Today we combined a “tick” for another of the anti-slavery globes with a walk along a part of the eastern edge of the Wirral that we have never been to, although we have looked at it and wondered. The sixth Globe was outside Birkenhead Priory and is called “Weh You From? Weh Yuh A Go?” and is by Jiono Warner.
Then we took the bus along the Rock Ferry Bypass and New Chester Road and walked down Rock Lane East. Rock Park was an area of wealthy merchant houses built in 1836 next to the old Rock Ferry pier and affording the privileged classes easy access to Liverpool city centre while having gardens on the river frontage. Many of the houses on the inland side of the road were demolished when the bypass was punched through, but we detoured to see if one famous house had survived, number 26, once the home of the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is best known for his book “The Scarlet Letter”. He was appointed United States Consul to Liverpool from 1853-1857, and used the ferry for his daily commute to the Liverpool Consulate. Unfortunately, his house was one of the ones that had been demolished, and only a gatepost survives.
Rock Lane East continues as a bridge over the bypass and leads down to New Ferry Waterfront, now the location of the Tranmere Oil Jetty and the old ferry café, now a pub and restaurant called the Refreshment Rooms.
From here we could have walked southwards along Rock Ferry Promenade, but we chose to enter Rock Park itself. It is now a conservation area with stringent contractual restrictions on the use of the properties: residential only and no alteration to the appearance. All the houses are listed as being of architectural and historic importance. It is probably a very pleasant place to live, but it is quite enclosed and defensive. Doberman dogs barked at us from behind garden gates, and we felt we were being covertly watched. We didn’t linger or take pictures of the houses, just one of this lovely old Black Walnut tree.
At the southern end Rock Park meets the Rock Ferry Promenade again, and there is a car park with wonderful views over to Liverpool. It’s an interesting vantage point from which to see Liverpool’s two Cathedrals side by side.
There was another ferry terminus here, old New Ferry Pier, built in 1865, which reached 850 feet out into the river. Another interesting historical association is with the ship the CSS Shenandoah which was the last Confederate ship to surrender at the end of the American Civil War. She sailed from the North Pacific to the Mersey and surrendered to the British Government near New Ferry Pier on 6th November 1865. The crew, many of whom were British, swam ashore here rather than be extradited to the US and tried as pirates. The historic pier lasted until 1922, when it was rammed by a drunk Dutch steamer captain, irreparably damaged and was demolished in 1929. Now all that is left is a tiny beach.
Southward from New Ferry pier is a short Esplanade, but it doesn’t run all the way to Shorefields (our destination) or further to Port Sunlight River Park. There is a muddy, rocky beach when the tide is out, and it is possible to walk on it, but the tide was in today. Even if it had been out though, there are often wading birds feeding in the mud which shouldn’t be disturbed. So we walked through the residential streets to Shorefields Nature Park. It is just a big open field at the top of the shallow Shorefields cliffs. We looked down to the water but there was still no beach, just a few gulls paddling in the shallows. When the tide is out it is a nationally important feeding site for wading birds like Pintail, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Shelduck, Knot, Dunlin and Turnstone. Around the edge of the field we noticed the remains of trees which had been windthrown in last winter’s storms. New ones have been planted, including Sweet Gum (Liquidambar), Rowan, Cherry and Himalayan birch. Some of the older trees were turning for autumn, including this lovely Norway Maple.
As the tide fell and the mud was exposed, 8 or 10 Curlews flew in, calling as they did so. They are declining nationally but are common here.
Public transport details: Bus 437 from Sir Thomas Street towards West Kirby at 10.07, arriving Hamilton Square / Westminster House at 10.15. After our detour to Birkenhead Priory we went back to the same stop for bus 1 at 10.47, arriving New Chester Road / The Hawthorns at 10.55. Returned on bus 464 from its terminus at Shorefields / Pollitt Square at 1.32, arriving Liverpool 2.05.