WikiWirral 13yrs online 24/7 365 days a year.
Forum Stats
12226 Members
65 Forums
72755 Topics
980589 Posts
26 posts in the last 24hrs
Max Online: 7831 @ 8th Apr 2013 4:18pm
Who's Online - Click Me
75 registered (11kendo, 14 invisible), 1730 Guests and 185 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Social Media : Follow Us

(Views 7days)This Weeks Most Read
Doris is on her way 1300
vet fees 425
Internet Explorer Not Working 404
Is This ART ? 393
Chef's knife. 348
Dangerous Tumble Dryers 344
roofers 243
Wirral Bus Review 240
Seeking old pictures of Egerton Street area, Birkenhead 227
Aerial engineer 221
New General Forums
Nigel Farage speaks at the CPAC.
by snowhite
24th Feb 2017 6:28pm
Is This ART ?
by granny
23rd Feb 2017 9:56am
Wirral track renewal
by snowhite
22nd Feb 2017 2:42pm
Ice in the 1800's
by granny
21st Feb 2017 9:47pm
New Wirral History
Seeking old pictures of Egerton Street area, Birkenhead
by yoller
19th Feb 2017 7:53pm
TS Indefatigable
by granny
18th Feb 2017 3:32pm
RIP : Chris Kay
by granny
31st Aug 2016 9:25am
Children's home on the Overchurch
by xleahx
26th Apr 2011 7:01pm
423 Archers, Wirral Mark Rake, Wirral, Merseyside
by derekdwc
13th Sep 2009 10:50pm
Forum Tips
Photo Gallery Forums
fireworks on the Mersey last night
Hadlow train station
Topic Replies
2x Brit Floyd tickets 3rd March City entrance
by ambersmum
Today at 10:46 AM
What song are you listening to?
by snowshoes
Today at 12:54 AM
Removal of Shed Timber
by fish5133
Yesterday at 10:45 PM
Tranmere Rovers
by starakita
Yesterday at 09:52 PM
Is This ART ?
by Greenwood
Yesterday at 07:06 PM
Doris is on her way
by diggingdeeper
Yesterday at 06:06 PM
Wiki Ghost Hunters Chat
by venice
Yesterday at 03:47 PM
Rescued Animals.
by venice
Yesterday at 03:43 PM
Blaupunkt 32" tv
by jaylow
Yesterday at 03:04 PM
M Tu W Th F Sa Su
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28
Recent Posts : What's On ?
Lion Salt Works/Weaver Hall Museum
by venice
19th Feb 2017 12:19pm
Wirral TUC Meeting re Update on Wallasey CLP Suspe
13th Feb 2017 8:50pm
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#665675 - 11th Feb 2012 12:07am Birkenhead, Paradise Lost
yoller Online   content

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 455
Loc: Cheshire
Before its spectacular industrialisation, Birkenhead was briefly an idyllic pastoral retreat for wealthy merchants who wanted to escape the grime, smoke and squalor of Liverpool.

When the advent of steam ferries provided a reliable cross-river service early in the 19th century, some of these businessmen built handsome villas along the pristine Wirral shoreline between Wallasey Pool and Tranmere Pool.

Among these was the father of Henry Kelsall Aspinall, a wealthy shipowner who moved his family to Birkenhead in 1824 because the foxhunting was so good. Henry was then aged about nine and was to see Birkenhead rise from an obscure rural backwater to one of Britain's industrial powerhouses.

In 1903, at the age of 88, Henry published his memoirs of the town’s early days in a book called Birkenhead And Its Surroundings.

These edited extracts give a tantalising glimpse of the Mersey frontage when it was still a splendid vista of green fields, white sand and sparkling waters. All too soon, it was to be swallowed up by the shipyards.

‘… On removing from Liverpool, my father took up his abode in a very pretty house near the river, on the site where Lairds’ shipbuilding yard now stands. Fronting the house, a large grass field sloped down to the riverside. Here the Hooton foxhounds met twice each season …’

‘… Ivy Bank was an exceedingly pretty villa, built in Birkenhead’s earliest days by Michael Humble (Humble and Mylchreest), shipbuilder, Liverpool, soon after my father came to Birkenhead. He was fond of yachting, shooting and dogs.
‘His house was built on the riverside, with river wall and iron railings, gates opening on to the shore, good stabling and gardens. Wild rabbits in his field and gardens abounded. Mr Humble used to have his yacht moored opposite his house during the summer season.’

‘… When Monks Ferry was opened, Ivy Bank was pulled down and the Monks Ferry Hotel built on its site. This, in turn, has since given way to Lairds’ sawmill.’

‘The Woodside beach, north of the slip, was composed of hard, dry sand, well suited for bathing. Many visitors from Liverpool and the country round came for the bathing season. The water was always clear and the bathing machines were well patronised. Donkeys were on hire and the merriment ran high.
‘The beach, south of Woodside Ferry slip as far as Birkenhead Ferry, was rocky and covered with beautiful seaweed; periwinkles and crabs abounded and much we enjoyed gathering and eating them…’

Later, industrial development along the riverbank accelerated the tidal flow and increased pollution …

‘… The surface of the water, once smooth and clear as the water round the Isle of Man, is now broken and thick; while the beautiful seaweed once covering the beach from New Brighton to Eastham has given place to dirty grass and mud. Periwinkles, crabs, shrimps and whelks have almost disappeared from the banks of the Mersey ….’

‘… And yet it seems but the other day that white, hard sand between Woodside Ferry and Seacombe was covered with bathing machines and bathers, as was that between Tranmere and Rock Ferry. If it were not for the two tides rising and falling every 24 hours, the river would now be a veritable cesspool. What will be the outcome of the enormous amount of sewage continually discharged into the Mersey, who can say?’

Original editions of Birkenhead And Its Surroundings can be pricey, but you can now get a paperback reprint on Amazon for under £20.

Aspinall writes from the point of view of a wealthy and privileged observer and often goes off at a tangent on various subjects, explaining: ‘It is my purpose to compile a chatty little volume reminiscent of my native town and its progress from a small rural hamlet of a few score families to a thriving township of upwards of 100,000 souls. A connected History is in no sense attempted ...’

But the book is well worth reading for its descriptions of that long-lost Birkenhead.

Edited by yoller (11th Feb 2012 12:08am)

Wirral History Advertising
Click me for more Information......

* * * Julie : LED Lights Supplied and Fitted Free * * *
Now Advertise with WikiWirral.
WikiWirral stats 35,000 Page Views a Day +500 Search Engines.. Click Me
#665687 - 11th Feb 2012 12:35am Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
yoller Online   content

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 455
Loc: Cheshire
Henry Kelsall Aspinall pictured on the frontispiece of his book.

Attachments: Viewing Permissions May Apply. Click Me

#665710 - 11th Feb 2012 7:31am Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
bert1 Offline

Wiki Veteran

Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7852
Loc: tranmere
I think there are some small inaccuracies,

Henry Kelsall Aspinall was born in Birkenhead in 1825 and died at the age of 83 in 1908. He married Margaret Haselden at St Mary's Birkenhead in 1847 and went on to have a number of children. Henry was a Brewer, his family had a number of abodes in Birkenhead, Camden St, Devonshire Place and Hamilton Sq. In his latter years he was a commissioning agent for grain (1901census)

I'm assuming they named Aspinall Street after him and did he get a Peerage?

Photo below 1875.

Attachments: Viewing Permissions May Apply. Click Me
h k.jpg

God help us,
Come yourself,
Don't send Jesus,
This is no place for children.


#665728 - 11th Feb 2012 10:06am Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
yoller Online   content

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 455
Loc: Cheshire
Thanks for that, bert1 - you are correct about his age. He does actually say that Birkenhead was his native town, so he must have been born after 1824, when the family moved there. My mistake.

I'm sure Aspinall Street was named after him, but as far as I know - looking at an original copy of his book - he did not get a peerage.

#665766 - 11th Feb 2012 11:54am Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
Moonstar Online   content

Forum Addict

Registered: 2nd Jul 2011
Posts: 1240
Loc: Wirral
Take paradise and put up a parking lot.

#665774 - 11th Feb 2012 12:04pm Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
BandyCoot Offline

Forum Veteran

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 5349
Loc: Birkenhead
I think my missus married me to escape the smoke, grime and squalour of Liverpool as well.
Good info there, fascinating.
Birkenhead........ God's own Room 101.

#665850 - 11th Feb 2012 2:10pm Re: Birkenhead, Paradise Lost [Re: yoller]
bri445 Offline


Registered: 27th Apr 2009
Posts: 678
Loc: Isle of Wight
The book is a good read and full of local colour and how 'the other half' lived. Has a few pictures of Lairds' early ships.


Moderator:  Mark 
Random Wirral Images

Click to View Topic.
Newest Topics
Tranmere Rovers
by cools
Yesterday at 09:17 PM
Removal of Shed Timber
by Julie64
Yesterday at 01:31 PM
Wirral Bus Review
by Norton
24th Feb 2017 11:42am
Aerial engineer
by ponytail
23rd Feb 2017 6:01pm
by thisledous
23rd Feb 2017 4:44pm
For Sale & Free
Blaupunkt 32" tv
by jaylow
Yesterday at 03:04 PM
2 x Sum 41 tickets Manchester 25/02
by turnip
24th Feb 2017 7:47am
Sony Smartwatch 2
by Mike_Hoylake
23rd Feb 2017 9:25pm
Brother printer
by saltytom
23rd Feb 2017 11:02am
Mk6 Golf TDI 1.6
by Cjoshea
22nd Feb 2017 11:05pm
Featured Member
Registered: 26th Nov 2011
Posts: 438
Newest Members
catchthepigeon_, Scoobyp1, Bradshawbatho, raybb, CliveK
12227 Registered Users
Today's Birthdays
No Birthdays
New Wirral Info
Removal of Shed Timber
by Julie64
Yesterday at 01:31 PM
Aerial engineer
by ponytail
23rd Feb 2017 6:01pm
by thisledous
23rd Feb 2017 4:44pm
Lion Salt Works/Weaver Hall Museum
by paxvobiscum
18th Feb 2017 9:19pm
Patio work
by steamfan
18th Feb 2017 3:45pm
News : New Topics
Wirral Bus Review
by Norton
24th Feb 2017 11:42am
Dangerous Tumble Dryers
by diggingdeeper
23rd Feb 2017 2:03pm
Doris is on her way
by granny
22nd Feb 2017 8:43pm
by venice
17th Feb 2017 11:15am
On-street parking charges dropped
by oldpm01
15th Feb 2017 9:10am
New Enthusiast Forums
Tranmere Rovers
by cools
09:17 PM
Chef's knife.
by Beethoven
23rd Feb 2017 12:39pm
irish music entertainer for St Patrick's night
by kazaroo
22nd Feb 2017 3:07pm
Internet Explorer Not Working
by fish5133
22nd Feb 2017 12:25am
vet fees
by eggandchips
20th Feb 2017 12:01am
(Views 24hrs)Trending Newest Topics
Removal of Shed Timber 133
Tranmere Rovers 84
Wirral Sunrise Sunset
Sunrise Sun 7:04am
Sunset Sun 5:45pm
Local Time Sun 12:17pm
WikiWirral Can . . . .