We took the tour of Birkenhead park and it was a lovely lesson of history. We’ve been here before to feed birds and squirrels and we saw the poster with the guided tours. I had no idea it would be so interesting.
Birkenhead park is the first public funded park in the world, in 1847. At the opening 10,000 people participated to this historical event. It was an incredible number of participants, considering that there were only 9,000 people living in Wirral.
The ranger told us in that time there were many factories and mills and the people used to go out for a drink after work. So, many of them were ill often and the lifespan was short due to the harsh working conditions and alcohol. So, a place for working out and having a healthy option to spend the free time was very necessary.
The idea of a public park built with public funding was very controversial, but Issac Holmes’ idea was implemented in other cities and countries a short while after the Birkenhead park was launched.
The front gate of the park. Issac Holmes wanted a bigger one, but even so it was still very visible from Liverpool.
Near the front gate there are 2 houses that were used by the gardeners. Now both houses are used; we were able to visit one, the one that is used by Friends of Birkenhead park. The houses have an inclosed garden with big walls, to keep away there stuff from the public eye. You can see in the photo one of the old hooks for cloths ropes.
The first bandstand. Underneath the bandstand there was a small harbor where were docked 3 boats that were used on the lower lake.
There are 3 lakes in Birkenhead park, all made by man. The dirt from the lakes was put next to them, to create the landscape. This was very good for draining and the trees could develop nicely.
The Swiss bridge. The designer of the park, Joseph Paxton, put a Chinese bridge, but Issac Holmes had a different idea. He wanted to recreate the Switzerland landscape with the bridge and the rockery.
Paxton changed the design to match Holmes’s wishes. But he painted the bridge in red and black, Chinese colours.
The rockery. All the rocks are from Mersey.
The oldest tree from the park, it was already there when they built the park.
One of the trees that was planted during the park landscaping.
The island from the Upper lake. Now it’s not connected to the park and this way the birds can nest without any predators.
The garden in front of the Visitor Center. The centre is built on the spot that Hornblower wanted to make a terrace and the garden is like in his designs.