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Facts

MERSEYSIDE

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FUN FACTS

Merseyside is the 43rd largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Merseyside has the 9th highest population in England.
Merseyside is in 6th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Birkenhead Priory is the oldest standing building on Merseyside. It was founded in about 1150AD and the monks who lived there not only spent their lives in prayer and meditation but also looked after weary travellers who might pass by. They also operated the first ferry crossing of the River Mersey, though they didn't write a song about it.

    In 1275 and again in 1277 the priory was visited by Edward I, the famous conqueror of Wales. In 1330 Edward III gave permission for the monks to build a hostel and this was known as the Great Hall. By 1518 there were 7 monks at the priory, up from 5 in the previous hundred years. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536 the land was bought by Ralph Worsley and after he died, it passed into the hands off his daughter Alice.

    A manor house was built on the site of the Great Hall and then rebuilt, after the civil war, in about 1660. Birkenhead, which only had a population of 110 in the first census of 1801 began to grow and by 1891 it was almost 100,000.

    The priory's chapter house remains a church and is still in use for services. The first parish church, St Mary's, was built in the grounds of the priory in 1821. Expansion of Birkenhead port in the 1960s meant much of the church's graveyard was lost and in 1974 the church closed and then it was knocked down for safety reasons. Only the old church tower and parts of the outer walls now remain.

  3. Merseyside Eats
  4. Liverpool is one of the six largest cities in England. People who live there are known as Liverpudlians or Scousers. The word scouse comes from word lobscouse which is a type of stew that was brought to Liverpool by Norwegian sailors. The stew, now also known as scouse, has been popular on Mereseyside ever since.

    To be honest it is not that dissimilar to a Lancashire Hotpot with essential ingredients of potatoes, carrots, onion and chunks of meat. A survey by The Liverpool Echo in 2018 confirmed that for the majority of cooks the basic ingredients are as above though some said you should add a stock cube, unlikely to have been around in the old days. The choice of meat varied but by 2-to-1, beef beat lamb.

    The ingredients are then simmered together for several hours. It is really a dish made of leftovers and so, while the ingredients we talked about above are said to be traditional, you can basically add whatever you have around or whatever vegetables are in season. Scouse is traditionally served with pickled red cabbage or beetroot and a slice of crusty bread which, I'm guessing, is pretty good for mopping up the gravy afterwards.

  5. Merseyside VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Merseyside in the last 100 years:-
    All Four Members of The Beatles (Musicians), Glenda Jackson (Actor and Politician), the late Robert Runcie (Ex Archbishop of Canterbury), Mel Chisholm (Singer, Spice Girl, etc), Ken Dodd (Comedian), Cilla Black (Singer, TV Presenter) and Johnny Vegas (Comedian)

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. On my first journey around the coast of Great Britain in 1985-86 I had, as a reference, a book from the AA called an Illustrated Guide to Britain's Coast. I used it to give me ideas of where to visit. In the section on Merseyside it had an entry for a place called Port Sunlight. It simple read "Naming it after the trademark of the soap which made him rich, Lord Leverhulme built this garden village for his workers in 1888". Oh, I thought, let's go and see how those poor factory workers lived in those days.

    Did I get a shock. Port Sunlight is one of the most beautiful villages you could ever come across. Rather than sharing the profits of the company directly with his employees, William Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, provided them with decent and affordable houses, amenities and welfare provisions that made their lives secure and comfortable and enabled them to flourish as people. It was also intended to inspire loyalty and commitment. Tell you what, it would have worked with me.

    The village has over 900 Grade II listed buildings in a variety of architectural styles. There are also green spaces and parkland. It was one of the five times on that trip that I said "wow". I was amazed and went back on both my other two trips; although still amazing I knew what to expect so there was a little less of the "wow" factor.

    These days you can go and visit the Port Sunlight Museum, get a feel for life in the village a century ago in the Edwardian Worker's Cottage, and just enjoy. There is also the Lady Lever Art Gallery, dedicated to the memory of William Lever's wife. Been there twice too.

    Would this happen in the modern world? Ask any Amazon worker you want?

  9. It Happened Here
  10. On Wednesday, 16th January 1957, The Cavern Club, owned by Alan Sytner, opened in a warehouse cellar at 10, Mathew Street, Liverpool. The plan was for the club to become the top jazz venue outside London. It did far more than that. On the opening night the Merseysippi Jazz Band topped the bill along with two more jazz bands and the Coney Island Skiffle Group. Skiffle, a sort of cross between folk music and rock'n'roll was very popular at the time. The British skiffle king, Lonnie Donegan had a big hit in 1956 with a song called Rock Island Line.

    On 7th August 1957 the Quarry Men Skiffle Group appeared at the club. One of the group was a young guy called John Lennon. On 24th January the Quarry Men played again and this time they included another young guy called Paul McCartney who had joined them the previous October. By October 1959 the club had a new owner, Ray McFall, and he began to move the club away from its jazz roots and more toward beat music craze.

    Wednesday 25th May 1960 saw the first beat night session at the Cavern and the first group to play were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with a guy called Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) on drums. On Thursday 9th February 1962 a group called The Beatles made their first performance there. The group comprised John Lennon and Paul McCartney from the Quarrymen, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best on drums. The group became a regular fixture at lunch time sessions and a new sound was born, "The Mersey Sound"

    On Thursday 9th November 1961 a man called Brian Epstein, whose family owned a nearby record shop, visited the Cavern and heard the Beatles. He was so impressed he offered to become their manager and by June 1962 he had got them a recording contract. The rest, as we say, is history. Ringo Starr appeared as the Beatles drummer for the first time at the Cavern on 19th August 1962 and three days later a TV company filmed their performance.

    The Beatles last appeared at the Cavern on Saturday 3rd August 1963. It was their 292nd performance there. By then they and other Cavern regulars like Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, the Searchers, Cilla Black, the Fourmost, the Swinging Blue Jeans and the Merseybeats were leading a Merseyside takeover of English pop music.

    The Cavern Club still exists today, and once COVID restrictions are gone, music will be back.

    This is where it happened.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. My memories of Merseyside are few. I remember not taking a ferry cross the Mersey which I really wanted to do and I remember not trying to find the Cavern Club which I also wanted to do. I think one of the reasons for this was that, in 1985, Liverpool was not looking at its best. Many buildings were boarded up and it was only 4 years since the Toxteth riots (look it up). Liverpool was a run down city in my eyes then and my memory now. I did, however, drive through the Mersey tunnel.

    The bright light of Port Sunlight I have shared with you elsewhere and my other abiding memory is of driving our motorhome into the centre of Liverpool, reaching down to change gear and the whole gear lever coming off in my hand. Seriously. We were, luckily, just passing a garage so pulled on to the forecourt and explained the situation to a receptionist who sent over a mechanic. I did once drive a car from Croydon to Ramsgate, about 80 miles, after the clutch pedal had snapped off. Approaching all hazards slowly, like traffic lights, trying not to stop, changing gear without a clutch and starting, in a series of bunny hops, on the ignition key if I had to, it was fun. But no gear lever was a different prospect.

    Anyhow, the mechanic came over, I handed him the gear stick and, immediately showing the well-known Liverpool wit, asked if I always drove like that. He proceeded to entertain us with his humour for an hour or so while he mended said gear lever, and then, having found out what we were doing, didn't charge us for the repair. Nice memory.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The Blue Tit is one of the prettiest and most common birds in England. They can be found anywhere and everywhere. In winter there are over 15 million birds in the UK. There are five other members of the tit family seen in England and these are the coal, crested, great, marsh and willow tit but I think the blue tit is the most beautiful. Its feathers are black, blue, green, grey, white and yellow with blue/grey legs and a short, thin, black beak. Blue tits will like to visit any bird feeder you may have in your garden. They eat nuts, seeds, insects and also caterpillars.

    Blue tits start nesting by the end of March and like nest boxes but can also nest in cracks in trees and walls. They only lay eggs once a year, laying between 7 and 14 eggs at the end of April. It takes about 15 days for the chicks to emerge.

    Blue tits are only 12 cms in length, have a wingspan of just 18 cms and weigh 11 grams. Small but really pretty.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Merseyside check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020