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Birkenhead

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Woodside ferry terminal and Birkenhead town hall's clock tower

Birkenhead is a town on Merseyside, England, situated on the Wirral peninsula in the historic county boundaries of Cheshire, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool. It is not a tourist destination in its own right but can make for a rewarding afternoon trip from Liverpool, and is well worth a couple of hours of anybody's time.

Understand[edit]

The town grew around the huge Cammell Laird's shipbuilding works, its population peaking in the 1921 census when it was the 20th most populated town in England. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was so impressed by Birkenhead's public municipal park after a visit in 1850, he incorporated many of its features into his work on New York's Central Park.

Get in[edit]

By road[edit]

Birkenhead can be reached by the Mersey tunnels from Liverpool (toll payable) or the M53 from Chester.

By local ferry[edit]

  • 1 Woodside ferry terminal, Hamilton Street, Birkenhead. CH41 6DU (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square (for Woodside) or Liverpool James Street (for Pier Head)). The famous Ferry 'cross the Mersey deposits you at Birkenhead Woodside, in the riverside area of the town.

By train[edit]

It takes 3 minutes for a Merseyrail (metro) Wirral line train to travel from Liverpool James Street. These trains serve all loop stations in Liverpool, taking 2 additional minutes for each. These are the 4 stations most useful to visitors (the number in brackets is how many additional minutes it takes for the train to reach this station from Hamilton Square):

  • 2 Hamilton Square, Hamilton Street, Birkenhead. CH41 1AL. This is the best station for the riverside, square and museums, and can be accessed by all trains on Merseyrail's Wirral line. Birkenhead Hamilton Square on Wikipedia Birkenhead Hamilton Square railway station (Q305403) on Wikidata
  • 3 Conway Park (+2), Europa Boulevard, Birkenhead. CH41 4PP. This is the best station for the shopping district, and can be accessed from Liverpool with trains to West Kirby or New Brighton. Conway Park railway station on Wikipedia Conway Park railway station (Q2881512) on Wikidata
  • 4 Birkenhead Central (+2), Argyle Street South, Birkenhead. CH41 9DB. This station is across the A552 from the shopping district, & is the closest station to the Priory. The station can be accessed from Liverpool with trains to Chester or Ellesmere Port, and vice versa. Birkenhead Central railway station on Wikipedia Birkenhead Central railway station (Q599794) on Wikidata
  • 5 Birkenhead Park (+4), Duke Street, Birkenhead. CH41 8BT. This is the best station for the famous park, and can be accessed from Liverpool with trains to West Kirby or New Brighton. Birkenhead Park railway station on Wikipedia Birkenhead Park railway station (Q2592796) on Wikidata

Sailing from Northern Ireland[edit]

Get around[edit]

Map of Birkenhead

Frequent and reliable Merseyrail services operate between the town's stations. There is also an extensive bus network. Saveaway tickets are valid on all public transport in Birkenhead. These can be purchased at any staffed railway or bus stations in Merseyside. An "all areas" ticket is best, if intending to also travel to Liverpool, Chester, Ellesmere Port, Formby or Southport. The ticket costs about £5 per day, for off-peak use. Alternatively, a slightly cheaper "area B" ticket will cover most of Wirral.

See[edit]

  • 1 Tranmere Rovers Football Club (Prenton Park), Prenton Park, Prenton Rd West, Birkenhead, CH42 9PY (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Rock Ferry, 40-minute walk.). Although this club has always lived in the shadow of Liverpool it has a long tradition and a great family atmosphere - well worth a visit. Tranmere Rovers F.C. on Wikipedia Tranmere Rovers F.C. (Q19637) on Wikidata
  • 2 Hamilton Square (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square). A beautiful Georgian Square with gardens in the middle designed by James Gillespie Graham. The square contains the largest cluster of Grade I listed buildings outside Trafalgar Square in London. Hamilton Square on Wikipedia Hamilton Square (Q5645156) on Wikidata
  • 3 Birkenhead Park (Visitors' Centre), Park Drive, Birkenhead, CH41 4HY (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Park (+4) & 5-minute walk), +44 151 652-5197. Designed by Joseph Paxton and opened on 5 April 1847, it is generally acknowledged as the first publicly-funded civic park in Britain. American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted incorporated many of the features he observed into his design for New York's Central Park. free. Birkenhead Park on Wikipedia Birkenhead Park (Q4916438) on Wikidata
  • 4 Wirral Transport Museum, 1 Taylor Street, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 1BG (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square), +44 151 647-2128. free. Wirral Transport Museum on Wikipedia Wirral Transport Museum (Q8026995) on Wikidata
  • 5 Birkenhead Priory (St Mary's Tower), 4 Priory Street, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 5JH (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central), +44 151 666-1249. Wed to Sun afternoons. This former monastery dates back to when monks ferried passengers over the River Mersey and is the oldest building in Merseyside. free. Birkenhead Priory on Wikipedia Birkenhead Priory (Q4916439) on Wikidata
  • 6 The U-Boat Story (Woodside Ferry Terminal and Visitor Centre), Wirral Museum Office, Woodside, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6DU (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square & 3-minute walk), +44 151 330-1000.
  • 7 The John Laird Centre, Park Road North, Birkenhead, Merseyside (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Park (+4)). Originally the Laird School of Art, the first British public school of art outside London. Situated opposite Birkenhead Park's grand entrance, currently in use as offices and not open to the general public. Laird School of Art on Wikipedia Laird School of Art (Q6474082) on Wikidata

At Woodside, the riverside by the Mersey affords an excellent panorama of Liverpool city centre including all of its iconic buildings. There is also a wealth of interesting industrial buildings, structures and artefacts in the outlying docklands area. Some of these are very well-kept, while others are either derelict, or in quite unkempt surroundings; but all reflect the town's industrial heritage. Examples include:

  • 8 Cammell Laird's shipyard (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Green Lane (+4)). Closed to the public. Established in 1824, the shipyard is best seen from the Mersey Ferry. Unfortunately, it has no visitor centre or museum, though it greatly deserves such facilities. Cammell Laird on Wikipedia Cammell Laird (Q1029631) on Wikidata
  • 9 Shore Road Pumping Station, 1 Pacific Rd, CH41 6DN (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square), +44 151 650-1182. Open weekend afternoons, closed weekdays except by appointment. Open Wednesday-Sunday afternoons, during school holidays. free. Shore Road Pumping Station on Wikipedia Shore Road Pumping Station (Q7501320) on Wikidata
  • 10 Pacific Road Business Hub (formerly the Pacific Road Arts Centre), Pacific Road, CH41 1LJ (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square). Originally a railway goods transit shed.
  • 11 Cheshire Lines Building, Canning Street. CH41 1ND (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square). Originally a railway goods station. Shore Road Goods railway station on Wikipedia Shore Road Goods railway station (Q23070626) on Wikidata
  • 12 The One o'Clock Gun (Situated about 300 metres north of Woodside ferry terminal, along the riverside walkway.). The cannon was in use from 1867 to 1969, although it didn't fire during World War II. The cannon was controlled from Bidston Observatory, and was used to set the marine chronometers of ships on the Mersey.
  • 13 Egerton Bridge, Egerton Wharf, Birkenhead (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square or Conway Park). This bridge separates Egerton and Morpeth Docks. Egerton House, originally a dockside warehouse, is visible from the bridge.
  • 14 The Central Hydraulic Tower, Tower Road, Birkenhead (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park or Birkenhead Hamilton Square). Situated on the opposite side of Tower Road to the Twelve Quays ferry terminal. The building is derelict and not open to the public. The Wallasey Dock impounding station is within the ro-ro ferry terminal and, although inaccessible to tourists, can be clearly seen from a Mersey ferry travelling between Seacombe and Woodside.
  • 15 Duke Street Bridge, Duke Street, Birkenhead (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Park). Separating East and West Floats, this bridge is about a mile inland from the riverside. Dockside viewing points are accessible at the northeast and southwest quarters of the bridge.

Further outside the centre of town, Bidston Hill provides an interesting group of buildings amongst the heathland:

  • 16 Bidston Windmill, 2 Vyner Road North, Bidston. CH43 7PZ (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead North). First Saturday of the month, April-September, 10am-midday. Built in 1800, a prominent local landmark. Bidston Windmill on Wikipedia Bidston Windmill (Q4904263) on Wikidata
  • 17 Bidston Observatory, Vyner Road North, Bidston. CH43 7PZ (Journey to Bidston Windmill, and walk 400 metres north along the hill. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead North or Bidston). Not open to the public. The Grade II listed observatory was built in 1866.
  • 18 Bidston Lighthouse, 4 Lighthouse Cottages, Bidston. CH43 7RA (When facing the observatory, take the path around the left-hand side.). Saturdays, 31 March-1 September, midday-3pm. Built in 1873, and over two miles from the sea, it has a claim as the world's most inland lighthouse used for marine navigation.

Do[edit]

  • 1 Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Slatey Road, Oxton. CH43 4UE (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central or Park), +44 151 652-4177. Near to Birkenhead park on Slatey Road, has some great artwork Free.
  • 2 Vue Cinemas, Conway Park, Europa Boulevard, CH41 4PE (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park & 2-minute walk).
  • 3 Tam o'Shanter Urban Farm, Boundary Road, Bidston Hill. CH43 7PD (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead North). Daily, 9:30am-4:30pm. The farm has a variety of animals, which love to be hand-fed. Free.
  • 4 Europa Pools, 136 Conway Street. CH41 6RN (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park. Outside Conway Park station, turn right. Halfway along Europa Boulevard turn right, again. The building is straight ahead, just past the cinema.). Indoor swimming with a wave machine, flumes and competition pool
  • Take a short trip on a vintage tram along the Wirral Tramway, between Woodside ferry terminal and the Wirral Transport Museum, during summer weekend afternoons. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square.

Explore Birkenhead Park. The first public park and the inspiration for Central Park, New York. It is larger than most parks and has some beautiful wooded areas and duck ponds. Especially popular in the summer months. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Park.

The Ferry 'cross the Mersey, immortalised in the Gerry and the Pacemakers song, is considered by many to be essential on any trip to Liverpool, and by definition involves a trip to Birkenhead. Terminals are Birkenhead Woodside and Liverpool Pier Head. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square or Liverpool James Street.

Buy[edit]

Visit Birkenhead Shopping Precinct. Birkenhead has the usual unexciting array of British high-street chain stores for your everyday requirements. Those seeking specialist shops or anything a cut above the norm should head across the water to Liverpool. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park or Birkenhead Central.

  • Birkenhead Central Library (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central). Birkenhead Central Library, which was opened in 1934 by George V was the country's first public library in an unincorporated borough
  • The Pyramids Shopping centre (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park or Birkenhead Central). Shopping centre that has all commodities and has some great deals

Eat[edit]

  • 1 The Brass Balance (JD Wetherspoons), 39-45 Argyle Street, CH41 6AB (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square or Conway Park), +44 151 650-8950.
  • 2 Buffet 88, 46 Conway Street, CH41 6JD (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park or Birkenhead Central), +44 151 649-9888.
  • 3 Capitol Restaurant, 24 Argyle Street (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square or Conway Park), +44 151 647 9212. Generally considered to be the best Chinese/Canton/Peking restaurant in Merseyside. Award winning dim sum, banquets and specials. Friendly service.
  • 4 Home, Woodside Ferry Terminal, Birkenhead, CH41 6DU (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square), +44 151 330-1475, e-mail: . 10:00 to 16:30.
  • 5 Fraiche, 11 Rose Mount, Prenton, CH43 5SG (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central), +44 151 625-2400.
  • 6 Oxton Bar & Kitchen, Claughton Firs, Oxton. CH43 5TQ (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central), +44 151 651-2535.
  • 7 Venezia, 14-16 Prenton Road West. CH42 9PN (Opposite Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park stadium. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Rock Ferry), +44 151 608-9212. Italian food.
  • 8 Yiamas Greek Taverna, 300 Borough Road. CH41 2UW (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central), +44 151 653-4002.
  • 9 Mr. Yummie (Yummies), 11 Oxton Road. CH41 2QQ (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Central or Conway Park), +44 151 653-8759. Sunday-Thursday, 18:00-03:00; Friday-Saturday, 18:00-04:00. Fast food take-away, providing pizzas, kebabs, burgers and vegetarian options, with congenial staff. Useful as a very late-night stop-off, on the way back from a night out in Liverpool.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 The Stork Hotel, 41 Price Street. CH41 6JN (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Conway Park), +44 151 647-7506. A must-visit pub for the pub architecture/real ale fan. The Edwardian tiling, mosaic floor and etched windows make for a sumptuous drinking experience. There is always a selection of real ale, and cheap hearty food is served at lunchtimes. 200yds from Hamilton Square and a similar distance from Conway Park station.
  • 2 The Caernarvon Castle, 10 Bidston Road, Prenton. CH43 2JZ (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Park), +44 151 652-2831.
  • The Brass Balance (JD Wetherspoons), 39-45 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, CH41 6AB (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Birkenhead Hamilton Square or Conway Park), +44 151 650-8950.

Sleep[edit]

  • Yew Tree Hotel (Kellson), 56 Rock Lane West, CH42 4PA (Merseyrail alternative logo.svg Rock Ferry), +44 151 645-4112. £49.50.

Go next[edit]

  • Port Sunlight, William Lever's model village, is 15 minutes away and is easily accessed by rail or road. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg 4-6 trains per hour
  • The Wirral coast between New Brighton and West Kirby has some excellent walking and off-road cycling opportunities, including the Wirral Way. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg 2-4 trains per hour on each branch.
  • The ancient walled city of Chester is 30 minutes away by road or rail. Merseyrail alternative logo.svg 2-4 trains per hour
This city travel guide to Birkenhead is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.