Metropolitan Borough of Wirral
The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, in North West England. It has a population of 311,200, and encompasses of the northern part of the Wirral Peninsula. Major settlements include Birkenhead, Wallasey, Bebington, Heswall, Hoylake and West Kirby. The city of...
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...
, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula
Wirral or the Wirral is a peninsula in North West England. It is bounded by three bodies of water: to the west by the River Dee, forming a boundary with Wales, to the east by the River Mersey and to the north by the Irish Sea. Both terms "Wirral" and "the Wirral" are used locally , although the...
, along the west bank of the River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....
, opposite the city of Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...
. At the 2001 Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....
, the town had a population of 83,729.
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...
part of Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...
, Birkenhead is perhaps best known as a centre for ship building, as a seaport and its related industries.
The name Birkenhead is possibly from the Old English bircen meaning birch tree, of which many once grew on the headland which jutted into the river at Woodside
Woodside is a small riverside locality in Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, England, situated almost opposite Liverpool Pier Head across the River Mersey.-History:...
, however some believe the name to have grown from the River Birket which empties into the docklands.
The earliest records state that the Mersey ferry
The Mersey Ferry is a ferry service operating on the River Mersey in north west England, between Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula. Ferries have been used on this route since at least the 12th century, and continue to be popular for both local people and visitors.The current fleet consists of...
began operating from Birkenhead in 1150 when Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...
monks under the leadership of Hamon de Mascy built a priory
Birkenhead Priory is in Priory Street, Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. It is the oldest standing building on Merseyside. The remains of the priory are a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument...
Distanced from the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...
in Liverpool by the physical barrier of the River Mersey, Birkenhead retained its agricultural
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...
status until the advent of the steam ferry service in 1820.
Shipbuilding started in 1829.