Updated: 20 Jan 2019

New Brighton

Up to the 19th century, the area had a reputation for smuggling and wrecking, and secret underground cellars and tunnels are still rumoured to exist. Many are fact! It also had a strategic position at the entrance to the Mersey Estuary.

The Perch Rock battery was completed in 1829.It mounted 18 guns, mostly 32 pounders, with 3 6-inch guns installed in 1899. Originally cut off at high tide, coastal reclamation has since made it fully accessible.

In 1830, a Liverpool merchant, James Atherton, purchased 170 acres (69 ha) of land at Rock Point, which enjoyed views out to sea and across the Mersey and had a good beach. His aim was to develop it as a desirable residential and watering place for the gentry, in a similar way to Brighton, one of the most elegant seaside resorts of that Regency period – hence "New Brighton". Substantial development began soon afterwards, and housing began to spread up the hillside overlooking the estuary – a former gunpowder magazine being closed down in 1851.

During the latter half of the 19th century, New Brighton developed as a very popular seaside resort serving Liverpool and the Lancashire industrial towns, and many of the large houses were converted to inexpensive hotels. A pier was opened in the 1860s, and the promenade from Seacombe to New Brighton was completed by 1901. This served both as a recreational amenity in its own right, and to link up the developments along the estuary, and was later extended westwards towards Leasowe, making it the longest in the UK.

The river Mersey and the resort were described by the diarist Francis Kilvert in 1872 as: "crowded with vessels of all sorts moving up and down the river, ships, barques, brigs, brigantines, schooners, cutters, colliers, tugs, steamboats, lighters, "flats", everything from the huge emigrant liner steamship with four masts to the tiny sailing and rowing boat … At New Brighton there are beautiful sands stretching for miles along the coast and the woods wave green down to the salt water's edge. The sands were covered with middle class Liverpool folks and children out for a holiday.

Earliest records only show a very small fishing hamlet in the area.The Tower was moved for the sake of the poster, being much further to the right.

New Brighton's WW1 Airman - Lt E Trevor Evans


1. Fort Perch & Lighthouse
2. The Tower

2a. Tower Fire
3. Lifes A Beach - the shoreline
4. The Pier
5. Buses, Boats & Trains
6. General Area
7. Yellow Noses

1. Fort Perch & Lighthouse

Started in 8th June 1827. The work could only be carried out during the summer months being eventually completed on 1st March 1830, costing £27500. Made of Anglesey granite, each piece is cut to precise dimensions. Each piece dovetailed into each other. The whole of the outer walls were painted in "puzzellani", a volcanic material from Mount Etna. In time this becomes harder that the stone it is painted upon.

Fort Perch Rock has stood on a natural outcrop of sandstone on New Brighton beach for nearly 200 years yet many people know very little about this coastal defence battery. New Brighton has only existed as a town since 1830 when James Atherton first laid out the resort that he hoped would rival its southern namesake.  Before the construction of New Brighton, the area was just a desolate piece of rocky and sandy foreshore leading up to fields belonging to the village of Liscard. However, close to this coastline was the Rock Channel through which all ships had to pass to enter the Port of Liverpool. In times of war this was the ideal place to erect temporary forts and batteries of cannon to protect Liverpool. Throughout the 18th century whenever England was at war batteries of cannon would be brought to the area and located on the Red Noses and on a site where Victoria Road now stands. During the Napoleonic wars, Liverpool merchants began to lobby for more permanent defences to guard Liverpool from attack. However, after the defeat of Napoleon's fleet at Trafalgar in 1805 fears subsided and nothing was done. It was not until the 1803 that the first plans for a fort were drawn up. Captain Kitson came up with plans to build a sandstone fort below the high tide level on the rocky outcrop known as the Perch Rock. The name Perch Rock came from a wooden perch built in the 1690s to warn passing ships of the danger of the sandstone rocks in their proximity.  Work on the Fort was started early in 1826 and on 31st March that year the foundation stone was laid. The Fort was built of sandstone, the foundations were of local stone quarried at the Captain's Pit and on a site we now know as the Tower Grounds. The rest of the stone came from Runcorn and was brought down the river on barges. Completed in 1829; Fort Perch Rock opened on 30th April 1830 and had cost £26,965 Os. 8d. to build. The Fort was armed with sixteen 32lb. cannon which fired out to sea and two 18lb. cannon which could be used to defend the Fort from attack from the land. These cannons fired round balls of iron and used gunpowder. To store the gunpowder and ball a magazine was located in the Fort. There was also accommodation for 100 men in time of war. Throughout the 19th century the guns were continually improved in 1861, 68lb. cannon with a range of 3170 yards were installed mounted on granite sets which can still be seen inside the Fort today.

approx 1900
By the 1890s the Forts muzzle loading cannon were obsolete and were due for replacement. Before more modern longer ranging guns could be installed the Fort had to be remodelled. This work took place between 1894 and 1899 and included the filling in of the parade ground the installation of three mounted 6 inch guns and an observation and firing post constructed on the east tower. A large electric light was also fitted which could beam out across the estuary. The walls facing out to sea were lowered by 15 ft. giving the Fort the appearance it has today. In all of its military history Fort Perch Rock was never called upon to fire a shot in anger but a few incidents did occur. At the beginning of the First World War a Norwegian vessel which had been at sea when hostilities started did not identify itself when asked to do so by the Fort. A warning shot was fired across its bow, the shot landed on Hightown sandhills. Another shot was fired, which hit the bow of an anchored liner. The ship was eventually identified as not hostile, the Captain did not know that a war had started and thought that the fort was merely practicing. The shot that landed on the beach at Hightown was returned to the Fort and put on display with the inscription 'A Present From New Brighton.' The medical officer at Fort Perch was Dr JW Lloyd, the father of politican Selwyn Lloyd. The Commander of the Fort in World War II, Colonel C.J. Cocks claimed to have fired the first British shot of the War from Fort Perch Rock. A small fishing smack under sail in the Rock Channel could not be identified fifteen minutes after the War had started. A shot was fired at the boat causing panic to its crew. Luckily it was identified as friendly in time and allowed to sail into the estuary. Where it was questioned at New Brighton pier.

A common occurrence when the guns were fired at Fort Perch Rock was for the windows in shops in Victoria Road to shatter. This was because Victoria Road is on the same rock strata as the Fort and vibrations carried through.  The Second World War proved the end for coastal defence batteries as air power had taken over from sea power. in 1957 the War Department put the Fort up for sale. It was eventually bought by local business men T. Mann and T. Kershaw for £4,000 which is less than it cost to build in 1830. The Fort is currently owned by Norman Kingham and is open to the public throughout the summer and at weekends - It is well worth a visit and includes interesting artefacts such as a four seater toilet!  The remains of a P47 Thunderbolt, which crashed on Arrowebrook, Moreton, in 1944 are also there. See HERE

More information can be gained by reading Ken McCarron's book 'Fort Perch Rock and the Defence of the Mersey.'

Visit the Fort Perch Rock site for more information

whilst trying to find out something about this painting I found that it belongs to the Williamson Art Gallery
photo credit: Williamson Art Gallery & Museum  so I am happy to add this info. Some other sites have it also but no credits

Searching for something else I found this on quite a few locations - gun practise Fort Perch

Ferry, Pier, Forty Perch and Lighthouse

Taken from Liverpool's Dock Road, Fort Perch Rock New Brighton - May 29th 2008

Image: Richard Littler

Perch Rock Museum

Perch Rock AA Gun (static display)

May 2015

Perch Rock Light

2. The Tower

The building of New Brighton Tower. note Floral Gardens with floral clock. Beach bathing huts on the sands. The Stadium. Pier and Ferry at the Pier and how Marine Parade stops right there

taken next to Vale Park

Demolition of the Tower 1921


In the window of the Information Centre in Victoria Road is this 1977 model of New Brighton Tower
superbly made by Ken Clarke

8. Tower Fire

The New Brighton Tower caught fire on Saturday 5 April 1969. The call was received at 05.08hrs. via the Police Headquarters. The manager of the Tower and his staff had left the building at about 8.30pm after a routine check (the stage area was not included). The roof of the Tower had been open to the public on the Friday for the first time that year with access by means of the Chair Lift which had been created in 1960 and operated from the ground to the roof. The New Brighton Coxswain had been awakened by the cracking and banging caused by the fire but after checking all was well in the street, he returned to bed. Police Constable Edward Brimage was on patrol in Victoria Road at the time and he smelt smoke and set about looking for the fire. He called for assistance and a search was made of Victoria Road and Tollemache Street and by the time that they reached Egerton Street, they discovered that the Tower was on fire in the stage area West tower of the building. It was then that the Fire Brigade was called. The first appliance to arive was driven by Dave Liston, followed by a second, driven by Walter Peach, the Station Officer. He went to look at the situation and he then climbed the steps to the car park at the higher ground. No sooner had he reached the top when a huge section of the building collapsed. Had he stayed down he would have been killed by the fall of bricks. It was believed that the seat of the fire was in the stage and the loft. The Brigade had a Pump, a Pump Escape and a Turn-Table Ladder at the scene as well as the general purpose van.
Large bellows of smoke was pouring out of the windows. The Officer in charge radioed: "Make pumps 10 and turntable ladders 2" and placed the van in the car park. The Officer went down the steps that led from the car park to the lower level, made a reconnaissance of the situation and returned to the car park. He heard a crumbling noise and turnd to see the whole of the external wall falling. He radioed another message: "Make turntable ladders 4."
The Assistant Division Officer now arrived and took command at 5.20pm with 20 pumps. The collapse of the wall exposed the Ballroom and theatre to the open air and allowing the flames to reach other parts of the building. Things were made worse by the fact that the Tower Boating Lake had been drained and the Fire Brigade had difficulty in obtaining water with Marine Lake by the Battery some distance away. Three relays were put into action. The machines had to pump up the water to the fire, hydrants also fed the Pumps to fight the flames and two Turn-Table ladders were brought into action but with the collapse of the wall it was difficult for the Firefighters. The Chief Fire Officer, Mr EE Buschenfeld, was now in command and through the lack of water it was obvious that the Ballroom would be a complete loss. Parts of the roof began to fall in. There were some compressed oxygen and dissolved acetylene cylinders in the offices of the fifth floor which were exposed but luckily no one was hurt with the two blasts. Firemen had managed to get into the building from the south but the staircases were impassable due to the debris from the collapsed roof. The Liverpool Fire Brigade were called in with their heavy water unit. Soon after seven o'clock there were 25 Pumps at the scene and further relays were deployed. Further sections of the roof fell in and relief crews were called in from Birkenhead, Liverpool, Cheshire County and Lancashire County with over 150 Firemen being at the scene with 20 pumps and four Turntable Ladders.

Vandalism was the cause
Mr Buschenfeld sent for five more Pumps and surveying the situation and the seriousness of the fire, thinking of his men, he shouted to them, "I don't want any heroes, let it burn." Lives of Firemen were more important than bricks and mortar. The promenade was one mass of Hoes-Pipes and by 9 O'clock fresh crews had to take over but within half hour the fire was under control with crews working on. It was the end of the Tower. In all 119 Firemen and 37 Officers had fought the fire. There were 25 Pumps, four Turntable Ladders, a fire using up to 313 gallons of petrol,71 gallons of diesel fuel and 36 pints of engine fuel. By Wednesday the heap of rubble inside had cooled down sufficiently for an examination to be made but was not possible on account of the condition of the remaining walls. Soon after the fire, demolition work started for fear of children who might try to play in the area with the fairground and grounds being closed off. What caused the fire is uncertain. The Deputy Fire Chief, Mr Alec Dean, said: "A thorough investigation of the cause of this fire was made by the fire department in consultation with the Home Office forensic department and the Cheshire County Police. After the elimination of the possible causes it seems that this fire was due to unauthorised entry to the building and subsequent vandalism or accident in the ignition of the stage area caused by vandals. There could have been no other cause. Electricity and gas had been cut off so these were eliminated and there was no other source. There was a lack of direct evidence to pinpoint vandals but it is the only source that was left ."
The Police had investigated the matter but nobody would come forward with direct evidence. The official verdict was 'Unknown'. By the Wednesday, the heap of rubble had cooled down sufficiently but on account of the dangerous condition of the ruined walls it was not possible to make a thorough examination of-the charred shell of the building. Some of the blackened red- ricks started to crumble and steps were taken to have it taken down as soon as possible. Mr Leon Davies, the managing director of the New Brighton Tower, was concerned that youngsters who could venture near the site could be injured or killed. Demolition later took place.

3. Lifes a Beach - The Shoreline

Possibly taken 1890's 

Building the embankment New Brighton (Rocks are the'red noses') 

Donkeys at New Brighton (pre 1920)

New Brighton in WW2 dragons teeth blocking embankment  


approx 1910 

Towards Egremont March 18th 2010 - The river is dead, not a thing moving, at least ON the surface. 

4. The Pier



Image: David Langton 

5. Buses Trains 'n Boats

No 8 to Moreton, Borrowdale Road - late 50's? This is Victoria Road New Brighton 

Wallasey is yellow, Birkenhead is blue, we were so much better than you!! That song once sung on a school bus! This is the 8 which ran from New Brighton (rear of Palace) to Borrowdale Road Moreton, through Liscard, Wallasey Village, Leasowe Road to Reeds Lane, up to Hoylake Road, through Moreton Cross and left into Borrowdale Road opposite Woollies. This one is early 60s

Royal Iris on boating lake Feb 29th 2012 

New Brighton Station 

The train to Liverpool via Birkenhead

New Brighton Station 

Ticket Hall of New Brighton Station 

6. General Area


Concorde over New Brighton 

Under personal supervision of who? Bet on they bring loads of flies in New Brighton?  

Palace then and in 1960s below 

New Brighton 1997 

I took this in 1990 flying from Liverpool to my (then) home in Holywood, Northern Ireland 

A lot of the shops in old New Brighton had some form of arcade outside advertising their wares. This is quite possibly the very last one, opposite the New Brighton Railway Station and has only one side left and no roof. It is truly a relic of that which has now all but vanished. 

Perch Rock Feb 29th 2012 The clouds soon cleared and it was a beautiful day 

View From Fort Perch 

Victoria Road New Brighton, looking towards sea front. Normally on a Bank Holiday this would have been teeming with people. But the arcades have long disappeared and the area in front of the camera has been given over to residences in a short sighted effort to remove that which is now required - entertainment.

Looking up towards NB Station. Having driven around New Brighton this morning, I was surprised at just how few people where about. In my youth NB was always packed 

 New  Brighton from Crosby July 2008 

Former Watering Hole on the bottom of Victoria Road. I am trying to determine if this is supposed to have anything to do  with Mother Redcaps in Egremont or Captain Fortunatus Wright, Wallasey Pirate and Privateer or nothing at all! Its certainly NOT Mother Recaps as it was she who wore the 'red cap'.

Who can forget the Chelsea Reach? It was through those doors on left.

Bottom of Victoria Road, all the arades and shops in the lower half have been exchanged for housing. Since Itook that image I understand Victoria Road has been opened up again at this end. 

Vale Park 

Visit on 27th June 2012 

What I like about this, the Perch Rock Pub off Victoria Road is the sign on the lampost. 

St James Church Hall. I thought this was an old school, it certainly looks like a Victorian school building. 

New Brighton Lifeboat. This is actually situated on the opposite side of the Marine Parade to Morrisons and requires a tractor to take it to the sea. The trailer is backing into the sea and the boat roars off. Coming back it has to 'drive' straight ionto the trailer!! 

The dome on the rock, from the Fort on a rock!! 

The Ark. This was turned into a not so 'state of the ark' cafe and was eventually closed down by the Corporation 

7. Yellow Noses, New Brighton - Mar 18th 2010

Found on a link and describes Rock Villa, Wellington Road, New Brighton: (From an email (040909) from Paul Hocking, Hocking Design)

Following Peter Greenalls death (18th September, 1845) Rock Villa was occupied by a variety of tenants, during the next thirty years, including a cotton broker, a cotton spinner a merchant and Ship owner, and even a clerk to the Borough magistrates, but 1875 marked the arrival of the Peers Family in the person of James Peers, also a cotton broker, who was the forerunner of what was to turn out to be a forty year connection with the house. He was the father of George Hunter Peers. The founder in 1878; of what is now  the Peers club in St Georges Road, a justice of the peace, and a man who persuaded the Wallasey Local Board to purchase Central Park after Harold Littledales death in 1889. He also went down in history as the man who demolished the mill on the Breck, replacing it with a residence; well know for nearly eighty years as 'Millthwait'. And as the father of Hugh Peers, Local historian of note. The reign of the Peers family at Rock Villa came to  an end shortly after the finish of World war 1 .The next occupant being Mr. C.R. Marples  a well known Liverpool cotton broker, who spent some years there, to be followed by Pat Athern, a well known Wallasey commission agent and the Wallasey sea cadets, who used the house as their headquarters for a while. In 1959 Rock Villa was purchased by Mr. Norman Kingham, the Architect, including the caves under the dwelling formed out of soft stone of the red and yellow noses., Access to these cave which still exist, at one time was from the shore, before the promenade was built but today is by way of steps inside a manhole within the garden of Rock Villa The house itself originally  had Gothic features but owing to past neglect and damage. All of these have been lost  and replaced with more modern styles which has altered its character.

Note: section of brickwork visible centre left? Wonder what is beneath?
I seem to recall, as a child, that these were much more prominent then (late 50s into 60s) Maybe its because the grass has overgrown everything? The building of the Promenade has obviously removed all trace of the seaward end so presume the caves are well underground at the above points 
January 2019



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