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The sleepy seaside town of Southport lies in the borough of Sefton near the mouth of the Mersey, and is an affluent and comfortable place to retire to. The area has been settled since before the Norman Conquest, indeed some local names are thought to stem from Viking ancestry. Southport really flourished in the 19th century when it was seen as a more genteel alternative for holiday-makers to Blackpool down the coast, although it's miles of unspoilt beach and Victorian pier would have also have been an attraction to visitors; the impressive Lord Street in the centre of the town is said to have influenced the design of the Champs-Elysees. Southport has produced a few sons and daughters of note: singer Marc Almond of Soft Cell fame hails from the area, and actress Miranda Richardson, unforgettable as Queenie in TV's "Blackadder III", also grew up here.