31 Days of Hallowe’en Tales: Day 9 – The Mermaid & The Sea Serpent of Marton Mere

An ancient body of water that once dominated the landscape, the black pool of Marton Mere gave name to the town itself. It seems fitting that it is still haunted by the monsters of yore. Zowie Swan reveals more, on the ninth day of tales inspired by local folklore.

A very curious article was published by the Fleetwood Chronicle on Friday 20th January 1933. This article describes the ghosts of the Fylde Coast and is a very interesting read, but one part in particular was incredibly intriguing. It refers to two boggarts or spirits who were known to haunt the area of Marton Mere in ancient times.

The mere is a glacial freshwater lake, carved into a great kettle hole by a frozen ocean of ice. It was originally incredibly vast, reputedly between three and six miles in length and over a mile wide. During the 18th century the land was drained to make way for pasture and it was drained further still when Main Dyke was cut around 1850. Now Marton Mere Holiday Village sits uncomfortably close to its banks.

The waters of Marton Mere flow through dark peat land causing them to look black and foreboding. There was originally a stream that pulled or pooled the water from the mere and down into the sea at Manchester Square. The very ‘black pool/pull’ from which our town takes its name. It is old, old land and it seems fitting that it is haunted by monsters of yore.

The mermaid was a queen of the sea, who tried in vein to save a Belgian boy called Pierre who had been involved in a shipwreck off the Rossall coast.

The first creature appeared as a dreaded sea serpent or dragon which had been hidden in its depths from the days after the last ice retreated. The serpent caused havoc for those living in the area. Finally, a local priest or monk tricked the serpent by feeding it a cake marked with the sign of the cross. This stuck in the creatures craw and it was unable to either swallow or spit out the holy cake. It retreated under the waters in a state of eternal indigestion! Apparently, “at times its constant contortions are so violent that it causes a swell on the surface of the mere”. In recent times, when the mere flooded, it was blamed on the dragon.

The second spirit said to haunt the mere appeared in the form of a mermaid, said to have made her way up through the ditches and streams of the boggy mere all the way from the ocean.

There is a legend that this mermaid was a queen of the sea, who tried in vein to save a Belgian boy called Pierre who had been involved in a shipwreck off the Rossall coast. Sadly, try as she might, she could not save him and she left his body on the riverbank.

When searching the archives I found evidence of a young lad called Pierre Luyens who had tried to swim from the sinking Belgian trawler Bultinckel Commandant on 2nd October 1929. The ship lost her bearings in a gale and was indeed wrecked on Rossall shores. Pierre’s body was found on the riverbank in Preesall Beach on 1st November 1929 by villagers. He was identified by his tattoo of an English marine.

Pierre is buried in Fleetwood cemetery and for some time after his death fresh flowers were left on his grave by an unknown hand.

Read our previous Hallowe’en Tales

Day 1 – The Curse of Carleton Crematorium.
Day 2 – The Witch Ducking Stools of Poulton-Le-Fylde.
Day 3 – The Ghost-Seer of Weeton.
Day 4 – Smuggling, Drowned Nuns and Fallen Acrobats at Raikes Hall

Day 5 – The Hauntings at the Old Coach House
Day 6 – Old Scrat
Day 7 – A Goblin Funeral at Extwistle Hall
Day 8 – The Ghost of Lady Macbeth

Take a look at Zowie Swan’s debut novel, Chingle Hall here.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
  • Zowie Swan is a local writer of fiction and folklaw. Her debut novel, Chingle Hall, is out now with Safety Pin Publishing. She's also bassist for Blackpool band Dischord.

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