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The ancient parish of North Meols is located to the north and east of Southport. North Meols included Crossens, Marshside and Churchtown in the north of Southport, and then extended east towards Preston to encompass the rural villages of Banks, Far Banks and Hundred End, Mere Brow and Holmes in West Lancashire. It was bounded to the south by the Martin Mere wetland.
Dating from before the Norman Conquest, this area of small farming and fishing villages was originally known as Otegrimeles, from the Norse word "melr", meaning sand-dunes. Indeed the words Meols was originally pronounced as "mells", but this is now dying out.
Historically, North Meols has been centred around St Cuthbert‘s Church in Churchtown, although there were vicarages in Crossens, Banks and Birkdale. Parts of the parish were almost completely surrounded by water until large scale drainage of Martin Mere and other marshland in the 19th Century. This left behind a legacy of fine agricultural soil, which is still exploited to this day - the primary industry in the area is farming, especially of flowers and vegetables.
To this day, the northern part of the district retains a lot of its rural character, with the only large-scale development being the construction of a large number of new homes in Banks. The southern districts, although now fully incorporated into Southport have also not been fully urbanised; Churchtown retains its attractive centre and extensive botanic gardens, and the marshes to the west of Crossens and Marshside have been preserved for their wildlife.