 1930s, when the land on which the Park stands consisted of fields belonging to Duke Street Farm. This land became open for sale and there was a real possibility that an estate of small houses would be built there. It was at this point that Dr. Arthur Sykes realised the huge potential that land had for the people of Formby not only of his own day but also for future generations. He stepped in and bought the land himself, then presented it to the Urban District Council of the time on condition it would remain a park for all time.

It is said that following this gift to the people of Formby, Arthur Sykes would enjoy looking across the road from Ashhurst to the Park and take great pleasure from seeing local people both young and old deriving so much pleasure from that open space in our village.

You can find more detail on this at formbycivicsociety.org.uk

Do you remember Dr. Sykes or have any memories you can share? Why not contact us so we can share them with others?

Thank you to Formby Civic Society for the photograph.

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