episode #102 interesting Wirral

grey clouds over Marine Lake, West Kirby, UK
Marine Lake, West Kirby, UK

The name Wirral literally means “myrtle corner”, from the Old English wir, a myrtle tree, and heal, an angle, corner or slope. It is supposed that the land was once overgrown with bog myrtle, a plant no longer found in the area, but plentiful around Formby, to which Wirral would once have had a similar habitat.

Despite its small size (only 60 square miles), when compared to a large city like London; the Wirral has no less than 1,900 listed buildings, 215 churches, 50 towns and villages, 25 conservation areas, 10 lighthouses, 5 nature reserves (including Hilbre Island Nature Reserve and Thurstaston Nature Reserve), 2 watermills, one castle and one fort (plus many more). 

The Hilbre Islands are an archipelago consisting of three islands at the mouth of the River Dee, the border between England and Wales. Hilbre Island is the largest of the group is approximately 11.6 acres in area – it has some houses which are privately owned, making it the smallest inhabited island in the UK.

The borough was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of the county boroughs of Birkenhead and Wallasey, along with the municipal borough of Bebington and the urban districts of Hoylake and Wirral.

Birkenhead is perhaps best known for the shipbuilding of Cammell Laird, and for the town’s seaport. The Lairds were largely responsible for the early growth of Birkenhead, commissioning the architect James Gillespie Graham to lay it out as a new town modelled on Edinburgh. The first steam ferry service across the Mersey started in 1817, and steam-powered ships soon opened up the Wirral’s Mersey coast for industrialisation. In the second half of the 20th century, the town suffered a significant period of decline, with containerisation causing a reduction in port activity. 

The Birkenhead Park, generally acknowledged to be the first publicly-funded civic park in the world, was designed by Joseph Paxton and opened on April 5, 1847. Visiting the BirkenheadPark in 1850 landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmsted took inspiration from the Merseysidegreen space and opened the world famous Central Park seven years later.

The Mersey Ferries were the very first boats in the world to be fitted with fog radar navigation systems in 1947. Prior to this, ferry captains had to rely on fog bells to give them an audible target to aim for.

New Brighton promenade is the longest in the Great Britain, over 2 miles/ 3.5 kilometres long. The first shot of World War I was fired from one of the guns on Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton as a warning across the bow of a Norwegian vessel just 30 minutes after a war had been declared. The New Brighton Tower was the tallest building in Britain when it opened some time between 1898 and 1900, it stood at 567 feet. New Brighton palace was the first indoor amusement arcade in the country.

Leasowe Lighthouse is the oldest in the GB, built in 1763. And so it is the oldest surviving brick lighthouse in the country. It also had the first female lighthouse keeper in the UK, Mrs Mary Elisabeth Williams, who began her service in 1908.


Beastie Boys: Lighten Up

The Quantic Soul Orchestra: Babarabatiri

Koop: Come To Me

Peter Bjorn & John: The Chills

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Taste of Honey

Gipsy King: Camino por la Calle

Jonathan Richman: Roadrunner

Cher: If I Could Turn Back Time

Sam Cooke: Twistin’ The Night Away

Jamiroquai: Stillness In Time

Rare Bird: Passing Through

Daft Punk: Horizon

River Tiber feat. Daniel Caesar: West

Stelvio Cipriani: Locale Nocturno

Helios: Emancipation

A community radio midnight show Through the Bohemian Looking Glass is aired Sunday, Tuesday and Friday night at midnight (GMT), that means you stay late on Saturday, Monday and Thursday. A new episode is aired every Sunday midnight (the night between Saturday and Sunday) on Wirral Wave radio or AirTime. Later on SoundCloud for some time.