Hamilton Square, one of the finest Georgian Squares in the UK was the dream of William Laird, the great shipbuilder. He wanted a fine square to be the centre of his Birkenhead, city of the future.
It was designed by the Edinburgh architect Gillespie Graham - no two sides are identical and a space was left for the former Town Hall which was opened in 1887. Walking in the small park here, a pleasant osasis of green with the fine buildings around the square. This commorative monumnet for Queen Victoria ytakes centre place. Such a bright day for Jan 1st 2003 too.
Birkenhead is the historic home of the first street tramway in Europe - established August 29 1860 and ran from Woodside to Birkenhead Park. These early trams were horse-drawn and was the brainchild of flamboyant American, George Francis Train, the real life character upon whom Jules Verne based his fictitious character Phileas Fogg in "Around the World in 80 days".
The electrified trams of 1901 eventually ceased to operate in 1937 as modern petrol engine buses took over. Trams seem to be back in vogue to ease traffic congestion in city centres and Its great to see trams back in Birkenhead, albeit for tourists on the heritage trail.
Trams used today are not the old ones but newly built in Hong Kong in 1992 with a U.K. chassis gauge specification, painted in original Birkenhead Livery and shipped to Wirral. The 1948 design pattern ensures the vehicles resemble the type common on the streets of Britain in the Forties and Fifties.
You can board a tram at Woodside Visitor Centre and take a ride around the Heritage Trail, stopping off at Shore Road Pumping Station, Pacific Road and Egerton Bridge.
Not far from the town centre is Bidston Hill, 100 acres of woodland and heath which initially a deer park and is no home to lizzards, foxes, squirrels and bats.
At around 230 feet high, it is one of the highest points in Wirrla and offers good views accross the peninsula.
The main feature of the hill is the windmill which occasionally opens to the public.
A windmill has stood at that spot since 1609
Near the windmill is the Observatory and Oceanographic Laboratory. This observatory has provided tidal information since 1924
Also worth seeing is the Tam O Shanter urban farm which contains a collection of farm animals, cafe and information. Occasionally you can also buy duck eggs from the information area.
Look out for the carvings in the sandstone. These are said to come from the Viking era and include carvings of a sun goddess which faces the direction of the rising sun on midsummers day.
The main car park, near Tollemache Road, is close to the farm.
Then follow St Georgres Way, the footpath which threads its way across the hill.
Opposite the Asda on the Woodchurch estate close to the M53 Motorway is Landican Lane. I use this as the starting point for some nice, fairly short walks towards Storeton, Barnston and Thingwall. A bridleway runs between the Lane and Storeton village and the Roman Road. The bridleway also makes up part of cycle way route 56.
Landican itself is a small hamlet, in the 2001 census the population was only 20.
The area is known for its large cemetery opposite Arrowe Park.
Across the mersey from Liverpool
"My fathers home place"
Birkenhead was where my father was born and grew up.
He also went to Conway when the ship was moored in the river mersey. Conway was a merchantile marine school to teach boys the rudiments of seafearing so as to be able to get a merchant naval job. The school has since moved to Wales.
Its a typical English suburb, My family home is on a corner so has the advantage of windows on 2 sides of the house. It also overlooks a park.
There is some family history here. This house was one of the few that was not bombed during the 2nd world war, and I have the Piano than my fathers parents bought for their daughter Violet here in Brisbane. Violet died early from what would now be termed a brain tumor, and my grand parents died soon after.
Address is 112 Well Lane, Birkenhead.