Wirral Books, Video's & Links



The Liverpool Book of Days by Steven Horton has a different news item for each day of the year, incl Feb 29th. Here is the entry for October 9th 1950:

1950: The Liverpool SL District Chrysanthemum Society opened a three day show. The show was held at the Gaumont Cinema in Allerton Road and opened by local comedian Billy Matchett. The Daily Post reported the next day: “There were over 200 entries and the standard was exceptionally high for the time of year. Miss Sorby of Wirral won the Gaumont Theatre Cup for the best exhibit in the show. Gold medals for trade exhibits were awarded to Mr Boardman of Moreton and Mr Alexander of Lee Park. In all nine prizes were awarded, with the furthest winner having travelled from Formby to take part, winning the category of ‘the best bowl of chrysanthemums arranged for effect’.

The book is published by The History Press, a small hardback for £9.99. The stories range from the heroic to stories of tragedy like this one from Feb 3rd 1868.

1868: Tragedy struck on the River Mersey when the Liverpool River Police boat capsized, leading to the loss of one officer, Constable Henry Madden.

The river police had been in existence since 1865, funded by the Mersey Docks 8C Harbour Co. but with its officers being sworn in as borough police constables. The boat was undergoing a routine patrol of the river between Rock Ferry and Tranmere when weather conditions took a turn for the worse. The following day’s Daily Post reported: ‘Yesterday morning a lamentable accident occurred to the river police boat Clint. The wind got up and though it lasted for but a short time it resulted in a most serious calamity on the river. The sail, which was brailed up was caught by a sudden squall, the little craft was turned completely over.’ Two lifeboats exercising off Rock Ferry raced to the scene and managed to save five of the crew, but Madden had already drowned. Had the lifeboats not been where they were, all six men may well have been lost. At the subsequent inquest, the coroner recommended that the design of the boat, which allowed it to sit too deep in the water, played a part in the accident.

The back of the cover tells that we are
'taking you through the year, day by day, The Liverpool Book of Days contains quirky, eccentric, amusing or important events or facts from different periods of history - many of which had a major impact on the history of England as a whole. (Did you know the country's first ever Juvenile court opened in Liverpool!!)

Ideal for dipping into, this addictive little book will keep you entertained and informed. Featuring hundreds of snippets of information gleaned from Liverpool's newspapers and archives, it is sure to delight residents and visitors alike.

Available from all good bookshops, Amazon and The History Press - Direct Sales - 01235 465577 or www.thehistorypress.co.uk 

Wirrall, was a dangerous region. The inhabitants were nearly all wreckers and smugglers - they ostensibly carried on the trade of fishermen, farm labourers, and small farmers; but they were deeply saturated with the sin of covetousness, and many a fierce fire has been lighted on the Wirral shore on stormy nights to lure the good ship on the Burbo or Hoyle Banks, there to beat, strain and throb, until her timbers parted, and her planks were floating in confusion on the stormy waves. Fine times then for the Cheshire men..... James Stonehouse 1863.

Published by Countywise Publishers, Wirral Smugglers, Wreckers and Pirates by Gavin Chappell is the first authoritative, illustrated, full-length account of smuggling and related activities in Wirral. Covering the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it represents the first book-length account of this important chapter in Wirral’s heritage. Not only does it describe familiar facts in great detail – Mother Redcap and her smugglers’ tavern on the Wallasey shore, the labyrinth of smugglers’ tunnels stretching from the Red Noses in New Brighton throughout Wallasey, and the wreckers who used to prey upon Liverpool-bound shipping – it also covers less well-known aspects of Wirral’s piratical past, including smuggling in Parkgate and Heswall, and the swashbuckling adventures of Captain Fortunatus Wright – the Wallasey privateer. Wirral Smugglers, Wreckers and Pirates is available in paperback at £7.99 from http://countyvise.tbpcontrol.co.uk/ (I found this site difficult- mk)and local bookshops including Waterstones, Linghams and News From Nowhere. I got my copy from the first link below.



About the Author

After researching local history for over ten years, Gavin Chappell became interested in smuggling after a visit to a smugglers’ cave in the garden of a private house in Heswall. This book is the result of his researches.  He is also available to give talks, lectures and interviews on the subject.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gavin Chappell. Email: gavin_chappell@hotmail.com. Phone: 07799655530.



Taking you on a journey through the streets of Wirral, Daniel K. Longman explores the peninsula’s rich heritage in this absorbing pictorial compilation. During the last century Wirral has been through many changes to both its landscape and the town itself. This collection of modern day photographs juxtaposed with forty-five archive images shows the changing faces of the peninsula over the last century. Below you can see several inquisitive youngsters along Tranmere’s Church Road in 1912, the tram lines and smart attire are a far cry from the modern day scene next to it. The Oxton Road Congregational Church was at the height of its magnificence in 1922, however a severe fire of the same year caused tremendous destruction and it fell into a terrible state of disrepair for decades. The modern photo shows how it has been returned to much of its former glory.

·        Accompanied by informative captions, each page captures life how it once was—and is now.

·        Witness the people of the past juxtaposed against their twenty-first-century descendants.

·        The evocative images of old are contrasted with crisp modern images taken by photographer Barney Finlayson.

·        Part of the brand new Then & Now series by The History Press.

Daniel K. Longman has written a number of articles for Your Family Tree magazine. He is the author of Criminal Wirral, Criminal Wirral II, Criminal Liverpool, Wirral: Tragic Tales and Liverpool Then & Now. He lives in Birkenhead, and is currently attending University at John Moores Liverpool.

The effects of the war, especially on the banks of the River Mersey, are all well documented and cover many thousands of words in many hundreds of volumes. A new book on this subject has been published recently (2012) by History Press. It is written by Birkenhead historian Daniel K Longman with some excellent colour photographs by Tony Sherratt. The title is Merseyside War Years Then & Now. Original WW2 images of how Hitler brought the war to the very doorsteps of Liverpool, Birkenhead and Wallasey is shown with the modern 21st century equivalent image taken from the same location. 

For that reason alone this can quickly equate the reader with what they know now to the terrible events that unfolded around their parents and grandparents. In the sleeve notes the book begins by relating to us about the highly strategic importance of the Mersey to the war effort. Beginning in Aug 1940, over 300 separate raids took place on Merseyside in 1940 alone!

4000 people were killed by German bombs.18000 Victorian homes destroyed in Wallasey alone not to mention factories, shops, businesses, roads, railways, services and power.

In this book 45 vistas of bomb ravaged areas with 45 modern images alongside for comparison. An able and revealing demonstration of the changing faces of architecture, of Britain's resilience in the face of adversity.

In the introduction Daniel mentions the debt we owe our Armed Forces, their sacrifices and the bravery of those who stayed at home, little knowing if they would see sunrise the next day through the clouds of smoke of the previous night attack. I feel that here there should also be mention of the thousands of Merseysiders who, as civilians, braved the might of the Atlantic, and the U boats, to bring food home via the convoys, to our tables. Without these brave men Britain would have starved.

The book begins with a look at the beautiful Oriel Chambers in Liverpool's Water Street. On the corner of Covent Garden, it survived where much perished. Along Victoria Street, over to Oxton Road Birkenhead, back to Liverpool and then Wallasey, the images jump the Mersey at the flick of a page. Bold Street, William Brown Street, St Luke's Church at the top of Bold Street, Derby Pool near Wallasey Village and many more fascinating views each with its own narration. Even the Boars Head and Victorian Vaults in Birkenhead each get a page.

Priced at £12.99, it's a valuable addition the the shelves of local historians and public who have an insatiable yearn to learn more of their past, both for their benefits and their children's.

Too often I hear of a person passing away and the 'stories they could have told' either because they did not want to talk about it, or people today do not wish to listen. I am going to enjoy owning the volume, I hope you will too. 

Published by History Press
The Mill
Brimscombe Port
Gloucs GL5 2QG
ISBN 978 0 7524 6352 0

Published by The History Press, Along the Mersey is by Jan Dobrzynski. The Mersey’s 70-mile journey to the Irish Sea starts with the merging of the rivers Goyt and Tame at Stockport in Greater Manchester and for centuries has acted as a major waterway for commercial and leisure travel. Despite its relatively short length, the River Mersey greatly influenced the commercial development of both Manchester and Liverpool and by the end of the nineteenth century, Liverpool was the second most important port of the British Empire, second only to London, with its success founded on trade to all parts of the world.


Its ports, docks, warehouses, cargo ships and ocean liners have been immortalised by past generations of photographers for the benefit of visitors and travellers from around the world and this charming volume takes the reader through the developing conurbation of Merseyside, comprising of the port of Liverpool, Birkenhead, along the Manchester Ship Canal, right down to the former coastal resort of New Brighton at the mouth of the estuary.

What an amazing book of old images of life along the banks of the River Mersey. Most of the images contained in this book I have never seen before.  The book begins with an introduction to the river. Starting in Stockport from the union of the Goyt and the Tame. Flowing into the Goyt is also the Etherow, the Mersey is not the longest river by any means but its importance was to become world changing. Chapter One deals with the flow of the river from source to Runcorn. Old images of the river Goyt, the Mersey flowing through Cheadle and Heaton Mersey, through beautiful rural settings towards Runcorn and her famous bridges. Warrington & Runcorn docks shown with fully rigged shipping of days long gone.

Chapter Two deals with the Manchester Ship Canal of which the Mersey forms a part.  The Mersey joins the canal at Irlam and leaves it at Rixton.  As with Chapter One, Chapter contains some old images of life on the Ship Canal, the vessels coming in all shapes and sizes, plying their way past mills and factories, fields and homes.  Then Barton Road Bridge and Aquaduct Bridge are shown opening to allow passage of an unidentified paddle steamer from Liverpool on a pleasure cruise. Fascinating images of the various and varied bridges spanning the Mersey including the Transporter Bridge at Runcorn, the high level bridge at Latchford and Runcorns’ railway viaduct. The chapter closes with a lovely photo of a three masted sailing vessel accompanied by a more modern steamer.

Information and images of Cammell Lairds and Woodside come next with ferry pictures. An Amazing image of the original omnibus that took passengers from Woodside to Moreton Bermuda Road. The ferry Lancashire heading to Woodside and various modern images of the Mountwood and Woodchurch. Wrapped around all these images, and more, is a very informative text. Birkenhead pictures cover Central Station, Trams passing the station, Hamilton Square, Flaybrick, an excellent overview of Birkenhead docks. The hydraulic tower, the Mills, Bidston and on to Seacombe.

Liverpool comes under scrutiny in Chapter 4, pride of place I think goes to the photographs of the Dockers Umbrella, the Overhead Railway. Old pics of the Pier Head and the 7 miles of dockland.  There is even a mention given to that famous floating islands of GB in Albert Dock where the intrepid weather man, Fred Talbot, used to draw crowds to see him leaping across from Ireland to Scotland etc.

There is also an explanation as to the identity thwarting ferry fans on the internet, (they know who I mean) the mysterious luggage boat approaching the Pier Head, and is featured in colour on the front cover, is the SS Liverpool, later to become the Prenton.

Pier Head station, wonderful. Page after page of the ferry boats and the liners at the Pier head and in the river with excellent historical information. The final few pages of this chapter show the docklands and shipping the square riggers, merchantmen and utility vessels that used the docks on a daily basis.

Egremont to New Brighton follows on. New Brighton’s famous Tower, Vale Park, beautiful old images of Victoria Road, the station, the much missed floral gardens. I would get off the 7 or
8 bus and walk through a doorway in the walls into the gardens, where people would sit for ages contemplating the views out towards Perch Rock, which, then, was cut off by the high tides. The wonderful Pier, the ferries, the coastline and town scenes. The book comes to a close with the Red Noses and Perch Rock lighthouse and a mention too of the notorious smugglers and wreckers that frequented our coastline here. There are 128 pages of informative text and wonderful memories and images. Beautiful book. I loved it.

Ellesmere Port to Birkenhead is covered in Chapter 3. Included in this are pictures that I have never seen before of Port Sunlight and the Soap Factory. A schooner moored at Ellesmere docks followed by a modern view of a tanker heading for Stanlow. After an extensive section on Port Sunlight itself, we pictorially move on to New Ferry and a crowed image of the Toll Bar.

Details of the South End Ferry Company are given, they operated between New Ferry and Dingle. Rock Ferry is given an interesting and informative narrative, again with images I have never seen before.  Training ships, moored in the river are shown as is the old landing stage at the bottom of Bedford Road. These ships trained and educated destitute kids and others for a life at sea.




New Brighton - A Victorian Seaside Resort
Purchase the Book Here http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Brighton-Victorian-Seaside-Resort/dp/1481054007/ref=la_B008D4XQY2_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353545152&sr=1-7
The History of Wallasey - A Small Suburb with A Large History
Purchase the Book Please Click Here http://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Wallasey-Suburb-Wirral-Peninsula/dp/1479362301/ref=la_B008D4XQY2_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1353598582&sr=1-2

The History of Birkenhead & Bidston
Purchase the Book please Click Here http://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Birkenhead-Bidston-Wirral-Peninsula/dp/1479362360/ref=la_B008D4XQY2_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353599930&sr=1-2

An Introduction to the West Wirral Coastline
Purchase the Book please Click Here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Introduction-West-Wirral-Coastline-Peninsula/dp/1479362484/ref=la_B008D4XQY2_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353599803&sr=1-3
The HitchHikers Guide to the History of the Wirral Coastline
A book by Vince Tracy, former Radio Merseyside


Portrait of Wirral by Kenneth Burnley. Hale Publications

Images of Wirral by Kenneth Burnley & Guy Huntington. The Silver Birch Press

And a big thanks also to Colin Schroeder, Greasby, Wirral.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWEHx6CpNEI&feature=related Wirral Railways

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32aJTEdvOuc&feature=related Wirral of old Pt 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAXWTe_ljxk&feature=related Wirral of old Pt 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVYSS-HkBok&feature=related Wirral of old Pt 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IFASVqSozI&feature=related Wirral of old Pt 4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1TndpGsojA&feature=related - Wirral of old Part 5

Wallasey Videos: