The Wirral Peninsula

It is difficult to find any work in which there is a written description of the exact area defining The Wirral Peninsula. In the year 1533, John Leland was appointed by Henry VIII to be "the King's Antiquary" and was given authority to describe "all England's antiquities." In about 1537 he turned his attention to the Wirral and wrote:

    Wyrale begynnith lesse then a quarter of a mile of the very
    cite self of Chester, and withyn a 2. bow shottes of the
    suburbe without the northe gate at a litle brooket caullid
    Flokars Broke that ther cummith ynto the Dee Ryver, and ther
    is a dok wherat at spring tide a ship may ly, and this place
    is caullid Porte Poole. 

So, although the south westerly 'corner' was clearly defined in 1537, it is doubtful whether so far south would be regarded as part of The Wirral Peninsula today. In any event, boundary changes over the years have resulted in the formation of South Wirral, which is considered to be part of the County of Cheshire and Wirral, which is located in Merseyside. Generally, however, The Wirral Peninsula is taken to encompass both parts.

Leland goes on to describe various villages working his way northwards towards the mouth of the River Dee but, unfortunately, does not give details of places found on the River Mersey on the eastern side of the Wirral Peninsula - other than to mention Wallasey and Birkenhead. It is generally assumed, however, that the boundary of Wirral (actually South Wirral) is somewhere just south of Ellesmere Port.

Up until the early 19th century, Wirral was largely agricultural although parts - particularly around West Kirby, Caldy and Thurstaston - were gradually becomming desirable residential areas for the businessmen working in the expanding Liverpool.

William Laird started the shipyards in Birkenhead in 1824 and laid the beginnings of the town as a grid pattern with Hamilton Square at the commercial center.

The Wirral is an area of approximately 60 square miles (160 square Km) bounded by the River Dee on the west, the Irish Sea to the north and the River Mersey to the east. Two ferries (one at Wallasey and one at Birkenhead), two road tunnels (Kingsway at Wallasey and Queensway at Birkenhead) and a railway tunnel (in Birkenhead) connect The Wirral with Liverpool.

(Wirral is often referred to as 'The Wirral'. This is probably a contraction of 'The Wirral Peninsula')

Aerial Photographs:

Please note that I took these aerial photographs in the mid 1980's so the views will have changed a bit since then!

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