As New Ferry continued to
grow, its facilities were gradually updated and improved. New Ferry
Park, an abandoned building site, was landscaped with a bowling green,
tennis courts and a garden for the blind with highly-scented flowers
which had Braille name plates next to them. It replaced the previous
park (dating from the 1880s), to the rear of the Ferry Hotel, which had been bought for
development and today is covered with houses (Onslow Road).
The Park Lodge was built at
the main entrance, as a home for the park keeper. Grove Street School
was built next to the park, replacing an earlier school building which
had become too small.
In 1906, some cottages on New Ferry Road were demolished to make way for
Hope Hall, which remained in use as a church until a few years ago.
By the 1930s, there was a
housing boom. New homes appeared to the south of New Ferry, at Bolton
Road East and the surrounding streets. Meanwhile, the Council was
building houses on infill sites such as Grove Square, and all over the
former pleasure gardens at Shorefields (Shorefields, Merseybank Road,
As compensation for loss of the gardens, the Council also built an
open-air swimming pool – New Ferry Baths – in 1932. The pool closed in
1979, and in the late 1980’s was demolished to make way for the Wimpey
New Ferry Swimming Baths in
the early 1960s. How many older residents used that slide to get into
the water? Most of the trees seen in the background (where tired
swimmers sheltered from the summer sun on their towels) are still with
As times changed and people
had more money to spend, an enterprising builder constructed a new
estate of small terraced cottages at Beaconsfield Road / Poolbank Road /
Elmbank Road in the early years of the 20th century. He used
bricks that came from the brickworks at Mayfields, a site where clay had
been dug from the ground, creating a large pit. When the
brickworks closed, the Council used the hole to fill with Wirral's
rubbish. The tip site was closed and levelled in the mid 1970s,
when residents in Shorefields, Merseybank Road and Graylings Road
remember a plague of displaced rats escaping from the tip and running
through the streets. Once capped, the tip site was landscaped with
the two football pitches that are still on it today.
Adding to the Lyceum Cinema
which had stood at the corner of New Chester Road and Grove Street since
the early part of the century (the site now occupied by Iceland), the
Rialto Cinema was also built on Bebington Road in 1933. At the time, it
was the most up-to-date cinema in Wirral and people came from all over
Wirral to watch films there. It screened its last film in 1961, and was
used for the next 30 years by a variety of clubs until being demolished
in 2002 to make way for the new Aldi store. A third cinema was also
built in the 1930s at the top of Beaconsfield Road – today the building
is occupied by Andy’s Aquatics.
During World War 2, New Ferry
and its shoreline played an important role in the national crisis. The Shorefields overlooking the river were host to an anti-aircraft gun
emplacement, defending Liverpool and Birkenhead from attack by German
bombers and manned by Poles. Despite this protection however, during the 1941 Blitz, a bomb
fell on some of the terraced houses in Egerton Road (those on the north
side). The houses, only completed a few years earlier, were destroyed.
Garages stood on the site until 2003 when new houses were finally built.
Other bombs fell on the villas at the junction of the Dell and Rock Park
Road – they were demolished and today there is just a grassy bank
leading down to the Esplanade.
Following the war, when the gun
emplacements were removed, the barracks were used as a temporary
internment camp for German POWs during 1946 and 1947. There was no
barbed wire surrounding the "camp", and the prisoners were allowed out
during the daytime where they found work on local farms; they simply had
to return to the camp each night by the allotted curfew time.
the barracks were then used as temporary living accommodation for people
who had lost their homes during the blitz. The buildings were
eventually demolished in the early 1970s. Today, there is no trace
of them on the flat grassy field overlooking the river.
At the bottom end of Bolton
Road East, behind the houses in Eccleshall Road, is a large mound (not
the tip!). Underneath this is buried one of the fuel storage tanks that
was part of the
PLUTO system. A pipeline was laid
down the length of the country to the south coast, and then on the
bottom of the sea bed across the Channel to France to supply fuel to the
Allies when they invaded Europe following D-Day. It collected the
oil from various storage tanks such as the one at Bromborough Dock, and
by autumn 1944 over 100,000 gallons a day were being pumped over to
France after D-Day to fuel tanks, armoured cars and other vehicles used
by the forces.
The New Ferry shoreline was also used to construct some of
the landing pontoons used for the D-Day landings. These had to be towed
around the coast and taken across the Channel as part of the invasion.
New Ferry Park still has its
public air-raid shelters – although they are buried under the grass
mounds next to the playground!
In the 1950s, rising car
ownership saw New Ferry becoming a traffic bottleneck. The New Ferry
bypass opened in 1960, starting at the Bolton Road junction but
terminating at Thorburn Close. The bypass was extended to the Tranmere
roundabout in 1976, after many of the decaying Rock Park villas had been
purchased and sadly demolished. The Thorburn Close junction was removed
and replaced with the underpass.
By the 1960s, the isolation
hospital had closed down. Fearful of catching any of the diseases once
treated there, contractors refused to demolish the complex – so, in
1963, the local fire department burnt the hospital to the ground. The
site also disappeared under the second phase of Wimpey homes in the
early 1990s (Scotia Avenue, Oakworth Drive, Ortega Close, Alvega Close).
In the 1970s, highway
engineers recommended that so much traffic was still using New Chester
Road rather than the bypass that it should be widened to a dual
carriageway. All the buildings on the eastern side of the road
between New Ferry Road and Bolton Road East would have been demolished.
Fortunately, the Council rejected the proposal.
The former bus depot was demolished in the 1980s to be replaced by the
new Post Office.
Bebington Road was
pedestrianised in 1991. At the same time, Kwik Save (now Somerfield)
arrived to demolish some derelict shops along New Chester Road and build
their new store. Iceland moved into Kwik Save’s former unit soon
Find out more about 2001 to the current day......
The Lodge (built in 1904)
once guarded the main entrance to New Ferry Park. Two large gates,
one on either side of the lodge, were locked every night and the park
patrolled by the park keeper. Today it is a restaurant.
The Travellers Rest public
house, on New Ferry Road is seen here circa 1915. The pub closed
at the end of the 1990s, and has since been converted into a row of
New Ferry open air swimming
pool was 330 feet long, 90 feet wide and varied from 3 to 16 feet in
depth. It was filled with water that was pumped from
the River Mersey, filtered and cleaned. It is seen here in the
late 1930s shortly after it opened. If only the Oval pool in
Bebington was this big!
By the 1920s, the Toll Bar
crossroads had become a busy junction. This view looks across New
Chester Road towards New Ferry Road. Note the policeman standing on
point duty in the centre of the road to direct traffic! You can also see
the bus approaching the junction: the success of buses had put the trams
out of business in the previous decade.
Beaconsfield Road pictured
in the mid 1980s. The houses were built in the early years of the
20th century by a builder who wanted to create affordable housing for
The Port Sunlight annual
parade, held regularly during the first half of the 20th century, ended
with a fete in New Ferry Park. This image shows New Ferry
residents trying their luck with the hoop-la in 1934.
Bebington Road in the
late 1940s. The shop to the immediate left is a newsagents today.
The Methodist Church (with the spire) at the junction with Boundary Road was demolished in the
1960s' the site is now occupied by the Connexions building.
New Chester Road in the
1950s. To the immediate left is Woolworths (now Heron Foods), whilst to the right, the pub selling Peerless Ales is now a
The same view as above,
although slightly further along New Chester Road in the
late 1950s. Traffic moving between Birkenhead and Chester was often
gridlocked here. The buildings to the immediate left still contain
shops, but the Lyceum Cinema with its tower (seen behind the double
decker bus) has
long since gone. Iceland stands there today.
Construction of the first
part of the New Ferry By-pass in 1960. This is the New Ferry Road
bridge. The houses seen in the distance are those in Easton Road.
The Wimpey Estate was
built on the site of the former swimming baths between 1987 and 1990.
The trees that once offered shelter to protect swimmers from sun-burn
were protected from development.