A big Woodside Ferry Village thank you to Jayne Phennah who undertakes numerous history walks around Wirral, and particularly for her deep research and vast knowledge
about the history of the Woodside area - please have a read of the latest Woodside walk.
This week Woodside has been my focus on my Wednesday walk and on the kids walk. I have posted some maps to go with all the information I have found whilst researching the place. Enjoy!
Woodside started its life, just as the name suggests, it was a wood at the edge of a river. The Priory and it's monks put Birkenhead on the map. So as we look at Woodside today, there is no wooded area. Woodside and the Hamilton Square area looked so different back in the early 1800s. This area and the whole of Birkenhead was green, with grass and fields, farms and streams.
The Woodside area was part of Bridge End Farm. This had acres of land along the shore line. All of Birkenhead, Claughton and as far as Bidston Hill, all belonged to Mr Francis Richard Price. During the early 1800s he began selling off the land. Eventually in 1858, all of the land of Birkenhead belonged to the Birkenhead Improvement Commissioners, which later became the Birkenhead Corporation/council.
Around 1820, as you approached Woodside from the River Mersey, the first thing you would have noticed was a hotel, surrounded by pleasure gardens. In 1834, a new hotel called the Woodside hotel. It was built on a piece of higher ground, replacing an earlier build.
To disembark a ferry or boat at Woodside, there was a wooden slipway, leading to a sandy slope. A boathouse was also situated in the garden of the hotel. The old slipway was demolished and a new stone pier was built leading down from the hotel.
This was built in the 1840s.
It's hard to imagine that the water came as far inland as the Woodside Hotel boundary. High water mark running along Shore Road. We have built into the River and shaped our
coast line. The new stone pier, had a lighthouse at the very end and is still in situ, to the left-hand side of the Ferry terminus.
In 1838, as you disembarked the ferry, as you came up, you had to enter through gates. This is the beginning of the A41 road, at Chester Street.
On your left, in that year, would have been The Adelphi hotel, which opened in 1820, and closed in 1870. With the Woodside Hotel, to your right. Chester street was probably one of the first streets as this was the direct route to Chester.
It had been the monks of the Priory who had owned the ferry. They had been given powers to erect houses or shelter for ferry passengers. They had also been given authority to provide entertainment and refreshments for ferry users.
This got me thinking, was it the monks who first started brewing beer? So I asked Google and it confirmed that monks did brew beer. Beer for the everyday drink and was safer to drink than water back then.
Beer and wine being an important part in their diet due to added nutrients in the beer. It makes sense now, why Chester street had so many pubs, by 1860, Chester Street had around 15 pubs.
The area around Woodside has changed so much. In 1820, the water would have come in much closer, along Shore Road and up as far as the car park of the Woodside Hotel.
The site of the old Lairage which is now the Woodside Business Park would have been in the River Mersey. With the Woodside Hotel commanding the view over to Liverpool.
Sadly, gone today and whilst researching, I discovered that there had been two fires in the Summer of 2008 and in October of the same year, the hotel had been demolished without planning consent and is now a car park.
Another feature that once stood at Woodside Ferry was Woodside train Station, a huge terminal on the shore next to the Ferry. Built in 1878 and gone by 1967.
I'm sure there may be things I have forgotten about.
My knowledge of Birkenhead just keeps building up and I love it all. The more I know, the more I need to know.