For several years now, I have been writing books on Wirral History. below you will find a list on all the books that are currently available, featuring areas such as: Wallasey, Birkenhead, Bidston, West Kirby, Hoylake, Meols, Caldy, Hilbre Island, Woodchurch, Upton and reference to much more.
Whilst at Liverpool John Moores University, I began researching local history. Originally I was following the route of becoming a teacher, but following graduating my BA History course, I got more involved in Wirral history. Having grew up in New Brighton, I never knew how much history was in such a tiny place, when comparing to major cities such as Liverpool across the River Mersey.
New Brighton became a seaside resort, when James Atherton a wealthy merchant, set out his vision of making a new seaside resort, to rival the likes of Brighton and Blackpool. Having retired at the age of fifty-three in 1823, James Atherton along with his son in law William Rowson, concocted plans for the north-eastern area of Wallasey, and presented them to John Penkett, who was Lord of the Manor in Liscard. Having had previous success in Liverpool and Everton village, these plans were accepted and work was soon to begin.
It was on the 24th January 1832, that William Rowson advanced a deposit of £200 to John Penkett on account of the purchase of the "New Brighton Estate". The sum represented £100 each for James Atherton and himself. This became the beginning of New Brighton and the name still remains to this day. Many iconic buildings would soon arrive, such as the Fort Perch Rock in 1833 and the Perch Rock Lighthouse. As a child, Fort Perch Rock was a great place to attend when open to the public, but it was on limited occasions. (Usually promoted with a flying flag)
Unfortunately for me, I was born in the 1980s so I missed out on possibly the best era in Wallasey's history, which was the 1950s and 1960s when the fairground was at its peak.
At the height of the New Brighton Tower fairground's popularity in the 1950s attractions at the fairground included "The Himalayan Switchback Railway" 'Figure of Eight', 'Wall Of Death', 'Donkey Derby' and 'The Caterpillar'. There was also a chair lift that was introduced, in which there were small cabins attached to a cable, which ran from the amusement park entrance at the promenade end, to the top of the brick portion of the Tower. Tourists would flock from all over the north west of England, most notably the working class citizens of Liverpool. New Brighton resort really was the place to be.
Not only am I disappointed to have missed out on the fairground, the tower ballroom also seen the rise of the biggest music group in the world "The Beatles" Regulars would pack out the New Brighton Tower Ballroom each weekend, which at its time, was one of the largest in the world, and included a sprung floor and dance band stage. Not only did "The Beatles" perform there, other main headliners such as Little Richard, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Rory Storm and many others also rocked the ballroom. The Ballroom had a balcony, with seats to watch the dancers below. Behind this was an open space, where couples used to learn the dance without interfering with the more proficient ones. There was also a fine billiard Saloon with 5 tables.
Unfortunately, the good times were not to last. In 1969 came the end of an era at New Brighton, when the tower ballroom was destroyed via arson beyond recovery. This became the downfall of New Brighton, as my generation and that before it would witness. The Ballroom was pulled down and the fairground followed virtually over night, turning New Brighton into a ghost town. New Brighton's seaside resort was set for another blow 21 years later, when the fatal storms in February 1990 destroyed the famous outdoor bathing pool. I never got to experience swimming there, but I did witness probably the best ever fireworks display I've seen in my life. Strange as it may sound, the bangs were that loud, you would think Germany had began a new assault on the area. Due to the severity of the storms, the costs of fixing the damage to the outdoor bathing pool was too costly, so like everything else before it, the answer was to pull it down and for many years until the recent Neptune development it remained an empty grass area.
So, my home town of New Brighton has seen highs and lows, when researching for my books on Wallasey, I learnt just what I and my generation had missed out on. But, that is not to say New Brighton gave me an unhappy childhood. Wilkie's New Brighton Palace and Brightspot arcade was a regular haunt of mine. With indoor rides available, myself and friends would take advantage of the unlimited tickets on certain evenings, allowing us to ride the dodgems, jets, waltzers and the ghost train. Then followed adventureland, which was filled with slides and other activities. The one thing that often stared me right in the face, was the death slide. When adventureland first opened the slide looked enormous and certainly drive fear into my head. I think the first time I built up the courage to go on it was during a secondary school trip there with Oldershaw.
So life was not all bad growing up in New Brighton, but as i have said, during my research I felt robbed of what my parents and grandparents had enjoyed growing up in the same area. Creating the books, has really opened up my eyes to the amazing history that not only Wallasey holds, but all over the Wirral. The history of the area, definitely makes me proud of the area I was born and was lucky to grow up in.
At over 400 pages long, this book will bring back memories to the local residents, the day trippers and holiday makers who flooded into the area to enjoy all the attractions it had to offer such as: the largest tower in Britain, the pier, the theatres, the swimming pools, the fairgrounds, the parks, the busy shopping streets and all the other entertainments provided for their pleasure. The area of Wallasey has a recorded history that dates back to the days of Pirates & Smugglers in the early 16th Century. Wallasey became well known for becoming a haven for rich merchants who built vast numbers of mansion houses and it is more recently remembered for its time as a popular seaside resort from the 19th century onwards. Industry was also present during the back end of the industrial boom. Wallasey had its own Mill, the potteries of Seacombe and of course the docking area. This book captures the important factors of Wallasey that made it popular with tourists and why merchants flocked from across the land to build their mansions and become a part of the ever growing prosperous town. That later became one of the busiest seaside resorts in Britain. Take a step back in time and remember Wallasey from days gone by.