St Anne’s-on-the-Sea (also known as St Annes-on-Sea or St Annes) was a 19th-century planned town, officially founded on 31 March 1875 when the cornerstone of the St Anne’s Hotel was laid.
The town was mostly laid out according to a plan drawn up by businessman Elijah Hargreaves, who saw the economic benefits of attracting large numbers of visitors from the mill towns to the east. It retains much of its original character today. It is a traditional quiet Victorian/Edwardian seaside resort with up-market hotels, a sandy beach, donkeys, a small pier and ice cream stalls. Sand dunes fringe the beach and the town has an excellent, but little-known sand dune nature reserve and very good floral displays.
St Annes is one of the few English towns whose centre was designed from the outset with a grid layout, albeit one which follows the curvature of the coast.
The shopping area was redeveloped towards the end of the 20th century. As part of this project a restaurant quarter was established, centred around Wood Street.
In 2009 work began on a £2m restoration project in Ashton Gardens, a park situated near the town centre. The Gardens host the annual Carnival.
St Annes Beach also hosts a number of events each year including the International Kite Festival, triathlon etc.
A new RNLI base opened in 2000, a few hundred yards south of St Annes pier. St Annes-on-the-Sea Carnegie Library is situated just outside the town centre in an Edwardian, Carnegie-funded building.
On 23 October 2008 a bronze statue by sculptor Graham Ibbeson of comedian Les Dawson, who lived in the town, was unveiled by Dawson’s widow and daughter in the ornamental gardens next to St Annes Pier. Comedian George Formby, Jr. also lived in the town.