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#345637 - 29th Aug 2009 1:47pm A Century of Local Government 1835 - 1935
uptoncx Offline

Registered: 24th May 2008
Posts: 683
Loc: Wirral

In 1835 the Municipal Corporations Act was passed, a hundred years later in 1935, the County Borough of Wallasey produced a booklet to celebrate a Century of Local Government. This topic is based on that booklet, and much of the information comes from it.

1845 Commissioners

Wallasey was a fast growing parish in the 1830s and 40s, its population rose from 2,737 in 1831 to 6,261 in 1841. To cope with the problems caused by this rapid growth, Commissioners were appointed in 1845. The role of the commissioners was to oversee improvements to the roads, street lighting, policing and cleansing of the Parish. They met monthly in the Queen's Arms, Liscard.

The Commissioners did their job badly, to quote the booklet, they carried out their duties in a "... 'cavalier spirit ..." and did little to improve the area, what they did do was done in a "... grudging and dilatory manner ..."

In June 1851 a petition was raised by local residents, this resulted in the Government sending an inspector. A meeting was held at Parry's Hotel in Seacombe on the 31st July 1851 and a report was published later in the same year, The report is summarized in the booklet as follows:

"... It was stated that there were no public lights in the Parish, no public supply of water and that the roads were in a dirty state. The housing conditions in what was later known as the Mersey Street area of Seacombe were described as abominable and the mortality rate in Poulton-cum-Seacombe was declared to be higher than in the worst districts of Liverpool ..."

The Liverpool Mercury for December 26th 1851 published the conclusions of the report, which was not so kind:

That the town of Poulton-cum-Seacombe is not so healthy as by proper sanitary works and regulations it may be made; that disease is in excess; that cholera has prevailed; that fever is generally present; and that many of the inhabitants suffer in consequence of the foul and stagnant condition of the outlet drainage.

That the Parish of Wallasey, generally, is in a similar sanitary condition.

That there are few sewers or drains, and that such that exist are either imperfect in their construction or inefficient in use.

That there are foul open ditches, and many cesspools, which have been expensive in their formation, and are most dangerous in use.

That main streets are formed with defective materials, and are imperfectly cleansed; and that many back streets, lanes, courts and yards have no form of pavement, and are allowed to continue in that filthy state.

That houses are improperly constructed; that some rooms are without adequate ventilation, and are unduly overcrowded; that slaughter houses are situated in improper places (in the midst of inhabited houses) and that common lodging houses are unregulated.

That middens and cesspools are allowed to become nuisances dangerous to health.

That, as set forth in the evidence, there is a deficiency of local power to grapple with all the evils that exist ….

Mersey Street

1853 Local Board of Health

Needless to say the commissioners were removed and replaced by a Local Board of Health. The Commissioners continued to meet until June 1853. In July the first meeting of the board was held, they didn’t consider the Queen’s Arms a suitable meeting place so it was decided to rent a house until the board was in a position to build offices.

1859 Water

In 1859 the board sunk a well and built a pumping station at Poulton, following this, in 1861, a reservoir at Gorsehill, New Brighton and a water tower in Mill Lane were completed to provide a public water supply. The venture was not successful as the water from the well contained too much sand. A new well was sunk and the supply of water started in 1863.

As the population increased, so the demand for water also increased, to meet this demand a new well and pumping station were built on Seaview Road, these were completed by 1894. In 1903 still more water was required, so a 30 year agreement was made to obtain water from the Liverpool reservoir at Lake Vyrnwy. A second reservoir and a water tower were built at Gorsehill, this gave a combined storage capacity of 6,300,000 gallons.

Mill Lane water tower

In 1925 more water was required in addition to the bore holes and the supply from Lake Vyrnwy, an agreement was made with Birkenhead Corporation for the supply of water from Lake Alwen.

In 1935, the average total requirement for the Borough was 3,390,000 gallons per day.

1860 Gas

In response to the lack of street lighting, the Board built a gas works in Dock Road, Poulton, this was completed in 1860. New gas works were built in Gorsey Lane and improvements were made in 1932 and again in 1934 making it, "one of the most up-to-date in the country".

In 1935 there were 3,300 gas lights on the public roads and it was estimated that gas was supplied to private houses to power 25,480 gas cookers, 15,570 gas fires and 33,000 gas washing machines. In addition, the council sold gas appliances through four showrooms.

1861 Ferries

In 1829 John Askew, from Egremont in Cumberland, started the Egremont Ferry, and in 1832 James Atherton started the "Royal Lighthouse Hotel and Ferry" at New Brighton. A wooden pier was built at New Brighton and this was used until about 1867 when it was replaced with an iron pier and floating landing stage. In 1850 Mr Edward Warburton Coulbourne bought both the Egremont and New Brighton Ferries. In 1861 the Local Board bought the ferries under the Wallasey Improvement Act of 1861.

In 1816 Seacombe ferry was leased by Thomas Parry, who also owned Parry's Seacombe Hotel. In 1821 sailing boats were used but by 1823 an hourly service by steam boat ran from Seacombe to Liverpool. In 1835 a new stone pier was built and a few years latter a floating landing stage arrived.

In June 1853, the Commissioners considered it desirable to take over one of the ferries, and as it was the best developed, the Seacombe ferry was considered the most suitable, agreement was reached with Mr Parry who wanted £6,000 for the unexpired part of his lease. However, the new Local Board took over the following month and although the matter was discussed at length in November 1853, Seacombe ferry was not bought until 1863 when the Local Board paid £30,000 for it.

In 1926 a new floating landing stage and floating roadway were built at Seacombe, and work on a new terminal building was completed in 1933. Following reconstruction of Egremont Pier in 1929, it was destroyed in 1932 when a steamer ran into it. A new pier and landing stage were built.

New terminal at Seacombe Ferry

1890 Public Parks

In 1835 there were three or four small pieces of land dedicated as public open spaces. In 1890 the Local Board bought Liscard Hall and 37 acres of land, they paid less than 1/10d (9p) per square yard. By 1935 there were 32 parks and recreation grounds covering a total of 313 acres.

1891 Promenades

It was the local board which decided that the river frontage should be made available to the public. With the exception of a short length by Seacombe Ferry, there were no Promenades, so the board set about acquiring land to build Promenades on. The first length of Promenade was built in 1891 from Egremont Ferry to Holland Road, this was extended in 1897 to New Brighton Pier. In 1901 a third section was built from Egremont to Seacombe. and six years later the promenade was extended from New Brighton Pier to Marine Park.

In 1927 an ambitious scheme was put forward to extend the promenade at New Brighton. The new promenade would comprise a concrete sea wall, would be 130 feet wide, and would include 46 acres of public gardens, a marine lake of 10 acres and an open air swimming pool.

Also in 1927, at Wallasey Beach, a sea bathing station was provided and in 1932 a swimming pool, the Derby Pool, was opened.

Work on the first section of New Brighton promenade started in 1930 and was completed in the summer of 1934. This took the promenade as far as the Red Noses and cost £531,000.

New Brighton swimming pool cost £95,000 and was, when it opened, the world's largest swimming pool with space for 2,000 bathers and 10,000 spectators. In its first season from June to September 1934, just under one million people visited it.

New Brighton swimming pool

1894 Urban District Council

In 1894 Wallasey Urban District Council was formed. The District was divided into eight wards - New Brighton, Upper Brighton, Liscard, Egremont, North Seacombe, South Seacombe, Poulton and Wallasey - three representatives were elected from each ward.

1897 Electricity

The Central Supply Station, a single phase generating station, was built in Seaview Road and opened on 29th January 1897, this was to provide lighting at an estimated cost of £12,500. The station generated electricity at 2,000 volts and this was reduced to 100 volts at local transformers for distribution to consumers. When electric trams started in Wallasey, DC generating sets were added to the station to provide power.

In 1914, work on a new power station on Dock Road, Poulton started, this opened in August 1915. By 1928 the station had a generating capacity of 28,500kW.

On January 1st 1934 control of the power stations was transferred to the Central Electricity Board.

Sales of electrical appliances were made from new showrooms built on Wallasey Road in 1934.

Electricity showroom

1898 Public Libraries

The towns first public library was opened in Earlston House during 1898, a branch library in Demesne Street, Seacombe followed by 1911.

Earlston House Library

In 1935 the Central Library in Earlston House contained lending and reference libraries, magazine room, newsroom, lecture hall, children's library and reading room. There was a branch library in Borough Road, Seacombe with similar facilities and small libraries at Wallasey Village and Moreton.

1901 Public Transport

In March 1901 the District Council bought the Wallasey Tramway Company for £20,500, this included seven horse trams, twenty eight horses, stables and track. The horse trams continued to run until 1902, when they were replaced by electric trams.

Horse tram in Brighton Street

Motor buses were introduced in 1920, the first service was between Seacombe Ferry and Harrison Drive. In March 1921 a joint service with Birkenhead Corporation was introduced between Seacombe Ferry and Charing Cross,

Trams were discontinued on 1st December 1933, in their final year of operation they carried 20,441,380 passengers.

1903 Education

Education didn't become the responsibility of the District Council until 1st May 1903, prior to that education had been the responsibility School Board, the Council was only responsible for Elementary Education, Higher Education was the responsibility of Cheshire County Council until 1913.

The first school built by the District Council was in Manor Road, Liscard and opened on 2nd May 1905. Between 1907 and 1934 eleven Elementary Schools where either built or extended, the last being Gorsedale Road School which opened in 1934.

Gorsedale Road School

1910 Incorporation

In June 1902 the District Council petitioned for incorporation, but the Privy Council rejected the application. A further attempt was made in 1909, and this time it was successful and Wallasey was Incorporated in 1910, the first charter to be granted by King George V.

1913 County Borough

Wallasey became a County Borough on 1st April 1913. This was the last change in the status of Wallasey in the period covered by the booklet.

1913 Police

The Police force started on 1st April 1913 with 90 officers of all ranks. The Headquarters were at Manor Road with stations at Seacombe and New Brighton.

By 1935 there were 130 officers, but the area covered had increased from 3,408 acres to 5,885 acres, and the population from 78,514 to 97,600. Five Police boxes had been installed around the borough to improve communications.

1920 Housing Estates

The first site developed by the council for housing was at Alderley Road, where 18 parlour houses and 15 non-parlour houses were built between 1920 and 1921. Weekly rents for these houses in 1935 were in range of 11/9d (58.5p) to 16/7d (83p).

The Leasowe Road Estate was built between 1929 and 1931, this contained 100 three and four bedroom houses which were sold with freehold prices between £640 and £725.

Leasowe Road Estate

1928 Extensions to the Borough
On April 1st 1928, the Parish of Moreton and part of the Parish of Bidston became part of the Borough of Wallasey and in 1933 Saughall Massie also became part of Wallasey.

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#345647 - 29th Aug 2009 3:22pm Re: A Century of Local Government 1835 - 1935 [Re: uptoncx]

Wiki Master

Registered: 29th Aug 2008
Posts: 18950
Loc: Bob Land
This is really really interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Two questions.
Wheres mersey street?
Where would the library in desmesne st have been?
Mia Mabel

#345731 - 30th Aug 2009 6:44am Re: A Century of Local Government 1835 - 1935 [Re: RUDEBOX]
diggingdeeper Offline

Wiki Guardian

Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 9445
Loc: Birkenhead
Mersey St is the northern entrance into that tower block by Desmesne St, it comes off Ferry View Rd. It is still there I think!
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates

#345763 - 30th Aug 2009 1:43pm Re: A Century of Local Government 1835 - 1935 [Re: diggingdeeper]
buddy Online   content
Forum Veteran

Registered: 18th Sep 2008
Posts: 4998
Loc: South Wirral
Very interesting and thanks uptoncx, I was born in Seacombe off Desmesne Street


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