James Turner, Metal Detector

James Turner, Metal Detector

See what James Turner, Metal Detectorist has found on the Fylde Coast

Back in 2013, James had got into conversation with us following a discussion on Facebook about the petrified forest that can be seen on Cleveleys beach.

He’s obviously got a fascinating hobby, so as we’re fascinated in everybody and everything, we persuaded James to tell us more.

If anyone out there also enjoys uncovering the past then please get in touch, or James might just inspire you to discover local history!

How I got into the Hobby.

Throughout school I had a love of ancient history and pre-history, I had a fascination with things owned by people from the past, the story they tell, the history of the artefact. When I find a coin or artefact I feel a remarkable connection to the past, a wonderful feeling as I take hold and look at something which has been lost for so long, not seen or touched from that time.

I pondered buying a metal detector for years and when circumstances presented me with more time, I bought one. I couldn’t imagine a better way of touching history or realising the passion I have for connecting to the past. Metal detecting, research, the history and recording of my finds has become my life’s work. Metal detecting is challenging, satisfying and leaves one with a wonderful sense of discovery, for me a window to the past.

Detecting is great fun but I also take it very seriously. Knowing about the history of the area I’m detecting is very important and a large part of the experience. One gets a special feeling when one finds a coin or artefact from a long past era and one can put it into context.

I love the freedom and peace the outdoors gives me, especially the beach. The crashing waves, the smell of salt water, the wide open space of the beach and the sea breeze which never fails to blow away the cobwebs. These things help me to relax and attain the frame of mind I need to listen to and identify signals from the detector, over a long period of time. Having a passion which has the capability to take one into another world away from worry and stress is a wonderful thing.

Other Passions

Besides Metal Detecting my other passions include: ancient history, history, wildlife, conservation and biodiversity of the Fylde coast and Ribble Valley. The birds and other wildlife I see are an added pleasure and enhance the whole experience for me. I am a very environmentally aware person and remove any dangerous or trash items I see on the beach, items which may harm the environment, animals and children alike.

I like the friendly people I meet from time to time which are just walking or more usually walking their dogs. We discuss the dogs, beach and my finds, I enjoy it. Sometimes I bump into a beachcomber and they tell me a much more detailed account as to what has been happening on the beach, like movements of sand.

Where I Detect

I metal detect on the Fylde coast, the tidal river Ribble, old private gardens and some woodland but all in the Fylde/Ribble locale. The whole area is rich in history but my main area of interest is the beautiful Fylde coast and its beaches.

What I’ve found

I’ve found thousands of coins both modern and pre-decimal, hundreds of artefacts mostly from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, modern watches and jewellery but my best find to date is a bronze age ring. I cannot tell you how I felt when I saw and held something that old, it was magical. I discovered the ring near the Ribble on what is now waste ground but in 1800 there was a house built here. It was a large house with landscaped gardens and a stream at the bottom, I thought there was a chance of some older finds as a lot of soil had to have been moved around when the house was built and gardens landscaped.

The Petrified Forest

It is strongly indicated that in 1532 where South Blackpool is now, the sea rapidly surged inland for some distance, the village of Waddam Thorp was destroyed and there is no record of any survivors. After some time the sea finally receded to the coast line we are used to at present.

A similar thing is said to have happened at Cleveleys in 1555, though the records are not clear, the sea surging upon the land destroying the village of Singleton Thorp, but unlike at Waddam Thorp, most of the villagers escaped.

It has been suggested that the “villages” were no more than a farm or two and that’s why hard evidence is difficult to find. There is also rumour of a series of violent storms happening at this time but I cannot find any official records as yet. I am still not finished with this research as I feel there is still a lot more to find out.

Have a look at the Hall Genealogy website

What is for sure is that just about half way between the low and high water mark, out from present day Cleveleys, there was a forest.

Some time after the above event occurred, whatever that event was, the sea again receded a little to the coast line we know today but still covered the forest when the tide came in. Sand built up around the tree trunks, the tops rotting away, leaving only the petrified stumps visible now at low water. Sand movements may cover or uncover these remains depending on tides and weather i.e. a big tide with gale force winds will more likely move sand on the beach.

There is no doubt in my mind that some sort of phenomenon took place here, as the forests location out on the sand is hard evidence of this.

We cannot rule out further happenings of this nature in the future, especially with climate change, rising sea levels and unusual weather systems etc.

A Metal Detecting Day

The weather was nice today, it makes such a big difference doesn’t it? Even though it wasn’t that warm, sunshine raises the spirits! I decided to concentrate on part of the beach which goes out from central pier and work my way along the promenade heading north, as usual always looking for the most likely spots.

I cannot stress to you the importance of trying to locate the areas which have most potential, on a beach which seems to be the size of the Sahara desert, one can go an entire detecting session without finding a thing or even getting one signal. This has happened to me a couple of times, when extra sand had been deposited on the beach and not even any trash was present!

It’s all part of the learning curve but in my early days of beach detecting, it was soul-destroying. I didn’t recognise the beach as well as I should, I just detected anywhere! Even now, when experience and careful thought have taught me some things, finds are still hard to come by and I have to work hard for them most of the time. When I chat to other detectorists they agree that Blackpool beach is tough! What I’m saying is, don’t beat yourself up if on some occasions you don’t find much!

As I walked out on the sand I surveyed the scene, I noticed a couple of lower areas of sand near the end of the pier and so I decided to start detecting there. As I set the detector up, I went through the mental process to shut off my mind to anything other than the signals I would hear, I tried to relax. I started detecting and worked my way north, concentrating on areas where the smooth sandy slope joined rippled sand at the bottom.


I’ve included some trash items but there were lots more bits and pieces which are now in the recycle bin! The locket is gilt plated but did not have any photo or such inside, which is a pity. A small metal gun (it still cocks and fires) and two badges. The triangular milk badge say’s ‘Safety First’ down the sides and ‘Milk’ along the bottom, the Bumble Bee Badge is more interesting, it has ‘Lords’ across the top and ‘Finis Coronet Opus‘ around the bottom which roughly means ‘The End Crowns The Work’ – a nice find. The small car is just junk, it has no detail on the underside except ‘Made in China’. In the junk there were the usual illumination bulb screw fittings.

Anyhow, here are the finds for the day:

Metal detector finds on Blackpool beach
Metal detector finds on Blackpool beach

Glass removed from the beachGlass removed from the beach

Silver found on Blackpool beachSilver & coins found on Blackpool beach

Petrified forest CleveleysPetrified forest Cleveleys

Petrified forest CleveleysPetrified forest Cleveleys

One Comment
  1. Hi I am new to detecting and I am looking at places in and around Blackpool. I have a Garrett 300i. I don’t know many people around Blackpool as I am from near Liverpool but have lived up here 3for 3 years now. Any tips or advice would be a great deal of help. Your story is really interesting. I am interested in history and am excited and very much interested to learn more.

    I hope to hear from you soon,



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