Port Sunlight is one of those places I had always wanted to see, but never got round to. So it was a pleasure to start my walk here. There is also a railway station so that was a bonus. It has 900 grade II listed buildings, but surprisingly is not yet a World Heritage Site. William Lever built it to house his employees at his local soap factory, and it was an earl,y if paternalistic attempt at profit sharing:
“It would not do you much good if you send it down your throats in the form of bottles of whisky, bags of sweets, or fat geese at Christmas. On the other hand, if you leave the money with me, I shall use it to provide for you everything that makes life pleasant – nice houses, comfortable homes, and healthy recreation.”
It’s a lovely place and I keep intending to return.
Then down to the river, and Liverpool across the estuary with the two Cathedrals.
My disappointment at not being able to walk the Ship Canal was tempered by the Mersey, which has transformed from a polluted cesspit to a glorious river once more in my lifetime. I can see why people swim in it, although I am still not convinced.
Today was the day Theresa May announced her ill fated election, but also the first time I had been to Birkenhead proper. I once came as a young accountant to do a stocktake up a vat containing thousands gallons of animal feed, but didnt stop. Birkenhead’s buildings didn’t disappoint me either.
Hamilton Square in the centre is astonishing and posesses the second greatest number of Grade I listed buildings in the UK, after Trafalgar Square. Incredibly in 1801 Birkenhead was still a village with a population of only 101. William Laird started his shipbuilding company here, and commissioned Gillespie Graham, an Scottish architect to build the square to mirror the styles of Edinburgh in 1825. Laird named it after his wife Mary Hamilton. It was intended to be a much bigger project to build a new town to rival Liverpool, dominating that bank of the river and visible from Liverpool, unfortunately funds ran out, and the square is the only part that got built, the Town Hall being constructed 60 years later.
I walked on through the town and past the Mersey Tunnel building.
Then through the docks, which like all watersides are starting to be redeveloped.
After Birkenhead it was a very pleasant walk down along the riverbank via Wallesey. The afternoon was sunny and the path was wide, metalled and full of walkers and cyclists enjoying the views. I think on reflection this part of the walk is my favourite to date (June 2019) and it is incredible to think that such a rich architectural-estuvial feast is available so near to home.
Along the river wall are plaques commemorating ships lost during World War II.
And then finally New Brighton, and a reminder that the Beatles played this side of the Mersey as well. Imagine, New Brighton too had a Tower alongside Blackpool (and Morecambe)
Although the Tower here burned down in the 1970s. New Brighton was also bustling in the spring sunshine.
And to signify I have walked to the end of the Mersey once more, I signed the sand with my boot (a bootie?), whilst Liverpool looked on.
14 miles today, thoroughly enjoyable and must do again.