Up to the 19th century, the area had a
smuggling and wrecking, and secret underground cellars and
tunnels are still rumoured to exist. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
More information can be gained by
reading Ken McCarron's book 'Fort Perch Rock and the Defence of the Mersey.'
1855 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
Taken from Liverpool's Dock Road, Fort Perch Rock New Brighton - May 29th 2008
Image: Richard Littler
Perch Rock Museum
Perch Rock AA Gun
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
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 built 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
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
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
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 above New Brighton
Under personal supervision of who? Bet on
there bring loads of flies in New Brighton?
Palace then and in 1960s below
New Brighton 1997
I took this in 1991 flying from Liverpool to my
(then) home in Holywood, Northern Ireland
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 here through those doors
on left. Most of
Wallasey passed though those doors!
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.
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,
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
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