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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.