Flaybrick Memorial Gardens
Rapid growth in Birkenhead's population made it necessary for the provision of a municipal cemetery. Originally planned in the 1840s, Joseph Paxton was approached for a design. Due to the recession and subsequent decrease in population the plan went no further. By the 1860s a boom made a municipal cemetery a priority. A competition was held for the design which Edward Kemp, Curator of Birkenhead Park won. The site chosen was Flaybrick
Hill, a prominent location outside of Birkenhead overlooked by Bidston Hill
. 16.5 acres were purchased but this was extended to 26 acres in the 1890s. Kemp was assisted by Edward Mills, a prominent Birkenhead surveyor from Hamilton Square, and Messrs Lucy and Littler, architects of Liverpool. The general contractor was William Rimmer of Bidston Hall, with John Miller of St. Helens the contractor for buildings.
Many stunning examples of Victorian memorial architecture can be seen on the Crosses, Statues, Angels and large Vaults. Inscriptions can give fascinating insights on the people buried there or at times relate to incidents, disasters and accidents both locally and from around the world.
Contributing greatly to the appearance of Flaybrick
is its landscaped design. With Holly-lined paths, Irish and Common Yew trees and the evergreen Holm Oak giving it a somewhat sombre appearance at first glance. This is countered by the fine mature specimen trees in prime locations around the cemetery. Cut Leaf Beech, Silver Pendant Lime, London Plane and Monkey Puzzle to name just a few all give Flaybrick
a mature and pleasant outlook. The lower and newer area of the cemetery is built on top of a sandstone quarry and is not part of Kemp's original design. This area has a more open aspect and is the busiest part of the cemetery. Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of Birkenhead Docks, St. James' Church and for Flaybrick
's boundary walls. Most of the memorials in this section date from the early 1900s and it is also the location of Flaybrick
's largest War Memorial. Two of Flaybrick
's public graves are also in this section, some of them are thirty feet deep and hold 70 people.
The cemetery was officially opened 30th May 1864 and named Birkenhead Cemetery. Three Chaples were provided. The Roman Catholic Chapel was demolished in 1971 and a Memorial Wall erected on its site. The two other Chapels for the Non-conformists and the Church of England were last used in 1975. The Registrar's office and Sexton's Lodge are now in private hands.
The Gardens are open every day until 6pm, for pedestrian access only. Visitors are welcome to use the ajacent Tam O'Shanter complex for car parking, Cafeteria and toilet facilities.
Guided walks and other event details may be found on the notice board by the main gates. Copies of the leaflet, self guide trails and further information are available from the Ranger's Office at Tam O Shanter Farm.
Telephone 0151 653 9332
The Gardens are situated on Tollemache Road, Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside, England, close to Junction 1 M53.
With many mature trees and shrubs, Flaybrick
supports a wide variety of wildlife. As well as the various Finches and Tits etc. the Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker can also be seen. The familiar Grey Squirrel is the only mammal likely to be seen in the daytime but Voles, Fieldmice, Hedgehogs, Foxes and Bats are all present. The many species of wildflowers which are now left uncut have attracted even more colourful and interesting butterflies and insects. Lichens have found the various headstone materials very much to their liking, making them easily viewed.Flaybrick
Memorial Gardens has a Friend's group who are committed to helping to look after and promote the Gardens. They hold regular meetings, give illustrated talks and have work in days for those who like the practical side of things. If you are interested in joining the Friends or require further information please contact the secretary 0151 512 3676. The subscription rates are £5.00 and £2.50 unwaged.Flaybrick
the DVD - 13.6.07
This week the Friends of Flaybrick
release a dvd which tells the story of Birkenhead and explains how plans for the cemetery caused riots in the town. The dvd also brings to life the drama of the Loc Ah Tam murders and the Vittoria Dock Disaster. Of particular interest to local History
buffs will be the interview with Pastor Robb Jeffs, who tells the story of the remarkable Charles Thompson Children’s Mission.
The dvd shows the Friends at work in Flaybrick
on the MI Project and outlines their plans for a new free leisure facility for Birkenhead – the £2 million Flaybrick
Bat Study Centre. The dvd also tells how the Friends managed to bring the AGM of the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe to Birkenhead – the first time it has been hosted in the UK.
The Friends have made the dvd themselves, directed by Angus Tilston, who has been with the Friends for over 10 years. Angus is also the founder of Swan Movie Makers who are the dvd’s producers. Over 30 hours of filming were required to make the 51 minute dvd and the project took over a year to complete.
The dvd, which contains specially composed music by Martin Pleass, is available at £5 to society members, but you will need to forward a prepaid envelope. Apply to John Moffat, 76 St Johns Road, Eastham, Wirral CH62 OBW. Tel. no. 0151 512 3676.
ASCE Guide to the Cemeteries of Europe
This book was published in June and Flaybrick
has a six page entry which emphasises how Edward Kemp’s landscaping skills give the Gardens such a high status. The entry was compiled by the friends at considerable effort as the standard of this publication is very high. Once again, although we are a relatively small voluntary group, we have placed Birkenhead alongside Rome, Copenhagen, London, Athens, Berlin, Zagreb, Vienna Hamburg , Oslo, Naples, Bergen, Granada and Gothenberg in a European wide publication in 5 languages.
National Bat Study Centre
This dynamic and original concept has been developed by Nick Harding, ranger for Flaybrick
. The architects Ainsley Gommon have bid for the restoration of the Flaybrick
Chapels and together with Curtins Engineering, (Principal Contractor for the Albert Dock) and Redfern Morrison and Thomas, (quantity surveyors), have produced an 11 page tender for a £14,000 feasibility study. Alf Plant, director, Ainsley Gommon Architects, has said that the project is an exiting one and that their plan would compliment the existing architecture and incorporate innovative modern design.
The total cost of the new centre is £1.25 million and we are currently exploring funding options. However the primary concern is to raise £7000, which together with match funding from Wirral Borough Council will enable the feasibility study to go ahead before it becomes time expired.