Magazine Brow

Rising from the river near Liscard in Wallasey stands Magazine Village - a community which, before gunpowder had bestowed upon it an air of respectability, was known and denounced as 'Hell's Brow' - The Pilot Boat-house, usually known as Boat-house, was originally built in 1747. It was called the Pilot Boat House because a small boat belonging to the Pilotage was kept at the back of the inn. Post Mortem's of those who were found drowned in the river were held in the public house. The Pilot Boathouse mainly catered for the less-to-do artillery men from the Battery and workmen who were engaged in promenade building. It is said that the Pilot Boat's saloon reeked of thick-twist tobacco, that the floor was covered in sawdust and that the numerous and commodious spittoons were well blessed.

The Magazine at New Brighton was used by the owners of sailing ships, which were compelled to carry guns to fight pirates. When the ships arrived at Liverpool, they lay off the Magazines to discharge powder. Nearby would anchor outward-bound ships, taking aboard the powder.

The story of the Magazines began in 1737, when a magazine for ship’s gunpowder was built in Liverpool on a site now swallowed up by Brownlow Hill. That was on the rural fringe of the port,  the nearest buildings being in Church Street.  But Liverpool was taking rapid seriously in those years, and there was a danger that the gunpowder might expand too – not only when in store but when being taken through the streets to the ships.

Then, in 1751 a new approach was made to the problem in a traditional English manner,  a committee was set up. Its deliberations were brief and to the point,  the magazine must be moved. It selected a plot on the bank of the Mersey, the opposite bank!

A secluded plot was decided upon at the Magazines. It was modest enough in size, amounting to an acre which was named Warringer Close. It cost Liverpool £30. Today Lichfield Street and Aylesbury Road mark the spot. The plots were split up into small sections and various owners had their own powder store.
They were renovated and enlarged in 1838-39, and were still in use until 1851, when it was decided that in future explosives would be stored in hulks further up the river. The move was probably prompted by safety concerns, the land around the Magazines having become much more built up. In 1858 a battery was built on the site, and the imposing gateway with its crenulated towers, survives to this day as does the perimeter wall which now encircles several houses. Facing the south wall of the battery, on the other side of the road (Magazine Brow) are several cottages, perhaps dating from the 17th Century. These were probably first inhabited by fishermen, but it is thought that they were later occupied by offices from the battery. The Magazines were often referred to as Liscard Magazines and the fort as Liscard Battery, but the name Liscard later became attached to an area about a mile away where Wallasey's main shopping area is situated. A quaint circular dwelling may be seen about fifty yards from the fort's gateway, this being known as the Round House. Now forming part of a private residence, this was once occupied by the battery's watchman. Further along Magazine Brow are situated two public houses, the Pilot Boat and The Magazines, the latter having been built in 1759 and once used by sailors who were having their outward bound ships reloaded with munitions at the Liscard Magazines. This was closed down in 1851.

Stone above archway

Before the eighteenth century the Brow was isolated from the other areas of Wallasey by a treacherous mere, a wind-swept moor, and by Bidston Moss. For many years the only access to the village was by way of the shore. Due to its isolation the area attracted wreckers and smugglers. Often posing as simple boatmen and hard-working fishermen they lived in the Brow's squalid muddle of hovels. However, the vagaries of passing time transformed the little hovels into some of the most delightful and sought after cottages in Wallasey.

Magazine Brow, which runs from Holland Road to Fort Street parallel to the Promenade, is part of old Wallasey. Mr Ashby Pritt says in his young days the inhabitants of the Magazine Brow had a somewhat sinister reputation and these simple (?) fisherfolk rejoiced in their locality being known as ‘Hell’s Brow.’ Holland Road is named after the Holland family who resided in a house situated in what is now Vale Park.

In 1755 A man wrote to the authorities complaining strongly about the enormous amount of gunpowder he believed to be stored on a secluded plot of land by the Mersey. He felt it was too close to his house to be comfortable, and he requested to know what would happen if it blew up. To walk between the Magazines and Liscard today calls for some energetic walking, back then there was then nothing to protect Liscard from an explosion. The danger was real, for buildings were not as solidly built as are today, and gunpowder barrels had a habit of leaking. Tthe reply he man got from the authorities was “Dear Sir, It would blow you all to Hell.”
none of the above script is actually mine, its been compiled over years from email contributions, so occasionally will overlap.