From Carol E Bidston’s book Birkenhead In Times Past (1978), writing about the square at the back of the market: ‘At one time, around the 1870s, a fair used to be held in the Square on a Saturday night. According to contemporary reports, the boys of the neighbourhood used to enjoy watching the smashing of crockery by the Rock Auctioneer, who, when he couldn’t get the price for his wares, threw them on to the cobblestones. At election times during the last century, hustings were erected in the Square. The proceedings were rough and at times riotous, but generally good-humoured.’
… I remember as a child in the 50s, when we used to go over on the ferry to Liverpool of a Sunday, there would often be an escapologist performing on the Pier Head.
His assistant would secure him in a straitjacket and wrap chains around him, which were locked together. Then he’d wriggle and writhe on the ground and somehow get free. It was really impressive. The audience would then throw money into a hat.
However, such acts were illegal and the two performers sometimes had to do an even faster escape act when they saw a policeman coming along!