Southport is a seaside resort within the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside, England. During the United Kingdom Census 2001 Southport had a population of 91,404, making it the North West EnglandCities and towns most populous settlement in North West England. The demonym of Southport is Sandgrounder.
Southport lies on the Irish Sea coast of North West England and is fringed to the north by the Ribble and Alt Estuaries. The town lies to the north of the city of Liverpool at and also west-southwest of the city of Preston, Lancashire. Extensive sand dunes stretch for several kilometres between Birkdale and Woodvale, Merseyside to the south of the town. The Ainsdale sand dunes have been designated as a National Nature Reserves in England and a Ramsar Convention site. Local fauna include the Natterjack toad and the Sand lizard
Historic counties of England a part of Lancashire, the town in its present form was founded in 1792 when a hotel was built at what now is the south end of Lord Street, Southport. At that time the area was sparsely populated and was dominated by sand dunes. During the turn of the 19th century the area became popular with tourists due to the easy access from the nearby Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the town quickly grew. The rapid growth of Southport largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era. Town attractions include Southport Pier, the second longest seaside pleasure pier in the British Isles, and Lord Street, an elegant tree-lined shopping street once home of Napoleon III of France.
The town contains examples of Victorian architecture and town planning. These can be mostly found on Lord Street and the surrounding areas. A particular feature of the town is the extensive tree planting. This was one of the conditions required by the Hesketh family when they made land available for development in the 19th century. Hesketh Park at the northern end of the town is named after the Hesketh family, having been built on land donated by Rev. Charles Hesketh.
Southport today is still one of the most popular seaside resorts in the UK. It hosts varied events including an Southport Airshow, and the largest independent Southport Flower Show in the UK. The town is at the centre of England's Golf Coast and has hosted The Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in the past.