A WIRRAL SUNSET
It is believed that the island has been occupied on and off since the Stone Age: several finds of Stone and Bronze Age items and Roman pottery items were discovered in 1926. Although not named directly, it is believed that all three islands were mentioned in the Domesday Book in which mention is made of Chircheb (West Kirby) having two churches: one in the town and one on an island in the sea.
A small cell of monks was established on the islands around 1080. The area was part of the lands of the Norman lord Robert of Rhuddlan. He gave the islands to the abbey at Saint-Evroul-sur-Ouche in Normandy, France who in turn passed responsibility to the Abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester.
The island became a common place for pilgrimage in the 13th and 14th centuries. The last monk left the island in about 1550 as it was no longer considered a sanctuary, having become a centre for commerce and a busy trading port – so much so that a custom house was established to collect taxes on the goods traded.
In 1692 a small factory was set up to refine rock salt. There was also a beer house or inn. With the silting of the River Dee trade switched to ports on the River Mersey and the trade vanished from the island leading to the closure of the beer house; part of the structure of this building remains incorporated in the custodian's residence.
The islands were bought in 1856 by the Trustees of the Liverpool Docks, which later became known as the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. They were sold to Hoylake Council in 1945 for £2,500, passing to Wirral Borough Council on its formation in 1974.
ON THE WIRRAL SEPTEMBER 2012