Tag: West Lancashire Centre

History of SoFA

How it all began

The history of SoFA began with a few like minded friends who got together, and through their shared interest in The National Trust, its properties and ethos, decided to form a local group. ‘The West Lancashire Centre’ was the chosen name for this new group of National Trust members.  In January 1994, with the alteration of local county boundaries, the name was changed to Southport & Formby National Trust Association.  At about the same time, the increasing number of members from the Ormskirk area decided to form their own Ormskirk & District Group.

Early Meetings

Southport Arts Centre lit up at Christmas - SoFA
Southport Arts Centre lit up at Christmas

Originally our meetings were held in one of the upper floors of the Southport Arts Centre. We were able to take a small, and very rickety, lift part way up to our meeting room, but most of us used to climb the stairs, leaving the lift to be used by our less mobile members.  One of our members used to run a little ‘shop’ at the meetings selling a range of NT diaries and calendars etc. When these items became out of date the members refused to reduce the price of the merchandise. We did not have huge sales as you can imagine.

The use of the Arts Centre as our meeting venue came to an end one evening when, as a lecture was in progress, we heard alarm bells ringing, a security man appeared and announced there was a fire in the building. The fire was actually in a large bin in the alleyway at the side of the building, but the smoke had drifted inside, and we had to evacuate the building. Risk assessment, as we know it, had not been ‘invented’ at this time. Everybody reached the exit unscathed, but it certainly made us think about risk assessment for future meetings. Our group has now been holding lecture meetings at the Royal Clifton Hotel for a number of years, car parking is very good in the vicinity. 

Outings and Holidays

When we began running outings they always had to be held on a Wednesday afternoon, because our Chairman at that time was part of a family who owned a large store in Southport. The only free time he had was on Wednesday afternoons when the store traditionally closed.

Stockport Hat Museum
Stockport Hat Museum

Over the years we have travelled into Wales to visit Bodrhyddan Hall, Chirk Castle, Erddig and Plas Newydd. Some of our most popular visits have been to the Lake District to visit Blackwell ‘The Arts & Crafts House’ which overlooks Windermere, Holker Hall, Levens Hall, and Sizergh Castle. We have also included many theatre visits, one of the favourites being ‘Theatre by The Lake’ in Keswick. Other visits include those to: Llechwedd Slate Mine, the National Arboretum, Macclesfield Silk Museum, The RAF Museum at Cosford, St Helens World of Glass and The Stockport Hat Museum.

Our very popular members’ holidays have covered various areas in Scotland, Devon, The Gardens and Castles of Kent, London and Norwich, to name but a few.

The history of our Association covers so many different outings, holidays, lunches, coffee mornings and lectures. The variety has been endless, but the common thread has always been to offer a social network of friendship, and when required, support to all our members.

If you are interested in joining SoFA please contact us via our Contact Form.