The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey

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.

Continue reading “The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey”

Walking round Birkenhead

Photographs by Jane MacNeil


I’ve spent much of this last week walking round Birkenhead with my friend the photographer Jane MacNeil. Our walks have been part of the Wirral Ideas Festival, part of helping local people create and develop ideas for new enterprises in Birkenhead. The Festival finishes this evening, Thursday, with an Expo of all the ideas and what’s happened at the various events over the week. After which you’ll no doubt hear more from organisers The Beautiful Ideas Co and then the ideas themselves as they develop.

But on here and for now I just want to quietly celebrate Jane MacNeil’s beautiful photos, along with celebrating Birkenhead itself. A beautiful place with so much potential. Let’s walk.


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Festival of Beautiful Ideas: Wirral

Beginning this Sunday, 23rd April, a week of events to get you thinking and get you started on that new enterprise idea you know you’ve got. Including coming for walks with me to talk things through and see some places where you might get going.
Over the week from Sunday 23rd April I’ll be part of this with my friends from The Beautiful Ideas Co who have this to say about it all:

“We’re working with Wirral to reignite its long history of ideas and innovation in this spring’s inaugural Festival of Beautiful Ideas.
We’re looking for potential viable ideas that can have an impact on making Birkenhead and Woodside a great place to live and work.
And not only are we looking for ideas, but we’re looking for people who’re willing to offer opportunities and challenges to be met by our entrepreneurs – or can support them in any way.

Focusing inspiration and energy on Birkenhead and Woodside, the week-long festival sees a series of events and ‘hack days’, taking place around the area. They’re an opportunity for people to talk about ideas, share opportunities and get inspired.
Each event taps into the opportunities highlighted for Festival of Beautiful Ideas, including music and events; food and drink; making and manufacturing and places and spaces, to show people with bright ideas some of Wirral’s unique – and under-utilised – spaces. It’s about cultural potential; reclaiming Wirral’s industrial heritage; pop-ups and meanwhile spaces.

We’re looking for people who’re passionate and enthusiastic; people who want to change perceptions, make a difference and try something new.”

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Tina’s Story

If you followed my series of ‘Year to live’ posts during this year you may have noticed that amongst the things I said I’d not do any more during this theoretical final year would be make any more films. I judged that I’d been involved in making them for long enough now and so I’d not give over any more of my precious days to making any more?

Well I’ve just finished making a film.

Charlie and Tina.
Charlie and Tina.

Here’s how it happened. The phone rang and someone working with someone I’d worked with in the past (this being the way most work arrives) said they’d like me to make them a film.

‘That’s unfortunate’ I replied ‘as I’m not making them any more.’ ‘Well that’s a shame as we only wanted you’ they came back. ‘You come particularly recommended and we only need it to be about twenty minutes. So do you think you could reconsider?’

‘No, I’m really done’ I said. ‘But what I could do is meet up and help you do a brief to find someone else. Because I can’t believe you really need anything that long. Nobody will watch twenty minutes!’

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Great bus journeys of the world: the 471 & 472

Continuing to explore Greater Liverpool – on the bus.

I was nearly a Twirly this morning.

Sarah’s left the house very early to run a funeral service and so I’m up and around early too. Ready for something that might be a ‘Great bus journey’ and a ‘Friday Walk’ combined.

Just in time I remember that I can’t use my bus pass before 9:30. Thus avoiding the indignity of waving it at the driver pleading ‘Am I too early?’ Or as we all interpret that here in Liverpool, ‘Am a Twirly!’

So, dignity just about intact, I get on the first bus I can to the City centre.
So, dignity just about intact, I get on the first bus I can to the City centre.

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Wonders of the World: The Mersey Tunnel

When I was a boy I loved reading about ‘Wonders of the World.’ Not merely the Ancient Wonders like the Colossus of Rhodes but also the more modern ones, such as the Grand Coulee Dam. It never occurred to me to wonder how a thing got ‘Wonder of the World’ status and it still doesn’t. So I hereby present our very own Liverpool and Wirral Wonder of the World: The Mersey Tunnel.

There was a railway tunnel before it, and another road one after it, but say ‘The Mersey Tunnel’ round here and everyone knows where you’re talking about. It’s our Wonder of the World.

It's official. From 'Wonders of World Engineering' magazine, 1937. How it works.
And yes it’s official. From ‘Wonders of World Engineering’ magazine, 1937. How it works.

I’ve always loved it but never thought of seriously exploring it until one of those September Heritage days a few years back when Sarah suggested we go and have a look. So we did, and she took a load of pictures. But since I wasn’t writing a blog then, they’ve lain unused.

Then last Friday, when I took this photograph of the lovely George’s Dock ventilation and control station at the start of my North Docks walk, I remembered our visit to the Mersey Tunnel in 2011 and decided I would now write about it.

Beginning where last week's South Docks walk finished.
Pier Head, Liverpool. The George’s Dock Ventilation and Control Centre for the Mersey Tunnel.

First, a bit of history.

When it was opened in 1933, then ‘officially’ opened here in 1934 by a passing king and queen, this was the longest underwater road tunnel in the world.


It had taken over eight years to build and of its 1,700 workers, seventeen had lost their lives during the dirty and dangerous work of its construction. Continue reading “Wonders of the World: The Mersey Tunnel”

In Liverpool: The South Docks

Exploring the Liverpool Docks, what remains and what’s been created from them, from Dingle to the centre of the city.

Continuing this week’s Friday walk, then. Descending the Dockers’ Steps from the streets of the Dingle.

Down the Dockers' Steps.
Down the Dockers’ Steps.
Passing why used to be the Herculaneum Dock.
Passing what used to be the Herculaneum Dock.
Navigating the walk with O.S. maps fro the beginning of the 20th Century.
Navigating the walk with O.S. maps from the beginning of the 20th Century.

Continue reading “In Liverpool: The South Docks”