NEW FERRY ONLINE

 The Community Website of New Ferry, Wirral, UK

 

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Pre 19th Century

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Useful Information


 

See a Victorian map of where your home is today:

 

If you are a New Ferry resident, click on the map picture below.  A new window will open on a different website which will show  various old maps of New Ferry.  Type your postcode into the box and you will be able to see where your home is now (on the modern map to the right) compared to the 1835 tithe maps.  You can also choose the 1875 and the 1910 maps to compare the changes which have taken place between then and now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(For those of you just visiting this site who do not live in New Ferry and don't know a postcode here, just type in CH62 5BE which will take you to the shops in the centre).

 


 

HISTORY OF NEW FERRY: Pre 19th Century


Typical Viking settlers of the Wirral area circa 930 A.D. (Photo courtesy of Wirral Vikings Re-enactment Group)

 

Until the 19th century, the Wirral peninsula had remained a rural backwater noted only in history for its strategic location as the ideal place for foreign invaders to attempt to get a foothold on part of mainland Britain.  Following withdrawal of the Roman Empire in 410 A.D., Wirral subsequently became the home for Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 7th century, followed by invasions by Norse Vikings at the end of the 9th century.

At that time, most of what is today the New Ferry area would have been a gently rising hill centred on where the Toll Bar Crossroads (junctions of New Chester Road/Bebington Road/New Ferry Road) is situated today.  To the east was the sandy (mud now!) shore of the River Mersey.  To the south was a tidal inlet that led to the River Dibbin with a further tidal creek coming off this which led northwards to border the western flank of the New Ferry "hill" (this creek was filled in by the Victorians when Port Sunlight village was constructed, the village school, the church and Lady Lever Art Gallery were all built on the filled ground).

The various tidal creeks were surrounded by large areas of flat mashes. Below is what we think an aerial photo of the area might have looked like around 900 A.D. compared with today.

Wirral is the only place in mainland Britain with documented evidence of Norwegian Viking settlers.  Ancient Irish Chronicles report the first peaceful settlements led by the Norseman Ingimund in 902 A.D. when settlers began clearing some of the woodland to build homesteads and farms.  Although no evidence of settlement in the New Ferry area has been found, we know that Tranmere, the next community to the north is a name that dates from the Norse "Trani-melr" meaning "cranebirds' sandbank".  Meanwhile, immediately to the south of the River Dibbin is "Brunanburh," the old Norse name for Bromborough, a place that also gives its name to a famous battle fought in the area in 937 A.D. 

After invading England in 1066 and subduing Northumbria in 1069/70, William the Conqueror invaded and ravaged Chester, laying waste to much of Wirral. Between 1120-1123, Earl Ranulph le Meschin converted Wirral into a hunting forest where wild deer and boar were allowed to flourish undisturbed.  However, 250 years later, after local people complained about the wildness of the area, in 1376,  King Edward III ordered the forests be cut down.

Unofficial ferries had been operated by fishermen as a means of earning extra income, from the New Ferry shore, for centuries. Records from the 14th century suggest that a man named Adam del Fere operated a ferry from here.

A 1732 map of Wirral showing Brunaburh, the old name for Bromborough

A 1732 map of Wirral showing the tidal creek of what is now the River Dibbin, shown just south of Bebington.

 

 

1764 seems to be the year in which the first “modern” reference to New Ferry is made, although it is a name that is likely to have been in common usage for some time prior to this date. The first occurrence of the name in an official record was in a legal action brought by the owner of the Rock Ferry who, apparently, considered that the entrepreneurial style of the New Ferry’s owners would cut into his potential profits. The name referred solely to the actual ferry itself and did not take in any part of what we today consider to be New Ferry.

Wirral's lack of raw materials and undeveloped transportation network meant that it was ignored by the Industrial Revolution that started elsewhere in the country. Even the presence of Liverpool, one of the biggest and fastest growing cities of the 18th and 19th centuries, only two miles away across the Mersey, had failed to have an effect.  At this time, Lower Bebington was one of the bigger of Wirral’s townships with a population of about 300, three times that of Birkenhead. The majority of people lived in the immediate vicinity of St Andrew’s Church and the nearby junction of the Chester and Neston Turnpikes. In what is now New Ferry, just half a dozen houses were situated.

But it was the 19th century which saw things change for New Ferry.    More......

 

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