(mental meanderings - if those in charge think this post is in the wrong place then please feel free to move it and to remove this header note)A walk down the lane
I posted about the reference to Warringtons Bridge shown on the 1859 OS map as somewhere on Bidston Moss, wondering whether any of the older residents of Wallasey Village may be able to give more detail about the name/ area. I also posted about my memory of seeing “some unusual items” being uncovered during/ after the big freeze of 1963.
“We” are always complaining that the older generation have not properly recorded their memories, or that their families have not tried to capture the old memories. In thinking about that today it dawned on me that I AM
the older generation and I really should record my own memories.
So, today I say quietly and started by trying to imagine the roaming I used to do around that area as a younger lad than I am now. I have a good memory (for places, regrettably not for faces or names).
I used to live in a road off Nelsons Gutter ie what is now called Buxton Lane.
Either I could walk down Stonehouse Rd to the Gutter and turn left, or I could take the back-Gutter behind the houses in Russell Road and join in with Nelsons Gutter by Jack Gammage’s small market garden (now a block of garages).
From there a small path ran alongside the end of Vose’s field until it met a lane off to the right which ran down onto Mosslands Drive (“enemy territory” to us lads). The paved version of the lane is still there today. At the top of that lane there was a triangle of land full of grass & nettles – and on which I remember finding what remained of a parachute after the local wartime mums had salvaged virtually all the material to make clothing etc. To one side of that triangle of land were some very tall poplar trees – me being tall and skinny (not now) with a good head for heights (still have) I remember climbing one of those to inspect (potentially rob) a bird’s nest very high up. Probably a magpie nest. It was empty.
Carrying on past that junction in a few yards there was a lane to the left that ran up towards Wallasey Village – Folly Lane. Folly Lane ran alongside the western wall of Buxton House grounds. At this end the wall was low but further up towards the Village it was quite high – but never a deterrent to us kids. There were appropriate hand holds at strategic places and, like Gollum, in seconds we could be up the wall and running along the flat capping stones to a suitable place to come down the other side and to zip through the brambles and old shrubs that then occupied Buxton House grounds. We may of course have done the climb and decent the other way around – depending on which other street gang, policeman or the like was chasing us at the time. I was no angel.
At the top of Folly Lane where it met the Village was Olive Farm. A Major White ran it as stables when I was a lad. He or is staffs were often chasing us. If we were caught the major would use his horse whip on us.
Some years later I remember them widening Folly Lane and building council houses down one side. The houses are still there. Especially I remember the foundations to the road. There were “cobble sized” lumps of grey stone that were literally teeming with fossils. We kids had a good time that year collecting stones showing a range of things from fern-like growths to small fish (or parts of small fish) lots of what we would call curly ammonites or other shell creatures, and sometimes parts of “bigger things”. Obviously something non-vegetable that had lived at some time. By the end of the summer the fun had gone out of that game and I suppose all the mums disposed of the kids collections.
Carrying on eastwards from the junction with Folly Lane, the Gutter ie Nelsons Gutter, curved a bit to the right and to the left hand side then ran alongside the bottom wall of the old Buxton House grounds. The wall was very low here and mostly fallen down. Just over the wall was where (on dark nights towards the end of the war) I would go with mum to help collect wood ie someone had cut down one of the trees and under cover of darkness it was being dismembered into pieces transportable in handcarts or prams.
I have a memory that to the right of that part of the path there was a small and muddy pond – not too sure about that.
That path along the bottom of Buxton House grounds was maybe 30-40 yards long. It ended when it met School Lane coming down from the left. School Lane was a ‘proper’ road. To the right was another lane that went south to Mosslands drive (the lane is still there, albeit now surfaced). More about that lane in a moment.
Straight ahead was Beaufort Drive and at the end of that and at the junction with Wallacre Road were “the Swings” – now a sad mess as a result of vandalism and over enthusiastic Health & Safety edicts that took most of the fun out of such things.
Back to lane that is an extension of School Lane down across Mosslands drive and then (and now) continues down to the railway bridge.
This was “my” route to adventures on Bidston Moss ie along Nelsons Gutter, past the bottom of Buxton House and then down School Lane, past what is now the side of Mosslands School to the railway bridge.
The bridge itself was a good playground. NOT on the track I hasten to add – we all had that drummed into us, and with some minor deviations (another tale) we obeyed.
The bridge was great for hidey holes. Under the bridge there were shelves at the top of the supporting walls, even better were the holes between the bridge stonework and the metal bridge sides. Access was easy up the stonework slopes from ground level. Easy for a small kid to hide in one of those – and the noise when the train went past was super.
I remember that some years later (I would be about 14) I buried my budgie on the embankment next to that bridge. Poor thing had drowned in a glass of orange juice on the table.
At this point any intention to venture onto the Moss involved decisions.
Option 1 was to go under the bridge and straight ahead – towards Cross Lane. That route had problems. The main problem was that there were horses in the fields there and up to Cross Lane. First, I do not like big animals (still do not). Second, some of the horses were known to be aggressive – probably just inquisitive but to a 6-8 year old that seemed like aggression. A few friends had been kicked by horses in that field. Finally, if the people owning or tending the horses caught you then you were in for a good smack. We still went that way sometimes, but only after we had spent a bit of time in the hidey holes on the railway bridge to sus out that all was clear. That ahead route was the quickest to get to the back of Wards car spares area or the brickworks – both illicit play areas.
Option 2 was to go under the bridge and along the south side of the railway embankment until you were clear of the “horse field” and then to go through the fence and over the Birket tributary and onto the Moss. The problem with this route was that the south side of the embankment was heavily overgrown and it was a significant job to make a path through all the vegetation. The plus side was that if you were very lucky you may see a grass snake sunning itself in one of the more open areas. I suppose I saw a dozen in as many years. The access from the embankment onto the Moss would be more or less where there is now a line of trees and a mini-river between the Cross Lane rugby field and the new (and good) urban park. I guess that min-river is all that is left of the Birket in that area.
Then you were FREE to wander all over the Moss. Sure, sometimes the farmer came to look at the sheep that grazed on there at the time, but there was never any real bother from him to us kids, indeed we would often tell him the whereabouts of any dead sheep or those that we had seen limping / looking unwell. Mr Williams I think his name was.
Option 3 (my usual route) was not to go under the bridge but to go along the northern side of the railway embankment until you met a drain pipe (say 4 ft across) that ran under the embankment and led to the same line of trees mentioned in the above paragraph. The advantage of this route was much less vegetation so progress was quick and easy.
ALSO, if you did not go through the tunnel onto the Moss but continued straight ahead – you came to the major kids ‘playground’ of the area – The pond called the Triangle. I must have spent half my childhood around that pond.
The pond is shown on the 1899 2nd edition map sheet V111.14 as being between Seacombe Junctions Nos 1, 2 and 3. Also on that map, just next to Seacombe junction 3, you can see the drain that leads under the railway embankment and into the Birket.
So, let us go through that tunnel and onto the Moss. Usually we did follow the stream. There was a point (shown on both the 1899 and the 1859 maps) where the Birket starts to form an Ox-Bow ie there is a definite loop in the flow just before the Birket is joined by the Fender.
Across the Birket at that loop were a couple of iron RSJs (or what I would now call RSJs). There were no cross planks so you had to be very careful walking along the maybe 5” wide metal tops. Once across you could then head towards the Fender – and as I remember it on the other side of the fender was the golf course – a place where we did not venture. often our intention in roaming this far was to then follow the Fender to Bidston - returning to Walalsey Village by way of Bidston Footpath. On long summer days a gang of us may have started out early and even ventured onto Bidston Hill
Now, the point where I saw “strange objects” being exposed from the mud after the deluges post the 1963 big freeze was somewhere fairly close to that loop in the Birket. I cannot say exactly where but think it was just south of the main loop, certainly before the Birket met the Fender.
Enough for today. I will think more; will talk with other ‘oldies’ and maybe trigger some more memories