Copyright 2014-2019 Hidden Wirral
Welcome to Hidden Wirral Myths & Legends Bidston Village History Walk. Join us as we take you on a journey of Magic, Mystery and History around of one of Wirral's best kept secrets, Bidston Village.
There is 2 Private Walks to Hire Day and Night, visiting places such as St Oswalds Church, The old Ring O'Bells, viewing the historic houses, Bidston Hall, The Nanny Goat Mountains and much much more.
THE WITCH OF BIDSTON
An account from 1598, at a time when the craze for witch hunts was beginning to gain ground in the British Isles, mentions Margery Hare of Bidston. It was said that she “doth use to blesse thinges… and ytt is reported that shee is an honest poore woman… that shee bless noe more anie catell…” In other words, she used to cast spells of blessing upon ‘things’, but by 1598 did so no more.
It is unclear in what way she was coerced away from this apparently harmless pursuit, but maybe the local magistrate “persuaded” her to give up her evil ways. The account suggests that she no longer indulged in witchcraft, black or white, but perhaps it is not a coincidence that four years before the account was written the lord of the manor of Bidston was Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby. He died suddenly and mysteriously, in his mid-thirties. Superstitious people at the time suggested that his death was the result of witchcraft.
Was this Margery Hare’s revenge? History remains silent, but to this day stories of witches and covens are associated with Bidston Village, and the nearby Bidston Hill.
One of the most interesting buildings on the Wirral is the Hillbark Hotel which was formerly known as Bidston Court. But it is not only the name that has changed, the most interesting part is that it's location has changed. Robert William Hudson built a house called 'Bidston Court' on Vyner Road South near Bidston Hill in 1891. Germany's Crown Prince Wilhelm was so impressed with the house that in 1913 he built a similar house, the Cecilienhof in Potsdam. The house was sold in 1921 to Sir Ernest Royden and in 1928 was moved to its present site in Frankby, brick by brick, finally being completed in 1931. It was renamed 'Hill Bark'. The original site of the house was given to Birkenhead Corporation as it was deemed unwanted land due to the close proximity to Birkenhead and its increasing Social Housing which devalued the property as it neared closer to the Rural Village of Bidston.
The Werewolf of Bidston
By Dave Shirley
The tree-lined slopes of Wirral’s most famous geographical landmark offer a tempting rural-oasis from the bustle of modern suburbia that has gradually encroached upon the incline of Bidston Hill. From the whimsical day-trippers and dog walkers who still enjoy the isolation of this patch of ancient countryside to the scientists past and present who have been drawn to the modest heights to monitor the ebb of the tides or to scrutinise the manner of creatures and insects that scrabble amongst the fauna, all have left with their own stories and experiences. But some stories never seem to leave the Hill. Some stories remain long after the ravages of the modern age have relegated them to fairytales and myths. They whisper through the trees like secrets lost in the woods. One such story, even today, still seems to offer hints to local residents that perhaps it is so much more than a tall tale.
On a cold winter’s eve as the leaden sky fades into the ashes of the day, a full-moon rises and a sound carries across the landscape of Bidston. Somewhere beyond the twinkle of the streetlights and the whoosh of passing cars, from deep within the imposing blackness enveloping the hill something prowls. It bellows into the night and out of sight comes a long, anonymous exultation that harks from a darker age.
The origins of this sound, according to a lesser known local legend, extend way back some four-hundred years and seem to incorporate two of the Hill’s most famous landmarks. As with all good myths it begins with an act of deplorable immorality in the eyes of the contemporary audience… adultery.
At the turn of the 17th Century, the life of Bidston’s first miller was a somewhat lonely affair. His days were spent tending to the wooden windmill that precedes the current stone and brick one that stands today. His duties would have been to ensure that the creaking structure continued its regular grind and produced its wares. Collections and visitations, though regular, where not frequent due to the harsh terrain that rendered it difficult for the conveyance of cargo on carts. But few visits would stir his passions as those of his lover. A young married woman would grace the mill with her presence as often as she could slip away from the clutches of her brutish husband. Her appearances were all too brief for the miller who longed to have her with him for years rather than a few stolen hours.
In due course, somewhat inevitably, the time they spent together resulted in a pregnancy which both parties knew could only be a result of their affair given that the young woman had barely been touched by her ignorant husband. He instead chose the comforts of illicit ale that would appear from seemingly nowhere around the inns and drinking dens of old Birkenhead. Upon the approach of customs men or conservatively dressed official-looking persons the barrels of ale would miraculously vanish with the promptness with which they had appeared.
However, even in his permanent inebriated state it was inevitable that this lout would notice his young bride showing the girth of pregnancy. Desperately she sought solace on the windswept hill with her lover and out of sight of the prying eyes they continued their relationship in blissful isolation, resolved to a remote existence up on their hill.
However, as the evening of the birth arrived, the hill now bathed in the milky gleam of a full moon, echoed with the torment of labour. It was a long and tortuous night and the wildlife scattered with each scream until eventually it tapered into a mere whimper then silence.
Then an infantile piercing cry mixed with the anguished wails of the miller chilled the air.
The child was born. The mother was dead.
What became of the miller is unknown as his existence tumbled into obscurity but few others appeared as resilient as he. Subsequent millers would come and go on Bidston Hill. Some found the life laborious and disagreeable. Others found their nights tormented by something else which would leave them cowering beyond the night, behind the heavy door of the mill, praying for the salvation of dawn.
Abandoned by his grief stricken father, the child of the miller remained upon the hill and with each passing year he became increasingly animalistic in both behaviour and appearance. Although the barren wilds of the hill provided little shelter beyond the occasional copse of trees and shallow swathes of heather, sightings of the boy were scant much to the relief of locals. They had heard stories about the hill. Cautionary tales passed on to the wary traveller or visitor. Stories of animals being found torn to pieces. Strips of masticated flesh hung from trees and gnarled animal carcases would litter the slopes in the mornings as fearful Bidston villagers would tread out after hiding from the dark of the night. Indeed it was the night they feared the most. The night was when the howling came.
At night, the form of the boy, now a feral twisted shape of a young man would ripple and crack into a grotesque creature, its face a pointed distortion of human and animal. Every pore upon his skin would erupt with coarse black hair and the rasp of his voice would become the guttural snarl of the beast. In Europe he would have been known as a loup-garous. To the fearful residents of Bidston he would be known as a werewolf.
Whilst the dark shape rampaged across the 17th century landscape of Bidston Hill, pickings weren’t exactly slim even for a creature with the immensity of the beast. From bite size snacks such as rabbits and birds to feasts such as the ubiquitous deer, the werewolf was spoiled for choice. His roaming rarely extended beyond the crest of Bidston Hill or the so-called ‘Penny-a-Day-Dyke’ wall encompassing the deer park. He would slaughter his fill of animals leaving the petrified humans well alone as they cowered in the dim glow and meagre warmth of their fires which they tempered so as not to attract the attention of the monster. But not all were happy with this begrudged arrangement.
With the presence of Bidston Hall, constructed in 1596 by the 6th Earl of Derby, its intended purpose of being a hunting lodge was undermined as the creature contested for dominance over the huntsman’s quarry and invariably emerged triumphant.
With the blessing of the local vicar and the hopes of the villagers at their back, a hunting party gathered within the confines of Bidston Hall on a bitter December night. Their ranks were made up of some of the finest huntsman from across the land, summoned by the tantalising promise of a challenge. To remove the creature in a hunt unlike any that they had been on before.
Within the thick walls of the hall, they watched through the windows as the shadows fell and the comfort of daylight passed. As the last slivers of sun fell beyond the horizon the men waited… and they waited… and they… it came. From out of the night and seemingly from every direction they heard a sound that shook the souls within them. A sound borrowed from the depths of Hell.
As if taking their cue from the creature the hunters, accompanied by the vicar of the parish, steadied themselves and left the protection of the hall and with a thick wintry mist swirling at their knees, they vanished into the night.
As the sun rose over a crisp winter morning, Bidston villagers gathered in the shadow of St Oswald’s new church tower peering toward the hall and the hill beyond. Each was eager to hear the news that they hoped would come. They hoped that the beast was dead and their nocturnal torment was over.
Their weary vicar approached. His eyes wide as his mind raced with scenes too horrible to relay to his eager flock. The creature, he announced, was no more and Bidston Hill was now clear. Even as his parishioners cheered and praised God for their salvation the truth was that even now the creature was only a few yards away from them and it was very much alive.
In the night the beast had found itself surrounded. Even in its ferocious state it would not be a match for the number of huntsmen around it should they continue to stand their ground. Yet a momentary hesitation seemed to stay their hand. Its eyes, though wide and angry, were still those of a human. A young man who, at the behest of the pleading vicar, the frightened hunters agreed to spare.
And so, with immense difficulty the savage beast was eventually subdued and captured before being held within the cellar of Bidston Hall where it would remain for a few more days until Christmas Eve of that year when the tide was high and the plan could be hatched.
The starving creature, seemingly incapable of restoring itself to human form, was now bound and muzzled by heavy ropes gleaned from the monks who operated the cross river ferry from Birkenhead. Though the weather was now treacherous and storms rushed in from Liverpool Bay, a midnight gathering of nervous conspirators gathered at the hall. Their clandestine mission would be to transport the beast unseen from Bidston Hall to the shores of West Kirby. From there they would take their ominous cargo across to Hilbre Island where it would remain alive and unharmed as per the vicar’s request but no longer a threat to neither villagers nor hunters prey on Bidston Hill.
Early the next morning as the sun began to glimmer over a turbulent Christmas Day, the rush of the wind across West Kirby seemed to carry with it another sound. One that brought onlookers to the shore as they peered out across the waves whipped up by the storm. Something out there seemed to cry out. A lonely sorrowful sound. A howl? As daylight now flooded the heavens the sound faded, the shore cleared of onlookers and it seemed the legend should end there.
Yet even today, on social media the story seems to continue as claims are made by local people to have heard unearthly baying in the night. Some intrepid night time visitors to the hill even claim to have heard the loud thunder of an immense animal rushing through the trees. Even as recently as January 2014 the noise is still being heard. It would seem that despite every effort of modern life to consign the Bidston Werewolf to the realms of myth it has not gone away completely.
Peer into the darkness of Bidston Hill on any given evening, perhaps beneath the gaze of a full moon and hold your breath. As the air settles around you and the wildlife falls silent, steady yourself against your darkest fears. If the curse remains upon Bidston Hill and if it is up there still then listen.
Listen for the howling.
The Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore describes beings common to Wirral and the Cheshire/Lancashire border, called Poldies. Jacqueline Simpson, noted folklorist and co-author of the dictionary heard a story from a friend who had often visited Wirral during her childhood in the fifties.
Children going to the woods were told to come home before dark, because that was when the Poldies came out. The creatures were guardians of the woods, who punished anyone who damaged the trees by making them have some form of accident. A cousin of the informant deliberately twisted small branches off a tree and threw them away, despite her protests. Shortly afterwards he sprained his ankle, and this was attributed to the Poldies.
Years later, she heard that a building contractor had planned to cut down a wood before beginning developments in the area, but he abandoned his plans due to delays caused by flooding, machines breaking down and other problems. In the opinion of the locals, it was the Poldies defending their homes.
The Norse Sun Goddess of Bidston Hill
Sunna is the Norse Goddess of the Sun, also known as Sól, though some hold that Sól is the mother and Sunna Her daughter. In Norse mythology, the Sun is female while the Moon is male. When the world was created from the body of the dead giant Ymir by the triad of Odin, Vili, and Ve, the Sun, Moon and Stars were made from the gathered sparks that shot forth from Muspellsheim, the Land of Fire.
Sól ("Mistress Sun"), drives the chariot of the Sun across the sky every day. Pulled by the horses Allsvinn ("Very Fast") and Arvak ("Early Rising"), the Sun-chariot is pursued by the wolf Skoll. It is said that sometimes he comes so close that he is able to take a bite out of the Sun, causing an eclipse. Sol's father is Mundilfari, and She is the sister of Måni, the Moon-god, and the wife of Glaur or Glen ("Shine"). As Sunna, She is a healer.
The Norse Moon Goddess of Bidston Hill
Mani ("Moon") is the God of the moon and brother of the sun goddess Sol. Máni "guides the path of the moon and controls its waxing and waning." Máni is followed through the heavens by the brother and sister children Hjúki and Bil.
Mani is the Norse god of the moon, son of Mundilfari and brother to the sun goddess Sol. When Mundilfari named his two children the moon and the sun the Aesir (Norse pantheon) were outraged by his daring and snatched away both children and placed them in the sky to guide chariots. Mani is said to lead the way and guides the moon on its path while also having power over the waxing and waning of the moon. At some time Mani plucked two children from Midgard to accompany him on his travels named Bil and Hjuki.
However, the moon and sun do not get to travel peacefully. They are both chased by wolves who are the sons of a giantess from Iron Wood. The wolf who chases after the moon is called Hati and legend has it that one day Hati will catch and kill the moon.
Bidston Hall is the former House of the Stanley's (Earl's of Derby) in Bidston. Which can be Impressive and daunting at the same time. Bidston Hall stands on a commanding situation on a rock of yellow freestone, of which material it is built. The western front has bay windows and projecting gables, and the entrance is in the centre of the front, formed in a semicircular porch, which rises the entire height of the building. The eastern side corresponds with the western, but has in addition a piazza along the lower storey. The front approach Is through a square court, with a handsome gateway having a singular arch highly ornamented with the cognizances of the Derby family. In some intermediatory purchase it is said Bidston Hall was won and lost at cards, to commemorate which a summer-house was built in the form of a club, as usually represented in that card, the foundations of which still remain in the picturesque grounds attached to the hail. The House last sold at a Price of £875,000 pound according to Rightmove and this is how they described the building.
5 bedroom detached house for sale
Bidston Hall Bidston Village Road, Prenton, CH43 7QT
Few buildings can claim to have had the romantic and chequered life of Bidston Hall, today one of the last remaining Halls connected with the history of the Wirral.
An original hunting lodge built in a deer park that had long been the property of the Stanley family (Earls of Derby), the house as it now stands was probable built in two phases - the main part constructed around 1595 with a Loggia added between the wings around 1617-20. However, there is evidence that an earlier building was present and incorporated in the re-structuring of the house in 1595. The Mason Marks found on the stonework throughout the house correspond to the same group of Masons, namely 61, who built Stonyhurst. The stone is thought to be Storeton stone and quarried locally.
The Hall has changed little since leaving the hands of its builder. This is concentrated on the sixth Earl of Derby who used it as a shooting lodge and owned large amounts of land, including Leasowe where he held his famous races - which eventually lead to the Grand National. He was succeeded by his son, James, who regarded Cromwell as a usurper and withdrew to the Isle of Man (where he was Lord of Man) .On hearing that Charles 11 was returning, left the Isle of Man to join him, escaped after the King lost the Battle of Wigan but was captured at the Battle of Worcester and beheaded at Bolton. However, Charles 11 callously refused to help Lady Derby who continued to live at the Hall and rear her five children.
Eventually the Bidston Estate came into the possession of Sir Robert Vyner, the London goldsmith. He also bought Fountains Hall and it was really Fountains where he spent most of his time. However, a lady known as Charlotte, employed by Sir Robert and nearly as well know to Charles 11 as Nell Gwynn, lived at Bidston Hall for a time and it was she who modelled for Britannia on our coinage.
For some years in the middle of this century, the Hall fell derelict until Mr. Maxwell Faulkner restored it during 1966-68 and with further thought and money having been spent upon it, the Hall is now one of the splendid buildings of the Wirral, representing a typical manor house of the sixteenth or early seventeenth century, and together with the careful modernisation provides a wonderful family home.
The village of Bidston is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and its buildings are mainly constructed in mellow grey stone. It is situated in the northern section of the Wirral. Bidston Hall is situated on commanding high ground at the east end of the village. Access to the M53 motorway is a short drive away and it is well placed for daily travel and commuting to Birkenhead, Liverpool, Chester and the North Wales coast.
Situated in approximately two and a half acres of grounds on a sandstone ridge which has lovely views of the Wirral Plain, the Dee Estuary and Welsh Hills.
Beautiful original features include exposed Storeton stonework, original flagged flooring, superb Great Hall, arched interior and exterior panelled doors with ornamental wrought iron furniture, open beamed ceilings, the galleried landing/study, glass quarterings on windows, lead light lattice windows and feature original stone fireplaces.
The front wall incorporates a stone archway with tall ornamental wrought iron double carriage entrance gates with the inscription 'Bidston Hall'. Full width paved and walled terrace approached from the main central steps.
SEMI CIRCULAR STONE PORCH
Side stone seats and flagged floor leads to solid oak front door (approx 6’6” x 4’0”)
31'8" x 18'2" Simply stunning, with original stone flagged floor, recessed wide and deep stone fireplace with raised hearth, sandstone lintel and side pieces, glazed niche window looking through into the original Priest Hole. Two large double panel
radiators; heavy open beam ceiling. Two large beautiful Sandstone windows to either side of the solid oak front door. Ceiling height 11’0”.
18'1"x 14'10" with original flagged flooring, having large stone fireplace with raised hearth, and wide grate beautiful window having feature lattice leaded stained glass with sandstone mullions and piers to the front elevation. Ceiling height 11’1”.
LARGE DINING/FARMHOUSE KITCHEN
23'0"x14'9" This is a fantastic room with ample space to accommodate a large farmhouse table. Two walls with exposed stonework, quarry tiled floor; interior leaded light window to Entrance Hall. Old fire opening with antique beams, Large three bay gas fired 'Aga'. Range of base units with tiled work surface and inset 'Belfast' sink unit with brass tap. Lattice leaded windows with stained glass panels inside circular sandstone mullions. External door to side elevation.
14'9"x18'3" window to front elevation with lattice leaded glazing with two stained glass crests and heraldry shields. Recessed fireplace with stone sides, carved overledge and surround and raised hearth with fitted gas coal effect fire; two huge exposed beams to the ceiling, large central heating radiator, door through to Library/Study.
LIBRARY AREA .
23'10"x14'9" This room is arranged over two levels with a beautiful galleried area. From the ground floor there is a wide stone staircase with door off to the galleried area. The room has two walls exposed with exposed stonework, three large windows - two having recessed seats below; open beamed ceiling; central heating radiator, ceiling and wall light points. Raised Gallery Section having full timber panelling with floor-to-ceiling recessed book shelves. Two doors to staircases.
Balanced Trap Door approach to - SINGLE DRY CELLAR 20'0"x14'0" approx. hewn out of the foundation rock (originally an Elizabethan fridge) Ventilation grill, light point.
REAR ENTRANCE HALLWAY
19’1”(max) x 12’3”(max) With solid oak external door out to Loggia with beautiful arched colonnade, Venetian in style with stone columns. Hallway itself has black and white quarry tiled floor and large triple panel radiator. Very old carved door, which we understand is from a French Abbey, to downstairs TOILET having low level WC with oak seat and lid, feature wall mounted wash hand basin, lighting, under stairs storage housing meters and giving some hanging space, leaded light window - we understand this was part of a former Priest Hole and there is a small window which has now been glazed which was obviously the air-vent for the Priest Hole.
The interior elevations to the Hallway are partly plastered with exposed old sandstone walls and the windows are all lattice leaded glazed, original, with sandstone mullions and lintels. The doors off the Hall are panelled oak doors - the door openings approximately 5' 8" height in the centre.
Approached by the staircase which divides, there is a small half-curved area that comes up to the First Floor open LANDING 36'6"x21'10" having two large lattice glazed windows with sandstone mullions and corner pieces; two large double panelled radiators; part pitched ceiling with exposed roof trusses and purlins, particularly old door to Boiler Room, doors off and small hallways into the bedrooms.
21'11"x18'3" (25'8" into the circular bay) this feature bay has carved window seats and is made of Sandstone with mullions and stained glass shields and crests with spectacular views across the central Wirral plain, over Liverpool Bay and over the front garden to the magnificent Sandstone front gate. Central heating radiator. Huge sandstone fireplace with Yorkstone grate. End wall in the original exposed timber beams with plaster inserts.
18’5” x 10’2” Fabulous en-suite comprising, corner bath with whirlpool feature, large walk-in shower cubicle, concealed cistern wc, bidet, vanity basin in white high gloss units. Flat screen television recessed into wall with remote control. Chrome ceiling downlighters. Ceramic tiles to floor and wall wet areas. Beautiful lattice leaded window with stone mullions, door to Master bedroom.
15'0"x18'4" one wall in exposed original beams and plaster panels, window overlooking the front elevation to Bidston Church and across the central Wirral plain. Large sandstone fireplace with original sandstone grate. Central heating radiator.
12'2"x 15'1" sandstone fireplace with hearth in York stone; window overlooking the rear garden; double panel radiator; T.V. aerial point, pedestal wash hand basin.
8’5” x 8’9”(max) Adjacent to bedrooms two and three with mahogany panelled cast iron bath with tiled surround with brass mixer tap and shower attachment. Low level wc with Mahogany seat and lid, bidet with mixer tap in brass; feature pedestal wash hand basin with mixer tap. Window overlooking the side elevation, double panel radiator.
Low level wc in white, leaded glass window, Oak panelled door.
15'3"x19'5" window overlooking the front elevation with sandstone mullions; double panel radiator, fireplace in sandstone with York stone hearth and mahogany panelling trim to the fire opening. Two walls are in the original timber panels with exposed beams and plaster panels.
14'9"x17'8"(max) sandstone fireplace with York stone hearth, double panel radiator lattice leaded glazed window with sandstone mullions overlooking the rear garden.
10’6” x 5’6”(extending to 8’7”) Adjacent to bedrooms four and five. Slipper bath with claw feet, low level wc, pedestal wash hand basin, shower cubicle and ceramic tiled floor. Window to side elevation with lattice leading and stone mullion, central heating radiator.
OFF THE LANDING -Boiler room with cylinder with immersion heater, airing cupboard with slatted shelves. Ladder access to - Fully insulated roof storage area with lagged pipes and boarded floor.
Long curved entrance drive approached through double opening gates running through the grounds with flower borders, ornamental shrubs and trees, extensive lawns with mature trees, natural rock outcrops, turning areas with additional space for boats, caravans, cars etc., high stone boundary walling.
Large lawn and grassed areas with ornamental flowering shrubs, trees and bushes, part natural woodland with abundance of spring bulbs. Well fenced horse paddock.
Nicely positioned in a corner of the walled garden to the front is a ‘Nordic’ indoor barbeque of timber hexagonal construction with felt shingle roof. Internally is a central barbeque area with chimney above and wooden bench seating with reindeer skins for comfort.
From the arched, pillared colonnade at the rear there is a walled lawn with borders of flowers, flowering shrubs and bushes. From here there is an ornamental wrought iron gate with stone arch above leading to further garden areas.
Stone built Potting Shed with Belfast sink and water supply.
Screen walling with ornamental wrought iron entrance gate to flagged terrace with access to kitchen entrance and driveway. Further raised sun terrace with decked seating area above natural rock outcrop. Stone steps down to stone-built detached building 33'0"x20'6" currently arranged as a single garage and Gym/Studio with rear windows, light and power points. Wood shed with gardeners WC. In the rear parking area is a Well which we are told ‘dried up’ in 1890 when Bidston Dock was built – it is thought to be deeper than the Well at Edinburgh Castle.
Local Author Tom Slemen's views on Bidston Hill
Wirral’s Bidston Hill, one of the most mysterious supernatural landmarks in the country, rises to over 234 feet and has a long, dark reputation as being a meeting place for various covens and occultists.
Several ghosts are said to haunt this hill and its famous windmill – which was built in 1800.
A vaporous outline of a man – said to be a miller who was murdered in the early 19 century - has been seen in the vicinity of Bidston Hill windmill many times over the years.
Richard Tilly, a Satanist and lecherous murderer, is said to be buried close to the windmill and legend has it that his ghastly-looking zombie-like form has been seen to slowly emerge from its grave on some moonlit nights. Even in death, the lustful Tilly has allegedly attacked young ladies who have been foolish enough to cross the hill after dark.
Bidston Hill is also classed by many investigators of UFOs as a “window area” – a hot-spot of UFO activity where strange craft and lights in the sky regularly appear.
As recent as July 2012, a 25-year-old engineer named Mike Dunne photographed a dark disc-shaped UFO that appeared over Bidston Hill and hovered over nearby houses before vanishing. Dozens of other people saw this UFO.
Liverpool Echo - Monday 15 May 1939
BIDSTON HILL INCIDENT John William Harris, aged labourer, of Back St. Anne Street, Birkenhead, who was arrested by Birkenhead police in connection with the outrage on Bidston Hill, when Mrs. Violet Adelaide Pugh was robbed her handbag and injured, appearing again at the Birkenhead Police Court, He is charged with robbery violence. . , Inspector Mitchell, applying further remand, said that Mrs Pugh was still too ill to attend court and the police were not ready to prosecute until Harris was remanded in custody Monday next.
Accessed 20th March 2018
The Ring O'Bells of Bidston
Chester Chronicle - Saturday 05 August 1854
Bidston.—Simon Croft, the well-known publican, at Bidston village, was summoned before the Birkenhead magistrates for entertaining three men, and supplying them with drink at half past nine on Sunday morning week. The men had been out mushroom-seeking, and the defence was that they were travellers"—having" travelled out of their own township. A fine of and costs was imposed.
Accessed 8th May 2018
Changes on Bidston Hill
Liverpool Daily Post - Friday 16 November 1945
Famous rhododendrons once grew on the spot above near Bidston Village, now shown buried beneath thousands of tons of soil hurriedly excavated at the outbreak of war from deep shelters driven into the rock of Bidston Hill. Now, the sandy soil is being removed and sold, and it is hoped the shrubs will again be encouraged to grow.
Accessed 8th May 2018
Bidston Footpath was old Wallasey’s best-loved walk. It was Wallasey’s backdoor entrance to wide fields and a vast green hill. Every child knew it well. It was tramped by generations by generations of picnickers. It stood for pleasure, for open air, for freedom and fun. It led to colour and lazy summer days, to heathland and honeysuckle, to the smell of hay and the scent of flowers. The town had a great affection for it.
In the long days of summer it was heavy with hawthorn and thick in wild flowers. Its ditches were deep.
The straggling track climbed towards nearly 100 acres of open land, where heather made a purple sea, broken by clumps of bright yellow gorse.
It started just off Breck Road. Its entrance was almost hidden from the passer-by.
Wallasey liked it that way. It was a bit secretive about it. The path was a pleasure few strangers to the district were introduced to.
Bidston itself was in the old days one of the delights of Wirral. Woodpeckers nested in its woods. There were squirrels and foxes.
There was Tom o’ Shanter’s Cottage on the eastern slope of the Hill, thatched and gabled.
Up to 1908 Bidston Lighthouse shone forth as a guide to shipping entering the Port of Liverpool.
The Observatory, built in 1866, housed vast and complicated machinery, and the electrical control that fired the one o’ clock gun on the Morpeth Dock, Birkenhead.
Bidston Footpath had a history that took in smugglers, contraband and the press gang. It was at one time the only safe way across a treacherous moss.
Old records show that several centuries ago contraband was temporarily hidden in Mother Redcap’s, down on the Wallasey shore, and then removed later secretly across the moor, round the then small village of Liscard.
The dead-of-night smugglers went along a lane (now Wallasey Road) and then along Bidston Footpath to the Moss, where the road ended.
The path to Bidston was difficult and dangerous. Many who attempted to cross the Moss without a guide became fog foundered.
The Moss remained un-drained until the making of Birkenhead docks in the 1840s. It was full of cross-pools, morasses and long, winding inlets.
At one dangerous point there was a pair of whale’s jawbones laid across the water. With rude crossbeams formed of trees stems, these formed a bridge. There were no posts or rails. The jawbones had to be found almost by instinct.
The spot rumoured to have its ghosts. Many local residents would not cross the Moss, particularly the jawbones, where it was said that two people had drowned and haunted the area.
The old tale was fostered and spread by the smuggling men. The place was for years known as ‘the jawbones’.
Eerie-looking and dark, the jawbones decayed and fell into the Moss many, many years ago.
After crossing the jawbones a track led to the left towards Wallasey Pool, and to an old farmstead known as Hannah Mutches’ Farm.
The old farm was the haunt of the contraband fraternity and a hiding place for men trying to avoid the press gang.
Sailors escaped to the farm from Mother Redcap’s. The farm was surrounded by a moat.
From the jawbones (the general gathering place) a track led towards Bidston along which contraband was taken sometimes and delivered at the Ring o’ Bells. The farm to the west of Bidston Church was formerly the Ring o’ bells Inn.
When it was reported that it was not safe to proceed to Bidston, contraband was diverted to the westward along the edge of the Moss and taken to the old Saughall windmill.
The windmill stood entirely by itself, a little way from the edge pf the Moss but a full mile away from the village of Saughall Massie.
Many stories have been told of tricks played by the local smugglers on the customs and excise men. Old Mother Redcap’s comes into most of them.
On one occasion a ship with tobacco on board was wrecked on the coastline. Watching officers saw two men run from the wreck and along the beach, carrying two small bales.
A chase started. When the men were caught the packages they carried were found to contain cabbage leaves and ferns.
In the meantime, their friends had made free with the real tobacco in the wreck.
Bidston Footpath, the Moss, smugglers, the press gang and Mother Redcap’s – all are closely intertwined in the history of the 1700s.
Cut for Wallasey of 100 and 110 years the footpath meant simple pleasure, summer outings, and picnic meals of cold tea, carefully carried in white enamel jugs, and cakes and sandwiches.
The track just off Breck Road would its way to heather and gorse, clumps of silver birch, and pine and beech trees.
There were old stone walls and pretty cottages. There was a sense of space, and an atmosphere of peace.
Bidston Pathway was known by the whole town. It was mostly used when the parish was young, when pleasures were simple, and when summers seemed long and certain.
The lost hamlet of Ford
The most recent ‘lost village’ in the Wirral Peninsula was Ford. A small hamlet in Bidston-cum-Ford township, in the nineteenth century it consisted of a few cottages beside the ford over the Fender river, where the Upton Bypass now crosses the M53. Ford was a great addition to the beautiful rural village and hill of Bidston
Sadly, In the 1960s Ford was swallowed up and destroyed by a council estate of the same name, which rose to notoriety in the Eighties when unemployment, caused mainly by the decline of Cammell Lairds, resulted in widespread violence, drug abuse and a huge rise in burglaries in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Desperate to tackle the estate’s problems, the powers-that-be, in a move reminiscent of a Third World dictatorship, decided that the only solution was to rename it. It is now officially Beechwood.
The tiny hamlet of Ford has vanished for all time.
The Fever Hospital of Bidston Hill
Once in Bidston there stood a Fever Hospital on Flaybrick Hill, this is now the site of a Housing Estate. Supposedly there is Hidden Tunnels leading to and from the hospital direct to the old Chapel inside the cemetery. This would have been a precaution in containing diseases of the deceased when preparing and undertaking the burial ritual.
The North and West Coastlines of the Wirral Peninsula have always been seen as the healthiest, happiest and most prosperous areas of the famous lock of land situated between Liverpool and North Wales compared to the industrial town of Birkenhead and its neighbouring areas to the East. Despite its ship building capabilities in the 19th and early 20th century Birkenhead was a slum town and deemed filthy, full of disease and offered a poor quality of life compared to other coastal areas close by such as New Brighton Resort, Wallasey, West Kirby, Hoylake, Meols, Heswall, Caldy and Thurstaston
Poverty and uncontrolled population increases created bad sanitation, diseases and epidemics in the industrial town of Birkenhead and to tackle these problems in the 19th century onwards, Sanitoriums and hospitals were created on the coastlines to try and combat this. The Wirral Peninsula had several coastal institutions for the sick to be removed to such as New Ferry, Leasowe, Heswall and one inland on the edge of Bidston Hill were the contaminated from Birkenhead were sent out of the way in a bid to try and contain contamination before it spread to other areas of the peninsula. Later in the 20th Century, Workhouses were converted into hospitals and medical science improved. The Fever hospital at Bidston later became a VD Clinic to combat Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), venereal diseases (VD) "Syphilis in Birkenhead. The building was later pulled down and a housing estate now resides on the site.