The turn of the 19th century, Birkenhead was a small village situated on the Wirral river’s bank Mersey that was protected from Liverpool’s heavy industry through the river. The landscape changed rapidly during the following few years, as naval architect William Laird set up shop and laid out the massive Hamilton Square. Following this, came Birkenhead Park, which was the first park in the entire world that was financed by the public, and just as Hamilton Square is brimming with historic buildings.
The Mersey is famous all over the world for its ferry services and it is possible to travel back to the beginnings of the service at Birkenhead Priory that was given access to the ferry route in 1318 by Edward II in 1318. In Birkenhead you’ll find a convenient location to explore Port Sunlight, the village that was modelled in Port Sunlight and the monuments situated on Bidston Hill.
1. Hamilton Square
It was the Scottish builder William Laird had big plans for Birkenhead in the 19th century. He commissioned Edinburgh architectural firm James Gillespie Graham to design a stunning square.
This Georgian wonder is adorned with the largest number of Grade I listed buildings of any collection in the country following Trafalgar Square. The maiden name is that of the wife of Laird, Hamilton Square is framed by terraces of sandstone townhouses and town-houses, but none are exactly the same.
The initial plan lasted for more than 20 years in the period between 1825-1847 and included town hall (more later), Town Hall (more later) and Birkenhead’s cenotaph. It is an impressive neo-Gothic memorial dedicated to queen Victoria and the statue of William’s son, John Laird. He was the first Birkenhead MP and lived at No. 63 , which was on the square.
2. Birkenhead Park
At the time Hamilton Square was completed in 1847, the world’s first publicly owned park in the world was opened just a few minutes away. In 230 acres, and constructed over seven years Birkenhead Park became the model of Central Park in New York. Central Park.
It was designed in the late Joseph Paxton, renowned for his work at Chatsworth and also contains a variety of monuments designed by Liverpool engineer Lewis Hornblower. Two of them two are Neoclassical Grand Entrance and the Cricket Pavilion (1849), with triangular gables on the porch.
It is believed that the Swiss Bridge is the sole bridge that is covered in traditional wood construction in the world and the lakeside Roman Boathouse features an unique segmented archway, which allows access to the lake. Alongside this amazing Grade I landscape, Birkenhead is home to a modern visitor center as well as a huge play area for children and all kinds of sporting facilities, and two lakes for fishing.
3. Port Sunlight
The suburb with a lush greenery in Port Sunlight was the brainchild of the “soap king”, William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) who constructed a soap factory in the area in the 1880s. He then built an ideal village for his employees. Port Sunlight is named after the soap brand manufactured by Lever and was developed during a period when innovative efforts were being put into place to provide employees with a well-being and comfort.
The city is a part of an appreciation for the Arts and Crafts movement’s Medieval and Tudor styles and excellent craftsmanship, Port Sunlight has 900 Grade II listed buildings and is a must-see on a walking tour.
The first stop you should make must include The Port Sunlight Museum, which will provide background information about William Hesketh Lever and his magnificent plans for the village. It is possible to experience life living in Port Sunlight during the early period, by visiting a renovated Edwardian worker’s cottage and learn more about architects that designed the houses, main buildings and parks. Self-guided and guided tours of Port Sunlight begin and end at the museum.
4. Lady Lever Art Gallery
A few years later, William Hesketh Lever founded an amazing art museum in Port Sunlight in memory of his wife, Elizabeth Hulme. In 1913, Lever donated his vast collection of art and applied art which were housed in an official Beaux-Arts hall, which was built in 1922. The exhibits shed illumination on the tastes of the industrialists and, with them, the taste of the richest Victorians as well as Edwardians. In addition to a lot of pre-Raphaelite art There are also works of important artists from the past, such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable and Turner.
There’s a wide selection of English furniture along with Chinese or Wedgwood ceramics, and possibly the most exquisite collection of Jasperware anywhere in the world. All this sculpture, painting and other decorative art works are presented through Five “Period Rooms” recreating interiors from the mansions of the past.
5. Ferry Across the Mersey
One of the best Merseyside experience is to take ferry across the famous river. This is accessible at the tiny Woodside Ferry Terminal. The first rights to ferry ferries were granted to close Birkenhead Priory during the 14th century and by the 18th century, Woodside was one of the locations for embarkation on the Wirral bank that was used by a variety of private ferry companies.
The terminal is linked to the rail network in Hamilton Square and is also connected to a tramline from the past that operates every weekend as well as during school holidays. The trip from Pier Head in Liverpool is only ten minutes long, but for those who want taking a leisurely cruise, you can take the 50-minute River Explorer Cruise, with commentary and the most stunning images of Liverpool skyline.
6. Wirral Transport Museum
The first tramway in Europe was constructed at Birkenhead through the American transportation businessman George Francis Train. The first time it was opened was in 1859. It was located starting at Woodside near the ferry terminal to Birkenhead Park. The line was closed in the 20th century, however the tramway that was a heritage one was established in the late 1990s, and we’ll look into it more in the next section.
The Wirral Transport Museum was opened the same year in an impressive Victorian twin-leveled stable, and is home to the line’s antique tram collection as well historical buses (see the exquisite 1941 Guy Arab and 1943 Leyland Titan) cars and motorcycles, and The 1950s Green Goddess fire engine. There is also the model railway as well as an exact model of one of the enormous cranes that movable that were used to load iron ore at Bidston Dock. It shut down in 1997.
7. Wirral Tramway
From the stop at Taylor Street outside the Wirral Transport Museum, you can take an old-fashioned tram for 1.1 km until you reach Woodside Ferry Terminal. Woodside Ferry Terminal. The line is home to nine stunning trams from the past, many of them are displayed at the museum, which includes the only ex-Lisbon tram with a standard gauge (1930) around the globe. The line is available throughout the year during weekends, from 12:45 until 16:45. Also, it runs from Wednesday through Friday during the school holidays.
The tram departs from the museum. the tram will connect with ferry departures from Woodside at the half-hour mark. Fares include PS2 for adults and PS1 children.
8. Birkenhead Priory
The oldest building that remains in Merseyside, the Benedictine Birkenhead Priory established about a mile from Mersey around the middle of the 12th century. After receiving “ferry rights” from Edward II in 1318 , monks from this monastery created the first official ferry crossing the Mersey.
Like other priories in England, Birkenhead priory was removed in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century.
The present chapel of the priory is situated in the former be the chapter house of the priory and, on the top floor is the scriptorium, which houses an altar dedicated to the 19th century Royal Navy training ship HMS Conway. There’s also a museum which traces the long time of the site’s history and what the buildings are used for which are still in use.
The church’s tower from the church that was demolished in the 19th century Church of St Mary, a parish in St Mary has been preserved in memory of the 99 sailors who perished on board HMS Thetis. This submarine was built in Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird shipyard and sank during the trials of June 1939.
9. Williamson Art Gallery & Museum
The vast art collection of Birkenhead is preserved in a neo-Georgian temple-like structure in Claughton. The Williams Art Gallery & Museum was constructed for the purpose in 1928. It is named for its funder, John Williamson, then director of the Cunard Steamship Company.
It’s one of the best art collections in the region It includes Victorian artwork by Academic Artist Albert Joseph Moore, and seascape painter Philip Wilson Steer, as along with a collection of drawings, watercolors, and prints.
The Birkenhead’s Della Robbia Pottery, a major that was part of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century is well-represented, as well as Liverpool soft-paste ceramic, which was made locally in the second quarter of the 18th century. The Maritime Gallery holds a wide collection of old ship models, including the original Cammel Laird shipyard, Mersey Ferries and the numerous other vessels that were used to travel along the river.
10. U-Boat Story
The price of River Explorer Cruise River Explorer Cruise includes entrance an outdoor museum that houses the German Submarine U-534. The vessel was constructed for the Kriegsmarine in 1942, and was destroyed with the help of the RAF Bomber from Denmark’s Kattegat on May 5, 1945, the day that marked the partial surrender of German troops within Denmark through Admiral Donitz.
The entire 52 crew members were rescued when the sub was discovered in the shallow waters of 1986, then raised up to its surface by 1993. Before it was able to be moved to its permanent home at Woodside Ferry Terminal the U-boat was broken into five pieces and then presented in this disintegrated format which allows visitors to view the inside of the vessel through transparent screens. Audiovisual and information signs provide a glimpse of what life was like on the ship, and among the artifacts that have been preserved is an undiscovered Enigma machine.