Project aims to uncover Birkenhead’s working-class histories

Convenience Gallery is working with Historic England to uncover your stories of the working-class history of Birkenhead.

This project looks to uncover work, social and family life, unearthing the places, memories, and stories of the people who have worked and lived here in Birkenhead and Wirral. 

Working with the local community, the project will undertake research, workshops, share stories and hold a community event to recognise Birkenhead’s working-class history.

The town’s rich heritage includes Lairds Shipyards, Birkenhead Market, Birkenhead Park, The Laird School of Art, Mersey Ferries, Birkenhead Priory, and Tranmere Rovers FC.

The project will ensure that everyone involved has shaped the work to demonstrate a place where ordinary people work and live. 

The community project looks to document the stories, memories, objects, and memorabilia to create a people lead history for Birkenhead’s working-class community across the last 100 years.

Andrew Shaw of Convenience Gallery said, “We have found that there is not an easily accessible history of the area across this time and will be working with local people, organisations and communities to create a starting point for uncovering, documenting and sharing this and championing people’s history.”

Ryan Gauge, also of Convenience Gallery, said, “We have already hosted some small community sessions that have brought together local people to share their moments, memories and stories. We recently worked with the team from Caravan Gallery and local site of creative inspiration Ron’s Place for their Imaginate event at Future Yard.”

Andrew and Ryan asked people to pick a spot on a map of Birkenhead and write a memory or story related to a certain time and place below are some of the stories: 

Martin – Market street. Birkenhead – 1974/1975 

“I was 9 years old at the time, Birkenhead market burning down in 1974. Really upset about this cos me and younger sister + me mum used to always do our shopping there.

“A record shop called Phoenix Records, used to always get my ex jukebox singles for 30 pence. I remember being distraught that the shop had moved + the only place left was selling singles at 60p (double what i could afford).

“Market street was also buzzing at the time with another record shop (ROX) catering to my vinyl obsession even at that young age!!!”

Kirsty – Bidston – 2021 

“My great auntie Pat lived in Bidston and I would ride my bike through the Wirral to visit her.

“She loved family history and called my grandma and ‘pioneer’ because she was one of the first people to get access to “the pill” meaning they were able to limit the number of children they had, she helped other people get it before she died aged 52.

“Pat died during the pandemic- she had a stroke at home and I wasn’t able to see her in hospital.

“She was moved to a nursing home just near her old flat – I want to see her and talked to her about our plans to go back to Central Library to look for more family secrets. I now have her “ban the bomb” ring on my thumb. 

“A rad woman, her ashes are scattered with my nans.”

The Convenience Gallery would love to get as many people from the local community to take part and shape this project and help build a community history uncovering working-class stories from across the last 100 years. 

There are a number of ways that you can get involved: 

  1. Join the “Uncovering the working class history of Birkenhead” group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/workingclasshistoryofbirkenhead
  1. Come to one of the community workshops days at:
    • Birkenhead Park Visitor Centre (CH41 8AU) Date: 26.11.2022 Time: 10am – 4pm
    • The Stork Hotel (CH41 6JN) Date: 01.12.2022 Time: 6:30pm – 9pm
    • Christchurch, Oxton (CH43 5RW) Date: 06.12.2022 Time: 1pm – 3pm
    • Birkenhead Market (CH41 2YH) Date: 10.12.2022  Time: 10am – 3pm
  1. Or send us a email with the title: “Uncovering Birkenhead’s History” to conveniencegallery@outlook.com
  2. Fill out the form on at https://www.conveniencegallery.org/getinvolvedworkingclasshistories 
  3. Look out for our information at various locations across the area. 

If you would like to keep updated with the stories and project developments head over to the Blog on conveniencegallery.org 

The project is a part of Historic England’s Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories, a new grant scheme was launched by Historic England earlier this year to support community-led projects and further the nation’s collective understanding of the past.

Image: Clockwise from top left: The Argyle Theatre, Argyle Street – Hamilton Square Railway Station – Conway Street – Birkenhead Market

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