For the Duffy album, see Rockferry.
Coordinates: 53°22′23″N 3°00′29″W﻿ / ﻿53.373°N 3.008°W﻿ / 53.373; -3.008
Rock Ferry shown within Merseyside
Population 13,676 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SJ330868
Metropolitan borough Wirral
Metropolitan county Merseyside
Region North West
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BIRKENHEAD
Postcode district CH41,CH42
Dialling code 0151
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Birkenhead
List of places: UK • England • Merseyside
Rock Ferry is an area of Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, England. Administratively it is a ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Before local government reorganisation on 1 April 1974, it was part of the county of Cheshire. At the 2001 Census, the population of Rock Ferry was 13,676 (6,444 males, 7,232 females).
2 Architecture and famous residents
3 Ferry service and shipping
6 Cultural references
8 External links
 HistoryIn the 17th century Derby House, an occasional seat of the Minshull family, covered most of the grounds covered by present day Rock Ferry. Thomas Oakshott, Mayor of Liverpool, lived there in the 19th century. The house, located on Rock Lane West close to the New Chester Road, was demolished in the early 20th century.
Residential building did not really happen until the early part of the 19th century, the rise of the ferry and the railway, and the establishment of the Royal Rock Hotel and bath house in 1836. Between then and 1870, the area received an influx of luxurious housing, the villas of Rock Park and many other large houses around the Old Chester Road making Rock Ferry one of the most desirable addresses in the North West. In the later part of the 19th century, Rock Ferry expanded due to the need to house the increasing population of workers, especially at Birkenhead's Cammell Laird
shipyard. By 1901, the population stood at 2,971.
In 1910, the Olympian Gardens were opened adjacent to the Royal Rock Hotel. These pleasure gardens were considered a great attraction and customers travelled from the whole of Wirral and, using the nearby ferry terminal, from Liverpool. The gardens hosted classical piano concerts and also slapstick comedy shows, with performers including Arthur Askey and Tommy Handley. At times the gardens held a prestige similar to the more famous Vauxhall Gardens in London. Shows were held in a large tent set amongst the trees and shrubs of land owned by Charles Boult. The gardens closed in the late 1920s after Mr Boult's death.
The decline of local industries in the 1950s took its toll, and by the 1980s the area had a bad reputation for crime. Many of the spendid buildings were dilapidated and unrestored, while the building of a large council estate towards Tranmere did little to help matters. This decline was reflected in the loss of the Royal Rock Hotel, as well as many of the shops in the Old Chester Road and Bedford Road; whereas before Bedford Road had supported a wine merchant, a jeweller, two tailors, three banks, and two bookshops, most shops stood vacant. Large-scale regeneration work in the 1990s, which involved the demolition or restoration of many such derelict properties, and the building of new housing, means that the area has improved considerably, although many buildings of considerable character have been lost.
 Architecture and famous residentsThe best-known part of Rock Ferry is Rock Park, on the banks of the River Mersey, an area of large Victorian villas of sandstone from Storeton quarry. In what was one of the first residential park developments in Britain, the houses were built between 1837 and 1850, and were the first early Victorian properties to be designated listed buildings. The lodge and nine other houses were demolished in the 1970s to make way for the New Ferry By-Pass (A41), including Hawthorne House, number 26, the former house of Nathaniel Hawthorne when he was consul to Liverpool in the 1850s. The property was subsequently owned by astronomer Isaac Roberts, who installed a seven-inch refracter in a revolving dome on the top floor. Immediately after the building of the bypass, the remainder of Rock Park was quickly designated a conservation area in 1979.
Other areas of architectural significance include Egerton Park, an oasis of late nineteenth-century villas in a leafy setting, and the Byrne Avenue Baths, a 1930s swimming pool with plenty of Art Deco features, which closed in February 2009. The row of semi-detached houses on Rockville Street, built in 1837, is one of the earliest rows of private houses in Britain to use Gothic detailing on their exteriors, while St Anne's Catholic Church on Highfield Road was designed by E. W. Pugin. The writer May Sinclair was a Rock Park resident. F. E. Smith, later Earl of Birkenhead, also briefly lived in a house on Green Lawn. Former Australian Premier Sir Charles Gavan Duffy lived at Rose Cottage, which still stands on Rockville Street, where his son, Irish politician George Gavan Duffy, was born in 1882.
HMS Conway at Rock Ferry
SS Great Eastern beached to be broken up. Ferry service and shippingThere are records of a ferry service from Rock Ferry pier to Liverpool from 1709 onwards, until being discontinued on 30 June 1939. Although the ferry landing stage was removed in 1957 and the terminal building demolished, the pier now forms part of Tranmere Oil Terminal, although much modified. A stone slipway originally used by the ferry service also remains.
The Royal Mersey Yacht Club was founded at Rock Ferry in 1844. Rock Ferry was home to the Enterprise Small Craft Company, which built a number of notable boats in the 1920s and 1930's. Among these were 11 Seabird Half Rater one design sailing yachts in 1924 and Robinetta in 1937.
The Naval training school vessels HMS Conway and HMS Indefatigable were moored at the Sloyne, in the River Mersey near the pier. These were ships converted for the purpose of training boys for a life at sea. During the nineteenth century, the reformatory ships HMS Akbar and HMS Clarence were also moored there. In the early years of the Second World War, both the Conway and Indefatigable were moved from the Mersey to avoid damage.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel's SS Great Eastern was beached at Rock Ferry for breaking up in 1889, which took eighteen months to complete.