Walking Home From New Brighton

The Black Pearl, New Brighton.

The Black Pearl, New Brighton.

A Friday Walk where I walk on water to get home to Liverpool? Well, let’s see. First I need to get to New Brighton.

At the bus stop on Victoria Street, opposite Imperial Buildings.

At the bus stop on Victoria Street, opposite Imperial Buildings.

And newly opened Shankly Hotel.

And newly opened Shankly Hotel.

Where I soon find the New Brighton bus doesn't stop here!

Where I soon find the New Brighton bus doesn’t stop here!

So I walk round into Croshall Street and get the next one. It goes through the ‘new’ tunnel – as I’m clearly always going to call it – and soon arrives at my holiday destination for the day. The bus has been filled with excited little children making excited going to the seaside sounds like “I’ve seen a boat” and “There’s the beach, down there!”

When we all get off we’re first confronted with the hideous precinct of shops and restaurants that have been carelessly plonked on the seafront here.

Though at least it's good for an arty photograph.

Though at least they’re good for an arty photograph.

Things soon look up.

Things soon look up.

It's always wonderful to arrive at the sea and a wide sandy beach.

It’s always wonderful to arrive at the sea and a wide sandy beach.

Looking across the river, it's clear how much of Liverpool's trade at the moment is in scrap.

Looking across the river, it’s clear how much of Liverpool’s trade at the moment is in scrap.

And what's that on the skyline?

And what’s that on the skyline?

Yes, it’s the new Liverpool FC stand! If it’s visible from New Brighton imagine how much of a shdow it’s going to cast on Rockfield and all the other roads around the ground?

Past Fort Perch Rock.

Past Fort Perch Rock.

To the bit of the place that's still very much a traditional holiday resort.

To the bit of the place that’s still very much a traditional holiday resort.

Still got a funfair.

Still got a funfair.

As is right and proper.

As is right and proper.

Some of the other attractions are downright peculiar though.

Some of the other attractions are downright peculiar though.

Simon and Garfunkel anyone?

Simon and Garfunkel anyone?

“Authentic?” I don’t think so. Mind you, at least Paul and Art are still with us so it’s technically possible they could be playing the New Brighton Floral Pavillion. Not so the recently passed ‘Gene Pitney’ and ‘Whitney Houston’. I also thought Fort Perch’s advertised Cilla ‘tribute’ to be more than a little too soon and undignified.

Oh stop moaning aand enjoy the lovely day!

Oh stop moaning and enjoy the lovely day!

No chance. Not once I see the suburban housing has crept down to the waterfront.

No chance. Not once I see the suburban housing has crept down to the waterfront.

What chance does a place wanting to attract visitors have if it feels like the back end of a suburban estate?

What chance does a place wanting to attract visitors have if it feels like the back end of a suburban estate?

Though to be fair Victoria Road, beyond the suburban outbreak and formerly New Brighton's High Street, is looking healthier than it has for a good long while.

Though to be fair Victoria Road, beyond the suburban outbreak and formerly New Brighton’s High Street, is looking healthier than it has for a good long while.

So what do I know?

So what do I know?

I go back down near the front for my lunch at 'Driftwood'

I go back down near the front for my lunch at ‘Driftwood’

‘Number 1 on Trip Advisor’ they proudly boast. And despite that it is really good. Friendly people. Good straightforward food. And I sit there for a good while reading my current Irish novel. (‘Arimathea’ by Frank McGuinness, in case you were wondering, Donegal in the late 1940s.)

Before walking on.

Before walking on.

And soon arriving at New Brighton's greatest attraction for small children.

And soon arriving at New Brighton’s greatest attraction for small children.

Is it driftwood, is it art?

Is it driftwood, is it art?

No it's a pirate ship!

No it’s a pirate ship!

Seriously though, it is very great public art. Something brilliant that touches people’s hearts and imaginations made out of very nearly nothing. I think you can more reliably hear the joyous sounds of human happiness around the Black Pearl than any other attraction on either side of the river.

Over there? It's the cranes building the new hospital.

Over there? It’s the cranes building the new hospital.

I make no apologies for all the photos you’re going to see of the opposite bank, by the way. It’s Liverpool, so get over it.

This side there are gorgeous drain covers like this.

This side there are gorgeous drain covers like this.

And in Vale Park the children are having a great time.

And in Vale Park the children are having a great time.

Were you to be thirsty while doing this walk, it couldn't be slaked in a finer pub.

Were you to be thirsty while doing this walk, it couldn’t be slaked in a finer pub.

Yes, Liverpool from just down the road from The Magazine.

Yes, Liverpool from just down the road from The Magazine.

Anfield and Everton.

Anfield and Everton.

The Stanley Dock. That blue thing is the first Bascule Bridge of the day. Just wait.

The Stanley Dock. That light blue thing is the first Bascule Bridge of the day. Just wait.

Rustic railings at Egremont, where the ferries once came.

Rustic railings at Egremont, where the ferries once came.

Focus pulled to where they went.

Focus pulled to where they went.

The current Dazzle Ship ferry.

The current Dazzle Ship ferry.

I’m supposed to say ‘Peter Blake did that’ but of course he didn’t actually do the painting. That was done at Cammel Laird’s.

At this point I can tell you that’s how I’m going to achieve this ‘Walking Home from New Brighton’. By getting on that ferry and walking round the deck!

Passing Wallasey Town Hall. Is that much used now? Doesn't look like it.

Passing Wallasey Town Hall. Is that much used now? Doesn’t look like it.

Passing a grim reminder.

Passing a grim reminder.

‘The Guinea Trade’ was Trans-Atlantic Slavery.

Oh, this is a Millenium Trail is it?

Oh, this is a Millenium Trail is it?

An air vent for the 'new' 1970s tunnel.

An air vent for the ‘new’ 1970s tunnel.

Right underneath me here.

Right underneath me here.

Arriving at Seacombe.

Arriving at Seacombe.

Where buses still drop people off at the Ferry Terminal.

Where buses still drop people off at the Ferry Terminal.

Obvious and proper. Time was the Pier Head in Liverpool was thronged with buses and trams.

From Seacombe, quite possibly the best view of the Liverpool Waterfront on Earth.

From Seacombe, quite possibly the best view of the Liverpool Waterfront on Earth.

No words necessary.

No words necessary.

Except to say that restaurant on the right there, that’s a weak ‘mirror image’ of the Museum of Liverpool, is yet another example of us putting up pieces of crap in exactly the place where pieces of crap have no business being at all.

At this point I do consider getting that Dazzle Ferry home. But decide to walk on and join it at Woodside in Birkenhead. (This will not work out well, but read on anyway.)

Walking on beyond Seacombe.

Walking on beyond Seacombe.

The riverside wak soon gives out.

The riverside wak soon gives out.

As I’ve now reached the place where the great Birkenhead Docks System enters the Mersey.

And not being able to walk on water I'm directed up the side of it.

And not being able to walk on water I’m directed up the side of it.

The side of the North Alfred Dock.

The side of the  Alfred Dock.

Quiet now.

Quiet now.

Scratched stones remembering who docked here.

Scratched stones remembering who docked here.

I sit down and read. Moved and at peace in such a lovely place.

I sit down and read more of my Donegal novel. Moved and at peace in such a lovely place.

Like a secret lake beyond the river.

Like a secret lake beyond the river.

And oh look. A second Bascule Bridge.

And oh look. A second Bascule Bridge.

I'll be explaining more in a bit.

I’ll be explaining more in a bit.

I so love industrial architecture.

I so love industrial architecture.

And this reframing of the familiar.

And this reframing of the familiar.

Looking the other way through the Bridge.

Looking the other way through the Bridge.

As the late afternoon gathers.

As the late afternoon gathers.

Into the silence of the Docks.

Into the silence of the Docks. The Great Float East.

Bidston,_Birkenhead_&_Rock_Ferry_RJD_74

Not entirely silent though. Here's the Belfast Ferry Terminal.

Not entirely silent though. Here’s the Belfast Ferry Terminal.

Nearby bits of Edgeland, secret little paths into abandoned overgrowth.

Nearby bits of Edgeland, secret little paths into abandoned overgrowth.

Then, another Bascule Bridge! Third of the day.

Then, another Bascule Bridge! Third of the day.

A big treat for fans of unusual swing bridges.

A big treat for fans of unusual swing bridges.

Of which there is much, much more on my walk around Liverpool’s North Docks.

So close to Liverpool here.

So close to Liverpool here.

On these, the whole road section would swing up to let ships through.

On these, the whole road section would swing up to let ships through.

See?

See?

Beautiful, simple, elegant - and three of them close to home.

Beautiful, simple, elegant – and three of them close to home.

Turning now into

Turning now into the Twelve Quays, with tram lines.

Just by here in fact.

Just by here in fact.

Too late to call in today, but someday soon definitely.

Too late to call in today, but someday soon definitely.

A reminder of who built the docks over here.

A reminder of who built the docks over here.

The monoplistic way the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board behaved in Liverpool, basically setting up a separate toll domain outside the control of Liverpool Corporation, caused much competitive docking to be set up by the area’s merchants and railway companies. At Garston, the never built dock at Aigburth, along the Manchester Ship Canal – and here at Birkenhead.

Where this building was later renovated by the Merseyside Development Corporation.

Where this building was later renovated by the Merseyside Development Corporation.

You don’t see much evidence of those plaques around now, or do you?

These days the building is the offices of Wirral Borough Council and also the Borough’s Archives Store.

The beautiful 1868 Dock Gateway.

The beautiful 1868 Dock Gateway.

With tram lines.

With tram lines.

Nearly time to get on that ferry now. (Cue brooding ‘something’s about to go terribly wrong’ background music.)

So I approach a suspiciously quiet looking Woodside Ferry Terminal.

So I approach a suspiciously quiet looking Woodside Ferry Terminal.

And yes, it's only quarter past five.

And yes, it’s only quarter past five.

But it turns out the last ferry of the day left here three quarters of an hour ago.

But it turns out the last ferry of the day left here three quarters of an hour ago.

The way the Mersey Ferries work these days is that they mostly do tourist cruises all day, calling here, Seacombe and the Pier Head in Liverpool. Then at morning and evening rush hours they revert to being commuter ferries. But for reasons known only to the delusionals running Mersey Travel, they don’t commute to here in Birkenhead!

It’s hardly a disaster, but I must have sworn fairly viscously from the looks I’m getting.

So I go and get the train home.

So I go and get the train home.

From nearby Hamilton Square.

From nearby Hamilton Square.

Only recently reopened mind.

Phew.

Phew.

So I did my best to walk home from New Brighton. And it was a seriously wonderful walk on a beautiful day. So all’s well really.

2 thoughts on “Walking Home From New Brighton

  1. stan cotter

    hi ron done that trip Birkenhead to new brighton so many times by car and by push bike we also used to fish regular off the Wallasey town hall steps and the old egremont ferry including of course the necessary diversions to the egremont pub for refreshments, the weather never mattered hail rain or shine coats on and rods out

    Reply
  2. babayaga321

    Nice post Ron. Sandra and I went over to take a look at the transport museum a little while back. I caught a few shots of the trams working around the latter part of your walk… like yourself, we were lucky with the weather and had a lovely day as well. Cheers – Graham.

    Reply

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