Having just booked to (hopefully) go to Liverpool again this coming October I was reminded of my last trip there in 2017 and what a good place it is for a city break. I had organised the trip then for my friend’s 70th birthday and we did all the things you would expect women who were young in the 60’s to do! On the second day we went on the Mersey Ferry River Explorer Cruise. I think we paid about £11 for a concessionary ticket but see the website (above) for prices when the service re-opens.
We walked to the Pier Head, near the Three Graces, from our hotel (the budget but good Days Inn in James Street). It was a beautiful sunny, but windy day in September. I found the crossing really interesting as, between bursts of `Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey`, there was a commentary about the history of the buildings and industries that could be seen on both shorelines, including the huge Art Deco ventilation building for the Mersey Tunnel at Birkenhead. We got off the ferry at Woodside Pier, next to which is the U-boat Story. As we left the pier building we noticed a tram waiting outside – a serendipitous moment! We asked where it was going and were told the Wirral Tramway Museum so we duly paid the ridiculously cheap price (£1?), got our commemorative ticket and clambered up to the top deck so we could have a good view on the journey The other passengers were all men and they seemed surprised when we joined them so quite a bit of banter took place. I think the tram rides mainly operate at weekends (but see their website when things get back to normal). We soon set off, along Shore Street, headed slightly uphill past ndustrial sites, old and new. At a sharp bend in the road I noticed an interesting looking old bridge (Egerton Bridge) leading to Egerton Wharf. Round a couple more bends and all too soon we arrived at the Wirral Tramway and Transport Museum, where entry was free. It was really fascinating with well displayed vehicles of all types and other artefacts displayed with good information boards; it’s run by volunteers and they should be very proud of it. We caught the next tram back to the Woodside stop and then set off for a walk around the local area.
I particularly wanted to see Hamilton Square that I’d read about before our visit to Liverpool. It was a short distance, slightly uphill along Hamilton Street and I was not disappointed. The four sides of the square are lined with Georgian and Victorian terraces, lots of them listed, some Grade 1, although sadly a lot of them appear to have been turned into flats. The development was the vanity project of William Laird,whose shipbuilding works were nearby, and the name Hamilton was his mother-in-law’s maiden name. Unfortunately, due to a recession the original Georgian design for the whole square was not completed although later in the 19th century the remaining plots were filled with more grand terraces plus the huge Birkenhead Town Hall, which opened in 1887. In the middle of the square the once private garden is now a public space with flower beds, a cenotaph and various monuments. Had I been on my own I would have explored further but we headed back down Hamilton Street, past the entrance to Hamilton Square Station (also listed), a deep underground station on the Merseyrail network, so an alternative way to reach this area from Liverpool could be by train under the Mersey rather than using a ferry. Unfortunately the heavens then opened and as we were just passing a large antiques centre we took refuge inside. It was full of wonderful antique and vintage items and it also had a vintage style tea room on the first floor so we shopped, had tea and cake and then squelched our way back to the pier head to get a return ferry. We had a bit of a wait but there was a really good cafe, gift shop and toilets there. The wind on the return journey was rather blustery but the views were amazing, with clouds skudding across a blue sky above the iconic buildings. I can thoroughly recommend the ferry `cruise`, and the tram ride for people who visit Liverpool at weekends.
“To check on times and prices”:http://www.merseyferries.co.uk