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regular visitors may notice images missing, these are now on their own pages linked above 

Grayson, Rollo & Clover Shipyard

November 2011: I have had an interesting email from Maureen who tells me about one of her ancestors:

David Archibald was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in 1870. During the South African War (1899-1902), he served as 3294 Private David Archibald, Manchester Regiment. During that campaign he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which was listed in the London Gazette on 27th September, 1901. Private Archibald had also been mentioned in despatches five times.  He was married, and lived with his wife, Letitia A. Archibald, at 26, Park Street, Birkenhead. On 10th August, 1914, he re-enlisted into the army, joining the Cheshire Regiment, and was posted to 2nd Battalion. At the time David Archibald had re-enlisted, the 2nd Cheshires were still serving in Jubbulpore, India. The battalion returned from India, and landed at Devonport, on 24th December, 1914.

On 17th January, 1915, they were landed at Havre, France, but for some unknown reason Acting Sergeant Archibald didn't join the battalion in France until 9th September, 1915. He died of wounds a little over three weeks later, on 3rd October, 1915, aged 45. The 2nd Cheshires had been in action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt at the time of A/Sgt Archibald's wounding. His widow received a number of letters from some of her husbands comrades. One of which was written by Prvate J.McNally, 2nd Bn. Cheshire Regiment :

 "Just a line in answer to your letter in which you ask for further particular regarding the death of your husband. Our company were in the act of relieving another company of a different regiment, when two Sergants were killed, with the result that your husband was left in command of the platoon. just after we had got into the trench, which was more like a ditch than a trench, the Germans bombarded with bomb's etc., and it was during this that your husband got his death blow. He was standing up to see if the Germans were coming towards us, when a bomb hit him. While lying on the bottom of the trench, and before the stretcher bearers could move him, he got hit with another one which mortally wounded him. However, he did not die until a few hours afterwards, during which time he was quite conscious and kept on telling his men to keep a good look out for bombs and trench mortars. I could not tell you exactly how long he lived, because the enemy kept us too much occupied, but I do know that practically his last words, if not his last, were to someone in my company to let his wife know of his death."

 A/Sgt. Archibald's body was never recovered and identified from the battlefield, and is therefore commemorated by name only on Panel's 49-50, The Loos Memorial, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have him listed as Daniel Archibald. He may have enlisted under his false name "Dan Maloney" to avoid being detected as possibly being too old.

Hello Mike, The Argyle is now part of Beatties car park, the ABC Cinema (previously the Savoy, now snooker rooms) was on the other side of the road, I always thought it was a shame the Argyle never re-opened, It had such a history, it must have survived as a bombed out shell for at least 20 Years, BSM driving school had offices in the building until the 60s if not the 70s, I found your website while searching for info on the Argyle St baths, which as far as I know was not a swimming baths but a slipper baths for washing only, but I could be wrong, Regards John Oliver (Upton, Wirral, UK). (BSM was later situated at Woodside Ferry in the office block between the railway station and the ferry - mk.)

I picked up a copy of ”Yesterday’s Wirral” which I hadn’t looked at for years, after a few pages I came across a photo of a Mayday Procession walking down Argyle St South past The Baths (1906), which is described as opened in 1882 containing Vapour Baths, Slipper and Shower Baths as well as a Swimming Pool, QED. Ah well, It’s now a car tyre/exhaust dealer on the corner opposite Central Station. Regards John Oliver

Thank you for your web site which brought back fond memories. I emigrated to the United States in 1964 after being at sea for 10 years so my last real memories of Wirral date from the mid '50s.  I lived on Highfield Road two houses up from Rock Ferry Station and spent many hours at the Byrne Ave Baths which became my second home in that I swam for Birkenhead and Rock Ferry High School. We used to get out from the swim club at 9 or 10 in the evening and went "scrumping" (thieving) apples from the fruit trees behind the houses around the park.  I guess the statute of limitations has expired so I can fess up. I am now retired and spend time between Jupiter, Florida in the winter and Quemado, New Mexico in the summer. Thanks again for the site and memories. Norman Powell Oct 04

February 2009: A Request for help from David King:
I am looking for any information about the Grayson, Rollo & Clover ship repair yard in which I served my apprenticeship from 1953 onwards. The yard was at Woodside along side the ferry and the railway station. It had 6 dry docks when I worked there, these have given way to a modern block of flats. I am now aged 72 and I would like to try put my memories and recollection down along side factual details. I have placed request for information on various forums, Birkenhead Archives and the Maritime Museum, but up now without any success. Can you help? Regards David King. Grayson, Rollo & Glover is the yards name.

David had loads of replies from but if anyone has any images of the yard, I would appreciate them. He added: One of the replies to your message is interesting (from the crane driver), I never knew that Lairds eventually acquired Grayson's. Our yard was separated from Lairds by Monks Ferry, that was used as a coaling berth for the many coasters that used the river. From the No 6 dock at Grayson's we could stand and watch the launch of ships from Lairds and their departure on completion.  When Lairds completed a big job their surplus trades men where sometimes taken on by Grayson's, if we had the work. As I lad I was amazed that on ships like the Ark Royal, some trades men actually served the majority of their apprenticeship just working in one compartment on board. Life was different in our yard, I moved about all over the place. Looking back I can't think of a better place to serve an apprenticeship. Image inserted below ...

Aug 2015: Jim wants to know info on this:  I am currently doing some research for a small project. I am looking for information regarding Goodwin Avenue, Merseyside, Birkenhead. The avenue in question may have been renamed or partially demolished in recent - but any local information about this avenue would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks, James.

email Jim: jjlotr -at Replace -at- with @ to use his email.

DIDO-Class cruiser Charybdis ordered from Cammell Laird at Birkenhead on 28th August 1938 under the 1938 Build Programme. The ship was laid down on 9th November 1938 and launched on 17th September 1940 as the fifth RN warship to carry this name, dating from 1809. It had last been used by a cruiser sold in 1922. Her completion was delayed until 3rd December 1941 due to the higher priority given to delivery of Escort Destroyers after the heavy losses of this type of warship during 1940. A reduced armament of four twin 4.5in guns was fitted in this cruiser and her sister ship HMS SCYLLA instead of the designed five twin 5.25in mountings. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign during March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Birkenhead, Cheshire now in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Merseyside. Of course many many warships were built in Birkenhead before during and after WW2, such as a ship close to my heart. HMS KITE

The History Press, author Daniel K. Longman and photographer Barney Finlayson

Bhead Transport Van Image: Terry O'Shea

Sketch of the former bank building on Charing Cross

Argyle Street

I believe that this shop was attacked by a mob, note smashed windows, in the mistaken belief that it was a shop owned by a German; this image would be 1914. An example of public hysteria!

Birkenhead Severn Street bomb damage

Birkenhead Park Entrance

  Canning St Signal Box
Formerly Clatterbridge Maternity Section
Area of Bhead around Lairds Duke Street

The view from Bidston Avenue in 1890

Hydraulic Tower 4 Bridges 1910


Essoldo when The Ritz

The Essoldo, the car is a Ford Classic

Exmouth Street

Exmouth Street

Exmouth Street

Exmouth Street

Grange Road

Grange Road

Grange Road

Birkenhead North End 1900's

Oxton Road 1960s

Bhead Police 1870 (These were also firemen)

Rodney Street 1984

Roman Road Prenton

Rolling Stones visit two young fans at Clatterbridge Hospital

Bhead's first turntable fire engine

West Float 1973 (see also Docklands)

Angel Inn

Duke St Bridge 1964

Childrens outing 1970's

Lowther Street

Bhead Market poss taken when first opened

As I remember it - 1967

Sat night at The Market

Birkenhead General 1950s

Clifton Crescent 1960s

Tannery Chester Road

Veg Market

Email July 2014: I was looking through your site and it certainly brought back many, many memories. I left Birkenhead in the mid-60’s for Canada, where I still live. I was born at home in Park Street (between Conway Street and The Market) in the late 40’s. pretty well all gone now. Our house was on the entry directly next to St. Lawrence Catholic School and opposite Alldises...who had a grave monument business on the corner of Park Street and Conway Street, also gone now.In 1953, we moved to Ash Rd. just above  Borough Rd. and Balls Rd. I went to school at Christchurch C of E, moving from Trinity Street opposite Birkenhead Park.We are certainly lucky that someone like you has taken the time to collate all this archival material.As boy I wandered all over Birkenhead from the Docks up to Arrowe Park and The Arno. We loved going to Bidston Hill, New Brighton and Moreton Shore. Many of these places I have found through Internet scans, but have not found anything on the Flat Lanes. (now a well established housing development). As a kid we would go down there to look for “taddies”..tadpoles.. in the River Fender. I would be really grateful if you could direct me to other sites of old Birkenhead, but anything showing The Flat Lanes would be a treat. It was near The Arno, but across from The Caernavon Pub. They also had a seasonal Fair there which was also a rare treat. Birkenhead, Mersey  and Victoria Parks were all regular hang outs for me and my old mates, Joey Brown, Dave Powell, Ronnie Drury, Elmore Davies, Dave Llewellyn, John Goater. John and  Elmore I am still in contact with, the others not so lucky.These  friends I visited recently after a 30yr. absence. In some ways things have changed little. In others, mainly the lack of jobs and predictable crime it’s a massive difference from my innocent days growing up there.My dad, Buddy Martin worked as a welder at Cammell Lairds and worked on the Ark Royal. He also was a boxer’s manager who knew Pat MacAteer, Wally Thom, Joe Bygraves , Randy and Dick Turpin and other notable boxers of the day. Anyway Mike, I hope this gets to you. and I do thank you for stirring up so may fond memories. Paul Martin

Written by Tony Franks-Buckley (italics)

In the 1904/5 Report it referred to the previous cold winter and stated that almost before daylight little ones would make their way to the Mission to ask for something to eat before going to school, while others a little bolder would ask for a loaf to take home to mother, a request which was never refused. It was not only the children but also poor old men and women also would come and ask for just a drink of tea and a little bread. One poor old paralysed man in particular was so helpless that he had to be fed like a child.

The children were not fed alone - they were clothed also, only that the clothes were given to those in the greatest need. Looking at the children who visited the hall, some of the children would have been well dressed whilst others would have been attired in motley garb and it would have been natural to assume that the poorest children were amongst the ill-clad section but that was not the case. The poorest children were usually the best attired because their clothing would have been given to them by Mr Thompson in consequence of their old garments refusing to hang together any longer. People would sometimes make a comment that pressure should have been put on the children's parents to properly feed and clothe their children, but the truth of the matter was that their parents were often in as pitiable plight as their children.

They were either ill or out of work, poverty staring them in the face. There would be an empty cupboard and a fireless grate; the house would be nearly devoid of furniture, all available articles having been disposed of to the broker, and there would also be a daily or hourly anticipation of a visit from the landlord or bailiffs for arrears of rent. As long as Mr Thompson had a loaf of bread in the cupboard he never turned a deaf ear to an appeal for food made by the young or old. TFB.
Special Occasions at the Charles Thompson Mission (right)

Christmas Day and New Year's Day were also occasions when a special meal was provided for the children. One year on New Year's Day 150 of the poorest children had a treat of a roast beef dinner and plum pudding thanks to the Charles Dickens Fellowship.

On Christmas Day over 500 children, together with a number of poor women and unemployed men were provided with a good dinner of Hot-pot etc. There would be Christmas trees, which was especially appealing the little ones who never tired of looking at them and what was on them. One year, on the platform in front of the trees were arranged three large loaves weighing about 20lbs and stamped on the bread were the words "For Jesus' Sake," which had been given anonymously.

For the girls on Christmas Day little dolls were given, these having been made from flour sacks, filled with sawdust and dressed in clothes from ladies groups.

see also:

But for many people like Charles Thompson, Victorian England never did anything to help these poor people. It was a class society that was only for have's and not have not's. Little wonder that it was the breeding place for present day socialism which has also become the 'haves' and lost its way. See also workhouse. It would be nice to go back in time and, anonymously, help these children. Who amongst us, would not be here today, if they had not been helped back then?

Image right: Mission day out to New Brighton

An important part of Birkenhead life in those days was the Charles Thompson May Queen Festival held each year. The Queen was always selected from amongst the best-conducted girls of the Mission. When the weather was fine the people in Birkenhead turned out in their thousands to witness the 'Royal Section' of the procession. All along the line of the route, spectators would wait patiently for hours to get a glimpse of the May Queen. The procession was generally headed by the band of the 'Indefatigable,' the band being carried in a wagonette drawn by three beautiful grey or white horses. The Queen, attired in white satin was seated on a throne, surrounded by her bodyguard consisting of poor little boys and girls. Dainty little ladies-in-waiting were also in attendance on the Queen, dressed in their many-coloured garments. After passing the Town Hall they would return to the Mission Hall for the crowning ceremony which was usually carried out by a well-known lady or gentleman, usually the Mayoress, with the Mayor presiding. During the following week the Queen, attended by her retinue, would generally pay a visit to the Hospital and the Workhouse.

Speaking about the may Queen Festival in 1894, Councillor John Edwards made the remark that amongst the little boys and girls attending Charles Thompson's Mission there may be a future Mayor or Mayoress of Birkenhead. It was certainly the case though that many of these girls did very well in later life and became very respectable and accomplished women.
Children without footwear

In the 1904/5 Report the Lady Superintendent, Charles' daughter Annie Thompson stated that during the previous cold winter that it had been distressing to see so many children coming to the Mission in their bare feet. They did the best that they could at the Mission by providing things like sawdust, in order to make the dining-room nice and warm, for any little bare feet. However one poor girl in particular, the eldest of a large family, was sobbing dreadfully one night, because it was the first time she had been without shoes and stockings, and found it difficult to cope with. When a kind friend heard of her trouble she bought her both new boots and stockings. Because of this great need Annie decided to make a very strong appeal for old boots and shoes, and there was a good response to the appeal, including the young scholars of St Michael's Higher Grade School who brought parcel after parcel of useful clothing to make warm the crowds of little destitute ones.
Ghosts of Poulton Hall

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who lived nearby in Rock Ferry when he was American consul, recorded a legend connected with Poulton Hall concerning ‘an attic chamber, with a skylight, called the “martyr’s chamber,” from having in olden times been tenanted by a lady who was imprisoned there, and persecuted to death for religion…’ There was also a locked room in the hall that remained unopened for half a century. One of the Greene family shot himself while in the room, and his ghost was said to haunt it. When it was reopened in 1910, a panelled room was discovered, with a library of four thousand books collected by Reverend Thomas Greene, Rector of Woodchurch in the early eighteenth century. Another legend associated with Poulton Hall is that of the phantom hitchhiker, or ghostly nun, who haunts the bridge across the Dibbin on the road from Bromborough to Spital, and other roads in the vicinity. In 1970, a woman on her way back from Clatterbridge Hospital saw a girl waiting for a lift by the side of the road, but as the woman approached, the girl vanished. In the same year she was seen again by a motorist. Later, a man driving along Poulton Road stopped to offer a lift to a woman in a long dark coat, but as he opened his door she vanished. It is said to be the ghost of a girl who left Poulton Hall to go to a nunnery. As she crossed the bridge she was attacked by a man who raped her and then murdered her before flinging her body into the stream below. An alternative version of the story says that the nun was walking from Birkenhead Priory to St. Werburgh’s Abbey in Chester when she spent the night in a manor house near the bridge. The lord of the manor is said to have starved her to death because she refused his advances. In yet another version he beheaded her, and in some stories the ghost is a headless nun.

Story and image (left) from Tony Franks-Buckley of: 

In August 2016 I was sent a series of images, probably never before seen, of Birkenhead and a couple of Bidston (on the Bidston pages). They are the property of Alan Perry, a cousin of fellow contributor, Bill Hislop. Here are the Birkenhead images. All these taken by a Mr RM Morris. These are family photographs.
As they are not mine, I have marked each image. I have the original sepia large sized images safe.
Moving the Memorial to its present site, undated Flaybrick Cemetery. On top of the spire is Fred & Ivy Griffiths
Palm Grove Wesleyan Methodist Chapel A close up of the above Flaybrick image
Flaybrick Fred Griffiths & Ivy Griffiths at top Birkenhead North Destructor Fred Griffiths - Marjorie Griffiths at top
St Peters Cathcart Street, now demolished Unknown
 Not the work of miracles but stonemason Jack Wright on a bosuns chair going to the summit of Trinity Church Oxton Flaybrick Cemetery with Fred Griffiths on top
close up of Fred on flaybrick spire  North End demolition. Fred Griffiths hanging on by his legs
and the original of Fred leaning out Oxton Congregational Church  
the only description I have for this is 'steeplejacks' - probably Fred Griffiths company again and again ' steeplejacks'
Steel tower being constructed, part of the label says 'Lewis's Suit... working on the building (now demolished) next to Central Station
Fireman's Arms corner of Oliver Street/Walton Street, still there
behind the Grange Shopping Centre
The home base of the Griffiths Monumental Works, Tollemache Road
Birkenhead News from June 29th 1932 showing the new cross for the top of St James Church, North End. St James 1932 - Rev HL James - Fred Griffiths - Rev W Paige
St Pauls Rock Ferry unknown date The Cottage Tollemache Road that Alan Perry grew up in
This is the house where I was brought up, The Cottage, 98 Tollemache Road, sometimes known as Toad Hole Cottage. It can be seen in Harold Hopps painting of Bidston Avenue before the road was developed. This is a slightly idealised painting by my great aunt Ivy Nish, nee Griffiths, who was brought up by my great grandparents James and Sarah Griffiths at 43 Upton Road, Claughton, and who lived in Boundary Road, Claughton. It is the oldest house in Birkenhead, having been built around 1625 (or maybe 1525) as a 1-up and 1-down sandstone cottage directly onto an outcrop of sandstone. It has been considerably altered in the last 40 years. Ivy took up painting when she was 80 in 1980, and lived until 90. - Alan Perry.