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Pre 1900













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The New Ferry Summer Community Event was held in July 2014.  See the 2010s page.


 photo 1937-38WChurchDriveSchoolMissJohnson_zps9681e1a7.jpg

You can also see Miss Johnson's class of 1937-18 at Port Sunlight Church Drive School. See the 1930s page.


You can read the e-book about the Bromborough Ju88 incident in 1940.






Despite its date, this map could be said to present a picture of how Wirral must have looked at almost any period of history from 10th Century, Saxon times until the 1820s when the coming of the steam ferries to the River Mersey changed everything. Most of its settlements were nothing more than a series of isolated farms or clusters of cottages about a church or manor house and even the largest of them were little more than small hamlets.

New Ferry can be seen on the shore of the Mersey.



Photo submitted by

Clearly looking a little different today, the Railway Inn most probably dates from when the Birkenhead to Chester railway was constructed in the 1840s.  This would also have been long before the development of Port Sunlight village started around it. 

The front ground floor windows are significantly larger today, whilst the upper storey at the front is now masked by fake black and white timber framing.



The boat on the foreshore belonged to one of the training ships moored in the background and was used to fetch the boys ashore. In 1864, Liverpool shipowner John Clint had set up a charity with the aim of training the sons of sailors, destitute and orphaned boys to become merchant seamen.  They boys had a sports field not far away from the Dell, complete with its own pavilion.



Opened in 1865, the pier and ferry terminal were well used until 1897 when the Birkenhead Corporation took over the running of the ferries.  From this time, the ferry was operated at a loss because of the increasing popularity of the railway system and the train tunnel which had been built connecting Birkenhead with Liverpool.  All these various photos show the ferry terminal from various angles, the pier itself, and copies of some posters from the end of the 19th century. 

Photobucket   Photobucket

NEW FERRY PIER  February 1895

In February 1895 the River Mersey resembled a vast ice field in one of the coldest winters for many years.  Large ice flows had come down from the upper reaches of the river, bringing small icebergs and the river froze - remaining so for a few weeks before the thaw set in. It was said it was possible to walk across the river from Liverpool to the Wirral side.  In this photo, we can see a channel has been dug through the ice.  The pier can be seen in the background. with a number of small boats moored near to it.



Let's take a look up New Ferry Road as it leaves the pier area.  The shops on the left were built in 1867.  There was a post office where visiting daytrippers could buy and send postcards, and no doubt other shops where they could buy a few souvenirs of their visit to what became one of Wirral's tourist attractions.  To the right of this photo was the New Ferry Hotel (see picture below) which had the first New Ferry Park behind it.  Visitors could take a walk up New Ferry Road (or perhaps take a ride in a horse drawn taxi) to the pleasure gardens at Shorefields.

  1895NewFerryRoad.jpg picture by NorthernForties


This is how the New Ferry Hotel opposite the pier looked at the end of the 19th century.  It had been built in the days when New Ferry had been a "pleasure garden" for trippers from Liverpool who came over on the ferry.  However, by the time this photo was taken it was looking rather shabby.  It would be replaced in 1896-8 by the second hotel which many older people will remember and which can be seen in the 1900s collection.



The Great Eastern pub was built in 1862, but it was after 1865 when the pier was built that it really came into its own as it catered for the tourists and day-trippers who came over from Liverpool on the ferry.

In 1888, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ship, the SS Great Eastern was broken up on the shore nearby.  In those days, everything that could be was recycled or reused.  The ship's bar was sold at auction and was bought by the owner of the pub who promptly fitted it into the building so that pub visitors had something to talk about.  A stained glass window from the ship was also fitted in the pub. 

By the 1890s, the pub had its own bowling green behind it (alongside the stables which can be seen in the photo below behind the pub to the left).  However, the bowling green disappeared in the 1980s after being sold off for housing (Clipper View).  The stables had long since been demolished.

Unfortunately, the historic bar from the Great Eastern was ripped out and sold by the pub's last owners circa 2005, whilst the pub itself finally closed down in 2007.  A planning application to demolish it and build 2 blocks of flats in its place was refused by the Council in 2008.  In November 2009 the pub was sold at auction and a new application came in on 24th February 2010 outlining plans to demolish it and replace it with 10 semi-detached houses.  A petition signed by over 400 people from New Ferry, Wirral and even worldwide failed to save it and it was demolished a few weeks later. 


And here we can see the SS Great Eastern when it was brought to the New Ferry shore in 1888 ready to be broken up, whilst to the right is a poster advertising the auction itself at which the various parts of the ship were to be sold.



In the mid-19th century there were no fewer than ten quarantine ships moored in the river to cater for people with tropical diseases - cholera being the cause of most deaths.  Because the ships were inadequate, this isolation hospital was planned.

The Liverpool Mercury of 4th March 1875 reported the following:

“The Health Committee submitted for approval the plans of the proposed Port Sanitary Hospital at Rock Ferry.


Dr Taylor explained that the building would be of corrugated iron, and would afford accommodation for 24 inmates, besides attendants. The ground, eight acres in extent, would be surrounded by a stone wall nine feet high, and a road 36 yards wide. He had stated on a former occasion, that the cost would be about £3,000; but, owing to the cost of the wall and the road, the engineer now estimated that the cost would be about £5,000.

The plans were approved.

Contracts for the construction of the hospital were awarded in February 1876.

The final cost of the hospital, including the keeper’s house and the kitchens not included in the original contract, was £14,137-14-3d.

The hospital opened in 1877, but it was four years before a single patient arrived.

In July 1883, the Birkenhead Medical Officer issued the following instructions in the event of Cholera:

“Should a case of cholera be imported on board ship, a berth remote from other vessels would be found for the infected vessel in waters designated by the Port Sanitary Authority. The vessel would be thoroughly disinfected, and all on board subjected to careful medical examination before being permitted to land. Accommodation for patients from shipboard is provided at the Port Sanitary Hospital, Bebington, and should this become full, the grounds in connection therewith would furnish area space sufficient for several hospital tents.”

On 18th January 1884 the Clarence Reformatory School Ship for Boys, which was moored off New Ferry, was destroyed following an arson attack, the boys were temporarily housed at the Port Sanitary Hospital. This only lasted until 19th July 1884 as the sanitary authority thought the hospital might be needed due to a suspected outbreak of Cholera on the St Dunstan, a ship newly arrived from Marseilles.

In April 1892, the health committee considered the “useless expenditure of money on the Port Sanitary Hospital” as it was costing around £700 a year, it hadn’t had a patient for many years and similar facilities now existed in Liverpool. However the motion to close the hospital was lost by 24 votes to 18.

The costs of running the hospital where proportioned as follows: Liverpool 82.5%, Birkenhead 9.2%, Wallasey 2.5%, Bootle 2.3%, Garston 1.5%, Toxteth Park 1.4% and Lower Bebington 0.5%.

On 26th November 1894, 18 boys were transferred from the Clarence Reformatory School Ship (which had been replaced following the fire) to the hospital, suffering from Smallpox.


From the gate in the wall on the river side of the hospital, jutting out into the river, a long wooden jetty was built to run out to low water to where patients could be brought ashore without coming into contact with the residents of New Ferry.  The flight of wooden steps up to the hospital have long since gone, as has the wooden jetty.  All that remains today is part of a brick and concrete  jetty built in the early 1920s - you can see it on the beach below the cliffs.



This is the Wirral Tramways Company car no. 9 outside the New Ferry depot.  Trams used to run between Birkenhead and New Ferry which was a terminus.  This type of car was known as a turtle back because of the shape of its roof.  The last Wirral Tramways Company horse tram ran on the evening of 8th May 1900.



A different view of the tram shed showing yet another of the horse-drawn tram cars dating from 1877.  It is believed that the young boys in uniform (to the left) may have been employees of the tram company, their job being to change the horses when required.

Today, the site of the tram shed is occupied by the Post Office.  The pub with the ornate sign hanging over the street is the former Farmer's Arms Public House, now Risa Spice, an Indian restaurant. 



When New Chester Road built in the late 1830s, linking Birkenhead with Chester in a much straighter  line than the previous road that snaked through Higher and Lower Bebington, it was a toll road.  The toll bar at New Ferry crossroads, which occurred where the new road was crossed by the existing road from Bebington to the shore, was where travellers had to pay a fee.  Even when tolling ended in 1883, the gates across the road remained for a few more years. 



The famous butchers shop of John Edge is still under the ownership of the same family.  The owner at the time this photo was taken can be seen in the tall hat standing outside the door of the shop; his son is in the shandry being pulled by the horse.

The toll bar gate can be seen still standing in this photograph.










Although we know this is a Birkenhead to Chester stagecoach, we do not know where this was taken or exactly when.  However, it is typical of the type of horse-drawn travel which existed before the appearance of motor cars and worked well to fill in the gaps between the railway network which expanded throughout the mid and late 19th century.  What is now the A41, New Chester Road, running between Birkenhead and Chester was built in a straight(ish) line, with less steep hills than the old road to the west of it, so that horses could pull the coaches faster.



In this view, we are looking at the south side of Bebington Road, towards the river.  The last buildings to the left, seen closest to the last gas lantern are at the Toll Bar crossroads. 


See New Ferry in the 1900s...    

Picture Sources:

Some of the photos on this page are sourced from two excellent books we thoroughly recommend:

  • For more excellent photographs of the local area, try to find "Around Bebington" compiled by Pat O'Brien, first published in 1995 by the Chalford Publishing Company.  ISBN 0752401211     I think this may have been republished in 2005 by Nonsuch Publishing Company with a new ISBN 1845881303.  You can buy copies of this book on eBay or on

  • More difficult to find as it has long been out of print is "Old Bebington - A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards" by the late Dave Mitchelson.    It was published by S.B. Publications in 1991.  ISBN 1870708733

If the current copyright owners of these books object to their photos being used on this website, please contact us and we will remove them.  However, if they have websites where current versions of the books can be ordered online, please let us have those details as there are many people here who would love to buy these books.


To have your photos and stories posted on this page, please send them to