On Saturday mornings, when I’m content with the week’s work done, I like to walk around the neighbourhood more or less pointlessly. Sometimes the walk involves a sit and a read in a café then some food shopping, sometimes LPs. Today it was books. Restocking my shelf of coming soon novels from both the local library and the local Oxfam. While I was in Oxfam I also found this old map of Birkenhead and sat down for a good look at it and the stories it contains.

Like the story of the major line railway station which was running six trains a day from Birkenhead to London until the late 1960s? Read on.

I love old maps and have quite a number from around Liverpool. I’ll often go for walks using just the old maps, imagining I’m walking around the place in whatever year the map was drawn. Only I can’t find a date on this one?

(Well actually the date of the map is in a code ‘somewhere on the map’ as is explained in Cliff’s comment below. My guess in what follows isn’t too far out, but I’m not right!)

It’s price of 3/- tells me it’s before decimalisation happened here in 1971. So if the map were from 1970, for example, that’s equivalent to a price of £2.26 today. The absence of the second Mersey Tunnel and the M53 also tells me it’s before then. But is the map from earlier, maybe some time in the 1950s? When that price of would have been worth more like £3.50 today? Let’s have a look around and maybe readers who know Birkenhead and the Wirral better than I do could tell me?

Starting with New Brighton.

Well the ferry is still running from Liverpool, though elsewhere the map tells me this is ‘summer only.’ And the pier’s still there. I remember getting the ferry from the Pier Head to New Brighton when I was a child, but that finished in 1971 so, again, our map is older than that.

On the other hand the map appears to show New Brighton Tower. But that was demolished in 1921 and I doubt the map’s that old? It simply doesn’t look or feel that old. Let’s move on.

Through Seacombe and the docks.

That looks like a fully functioning dock system, unlike today. And with a station at Woodside. Over on the Liverpool side the Goree Piazzas being still marked might be a clue. These were extensively damaged by bombing in World War Two but not actually demolished until 1958. So maybe we are in the mid 1950s here?

Further into the Docks system.

The main thing I notice here is the railway through the north of the map. The cutting where it was at the time of the map is now the course of the tunnel exit from the early 70s Mersey Tunnel as it flows into the M53. At this time it’s marked ‘LMR’ for London Midland Region, which is what this region of British Railways was called after nationalisation in the late 1940s.

Around Hamilton Square.

The tunnel entrance is there for the first Mersey Road Tunnel, so we’re later than the early 1930s.

Birkenhead Woodside Station is one of the major differences on here from now though. Until 1967 I am amazed to find there were still six trains a day running from here to London Paddington. But the station was closed in November that year and demolished soon after. What a loss?

So the map would seem to be from some time between the 1940s and the late 1960s.

Birkenhead Woodside, closed November 1967. Model made by the members of the Merseyside Model Railway Society.

Continuing along the coast.

The main thing I notice here is ‘The Sloyne.’ I’d never hear the Mersey by Tranmere called that. Searching on it uni can find a reference to Mr Laird, the shipbuilder, walking to a ship he had moored here, as well as a reference to it being potentially damaged by the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.

After publishing this post blog reader and historian Ann Truesdale sends this:

“If you want to read more about The Sloyne there is an article in the Liverpool History Society Journal “The Sloyne: ‘in the sea world and of it’ Vol.13 p.53 2014 by John Tully” There are copies of the Journal in the Central Library.”
At Rock Ferry.

At this point Rock Park is not being cut in two by the New Ferry Bypass. Though the Bypass is there, by New Ferry, it’s not yet been extended to slice through the middle of Rock Park, as it was, brutally to my mind, in the 1970s.

Arrowe Park.

The big difference here inland is Arrowe Park, where the big general hospital at the Woodchurch end of the park is not yet there. That too arrived in the 1970s.

The Ford Estate?

Well it’s not here, not at all. Now known as Beechwood and built between the 1960s and late 70s at this point it looks as if it’s still fields and a brook.

So then, Liverpool resident and nowhere near as familiar with the Wirral side of the river as I am, I’m going for this map being from the mid-1950s, round about the time I arrived some way off the map in Walton Hospital.

What do you think?

The back f the map?

Telling us which other maps we can get. Calling one of the other maps ‘Greater Liverpool’ – still my preferred name for the City Region. And the fascinating information that a map of Stoke costs twice as much as one of Swansea?

Well, a happy and peaceful hour or two on a Saturday, spent in the company of an old map. Then on the Sunday morning finding and adding the railway station photographs before, in my imagination, catching the ferry across to Birkenhead Woodside and the train, from there, to London. Just imagine?

The map cost me £1.99 by the way. Good value.



Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Ronnie,
    I think the map maybe from the mid 60s. My Dad had a fish shop on Borough Road, Seacombe, at the junction with Stanley Street, which I can see on one of the pics. Borough Road was originally called Victoria Road, but changed to prevent confusion for the emergency services with another Borough Road on the Wirral. All your other “detective work” would support that.
    Greatly interesting read!

      1. Hi Ronnie,
        Gosh, I hadn’t realised that the road name changed quite so early, I thought it had happened nearer to the 60s.
        I just got the feeling from the map that it would be about 1965 ish. I see it was 1962 (I was 8 then) and very familiar with the area. I used to spend the school holidays at the shop with Dad, as my Mum worked full time and I wandered around Seacombe, Wallasey and New Brighton, as you could as a child in those days!
        The link was really interesting thanks. They’ve got the fish shop as Oliver’s, but it was Olliers, Dad managed that and then moved to what was Woodson’s and opened his own fish shop called Wilfred’s in the early 60s. Happy days!

      1. My Dads was a fish shop called Wilfred’s. It was on Borough Road, one shop down from the Stanley Street junction, next door to O’Briens butchers. Prior to that, he managed Olliers fish shop about three shops up from the Stanley Street junction, I think it was next door to Home and Colonial Stores.
        There were two chippys in Borough Road, Vincent’s and Foo’s.

  2. I’ve been trying to use disused railway stations to date this map. There was a station at Seacombe that was closed to passengers in 1960 and closed completely in 1963 (http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/s/seacombe/ ). Although there is a railway line going to Seacombe on your map, there doesn’t appear to be a station at the end of it.

  3. Really interesting. It was 1982 before Arrowe Park hospital opened on what according to the map is ‘Woodchurch Green’. I was born in the hospital soon after that so don’t remember it beforehand! Would like to see photos of the park from before the hospital was built. Also missing are all the big factories (now closed) that opened on Arrowe Brook Road in the 1960s and the striking Catholic Church I was Christend in of the same era (Prior to this being fundraised for, Catholics on the estate had services in the RC school), so I’d date it like you say mid 50s – early 60s. The M53 is also missing which, I think, was the 1970s.

    1. Yes, found it thanks Cliff. It’s in the bottom corner of the map and is ‘CDRU.’ Meaning the map is from October 1962.

      To explain, the Cumberland Code used by this map maker, Geographia, numbered each letter of the word ‘Cumberland’ from 1 though 9 to 0. Meaning CDRU decodes as 10.62.

      That’s that sorted then!

  4. Yes indeed. Yet now the planning and architecture of the era are now seen as fashionable again…..It was at least a time I suppose when central govt directed investment to where it was needed most, even if the branch factory economics of the Wilson era were, without being coupled with local economic and skills development, largely a temporary solution.

    1. Hi Kenn, well speaking for Liverpool (as I know I tend to!) there was good economic and skills development here. All the way out along Speke Boulevard, the East Lancs, Kirkby Industrial Estate and Dunnings Bridge Road. But within 20 or less years of directed set up Corporates found excuses to leave. They did it in Skelmersdale too as I found last week.

  5. Sorry I missed this. Oh yeah same model across Merseyside, and indeed Wales, Scotland and the North East between 1940s – 1970s. What I meant was while large scale job creation like that was neccesary, without it the area would have been even worse off as traditional industries declined, little was done to embded it – encoruage small and local business to be set up and grow as well or local companies to become part of the supply chain etc, so there was little depth to this development, as you say. There were few head offices or RnD here apart from the really old firms and as soon as the economy declined, it was vulnerable to retreat.

    Just a dot on a map for OTIS, Squibb, Kraft etc, where I had family working. As I understand it most of these firms were Amercian with harsh Taylorist (no relation!) management policies and did little to endeer themselves to local people recruited en-masse or develop the wider local economy – in contrast to the Japanese companies which came to other areas a generation later (Which M’side was excluded fron as Thatcher punishment). An ex-Ford employee once told me he was repremanded for even asking what the bit of metal he was responisble to sit all day pressing was for!

    For me, it has to be both. Areas with few good job opportunities to begin with, or many jobs at all, need significant external investment, but it has to be coupled with deeper local econiomic development otherwise you’re always vulnerable to decisions made elswhere. Equally, if you just focus on local growth when there isn’t much to grow, it does not create enough good jobs fast enough for people desperate for decent work and training – the latter of which small firms struggle to have the capacity to do.

  6. I’m a boring anorak on this stuff. When I was a kid in the 90s so much of the area was just so devastated I’ve always been interested in ‘what happend and what, if anything, can be done to make things better for people?’ Don’t think there’s a single answer, but lots to learn from the past. Hopes, dreams and plans and what went wrong and right about them.

  7. Woodchurch area shows Eltham Green. I lived there at least from late 1962 – because I remember the big freeze of Jan/Feb 1963. Therefore map is 1962 or later.

  8. And if the map cost 3/- surely that was 3 shillings, i.e. 15p in today’s money. Sorry, picky accountant here.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: