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At that time, doctors recommended bathing in the sea to help cure aches and pains.

In 1792, William Sutton, the landlord of the Black Bull Inn in Churchtown (now the Hesketh Arms) and known to locals as "The Old Duke", realised the importance of the newly created canal systems across the UK and set up a bathing house in the virtually uninhabited dunes at South Hawes by the seaside just four miles (6 km) away from the newly constructed Leeds and Liverpool Canal and two miles southwest of Churchtown.

The Domesday Book states that there were 50 huts in Otergimele, housing a population of 200.

The population was scattered thinly across the region and it was at the northeast end of Otergimele (present day Crossens), where blown sand gave way to alluvial deposits from the River Ribble estuary, that a small concentration of people occurred.

Other seaside bathing areas couldn't really get going until the railways were built some years later.

Roman coins have been found at Halsall Moss and Crossens, although the Romans never settled southwest Lancashire.By 1820 Southport had over 20,000 visitors per year.Southport Pier is referred to as the first true "pleasure pier", being one of the earliest pier structures to be erected using iron.Local fauna include the Natterjack toad and the Sand lizard.The town contains examples of Victorian architecture and town planning, on Lord Street and elsewhere.

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When a widow from Wigan built a cottage nearby in 1797 for seasonal lodgers, Sutton quickly built a new inn on the site of the bathing house which he called the South Port Hotel, moving to live there the following season.