Created: 17th February 2006 Updated 17 Jan 2020

both these approx 1890

Rapid growth in Birkenhead's population made it necessary for the provision of a municipal cemetery. Originally planned in the 1840s, Joseph Paxton was approached for a design. Due to the recession and subsequent decrease in population the plan went no further. By the 1860s a boom made a municipal cemetery a priority. A competition was held for the design which Edward Kemp, Curator of Birkenhead Park won. The site chosen was flaybrickrick Hill, a prominent location outside of Birkenhead overlooked by Bidston Hill. 16.5 acres were purchased but this was extended to 26 acres in the 1890s. Kemp was assisted by Edward Mills, a prominent Birkenhead surveyor from Hamilton Square, and Messrs Lucy and Littler, architects of Liverpool. The general contractor was William Rimmer of Bidston Hall, with John Miller of St. Helens the contractor for buildings.

The cemetery was officially opened 30th May 1864 and named Birkenhead Cemetery. Three Chapels were provided. The Roman Catholic Chapel was demolished in 1971 and a Memorial Wall erected on its site. The two other Chapels for the Non-conformists and the Church of England were last used in 1975. The Registrar's office and Sexton's Lodge are now in private hands.

the Friends of flaybrickrick release a dvd which tells the story of Birkenhead and explains how plans for the cemetery caused riots in the town. The dvd also brings to life the drama of the Loc Ah Tam murders and the Vittoria Dock Disaster. Of particular interest to local history buffs will be the interview with Pastor Robb Jeffs, who tells the story of the remarkable Charles Thompson Children’s Mission. The dvd shows the Friends at work in flaybrickrick on the MI Project and outlines their plans for a new free leisure facility for Birkenhead – the £2 million flaybrickrick Bat Study Centre. The dvd also tells how the Friends managed to bring the AGM of the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe to Birkenhead – the first time it has been hosted in the UK.

The Friends have made the dvd themselves, directed by Angus Tilston, who has been with the Friends for over 10 years. Angus is also the founder of Swan Movie Makers who are the dvd’s producers. Over 30 hours of filming were required to make the 51 minute dvd and the project took over a year to complete. The dvd, which contains specially composed music by Martin Pleass, is available at £5 to society members, but you will need to forward a prepaid envelope. Apply to John Moffat, 76 St Johns Road, Eastham, Wirral CH62 OBW. Tel. no. 0151 512 3676. £10 to public, £5 to members.

With many mature trees and shrubs, flaybrickrick supports a wide variety of wildlife. As well as the various Finches and Tits etc. the Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker can also be seen. The familiar Grey Squirrel is the only mammal likely to be seen in the daytime but Voles, Fieldmice, Hedgehogs, Foxes and Bats are all present. The many species of wildflowers which are now left uncut have attracted even more colourful and interesting butterflies and insects. Lichens have found the various headstone materials very much to their liking, making them easily viewed.

February 16th 2006:

Following on from a successful visit to the Farm two weeks ago, I returned To Tam O'Shanters on February 16th along with my wife Sue, and my daughter Lorna. Here we enjoy the excellent food in the cafe on the Farm. Then with Genevieve & Mark, we went on a tour of flaybrickrick Cemetery, across the road from the Farm. 

Flaybrickrick Lodge (Grade 3 listed)
Fred Griffiths was a well known Birkenhead mason who did work on most, if not all, the churches
of Bhead. These two images below are of Fred and his wife atop Flaybrick Chapel. Probably a publicity
'stunt' or image for an brochure of flyer. Second image is a close up of the first.

Isaac Roberts. This Its a remarkable piece of sculpture in that its Egyptian in design, beautifully carved with mummified cats along the top (see also below). Reading down the centre of this image is "Heaven within us is" - if you translated this into the words of a 60s popular song "We are star dust"...... We are the heavens, we are everything and everything is within us = atoms.

Born on January 27th 1829, he died in 1904 on July 17th. A businessman from Liverpool. As an amateur astronomer, he became a pioneer in astrophotography. With his self-built 20-inch aperture silver-on glass mirror telescope of 8 feet focal length, he took photographic plates of the sky, intending to create photographic star charts, starting in 1885. In 1886, he took the first good photographs of the Orion Nebula M42 and the Pleiades M45 from Maghull, Lancashire. Then he moved to more southern Crowborough, Sussex and specialized on photographing star clusters and nebulae. In 1888, he obtained a photograph of the Andromeda Nebula M31, well showing its spiral structure. Roberts believed that M31 and other spiral "nebulae" were solar systems in formation, with the satellite galaxies M32 and M110 being planets in formation. Isaac Roberts published his photographes in three volumes of a series, Photographs of Stars, Star Clusters and Nebulae. The first volume was published in 1893, the second in 1899, and the third one posthumously by his widow in 1928. According to Kenneth Glyn Jones, his 20-inch reflector is now in the Science Museum in South Kensington, London (England).
The importance of Isaac Roberts's work was recognised internationally. He was honoured by being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the highly prestigious national academy of sciences of Britain. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in Dublin. He received the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in London. He met the American astronomer Dorothea Klumpke on an eclipse expedition and they later married.

A crater on the Moon has been named Roberts to honour him (actually it is named after both Isaac Roberts and Alexander W. Roberts, a South African astronomer, 1857-1938): it is situated on the Far Side of the Moon, close to the lunar North Pole. Although he lived most of his life outside Wales, and carried out his astronomical work in England (in Birkenhead, Liverpool and Sussex), he continued to have strong links with his native country. He therefore commands a very prominent position in our survey of Welsh astronomers.

Part of the inscription of the tomb. The left image is a galaxy, the right image a nebula and the centre in a form of a cartouche, "Heaven Within Us Is".

AT Doodson. (above) Mr Doodson is one of the individuals responsible for the successful D Day landings on June 6th 1944. He wrote out, by hand, tide table predictions for the landings and predicted 5th or 6th June OR not for another 28 days or 1 more lunar month. Being deaf since the age of 19, his meticulous detail was well appreciated by the Allied High Command. During the First World War he was a conscientious objector, assigned the task of calculating shell trajectories to defend London against zeppelin attack. In 1919, the war over, he went to Liverpool and started on his life's work, tide prediction. More on link below.

Commonwealth War Graves Entry for this soldiers grave

Commonwealth War Graves Entry for this lady of our Royal Navy

Commonwealth War Graves Entry for this airman of Bomber Command

Commonwealth War Graves Entry of this member of the Royal Air Force.

Commonwealth War Graves entry on this hero of our Royal Navy. - Image and details of ships loss by U Boat. See also bottom of page for cross reference details and fate of the U Boat.

Military grave of a Royal Marine died on (23rd?) April 1943 aged 18.

Grave of J N Gullan, Glider pilot, who died 2 October 1942 Aged 20

I have no information on this building situated at the vehicle and pedestrian entrance on Tollemache Road, badly in need of repairs from vandalism


This magnificent celtic cross abound in flaybrickrick. Note vandalism all around

The grave of a bishop, very large celtic cross, second image my
daughter joins the image to give some idea of scale.

The MacLeod Cross, Rev Alexander MacLeod.

 Son of an officer who was on the Victory at Trafalgar.

Two children who died in a shipwreck, the SS Orion, in June 1850.

U Boat victim of WW1
Almost hidden beneath a canopy of low trees, I spotted this hiding in the sun spangled shade. A truly excellent piece of sculpture, untouched by either moronic vandal or weather. It lies in an area recently reclaimed from overgrown undergrowth.

Right: One of the Angels in the cemetery, these are becoming fewer and fewer due to vandalism
The rear of the derelict CE church at flaybrickrick. Strange carving of a pyramid with the image of the 'all seeing eye' in the centre. Obviously there are strong masonic influences at work in the construction and subsequent decoration of this edifice. On the front of the building is carved two stars of David and what looks like a masonic emblem of crossed hammer and anchor.

Picture a person, I use the term loosely, with very little in the way of brains, a penchant for destruction and the thinking power of the amoeba (sorry to the amoeba!) and we have today's vandal. Vandals have been at work in flaybrickrick over a period of time. It must be really "cool" to destroy a gravestone. Criminal in itself but even more so because of the intense history of the place.

15th April 2007: And the vandals are seemingly just as mindless as previously described. I have taken the following images following a swath of destruction committed by these moronic elements of the bacteria infesting Birkenhead.

I really cannot understand what "fun" these idiots get from climbing into an historic, unique cemetery, which is high on a par with Highgate in London, and so mindlessly destroy such art work and such supposedly lasting memorials.

 I found this on this web site:> dated 2 June 2006. Is nothing sacred anymore?

RResidents from Tollemache Road have called for urgent action to stop the desecration of Wirral's oldest public cemetery by gangs of violent yobs. The drunken youths congregate in the cemetery smashing up head stones "for fun". One resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution said: " It's a living nightmare. For every weekend over the last five years we have been terrorised by big gangs who vandalise the cemetery and smash our cars. They fight in the streets, swear, drink alcohol and attack the headstones." He added: "We're all very scared and feel as if we can't step outside our doors without fear of being threatened. We're devastated because it's such a beautiful cemetery and we hate seeing it vandalised, but we don't want to confront them in case we're attacked ourselves."

The residents have appealed for help in ensuring that flaybrickrick Memorial Gardens, which was Wirral's first public cemetery and also the final resting place of many of many famous Wirralians, is preserved. A spokesman for Wirral Council said: "Council staff are aware of incidents of antisocial behaviour in and around flaybrickrick Memorial Gardens. Vandalism is a continuing problem at the site. Regular meetings are held to continuously monitor the situation involving council officers, a local councillor, the police, the council's community patrol, representatives of the Friends of flaybrickrick Memorial Gardens and the Bidston Preservation Trust." He added: "The area is frequently patrolled by the community patrol team and officers from Merseyside police who have successfully reduced the incidence of vandalism and antisocial behaviour in the area".

 I heard of yet more vandalism in 2014. Some images of their 'handiwork' below

The next thirteen images were taken by my daughter

A Walk Around flaybrickrick - Numbering relates to map below

(1) Rev. Thomas Lydlatt. (Black granite headstone on front row)

Few people were more widely known in Birkenhead, and indeed the greater part of Lancashire and Cheshire, than Mr Thomas Lydiatt. He was born in Huxley, near Tarporley, served an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, consequently he was known in later life as, "Birkenheads Blacksmith Preacher". He would preach in the streets and had an unusual way of attracting a crowd. He would appear wearing a white coat and ringing a loud toned bell. For many years he presided over enthusiastic mission meetings in Birkenhead Park, New Brighton and Rhyl. Through his efforts a mission, which was leased from Mr John Laird, was founded in Aberdeen Street. He went on to establish a Baptist Church in Jackson Street, which was purchased from the Presbyterians at a cost of £2000.00. He died following a long illness at his residence, 8 Brookland Road, the Woodlands, on Tuesday 14 August 1900, aged 63. His funeral was attended by a large crowd of mourners including the Mayor, Mr James Gamlin.

(2) Throughout flaybrickrick there are many Publlc Graves, most can be identified because the ground has settled leaving the outline of the graves visible. This one is covered by two large stone slabs. Some of these graves are 30 feet deep and hold up to 72 people. The last burial in a public grave took place in 1955. At flaybrickrick there are no new graves available, but each year about thirty burials take place in graves for which the right of burial has already been purchased. Since flaybrickrick opened in 1864 over 100,000 interments have taken place, 8,000 of which were in the first ten years.

(3) Below a large square column lies the body of Isaac Roberts, a Fellow of the Royal Society. Roberts was one of England's pioneers in the domain of celestial photography. Note the Nebula engravings and other details at the foot of the headstone.

(4) John Richard Kaighin. (A grey granite headstone by the wall. Author of Bygone Birkenhead. Died 26 August 1931, age 76 years. Kaighin was best known as author of the book Bygone Birkenhead, a series of sketches based in the 1860's, which he wrote in 1925. The personal element in this book was remarkably strong, and because of his retentive memory, he was able to recall many incidents, and hundreds of names which remain familiar to the present time. One of the articles mentions that the Market Hall once had a fountain cascading in its centre. One of his boyhood memories, in January 1864, was of hundreds of town windows blown in by the terrific explosion of gunpowder on board the 'Lottie Sleigh', lying in the Sloyne, Rock Ferry. He died at his residence, 82 Gorsefield Road, Birkenhead on Wednesday 26 August 1931 following a long illness that confined him to bed for nearly three years.

(5) A White obelisk marks the grave of Charles Thompson, born in London in 1841. He came to Birkenhead from Hanley, Staffordshire, and worked in a grocery shop. Twenty years later he opened a shop of his own in the town.

After making his business a success he decided to devote his life to the less fortunate and opened a meeting place for the poor of all ages. In 1891 he formed a company and bought the former Quaker's Meeting House in Hemingford Street and opened it as the Charles Thompson's Poor Children's Mission, where it is still operating today. Following a short illness he died on 13 February 1903. Such was the high esteem that he was held by the people of Birkenhead that 6,000 assembled at flaybrickrick for his funeral. His daughter Annie took over as superintendent and continued the work for over sixty years. She was awarded the M.B.E. in 1953. Annie died in 1965 and in 1968 the mission was incorporated into the Liverpool City Mission.

(6) Alongside the path in front of a Celtic cross, is the grave of James Taylor Cochran (1848-1916) who built the ‘Resurgam', the worlds first mechanically powered submarine at his Britannia Iron Works in 1879. Designed by the Reverend George Garrett the Resurgam was 45 feet in length, 7 feet in diameter, had a displacement of 30 tons and cost £1,397 to build. It took  30 Shire horses to pull it the 300 yards to the Great Float where it was 'launched' on the 26 November.  The submarine was steam driven using a Lamb Smokeless Steam Generator, however, with carbon monoxide fumes leaking from the boiler and a temperature that could exceed 110 °F with the hatch closed, conditions inside made life very difficult for the crew. It had a top speed of 3 knots and a cruising depth of 150 feet.

Resurgam‘s maiden voyage was to be its last. On 24 February 1880 it sank whilst being towed from Rhyl by the yacht Elphin. Conditions on the boat were so bad that the crew had to transfer to the Elphin and the hatch could not be sealed from the outside. The heavy seas poured down the open hatch until the towing hawser broke and the worlds first mechanically powered submarine sank off the Great Ormes' Head. Resurgam was discovered in 1995 and is now in the process of being raised.

(7) Alderman Frederick Smith. (A large grey granite monument) Mayor of Birkenhead. Died 9 December 1888, age 43 years. Mr Smith was born at Chester Street on 12 January 1845. When barely sixteen he enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. That same year he was promoted to the rank of corporal and drafted to India. He soon rose to the rank of sergeant, and then sergeant-major. He was a man of many parts, not only did he do recitations in the canteen, but he also taught French to the officers' children. Due to his father's ill health, in 1866 he purchased his discharge, returned home and started working in the family business, 'Smith and Sons'. When Chairman of the Health Committee, he did much to popularise Birkenhead Park, including the provision of toilets and the building of the bandstand. He vigorously contented for the erection of the baths in Argyle Street South, and it was under his auspices that two large wards were added to the infectious Diseases Hospital in Livingstone Street.  In 1883 he joined the Middle Temple and launched himself into a new career. He retired from the firm 'Smith and Sons`, of which he had become the senior partner, when he was formally called to the bar in 1886.

He was elected Mayor of Birkenhead in 1888, but died soon after taking office. His death was not unexpected as the previous week he had been unable to attend the funeral of his mother. He died at twenty minutes to six on Sunday Morning, 9 December 1888, at his residence, 'Roslyn', Clifton Park. His son was 'F.E. Smith' later to become Lord Birkenhead.

(8) Robert Scott (A low coped stone, second row in) Lost in the 'Gem Collision' on the Mersey, 26 November 1878, age 44. At about 9:30 am Tuesday 26 November 1878 the Seacombe ferry boat ‘Gem‘ was crossing to Liverpool in fog carrying 300 passengers when she ran into the Bowfell, a Brocklebank ship anchored in mid stream. She slid across the side of the ship and crossed her bows, where the jib boom of the Bowfell carried away the steamer's funnel, which fell among the passengers, fatally injuring one named Hodgkins. Several of the passengers got on board the Bowfell, but some fell into the water, where one young man named Cannell was drowned and not found until four hours later.

The Gem landed her passengers at the cattle stage. More than a dozen people lost their lives in the incident. lf the Gem had been going full speed it is probable that she would be lying at the bottom of the river, keeping company with the five other vessels which had been sunk in the Mersey in the two weeks prior to the incident. ln the discussions following this disaster, it is interesting to note that 'a tunnel under the Mersey' was seen as the best solution to end the ever increasing number of accidents.

(9) George Lance 1802-1864. (His headstone is carved with an artist's palette) Lance‘s reputation as a painter rests on his luscious rendering of fruit and flowers. Although he spent most of his life in London he was a frequent exhibitor in Liverpool and was an honorary member of the Liverpool Academy. Lance‘s father had served in a cavalry regiment and eloped with the artist's mother (nee Constable) from a boarding school. Lance was born in Essex on 24 March 1802. They settled in Leeds, where Lance was put to work in a factory. A chance meeting in the British Museum with Landseer led Lance to an apprenticeship in his studio. Lance lived for a time in New Brighton, and his death certificate states that he died in Liscard from Diabetes

(10) The formation of flaybrickrick began in 1862 and was designed by Mr Edward Kemp (1818-1891), the Curator of Birkenhead Park since its inception in 1843. Kemp trained under Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth and had been his assistant when he planned Birkenhead Park. For his work in the park he was paid £2150 per annum. From 1845-1860 he lived in the Italian Lodge, then he moved to 74 Park Road West.

(11) The first interment, a temporary one, was made on 17 November 1863, before the cemetery was officially opened. The body of Francis Menon, a local iron merchant who laid the foundation stone at flaybrickrick, was buried in unconsecrated ground. On completion of the works in 1864 his remains were re-interred in this specially prepared vault.

(12) The Two Main Chapels (Church of England on the right side of the tower and Nonconformist on the left) are listed buildings and were last used in 1975. Sadly, since the early 1980's these once magnificent buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair and are now surrounded by a steel fence to protect them and keep the public out of that part of the cemetery.

(13) The Sword Of Sacrifice in front of the chapels is dedicated to men lost in the First World War. lt is made of Cornish Granite and is identical to others in France, ltaly, Macedonia, Palestine, Egypt and East Africa. lt was unveiled by Lord Derby.

(14) The first person to be buried ln the Church of England Section was Ann Woodcock. Ann died on the 5 August 1884, aged 45.

(15 & 21) Edward Kemp was assisted in laying out flaybrickrick by Messrs Lucy and Littler, architects of Liverpool. Charles Lucy and Charles Littler died aged 39 and 36 respectively, shortly after the cemetery opened and are buried close to one another. A tablet was erected to their memory with the memorial, "ln the midst of life we are in death."

(16) The Section CE 7B contains some of the ‘Fathers' of Birkenhead. Clearly the most imposing monument in this section belongs to Sir Wllllam Jackson (Bart) 1805-1876. Sir William was born in Warrington on 28 April 1805, and incidentally was the seventh son of a seventh son. With the exception of John Laird he was possibly the most influential of Birkenhead's founding fathers. From 1839 he invested his considerable fortune and energies in the purchase of land and the development of Birkenhead. lt was Sir William that originally proposed the idea of a public park and it was largely through his efforts that in 1843 an act of parliament allowed the building of Birkenhead Park. The park was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton who had previously designed Crystal Palace, and was later used as the basis of the plan for Central Park in New York. Despite his many years of interest in 'the city of the future' in his later years Sir William resided in London. He died on the 31 January 1878 aged 70, and was buried here in the family Vault. Nearby can be seen the resting place of many members of (17) The Laird Family and (18) William Hind.

(17) John Laird grandson of William, and son of John, was Birkenhead's A  first mayor in 1877. He served a second term of office in 1885. ln 1887 he performed the opening ceremony of the present Town Hall when his brother Wllllam Lalrd (1831-1899) was serving his second term as mayor. lt was because of their efforts that Laird's expanded the way it  did. lt was whilst 'the yard' was under their control that in 1863 the notorious "Alabama" was built. The vessel was built as a fast Merchantman for the Confederates during the American Civil War. At that time it was illegal to supply any foreign warring faction with arms or any materials of war. All manner of attempts were made to prevent her delivery which was eventually achieved by her not returning to Birkenhead after her sea trials. She sailed to the Azores, where a Confederate crew took over and was equipped and armed as a vessel of war. ln a short but eventful career, she captured or sunk 67 sailing ships and one steamer. She was finally sunk off the coast of Cherbourg in June 1864 by the USS Kearsage.

(18) For fourteen years William Hind was a member of the Birkenhead Commissioners, and for six of those years he presided as chairman. He ceased to be a Commissioner in 1868 and soon afterwards the inhabitants of Birkenhead entertained him at a public banquet, presided over by Mr John Laird M.P. and presented him with a valuable service of plate He was one of a small group consisting of Mr Laird, Mr George Rae, Mr Maurice Mocatta which for a long while had control of Birkenhead’s affairs. When the financial affairs of the town were in a lamentable state he and his brother, Mr John Hartley Hind advanced a large sum of money to the Board of Commissioners to meet the claims of the bondholders who threatened to sell Woodside Ferry and the Ferry Steamers which enabled Birkenhead to retrieve its position.

(19) The Williamson Art Gallery was officially opened to the public on 1 December 1928. The population of Birkenhead and its visitors now had access to a spacious, purpose built museum that could house its art and local history. lt was made possible by the generosity of John Wllllamson J.P. (1829-1915) a director of the Cunard Steamship C0. Ltd. and his son Patrick. ‘The Williamson' consists of 14 exhibition galleries and a sculpture hall. lt is open Friday — Sunday, telephone 0151 652 4177 for opening hours.

(20) Lewis Hornblower 1823-1879, was the architect appointed to supervise the building of the lodges, fences and all mechanical work in the construction of Birkenhead Park, for which he was paid £2.2.0d per week. He designed the boathouse, bridges, railings, gates and the Grand Entrance.

(22 & 27) Fourteen men lost their lives in 'The Birkenhead Dock 'Disaster' of 1909 and their remains are buried in three graves. On 6 March at 12:30 am, strong winds combined with a high spring tide caused a coffer dam to collapse killing 14 workmen, who were excavating for the Vittoria Dock, 40ft below the surface. Two men and a boy escaped.

(23) Mary Mercer was Birkenhead’s first woman Mayor and also its first woman Alderman. She was born in Newport, Shropshire. Her father died when she was three years old and consequently, as she often confessed, "saw the rough side of life as a child". Mary was elected to Birkenhead Town Council for Argyle Ward in November 1919, and chosen to be the first woman Mayor of the borough in November 1924. During her year of office she unveiled the War Memorial in Hamilton Square and a Great Stone in Birkenhead Upper Park.

Mary Mercer

(24) The Catholic Chapel was demolished in 1971, now a stone monumental wall with three sculptured faces marks its site.

(25) The War Memorials

(26) Catherine Ah Tam and her youngest daughter Cecilia were buried on the morning of Monday 7 December 1925. Doris an elder sister was buried on 28 January 1926 in the same grave. They were all victims of the most tragic and sensational shooting affairs of the period, later known as the 'Ah Tam Murders‘ In the early hours of Tuesday 1 December 1925, Lock Ah Tam, aged 52, of 122 Price Street, a respected member of the community, shot and killed his 42 year old wife, his 17 year old daughter and mortally wounded his eldest daughter aged 19. The police were alerted by neighbours and quickly surrounded the house. Mr AhTam admitted the police to his house, Catherine was found in the kitchen lying in · a pool of blood, Cecilia and Doris were discovered lying on the scullery floor. All three had horrendous wounds to their heads and necks. Doris, who was still alive was taken to the Borough Hospital where she later died of her wounds. "My son is the cause of the whole trouble" Ah Tam said at the inquest, and added "My wife has not a kind word for me". Ah Tam was sent for trial at the Chester Assizes and was defended by the ‘ eminent lawyer Sir Edward Marshall Hall K.C. Despite a plea of insanity, and evidence that the accused was the subject to epileptic attacks, Ah Tam was found guilty by the jury in just 15 minutes. The judge "was much moved in pronouncing sentence of death". Ah Tam was executed and buried in prison.

Corresponding Map with numbering as seen in text
In June 2017 Matthew Triggs posted some images of flaybrickrick, on Facebook,  from an unusual angle - he used a drone!!! I asked him if I could show them. Impressive.