A Travellerspoint blog

Travels around the UK.



We spent three weeks in the UK this summer, but most of it was visiting family and friends or shopping, or catching up on all the t.v. we have missed in Hong Kong. The only new place we visited was Birkenhead near Liverpool. We went there because my husband's team, Walsall, were playing Tranmere Rovers. We stayed there for two nights in the Premier Inn.

Birkenhead Premier Inn.

Birkenhead Premier Inn.

My first impression of Birkenhead as we walked from the station to the hotel was that it was pretty run down as lots of buildings were closed and boarded up. So many places in the UK have regenerated themselves from their industrial past. My first thoughts were: 'What went wrong here?' but later when I had looked on-line and done a bit of research, I discovered Birkenhead was not so bad. There are things to see if you know where to look.

One thing that interested me as a Scot was that Birkenhead was largely developed from a small village into a once thriving town by fellow Scot, William Laird. Laird was a Scottish shipbuilder who helped found the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. Laird came originally from Greenock, near Glasgow, but in 1810 moved to Liverpool. He later bought land next to the small village of Birkenhead across the Mersey from Liverpool and set up the Birkenhead Iron Works. Later still, he founded a ship yard together with Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield and began to build ships for the East India Company.

Laird commissioned Edinburgh architect James Gillespie Graham to design a town centre near his shipyard. In style this centre was very similar to Edinburgh's new town. It centred around Hamilton Square. This square takes its name from Laird's wife's maiden name. The most noticeable building here is the town hall which dates from 1887. In the centre of the square there is a park with a war memorial and a monument to Queen Victoria.

Birkenhead Town Hall.

Birkenhead Town Hall.

Queen Victoria monument.

Town hall and cenotaph.

That night we ate in Birkenhead Wetherspoons which is called The Brass Balance as it occupies the site of a former brass balance manufacturers. The food was OK, but service was not great.

The Brass Balance.

Next day we planned to go to Chester in the afternoon to visit a friend, but in the morning we headed for Birkenhead Park. This was the first ever publicly funded park in the world. It was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and opened in April 1847. Central Park, New York is based on this park. The park includes a Roman Boathouse, a rockery, ponds, meadows and a Swiss Bridge. On our way to the park we passed the former Majestic Ballroom, which is now a Chinese restaurant. The Beatles played here live seventeen times between 1962 and 1963. Then we had a quick look at Birkenhead Market and ate some very tasty rolls at a snack bar here.

The former Majestic Ballroom.

The Beatle who got away.

This building near Birkenhead Market used to be a school.

The Pyramids shopping centre is nearby.

Breakfast at Birkenhead Market.

They do excellent rolls here.

At the market.

Cricket at Birkenhead Park.



Swiss Bridge.

Roman boathouse.

Roman boathouse.

Grand entranceway.


The Rockery.

That evening after our visit to Chester, my husband went off to his football match. I was feeling very very ill for some reason and went to bed.

By the next day I was feeling much better. We only had until midday before we had to check out and leave, so I dragged Peter out early to see the historic Birkenhead Priory. I knew it had been closed on the two other days of our visit, but I did not realise it would still be closed until 1pm that day. Hopeless we were leaving at twelve. We just looked at it through the fence. We could tell it would be interesting if we could only get in there. In particular I wanted to climb the tower as it has views straight into the Cammell Laird Shipyard. Coming from the ship building town of Clydebank myself, I was interested in that. Apparently Birkenhead Priory is the oldest standing building on Merseyside. It dates from 1150 and was founded by Benedictine monks. These monks provided hospitality to travellers and ran the first regulated ferry service across the Mersey. The site of the priory is also occupied by the tower of St Mary's Church. St Mary's was Birkenhead's first ever parish church. There is also a memorial here to those who lost their lives on board the Laird built submarine, Thetis, in 1939. Admission to the priory, if you are lucky enough to find it open, is free. In summer it is open from Wednesday to Friday from 1pm to 5pm and on Saturday & Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

Birkenhead Priory.

Birkenhead Priory.

Birkenhead Priory.

While the walk to the priory was pretty pointless in itself, I suddenly noticed there was a great view from the riverbank nearby, so we walked down to the River Mersey to the old monks' ferry landing point and walked along the riverside path to the Mersey Ferry Visitors Centre and Pier. This was a beautiful walk and turned out to be the highlight of our visit even if the skies were dull and overcast. It is still possible to catch a ferry'cross the Mersey from the Mersey Ferry Visitors' Centre, though we did not have time to do this.

The monks ran the first ferry across the Mersey from here.

Looking over the Mersey to Liverpool Cathedral.

Monk's Ferry.

Liverpool skyline.

Liverpool skyline.

Looking towards the Liver Building.

Boat on the Mersey.

Boat and skyline.

In the Mersey Ferry Visiitor Centre.

In the Mersey Ferry Visiitor Centre.

Ferry cross the Mersey. This one is Snowdrop. The others are Iris and Daffodil.

Mersey ferry.

At the Mersey Ferry Visitors' Centre.

Early version of the submarine.

Finally, it was time to leave. Another thing I liked about Birkenhead was its rather old railway line and station. It is situated on the Wirral Line which connects Liverpool, Chester and Ellesmere Port. The main station in Birkenhead dates from 1886.

Birkenhead Railway.

Birkenhead Railway.

Old clock tower now stranded on a traffic island outside Birkenhead Station.

Posted by irenevt 06:39 Archived in United Kingdom

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Nice pictures.---Birkenhead is a place i havent been in Uk, been nearly everywhere else.

by alectrevor

Catch that Beetle . . . don't let him get away. ;)

by Beausoleil

Yum - bacon butties

by greatgrandmaR

I see hubby is imbibing again, I'm just jealous, doctor's recommendation!

by Bennytheball

Hi Alec, Only finished half my blog so far. There is more to Birkenhead. I would not exactly call it nice but it has got interesting bits here and there.

by irenevt

Hi Sally, He likes to strike a pose, that man. Thanks for visiting.

by irenevt

Hi Rosalie, I had the cheese and salad roll, hubbie had a corned beef roll. Freshly made and really very good. Thank you for visiting. I still have half this blog to write.

by irenevt

Hi Benny, My husband says to tell you that I have driven him to drink over the years. He was teetotal till he met me. Haha.

by irenevt

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