Crosby is a coastal town with a glorious beach, Viking heritage, famous stained-glass and plenty of choice for eating and drinking

Great British Life: Antony Gormley iron statues on Crosby Beach. PHOTO: Kirsty ThompsonAntony Gormley iron statues on Crosby Beach. PHOTO: Kirsty Thompson

Sculptures by the sea

A 19th century First Lord of the Admiralty said the vista from the Crosby coast was second only to the Bay of Naples and as the sun sets over the distant horizon, glinting off the ships sliding past from Liverpool, with the mountains of North Wales just visible, it’s hard to imagine how Naples can top these views.

And there are always at least 100 figures looking out to where the river Mersey meets the Irish Sea. Internationally-acclaimed artist Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' installation is a striking addition to the beach, placing the town securely on the UK's cultural scene.

Arriving in 2005, 'Another Place' was originally intended as a temporary installation, but is now a permanent fixture for the iron casts of Gormley’s body which are dotted along the coastline, all facing out towards the Irish Sea. Gormley has said the installation is about the sadness of leaving a place but the hope of a new future.

Great British Life: St Nicholas’ Church, BlundellsandsSt Nicholas’ Church, Blundellsands (Image: David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0))

Beautiful buildings

Located at the junction of Mersey Road and Bridge Road, Blundellsands is a historic Grade II listed church with fine architecture and beautiful gardens.

Built-in 1874, the church is particularly noted for its stained glass windows. The earliest glass is dated 1875 but until English Heritage stepped in, some windows were in danger as the walls at the church’s west end crumbled.

The church is one of more than 100 listed buildings in Crosby which include the Italianate town hall,the old Palladium cinema and Merchant Taylors Girls’ School – among the former pupils there are radio presenter Jane Garvey and novelist Beryl Bainbridge who was expelled after being caught with what she called a “dirty rhyme” someone else had written in her gymslip pocket.

Great British Life: Waterloo Place by Marine Lake is one of many places to eat in Crosby. PHOTO: Kirsty ThompsonWaterloo Place by Marine Lake is one of many places to eat in Crosby. PHOTO: Kirsty Thompson

Feeling peckish?

Just down the road, Liverpool has a thriving and developing food scene which has really upped its game, but if you’re after good food there’s no need to leave Crosby.

The food scene has been revitalised here in the last few years, with popular new cafes, tearooms and restaurants opening. Whether you're looking to treat yourself to breakfast, lunch or dinner, you'll find a great venue to suit all tastes and budgets.

Next to the Beach on Oxford Road is award-winning Crosby Coffee, which roasts its own delicious brew. It's all about sustainability there, working directly with farmers to produce delicious coffee. Caz's Kitchen on St. Johns Road is locally-famous for its cakes, which include a 'HappyHealthyYum' range is gluten and dairy-free and vegan.

Great British Life: Crosby Marine Lake. PHOTO: Kirsty ThompsonCrosby Marine Lake. PHOTO: Kirsty Thompson

Viking roots

In 1086, Crosby was recorded in the Domesday book as 'Crosebi' and by 1212 referred to as 'Crosseby' – a farm with a cross, representing a Christian place.

During research in 2009, Viking ancestry in Liverpool's present inhabitants was discovered. Focusing on surnames recorded in the area before the city's population underwent massive expansions during the Industrial Revolution. Half were found to have Norse ancestry, which backed up historical finds of Viking treasure in the area. Longboats arrived around AD900, sailing down the river Mersey, and the Vikings founded settlements, including Crosy.

Great British Life: The Plaza Community Cinema, CrosbyThe Plaza Community Cinema, Crosby (Image: Norman Caesar (cc-by-sa/2.0))

Lights, camera, cinema

The Plaza Community Cinema opened on in September 1939, immediately closing again the same day due to regulations introduced by the outbreak of World War Two. It re-opened two weeks later, offering a complete programme and, for many years, a live variety of entertainment.

Designed by architect Lionel A.G. Prichard but converted into a three-screen cinema in August 1976, it retains many of its Art Deco features. Over the years, the cinema has faced closure on several occasions. But the Plaza has survived due to the efforts of locals and volunteers and it is now an integral part of the community and one of only two in this corner of Lancashire that remain from the golden age of cinema.

Great British Life: Crosby Village Market on a Wednesday. PHOTO: Kirsty ThompsonCrosby Village Market on a Wednesday. PHOTO: Kirsty Thompson