Birkenhead Park could become UNESCO World Heritage site

The idea of Birkenhead Park becoming Wirral’s first World Heritage site is now firmly on UNESCO’s radar.

The UK government recently formally submitted a further five sites to be considered for inclusion on the World Heritage List to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters and it is now official, having been published on UNESCO’s website

Birkenhead Park is one of seven sites now on the UK’s ‘tentative list’, which is only published around every 10 years and only contains places that the government believes have the best chance of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Only 33 UK sites currently have World Heritage status, which include the likes of Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall, so making the tentative list is already an acknowledgement of Birkenhead Park’s significance as a pioneer of urban, public parks and the blueprint for other areas to follow, including – most famously – as the inspiration for New York City’s Central Park.

Indeed, it was Central Park’s designer and architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who on his first visit to Birkenhead Park in 1850 observed, “all this magnificent pleasure-ground is entirely, unreservedly, and for ever the people’s own… in democratic America, there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden.”

Achieving UNESCO World Heritage status may still be some years away yet, but the hard work is already underway to make sure the best possible case is made for it.

And one thing is certain – just as Joseph Paxton did in planning and designing the park in the 1840s – Birkenhead Park will once again need to draw upon on the power of the people as an inspiration to support and drive this ambition forward and make it happen.

As this video shot over all four seasons of the year shows, the concept of Birkenhead Park as ‘the people’s park’ is still very much alive and as true today as it was when it officially opened in 1847.


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