Scarisbrick Parish, the largest in Lancashire was in early times much avoided by travellers. With its vast tracts of poorly drained peat marsh and the huge lake of Martin Mere forming its northern boundary it was difficult terrain to cross. The original small scattered farmsteads of the parish now form the basis of today’s hamlets of Barrison Green, Bescar, Carr Cross, Drummersdale, Hurlston, Pinfold and Snape.
Farming was hampered by poor drainage but these conditions led themselves to the growing of flax, hemp and willow – used by local craftsmen to produce rope, baskets and linen. There was ample fishing in the mere and the drainage ditches for freshwater fish and eels. This was an important supplement to the farm produce which could be taken to the nearby Ormskirk Market.
The successful drainage of Martin Mere and the adjoining marshes in 1774 by Thomas Eccleston of Scarisbrick Hall transformed farming in the area, allowing the full use of its rich soils. In the 19th Century Scarisbrick farms became major suppliers to the growing city of Liverpool, the growing of potatoes and other vegetables a speciality.
In 1777, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal opened up new markets for local produce, and made the transportation of heavy goods much easier. The prosperity of local farms was enhanced, and advantage was taken of the canal to import manure from Liverpool to fertilise the fields, and limestone from the Pennines to enhance the fertility of the soil replacing the locally dug marl that was used previously.
Transportation was further enhanced with the coming of the Southport to Wigan railway line in 1855, but its location remote from the centre of the parish remains problematical. The growth of Southport as a resort at the end of the 18th Century led to an increase in road traffic through the parish, which has now become a dominating factor in village life.