A new entrance to The Wirral Way was unveiled on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Wirral Country Park.
Fittingly, the Guest of Honour at the ceremony in West Kirby was Terry Robinson, who was appointed in 1969 as one of the first Wirral Country Park Rangers and who was present at the park’s official opening in 1973.
The gateway features a steam train, to recognise the railway line that once ran between Hooton and West Kirby. The 12-mile railway line, which closed in 1962, now forms the backbone of the park and is used by over half a million people each year.
The project also saw grass banks reprofiled, extensive resurfacing work and a white picket fence installed.
The eye-catching design for the gateway was sketched by Wirral Country Park Manager Jo Hanik and local artist John White and was brought to life by local woodworker Steve Casey using sustainably sourced west African hardwood. The project was carried out in partnership with local groups West Kirby Rotary Club and One West Kirby.
The date of Sunday’s opening, 22 October, was significant as the original ‘Proposed Scheme for Wirral Way’ was presented to The Coastal Preservation Sub-Committee of the Cheshire County Planning Committee on 22 October 1966. It was this report that led to the final scheme being adopted in 1968.
The completion of the entrance is the latest set of improvements to mark the park’s landmark anniversary. Several kilometres of the Wirral Way have been widened and resurfaced to accommodate the increase in visitors and to improve wildlife diversity, the overflow car park at Thurstaston has been resurfaced and there have been numerous improvements to the Visitor Centre and surrounding areas, including the widening of the cliff-top path.
This year has also seen a busy programme of events, including photography and wildflower exhibitions and August’s popular Imagine Bamboo is Everywhere event.
Earlier this month Cheshire West and Chester Council marked the park’s 50th anniversary by unveiling a short-eared owl sculpture in Parkgate. Cheshire West and Chester Council manage six miles of Wirral Country Park from Gayton to Hooton.
Image: Wirral Council