Send In The Clowns
Welcome to New Brighton.
New Brighton is a seaside resort forming part of the town of Wallasey, in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in the metropolitan county of Merseyside . It is located at the northeastern tip of the Wirral Peninsula, within the historic county boundaries of Cheshire, and has sandy beaches which line the Irish Sea.
Up to the 19th century, the area had a reputation for smuggling and wrecking, and secret underground cellars and tunnels are still rumoured to exist. It also had a strategic position at the entrance to the Mersey Estuary.
The Perch Rock battery was completed in 1829. It mounted 18 guns, mostly 32 pounders, with 3 6-inch guns installed in 1899. Originally cut off at high tide, coastal reclamation has since made it fully accessible.
In 1830, a Liverpool merchant, James Atherton, purchased much of the land at Rock Point, which enjoyed views out to sea and across the Mersey and had a good beach. His aim was to develop it as a desirable residential and watering place for the gentry, in a similar way to Brighton, one of the most elegant seaside resorts of that Regency period – hence "New Brighton". Substantial development began soon afterwards, and housing began to spread up the hillside overlooking the estuary – a former gunpowder magazine being closed down in 1851.
During the latter half of the 19th century, New Brighton developed as a very popular seaside resort serving Liverpool and the Lancashire industrial towns, and many of the large houses were converted to inexpensive hotels. A pier was opened in the 1860s, and the promenade from Seacombe to New Brighton was built in the 1890s. This served both as a recreational amenity in its own right, and to link up the developments along the estuary, and was later extended westwards towards Leasowe. The New Brighton Tower, the tallest in the country, was opened in 1900 but closed in 1919, largely due to lack of maintenance during World War I. Dismantling of the tower was complete by 1921.
After World War II, the popularity of New Brighton as a seaside resort declined dramatically. However, the Tower Ballroom continued as a major venue, hosting numerous concerts in the 1950s and 1960s by local Liverpool groups such as The Beatles as well as other international stars. The Tower Ballroom continued in use until it was destroyed by a fire in 1969.
Ferries across the Mersey to New Brighton ceased in 1971, after which the ferry pier and landing stage were dismantled. By 1977, the promenade pier had suffered the same fate.