Shops and cafe’s efforts to maintain Wallasey Village’s unique atmosphere amidst changing times

Shops and cafes along Wallasey Village said they’re trying to preserve its “happy atmosphere.”

Wallasey used to be a village separated by countryside from Liscard, Poulton, and New Brighton for hundreds of years. It was even mentioned in the Domesday Book as having seven households in 1086.

The early 20th century saw a massive urban expansion that saw what once was a village now become part of the town of Wallasey with over 60,000 residents.

In recent years, the high street has seen a decline like other town centres – losing its fishmongers, bakery, and greengrocers. Historic attractions such as the Derby Pool and a cinema are also gone.

The village’s post office returned in 2021 but the high street is now largely dominated by takeaways, hair salons, and barbers. Those that are left said rising costs of electric and gas bills is adding further pressure but things were getting better.

In recent months, there have been calls by local Wallasey councillors to see funding spent outside of Birkenhead in the wider Wallasey area and the council’s draft Local Plan will also outline developments and infrastructure across the Wirral over the next two decades.

Wallasey Village near St Johns And Leasowe Road in 1970. Credit: Richard Jackson Permission to use by LDRS partners

Amie Jones (pictured, main image), who runs Fleur Ashley Tearooms said, “The street has changed simply because the shops have changed. What people miss here is our small community shops because obviously it’s the bigger chains that tend to take off.

“We try to make it personal. During Covid we still made sure that people were still getting food. You can go to the supermarket all the time but you don’t want to go to the supermarket all the time. It’s a personal touch, that’s what’s missing.”

It’s this which she feels is important about keeping local businesses in an area, adding: “They watched children grow up, it wasn’t just a shop, it was a community. Small shops are a community.”

Amie said, “I do think the village is much better than it was many years ago but it is trying to think of things to keep people in the area. We did do a Christmas fair and I do think we need things like that to make people aware that we are here.

“A lot of the town’s business relies on the weather. What happens here is we tend to be too far from New Brighton but too close so when we get the sunshine, everyone tends to congregate down the front but then we get more customers when we have more rain.”

Claremount Road in 1895 and what is now a built up urban area. Credit: Richard Jackson Permission to use by LDRS partners

Despite being well connected with two Merseyrail stations, Richard Jackson thinks bus transport needs to be improved. He said, “Good transport links are an absolute must. If you could get to Liscard from Grove Road in 10 minutes, people would use it and they would come into Wallasey Village.”

Richard has set up a gallery near the Lighthouse Pub, recently showcasing historical photographs of what the town used to look like. He said: “What is here that would attract people? I think that this is the question that needs to be asked. What isn’t here that would attract people?

“You need to evidence people’s wants, not their needs. There’s a huge difference. People want a permanent display of old pictures of Wallasey but you can’t do that permanently.

“People will get sick of it, people don’t buy anything and they say I cannot afford to do it anymore. Do people want a restaurant? Do they want little bars not pubs? Do they want coffee shops? Do they want more culture?”

Alison Clough, who volunteers at Community SOUL, said “There seems to be a happy atmosphere.” Credit: Edward Barnes

At the other end of the high street is Community SOUL, a community collective project that started up eight years ago. Manager Karen Eaton said, “We were one of the first cafe shops here when Community SOUL opened and now you can see the high street has changed. Some cafes, shops, independents and the Subway but I would like to see more variety.

Comparing it to Woolton Village, she said, “There isn’t that much in terms of shopping experience. What I would like to see is a greengrocer, a bakery or a deli. Listening to our customers they would quite like some independents to get some bits and bobs.

“I think it’s a nice community around here. Everyone is really friendly. If you do not know each other’s names, you know each other’s faces. We do try to bring the village together and make it more of a village. It’s different, like there is more community here than there has been for many years.”

Alison Clough, who volunteers at the cafe and has lived in Wallasey since she was 5, pointed to things like Christmas lights and Wallasey in Bloom volunteers for helping to revive the street, adding, “We are fortunate because we have beautiful flowers. There seems to be a happy atmosphere.”

Wallasey Village with the Farmers Arms on the right in 1961. Credit: Richard Jackson Permission to use by LDRS partners

One business bringing in a younger crowd is Stollies. Opposite the roundabout at the end of Leasowe Road, it’s seen huge success in recent years even opening up a second branch in Liscard.

Jake Bailey first opened it with Nick Bowerman seven years ago. He said, “We were set up to be a deli but the deli didn’t last very long. We found people wanted to just come in here and have a meal so it became a bit of a no brainer.”

Now they have around 100 people a day and are full twice a week. Jake said part of this was not staying the same. He said, “You just get more and more people as the time has gone on but we do not like to stand still. Instead of doing your standard breakfast and just doing that, we cater for everyone.

“The main thing is they get the homely atmosphere and the vibe, people love that. A lot more people have come in since Covid, our numbers have doubled since and a lot more younger people are coming in these days. 13 or 14 year olds, it seems the latest thing do to really.”

Carole Bryson from Balloonique said: “It is such an ideal place to live. The concentrations and the transport, the buses and the trains here are amazing. We are so close to the motorway. Five minutes and you are on the beach but five minutes you are also in the countryside, head to Moreton and you are there.

“There are a lot of pros and cons but I think the pros far outweigh the cons.”

Main image: Amie Jones who owns Fleur Ashley tearooms in Wallasey Village. Credit: Edward Barnes

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Wallasey Village with the old Lighthouse pub in 1963. Credit: Richard Jackson Permission to use by LDRS partners
Wallasey Village with the Farmers Arms on the right in 1961. Credit: Richard Jackson Permission to use by LDRS partners
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