Home to the first tramway in Europe, Birkenhead was established in 1150 AD and enjoyed its rural status until the industrial revolution caught up with the town in the mid 1800s
Up until the 1820s, Birkenhead was mainly a centre for agriculture with a small population. Being so close to Liverpool, but having lower land values, it was the ideal place in which to expand. The catalyst was the ferry service, but demand became too great, and a solution was needed. Many saw the building of a bridge to be the ideal solution, but this was seen as being too expensive and impractical due to the type of vessels that had to use the docks. It was for this reason that the Mersey Rail Tunnel, Kingsway and Queensway were built.
The importance of Birkenhead grew substantially with the building of Morpeth & Egerton Docks in 1847, which in turn lead to an increase in population. The 1850s saw the creation of the great floats. Created over 110 acres, they have more than four miles of quays and were split into the East (1851) and West (1860) Floats.
Another first for the town was Birkenhead Park. In 1847, it became the first publicly funded park. Plans to build a park began at the beginning of the decade and Birkenhead’s commissioners soon bought land to transform into a park complete with lakes, lodges and open spaces. The park was such a success that when F.L. Olmstead visited in 1950 during a tour of Europe, the designer of Central Park in New York City incorporated many of the features he had seen in Birkenhead.
Now, Birkenhead once again represents a golden opportunity for development and with the proposed development of Wirral Waters, can now catch up with the High-Rise revolution.