Plaques unveiled to celebrate Wirral Country Park’s 50th anniversary
Two plaques have been unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Wirral Country Park.
50 years after Lord Leverhulme officially declared Britain’s first designated park open, the Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Jeff Green, unveiled a new plaque on the very same sandstone at Thurstaston Visitor Centre to mark Wirral Country Park’s 50th birthday.
As well as celebrating the landmark event, the plaque recognises the staff and volunteers who have helped look after the park over the years, as well as visitors who ‘come here to explore and enjoy this Park of Great Worth’.
The original plaque from the memorial stone will be put up on display at Thurstaston Visitor Centre.
A second commemorative plaque was also unveiled at the West Kirby entrance to the Wirral Way.
Did you know?
The backbone of the park is the Wirral Way, which used to be a railway line running from Hooton to West Kirby (in 1936 you could purchase a day ticket direct from West Kirby to London for just 16 shillings!). On 11 July 1957 the Royal Train travelled along the route for Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to Wirral, where Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed by 16,000 schoolchildren on their way to Wallasey Town Hall.
Wirral Country Park has links with the Titanic. Sir Thomas Henry Ismay, who established White Star, moved to Thurstaston in the 1860s and had a large mansion called Dawpool built in Thurstaston village. He wanted an uninterrupted view of the Dee estuary and used his influence to have the intended route of the railway extension to West Kirby moved so that it was further away from his house and closer to the coast than originally intended. The Titanic sunk on April 15th 1912 and Dawpool was demolished in 1927.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War an area of land west of the railway and overlooking the Dee Cliffs became an anti-aircraft battery with guns aimed at planes taking part in bombing raids over Liverpool. At the time thousands of ‘pillboxes’ were built around the country which were used as lookout posts to detect enemy invasions and one of them can be found at the Ropewalk Car Park on the Wirral Way at Parkgate, which these days is used as a bat hibernacula.
The stone re-dedication ceremony was just one highlight of a busy programme of events this year to celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary. ‘Imagine Bamboo is Everywhere’ on August 19 will give families an opportunity to help build a temporary community art piece, while throughout the summer there will be everything from miniature traction engines and teddy bear picnics to wildflower art installations. There will also be guided walks for nature lovers to learn more about the park’s biodiversity as well as organised horse and bike rides.
For a full list of events taking place this year, visit wirral.gov.uk.