Birkenhead

From Academic Kids

This article is about Birkenhead in northwest England. For other meanings of the word and places with this name, see Birkenhead (disambiguation)

Template:GBmap Birkenhead is a town on The Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, on the left bank of the River Mersey, opposite Liverpool. The first Mersey ferry began operating from Birkenhead in 1150 when Benedictine monks under the leadership of Hamon de Mascy built a priory there. The area was later used for as a sea port and for ship building as it was close to the naval activity of Liverpool.

History

Birkenhead Park is acknowledged to be the first publicly funded park in Britain. It was the forerunner of the Parks Movement and its influence was far reaching both in this country and abroad - most notably on Olmstead's design for Central Park, New York. Designed by Joseph Paxton (later Sir Joseph Paxton) in 1843 and officially opened in 1847 it was an immediate economic and social success. Its history is inseparable from that of Birkenhead town itself. Distanced from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution in Liverpool and the North-West by the physical barrier of the River Mersey, Birkenhead retained its agricultural status until the advent of the steam ferry service in 1820. Ready access from Liverpool now opened up the Wirral for development and prompted the rapid growth of Birkenhead as an industrial centre. This access was further improved by the building of the Mersey Railway tunnel in 1886 and later by the building of the Queensway Tunnel in 1934.

Ship-building started in 1829. The business eventually became Cammell Laird. John Laird, a Scot, was influential in the design of the town and so parts were laid out in a grid-iron pattern like the New Town in Edinburgh with similar architecture.

No longer a county borough in its own right, Birkenhead is part of Wirral Metropolitan Borough.

Trivia

  • Birkenhead is mentioned in the song "What She Said" on the album Meat Is Murder by The Smiths: What she read/All heady books/She'd sit and prophesise/(It took a tattooed boy from Birkenhead/To really really open her eyes).
  • The town is also mentioned in the song "Everything Is Sorrow" on the Boo Radleys' C'mon Kids album: I worked in Birkenhead for you/It brings me tears even now.
  • Despite being in England, Birkenhead hosted Wales's National Eisteddfod in 1917, as well as an unofficial National Eisteddfod event in 1879.
  • The first Boy Scout group in the world was founded as the 1st Birkenhead YMCA in 1906. The original scout headquarters was in Park Road West, which backed onto Birkenhead Park.
  • Birkenhead had the first street tramway in Europe. Opened on 29 August 1860 the first line ran from Woodside (landing stage of the Mersey Ferry) to Birkenhead Park. (A preserved tram can be seen at Woodside today.)
  • Birkenhead and Liverpool became the first major conurbations in northwest England to be served by an underground railway system, which became part of "Merseyrail" in the 1970s and 1980s. The major underground station in Birkenhead is Hamilton Square, the nearest station to the ferry terminal. Hamilton Square is linked to the "Liverpool Loop Line", which includes James Street, Moorfields, Liverpool Lime Street and Liverpool Central stations, all of which are underground.
  • Birkenhead's oldest independent school is Birkenhead School. It was exclusively a boys' school from its founding in 1860 until 2000 when its Sixth Form became co-educational for the very first time. It also has a preparatory school for boys aged 3-11. Former "Old Birkonians" (as former pupils are known) include the lawyer F. E. Smith, who took the title of "Lord Birkenhead" when he entered the House of Lords, and Andreas Whittam-Smith, chairman of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which rates movies according to age categories for British cinema-goers, and the founder of The Independent quality daily newspaper.
  • Birkenhead's technical college in Borough Road, now called Wirral Metropolitan College, had a theatre named after one of its most famous former students, Glenda Jackson, who became an actress in the 1950s (one of her most notable roles was as Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 1970s BBC production) and then, in the 1990s, a Member of Parliament (M.P.) for the Labour Party at Westminster. Sadly the college and the theatre have been demolished, although Wirral Metropolitan College flourishes on other sites across the Wirral.
  • Birkenhead is the home of No.400 Squadron of the Air Training Corps.
  • Actor Lewis Collins, who portrayed the character of detective Bodie in the 1970s ITV series, "The Professionals", was born in Birkenhead.
  • The former England rugby union player Matt Dawson was born in Birkenhead on 31 October 1972. He was part of the England squad which won the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

External links


Districts of England - North West England Flag of England

Allerdale | Barrow-in-Furness | Blackburn with Darwen | Blackpool | Bolton | Burnley | Bury | Carlisle | Chester | Chorley | Congleton | Copeland | Crewe and Nantwich | Eden | Ellesmere Port and Neston | Fylde | Halton | Hyndburn | Knowsley | Lancaster | Liverpool | Macclesfield | Manchester | Oldham | Pendle | Preston | Ribble Valley | Rochdale | Rossendale | St Helens | Salford | Sefton | South Lakeland | South Ribble | Stockport | Tameside | Trafford | Vale Royal | Warrington | West Lancashire | Wigan | Wirral | Wyre

Administrative counties with multiple districts: Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside


cy:Penbedw de:Birkenhead sv:Birkenhead

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