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Birkenhead: An Illustrated History

Ralph T. Brocklebank

The story of Birkenhead is vividly retold in this lively new history of the town, illustrated by over 200 maps, engravings and photographs from the superb archive at Birkenhead library.

Ralph T. Brocklebank recalls Birkenhead's origins as a tiny fishing community in a sheltered cove on the Cheshire coast, its medieval importance as a Benedictine priory and crossing point on the Mersey, and its swift, troubled development as a commercial and industrial rival to Liverpool during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Larger-than-life characters like industrial entrepreneur William Laird, architect Joseph Paxton, and philanthropist Charles Thompson all feature in the story, as do famous residents like the poet Wilfred Owen. A strong theme throughout the narrative is the fluctuating fortunes of the shipyard, which had a decisive influence on the income and employment of the people of the town.

Ralph Brocklebank's thoroughly researched account provides a sympathetic insight into the difficult living conditions and the dereliction that blighted the town during much of the twentieth century. Only recently has the prospect of renewed investment and regeneration given hope that Birkenhead will achieve the prosperity that was promised by those optimistic entrepreneurs two centuries ago.



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