Judith Lakin had sung for many years in a local choir, the King Edward and Queen Mary Singers, so when she retired from teaching at Heyhouses Junior School she wanted to give something back to the local community by creating a choir designed to be of a size that would allow it to support other local organisations at local events.
In October 2012 she approached Sandra Powlesland a teacher at the School about her idea. Sandra is a trained singing teacher, and fortunately she was also most enthusiastic, as was the School who offered their support and the use of the Infant School Hall for rehearsing.
At this stage all that was needed was some singers !
The parents and teachers at the Infant and Junior Schools were canvassed and the response was very positive, and so on the 11th November 2012 26 intrepid singers turned up for our first practice. The initial enthusiasm was maintained, and after much consideration, in March 2013 we adopted a charitable constitution and appointed the first Committee to run the Choir. We are currently not large enough to register with the Charity Commission but in October 2013 we were formally accepted by HM Revenue & Customs as a charitable company.
On the musical front we were very fortunate when in September 2013 Pippa Kirk agreed to be our accompanist which has taken that task away from Sandra and allowed us to look towards performing more challenging pieces.
The Choir is based in the modern township of St. Anne’s on the Sea, on the southern edge of the Fylde peninsula, overlooking the estuary of the river Ribble. Heyhouses is a much more ancient settlement, however, with an interesting history. In the 16th Century this area was part of the manor of Lytham an even older settlement a few miles further up the estuary. The first documented reference is from a map of the 1530's which shows 'the heyhouse' and around this time Heyhouses became the accepted name for this area of scattered farms and cottages amongst the dunes and moss lands.
The first reference to a school at Heyhouses is in 1780. The size of a small cottage it was on the north side of Heyhouses Lane facing down what is now St Anne's Road East and was rebuilt in 1832. It finally closed in 1880, to become a private residence and was demolished in 1959. The former school houses occupied by the school master and school mistress still stand on Heyhouses Lane.
In the 1871 Census a total of 647 people are recorded as living in the west end of the Lytham parish, the vast majority of whom were engaged in agriculture. All this was set to change as in only four years time the new town of St. Anne's on the Sea was to be born, but even as late as 1945 Heyhouses could still be described as a farming community. The inhabitants of Heyhouses would have attended the church of St. Cuthbert in Lytham where a succession of churches have stood since before 1190; the present building opening in 1834. The inhabitants of Heyhouses seem to have wearied of the journey to St. Cuthbert's, past the temptations of the Trawl Boat Inn, and they began to hold their own services in the 'old' Heyhouses School, so that the clergy travelled to them! This continued even after the new church of St. Anne was opened in 1873, and they even had a 'good country choir'!
Before the closure of the 'old' School in 1880 services had ceased there and the residents of Heyhouses now had to use the new church of St. Anne the name of which was adopted by the new town. As it developed further it needed a new school and in 1880 Heyhouses Endowed School was opened at the junction of St. Anne's Road East and Church Road. By the 1950's this School was also too small and so in 1958 the new Junior School was built on Clarendon Road North, and the second 'old' School became the Infant School where we now practice. In summer 2013 the process continued when work began on building a new Junior School which opened in September 2014.
Thus the name of Heyhouses still lives on in the names of the Schools, Heyhouses Lane and now the Community Choir, and you can still see some of the old farm houses now surrounded, not by fields, but by the houses of modern St. Anne's on the Sea.
The above was derived from Peter Shakeshaft's book St. Anne's on the Sea, Carnegie Publishing (2008) by kind permission of the author.
The rest of the history awaits . . . . . . .