Wirral’s independent local news website, birkenhead.news has celebrated turning one year old this month.
The very first article was published on 24 October 2020 and was a short piece about the team at Flaybrick Memorial Gardens receiving a Green Flag award for their efforts in keeping it a tidy, well maintained, safe and enjoyable place to visit.
From day one, birkenhead.news has kept Wirral residents up to date with the latest news from across the Wirral Peninsula, covering such subjects as Arts and Entertainment, Community News, Environment, Local Democracy, Business News, Emergency Services, and Sport.
From humble beginnings, birkenhead.news has grown and grown. What started as a small idea has taken on a life of its own and developed into a website that people turn to and trust when they need information or news relating to the Wirral area.
Now, not only offering a broad range of subject matter for local news stories, birkenhead.news has also introduced a ‘Family Announcements’ section, a ‘Public Notices’ section and more recently a comprehensive ‘What’s On?‘ guide if you’re at a loose end.
Also, birkenhead.news has just this month introduced a regional news section, covering stories from the broader Liverpool City Region and Chester.
We want to tell your community stories!
birkenhead.news has developed a fantastic record for shouting about the great work that happens in our communities and neighbourhoods from litter picking groups, charities, Community Interest Companies (CIC), fundraisers, community hubs and sports programmes and much, much more.
If you are involved in any community groups or activities, please get in touch to tell us your story via [email protected]
These are some of our favourite stories from the last 12 months:
An Oxton girl has had her hair cut short for a second time to raise funds for The Green Community Shop & Centre on Christchurch Road in Oxton and has raised £900 so far.
Aleesa has raised nearly £900 through her GoFundMe page and in cash donations. She first had a serious chop a few years ago and decided to go through it again to raise more money for charity. She has been a young carer for her mum since she was seven.
Aleesa said, “I’ve loved the Green Community Shop for years and have been a regular there since I was two. They’ve done a lot for us and our community and have been a huge support with Mum being so ill. I can’t bear to see it go so thought of what I could do to raise money to keep them open. I’d done it before and raised over £1,000 so went even shorter to hopefully raise more!”
Starting a new business can be a daunting prospect at the best of times. But during a pandemic? birkenhead.news spoke to four Wirral business owners who have done just this and we get to grips with the ups and downs of business life during these testing times.
Emily Gleaves is not new to owning and operating her own business, but she took the bold step of rebranding and expanding her business just before the first national lockdown came into force. birkenhead.news asked her what problems she encountered due to the lockdown as she was about to launch “Waste Not Want Not“, on Market Street in Birkenhead, earlier this year.
“There’s no such thing as a problem.”, she said. “This is determined by how you look at things. I don’t really plan, I take things as they come, everything works out amazingly well if you don’t stress!
Festive magic was in the air last night as Father Christmas visited Bidston Rise and the North End. The Core Project based in Clover Drive, Birkenhead, managed to arrange for the real Santa to come and deliver presents to the local kids.
The kids had obviously got some insider information, as when birkenhead.news arrived, they were excitedly standing by their front gates waiting for the big man in red to come. One little girl told our reporter that she’d been very good all year and was looking forward to seeing Santa.
As an adult, you lose the innocent fairytale appeal of Christmas that was present when you were a youngster. It was a joy to see just how happy and excited the kids were when Santa walked down their street and how polite and thankful they were when they received their presents.
“THE FUTURE IS BIRKENHEAD”, shouted loud and proud in 5 feet tall neon pink letters on the front of the former Rocky’s nightclub building in Argyle Street was enough to pique my interest.
I mean, apart from the to-be-expected downbeat response from the usual crowd of miserable naysayers and doom-merchants, wouldn’t it raise an eyebrow of even the most optimistic of Birkenhead denizens?
birkenhead.news decided to find out more about Future Yard, the venue behind the neon pink mural.
Spike is no ordinary reptile! He surely has a superstar modelling career ahead of him, judging by these photos of him taken at landmarks around Wirral.
Kirsty Garbutt is from Whitehaven originally but moved to Wirral when she was little and now lives in Birkenhead with a veritable menagerie: a dog, a hamster, giant African land snails, a burrowing scorpion, a royal python, a leopard gecko and 2 crested geckos as well as Spike the bearded dragon!
birkenhead.news spoke to Kirsty about Spike and his travels around Wirral, from West Kirby to Wallasey and from Birkenhead to New Brighton.
To celebrate International Women’s Day today, Wirral Council is spotlighting the fantastic sporting achievements of Lottie Dod, the five-times Wimbledon winner who was born and lived in Bebington, and whose achievements have recently been commemorated with a prestigious blue plaque.
Lottie Dod (1871 – 1960) was best known as a tennis player though she excelled in many other sports, including golf, hockey and archery.
She started playing tennis at age 11 and won the Wimbledon Championships for the first time when she was only fifteen, in the summer of 1887. Defeating the defending champion Blanche Bingley 6-2, 6-0, Dod remains the youngest player to win the women’s singles tournament.
“Sometimes the weather can fool you – ‘Oh we’ll go for a day out’ – and then a really heavy thunderstorm comes out of nowhere in the space of 15 minutes, but that’s just Bank Holidays in England, isn’t it!”, Rob Bremner recalls of his time spent photographing people in New Brighton with fellow photographers Tom Wood and Martin Parr.
Rob Bremner is a British social and documentary photographer born in Wick, a small village in the North of Scotland and in the 1980s He studied photography at Central Park College of Art in Wallasey.
It was whilst studying in Wallasey that Rob became acquainted with celebrated photographers Tom Wood (Looking for Love ) and Martin Parr (The Last Resort ). He would spend his time with Tom and Martin taking photographs around New Brighton.
In late 2019, Dawn Reck started to get ready to move into Vale House in Vale Park, New Brighton to set up Mersey Arts Zone (MAZ). A date for March 2020 was set to move in and she began networking with art venues and projects on both sides of the river. “I wanted MAZ to be a creative space for exhibitions, events and affordable artwork. It’s for artists, local creatives, musicians and makers to meet up in MAZ and enjoy the space.”, she told us.
However, when March 2020 arrived, everything changed. “The creative sector was closed down, and MAZ could not be opened as planned. “It’s been uncertain times for everyone.”, she says ruefully.
However, the venue opened for the first time this May Bank Holiday weekend. “I’ve been trying to open since 2019 and it’s been delayed. But now we’ve finally done it and we’ve opened.”, Dawn said. “It’s exciting now! It’s been a long journey, it’s been difficult, but it’s great that we’ve finally opened!
The Great British Spring Clean took place between 28 May and 13 June. Organised by Keep Britain Tidy, the event encouraged “individuals, schools, councils, local groups and businesses … to help keep local communities clean, green and litter-free.”
One of Wirral’s local litter-picking groups, Wirral Wombles took part, with organised group litter picks taking place in Ford Hill, Noctorum/Beechwood, around the Leasowe lighthouse area, Gilroy Road Nature Park in West Kirby and Boundary Road heading towards Upton Village Road. One group also took park by clearing litter between Seacombe Ferry and Woodside at Birkenhead.
Also, many people went out litter-picking in smaller groups or as individuals all over the borough. Andrea Cutts who, along with her sister, Lindsey Whitley, started the Wirral Wombles group said, “A quick tot up of the stats reported by Wirral Wombles for the Great British Spring Clean last week is 186 bin bags of litter collected, weighing 557 kgs. From 17 January 2021 when we set up, to the end of May, the totals were 4782 bags, 17,380 kgs!”
On a hot and sunny Sunday morning at New Brighton Model Boating Lake, Clint Nicholls proudly launched his replica scale model of the Overchurch ferry boat that he had spent 9 months making.
The sea trials went well and the Overchurch majestically made its maiden voyage from one side of the lake to the other. And then, clearly enjoying himself, with the remote control in his hands, Clint guided the boat around the lake for a few laps. And then a few more, just for good luck!
birkenhead.news splashed on the sunscreen and spoke to Clint about his model making hobby on the morning of the launch, Sunday 18 July. “I started doing modelling when I was 10 years old because my brother used to do it. He built aircraft and I was forever watching them crash and get smashed when he flew them!”, he explained.
Step back in time to the first half of the 20th century and had you have visited Woodchurch, you would have seen a small hamlet of a dozen or so buildings set in rolling open fields centred on Holy Cross Church.
In 1926, the Birkenhead Corporation purchased the land, but it wasn’t until 1944 that Sir Charles Herbert Reilly laid out his plans for the new housing estate with ‘arts and crafts’ style housing. Whilst much of Reilly’s influence can be seen in the final plan, it was his student H. J. Rowse who saw his plans come to fruition. Construction of the estate commenced in 1946, with the first house being officially opened on 6 May 1949.
Now, fast-forward to 2021 and should Reilly and Rowse see the estate today, it would be instantly recognisable to them. The broad avenues with plenty of green space were a great advancement on living cheek-by-jowl in cramped Victorian terraces and these green spaces and cottage-style properties are still as they would have appeared in the 1950s.
What’s the buzz? I’ll tell you what’s a-happening: HAWK’s long-awaited, Covid-postponed production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight, that’s what. But is it worth waiting for?
I should say so. Not only did it give Jesus (Jack Parry) enough time to grow his hair to Biblical proportions, and not only is there a simple joy in hearing music raw and live again, but, for an amateur cast who had to rehearse principally on Zoom, it’s beltingly good.
Of course, it’s hard to go wrong when the lyrics and tunes are as fabulous as any Rice/Lloyd Webber collaboration but the pitfall of an entirely sung rock opera is that there’s no dialogue to drive the narrative: the vocals have to be proficient enough to keep the audience in thrall. The Hoylake and West Kirby Theatre Group manage to pull this off.
The last remaining Dock Gateman’s Hut on Tower Road at Wirral Waters has been awarded Listed Building Status. It was built around 1866 and is thought to have been designed by John Bernard Hartley, the son of the famous dock engineer Jesse Hartley.
The dock gateman’s hut at the Wallasey end of Tower Road falls within the bounds of the Wirral Waters regeneration project. As part of the plans for the East Float, it is proposed to retain the building and convert it for use as a cafe.
The editor of birkenhead.news applied to Historic England for the important building to be granted listed status earlier this year. It is one of a few remaining Victorian industrial buildings in the Birkenhead dock estate, and that it was likely designed by John Bernard Hartley, son of the famous Jesse Hartley, designer of much of the Liverpool Docks, including the Royal Albert Dock.
Main image credit: Isabella and Zsa Fischer