Rising to 231 feet Bidston Hill
is one of the highest points on the Wirral. Its 100 acres of heathland and woodland contain mysterious rock carvings and historic buildings, as well as being a haven for wildlife amidst the urban sprawl.
The stone tablet on the Windmill describes how the local authority acquired the land for public use from Lord Vyner around the turn of the century. Evidence of earlier activities however are much less obvious.
Probably the oldest feature on the Hill is a four and a half foot long carving of a 'Sun Goddess', carved into the flat rock north-east of the Observatory - it is supposed to face the direction of the rising sun on midsummer's day and was thought to have been carved by the Norse-Irish around 1000 A.D. Another ancient carving of a horse can be found on the bare rock north of the Observatory, just before the path turns down to Bidston Village. Other, more recent rock carvings can be seen on the vertical rock face just south of the Observatory. In 1407 part of the Hill was enclosed by a wall known as Penny-a-day Dyke to create a deer park for private deer hunting. The remains can be seen along the edge of the wood (Park Wood) just below the ridge from the Mill to the Observatory.
The 'Cock-Pit' is another strange feature on the Hill to be found at the very northern end near to Bidston Hall. Consisting of a narrow circular trench, approximately 10 inches deep and 20 feet in diameter cut into the bare sandstone surrounded by tall gorse bushes. Thought to be the site where cock-fighting took place, it could also be the remains of a small gorse mill where gorse was crushed for animal feed. An old, disused mill would have been an ideal location for this illegal sport.
From 1763 a Signal Station was located on the Hill eventually consisting of over 100 flagpoles sited all along the ridge of the Hill. Mostly used to send messages to the merchants of Liverpool of incoming ships, some were also used to warn of enemy warships and ships in distress. The most visible hole that remains is approximately 30 yds north of the Windmill. In 1771 the first lighthouse was built. An octagonal building, it formed part of the chain of semaphore signals along the N. Wales coast. A message could be sent from Holyhead to Liverpool in 8 minutes!
The present lighthouse was built in 1873 (adjacent to the Observatory) and last used in 1913. Although miles from the sea, its height enabled it to be seen in conjunction with the Leasowe lighthouse. Together they enabled the ships to avoid the sandbanks in the channel. 'Wreckers' from the Wallasey area used to operate by lighting beacons to confuse the ships' captains into hitting a sandbank. Once wrecked the cargo would be collected from the shore, while the seamen were left to drown.
In 1866 Bidston Observatory was built, faced with sandstone excavated from the site. The equatorial telescope in the west dome was used for the observation of comets while the transit telescope in the east dome was used to determine the time from the sun, moon and stars. At exactly 1.00 p.m. each day the 'One-0'clock Gun' on Birkenhead Dock would be fired by a series of switches from the Observatory. The gun and telescopes were given to Liverpool Museum in 1962. The Hill can be reached by bus or train (Bidston railway Station is approximately half a mile away). Alternatively a car park is situated off Boundary Road near to Tam O'Shanter Urban Farm where toilets, information and refreshments can be found, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm each day.