Along The Mersey: Book review

Along the MerseyBook publishers, The History Press, kindly sent me a copy of the book Along The Mersey by author Jan Dobrzynski to read and review here on the site.

The 128-page book, one of a series for various locations across the country, features historical photographs of not just the river but also of local towns, along with Liverpool.  that have a strong association with The Mersey. Starting at the source of The Mersey at Stockport in Greater Manchester the book follows the route of the river to the mouth of the estuary at New Brighton, Wirral.

Broken in five sections:

  1. From source to the Runcorn Gap
  2. The Manchester Ship Canal
  3. Ellesmere Port to Birkenhead
  4. Liverpool and Merseyside
  5. Egremont to New Brighton

the author discusses the impact the Mersey has had on various towns and villages whose development has to some extent been driven by the river. Each chapter is generously supported with some great old photographs – for instance there are some great old photos of the long-gone New Brighton Tower.

Along with the photos on every page the author discusses the history behind the old images. At first glance you might think that some of the images aren’t related to the river. For instance, photos of train stations at Birkenhead are included because the electrified train line goes through a tunnel under the river, connecting city-centre Liverpool with Wirral.

Several pages feature the village of Port Sunlight which was created by William Lever to accommodate workers at his soap works factory. Whilst the history of Port Sunlight is fascinating and the village is beautiful the author perhaps could have done a little more to tie-in the village with the river.

The book features some excellent historical photographs of the Runcorn-Widnes bridge, which I feel is a highlight of the book. The Runcorn-Widnes bridge is a significant landmark and as is quite rightly featured. It is not the only road bridge that crosses the river …the Thelwall Viaduct on the M6 also allows cars cross.

As might be expected, the quality of some of the old images isn’t quite as sharp as you’d like, but I know from experience that you can’t expect too much from images that can be over 100 years old.

The book is an enjoyable, easy read. You can order a copy of Along The Mersey directly from The History Press.

Queen Mary 2 In River Mersey

Today the magnificent cruise liner the Queen Mary 2 docked in the River Mersey. I captured a few photos of the huge liner, positioning myself down on Egremont Promenade in Seacombe, Wirral. Despite the windy, cold and grey day there were many onlookers and photographers enjoying the rare view.

The QM2 is one the largest cruise liners ever built and I gather when she was constructed in 2004 she was at that time the largest liner in the world. You can read more about this magnificent liner at the official website – note these facts about her too.

Great to see such a fantastic vessel in the River Mersey!

Who Owns The River Mersey?

It may on the face of it seem to be a strange question but who owns the River Mersey?

A short while ago I found myself on the Crown Estate website and I learnt that The Crown Estate owns and manages extensive marine assets throughout the UK, including 55% of the foreshore and all the seabed out to the 12 nautical miles limit. So that naturally got me thinking about who owned the Mersey!

I contacted the site and a few days later received a reply:

Generally speaking The Crown Estate owns the foreshore and bed on the south west (Birkenhead) side of the tidal sections of the River Mersey, to the centre point of the river.  Much of the north east (Liverpool) side of the tidal section of the river is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.  There are a few exceptions to the above and one or two sales of foreshore, or admitted claims from within these areas.

The Duchy of Lancaster detail what part of the coastline is owned by them on this page, which details:

Part of the ancient inheritance of the Duchy was ownership of all foreshores in the County Palatine. Extensive interests were sold during the nineteenth century, such as the Mersey Docks and Blackpool promenade. The Duchy remains the major owner of foreshore between the centre point of the River Mersey and Barrow-in-Furness. The area extends over 50,000 hectares. Historically, foreshores have not been a great provider of revenue. The coastlines, river beds and estuaries now have greater potential value in association with energy, conservation, transport and leisure uses.

So now you know who owns the River Mersey!

Mersey Palm Oil Plant Go-ahead

Expect to see more tankers in the River Mersey carrying palm oil in the future as the Port of Liverpool will house a new palm oil plant.

London based New Britain Palm Oils has got the go-ahead to build the plant on a six-acre site near Regent Road, Bootle. Initially, 28 jobs will be created, with perhaps more to follow. New Britain will ship the oil from its plantations in Papua, New Guinea, to the Port of Liverpool, from where it will be transported to the new facility.

Palm Oil is used in thousands of everyday food and non-food products including:

  • bread
  • biscuits
  • margarine
  • cosmetic products

U-Boat Surfaces At Woodchurch Ferry

An historic German U-Boat (submarine) is now the centre-piece of a new exhibition at Woodside Ferry Terminal on The Wirral side of the River Mersey.

The U-Boat, number U-534 is only one of four remaining in the world and is now available for viewing at an exhibition at Woodside. A specially built viewing platform along with inserted glass panels and interior illumination allow for a thorough viewing of the vessel. Also on display is one of three T11 Zaukonig advanced homing torpedoes that were found inside the U-Boat.

Also included in the exhibition is an enigma coding machine which was used by the German military to encrypt their wartime messages.

Norfolkline Mersey Schedule Unaffected

Ferry operator Norfolkline is to reduce services across its operations in moves to reduce costs due to the ongoing recession. The company is making  and is withdrawing services from Heysham in Lancashire as well as the North Sea. The operators Merseyside sailings will not be affected and daily sailings from Twelve Quays to Belfast and Dublin will continue as usual. The company revealed last year that plans to invest millions on the routes from Birkenhead had been hit by the downturn, including the recession in Ireland and a huge backdated rates bill.

This week Norfolkline’s owner Maersk said drastic moves were necessary. Ferry division managing director Kell Robdrup said:

Discussions on the impact on staff are ongoing, but unfortunately it looks like it will be impossible to avoid redundancies in connection with this tonnage reshuffle.

The reduction of tonnage on the North Sea and Irish Sea is in line with our current initiatives to optimise our operations and adapting to the market. Through rationalisation of our resources, Norfolkline will remain competitive in the face of a difficult market situation.


Bauhinia In Mersey

bauhinia ship

I was lucky enough to be on a Mersey ferry just as the Bauhinia was being guided out of the River Mersey. As I mentioned the other day she’s the biggest ship seen in the Mersey and she was in the river at the same time as HMS Ark Royal.

Although the ship looks big in the photo, only seeing for real do you appreciate just how big the ship actually is. How much steel went into constructing the ship and moreso how much did it all cost?

Biggest Ship In Mersey Due Today

The BBC reports that the biggest ever ship to enter the Port of Liverpool is due to berth later today.

The Bauhinia, which weighs 158,000 gross tonnes, will berth in Tranmere Oil Terminal at 1500 GMT, carrying a cargo of crude oil from West Africa. The vessel is 8,000 tonnes heavier than previous record holder, the Nisa, which berthed into the River Mersey in 1988. Apparently the ship is not fully loaded because that would make it’s draught too deep for sailing up the Mersey.

Birds On Runcorn Widnes Bridge

The main traffic carrying bridge over the River Mersey is the instantly recognisable Runcorn – Widnes bridge. The bridge is actually called the Silver Jubilee bridge and it was opened in 1961 and widened in 1975-77. The bridge is a grade II listed building.

Anyways, I’ll publish more information about the bridge at a later date …the point of this post is to mention the birds. At this time of the year the bridge can resemble a scene from Hitchock’s The Birds due to the huge numbers of birds that descend upon the bridge. Starlings can be seen at dusk in thousands flying around the bridge and around the mouth of the Mersey. It’s a striking sight provided by Mother Nature and you can enjoy more of it !

On 25th January from 3.30pm there’s a Birds and Bridge talk and walk tour from Pickerings Pasture Nature Reserve. Places are limited so you’d be advised to book – call Rob on (0151) 425 4706 and mention that you read about it her at