The Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, UK

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Updated November 2020

The Wirral Peninsula is in the North West of England. It is bounded by the River Dee on the west and the River Mersey on the east. The nearest cities are Liverpool on the other side of the Mersey and Chester to the south.

The peninsula is served by the M53 motorway. West of the M53 are numerous small villages - Irby, Ness and Raby, to name but three - that tend to feature large houses and splendid country pubs. The largest communities here are West Kirby (replete with marina), Heswall and Neston. Perhaps the most intriguing town is Parkgate which is now most famous for its ice-cream shops. In earlier days, before the River Dee silted up, it was a major tourist destination and a thriving port.

The east is a lot more urban, with many major manufacturing complexes, such as Vauxhall Motors at Ellesmere Port and the shipyard of Cammell Laird at Birkenhead.

Birkenhead is the commercial centre of the Wirral. It also contains tourist attractions, such as the Williamson Art Gallery, The U-Boat Story, Birkenhead Priory, and Birkenhead Park1. Port Sunlight is also a town that is worth visiting. It was founded by the Lever Brothers and is the home of the Lady Lever Art Gallery and the Port Sunlight River Park.

Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight

Sport and Leisure

The Wirral is blessed with its own professional football (soccer) team, Tranmere Rovers, who play at the Prenton Park stadium just outside Birkenhead. There are over a dozen golf courses on the Wirral. In 1967 and 2006 the British Open golf tournament took place at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.

The International Guitar Festival, one of Britain's major annual music festivals, has been hosted at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton since 2014.

For those among you who are into walking, the Wirral Coastal Path, which runs along the north of the Peninsula, and the Wirral Way, which runs from Hooton to West Kirby, are recommended.

The Wirral provides a variety of habitats for wildlife. Birdwatchers will find plenty to see around the coast and also at the RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. The New Ferry Butterfly Park is a haven for butterflies and other insects including dragonflies.


The Wirral has a number of claims to fame. The UK's Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was started in 1931 after Muriel Crooke and Rosamond Bond trained the first four dogs at The Cliff in New Brighton. The UK's first passenger hovercraft service ran from Morton on the Wirral to Rhyl in North Wales between July and September in 1962. The Oval sports centre doubled as an Olympic stadium in the film Chariots of Fire (1981). Wirral-born Chris Boardman won a Gold Medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics for cycling. Ray Stubbs was a footballer at Tranmere Rovers in the 1970s, and he became a presenter on various sports programmes, including the BBC's Football Focus (1999-2004).

There are also notable Wirralians outside the field of sport, and many of them feature in the h2g2 Edited Guide. Emma, Lady Hamilton was born in Ness. First World War poet Wilfred Owen was educated at Birkenhead Institute, and there is a memorial to him in Birkenhead Library. Author Roger Lancelyn Green lived in Poulton Hall, which is a stately home situated on land claimed by his ancestors in 1093. BBC Radio DJ John Peel was born in Heswall. Patricia Routledge, well known for her role as Hyacinth Bucket in the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, was born in Tranmere and went to Birkenhead High School before going to The University of Liverpool.

Getting There

Getting to the Wirral is fairly easy by car - drive north from Chester or west through one of the tunnels from Liverpool. The Merseyrail network links the Wirral to Chester and Liverpool by train. The ferries from Liverpool offer another option, either for commuting to work or for a pleasure trip (the Gerry and the Pacemakers song 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' can often be heard on board).

1Birkenhead Park inspired the design of Central Park in New York.

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