- Eastham, Merseyside
infobox UK place
population= 12,250 (2001 Census)citeweb|url=http://www.wirral.gov.uk/factsandfigures/census2001/oneward2recset.asp?ref=TS11|title=Wirral 2001 Census: Eastham|work=Metropolitan Borough of Wirral|accessdate=30 June|accessyear=2007]
Metropolitan Borough of Wirral
region= North West England
constituency_westminster= Wirral South
dial_code= 0151 3**
Eastham is a small town on the
Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, England. It is situated to the south of Bromboroughand north of Ellesmere Port. Eastham is an electoral ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. At the 2001 Census, it had a population of 12,250 (5,940 males, 6,310 females), although the total ward population for the town stood at 13,637 (6,562 males, 7,075 females). [citeweb|url=http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadKeyFigures.do?a=3&b=5941386&c=eastham&d=14&e=16&g=361543&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1208281424524&enc=1|title=2001 Census: Eastham (Ward)|work=Office for National Statistics|accessdate=15 April|accessyear=2008]
Eastham is the southernmost area of the Merseyside part of Wirral, lying within a
green beltarea bordering Merseyside and Cheshire, adjacent to the River Mersey. It is located close to the M53 motorway, and lies directly on the A41 road, the main road between Birkenheadand Birmingham. It is also close to the city of Chesterand shares a proximity to the village of Port Sunlight, a historic centre for the British soap industry. The town comprises the original village of Eastham and modern pleasant private housing areas. These include Brookhurst (which borders Willaston and Raby Mere) and Chapel View, a development of new housing near Eastham Ferry.
Eastham is cited as one of the oldest villages on the Wirral Peninsula and has been inhabited since
Anglo Saxontimes. The name derives from its location: "ham" ("home") situated to the east of Willaston, which was then the principal settlement. [citeweb|url=http://www.mikekemble.com/mside/wirral.html|title=The Wirral Hundred, The Wirral Peninsula|work=Mike Kemble|accessdate=15 April|accessyear=2008] The original village is clustered around St. Mary's church, whose churchyard contains an ancient yew. Much of the surrounding land was once owned by the powerful Stanleyfamily.
Since the Middle Ages, a ferry service operated across the River Mersey between Eastham and
Liverpool, the early ferries being run by monks from the Abbey of St. Werburgh. By the late 1700s, up to 40 coaches each day arrived at a newly built pier, carrying passengers and goods for the ferry. Paddle steamerswere introduced in 1816 to replace the sailboats, but the demand for a service declined in the 1840s with the opening of a railway link between Chester and Birkenhead Woodside Ferry. In 1846, the owner of the ferry, Thomas Stanley, built the Eastham Ferry Hotel and shortly after, the Pleasure Gardens were added to attract more visitors. The gardens were landscaped with Rhododendrons, Azaleas, ornamental trees and fountains. Attractions included a zoo, with bears, lions, monkeysand antelope, an open air stage, tea rooms, bandstand, ballroom, boating lake, water chute and a loop-the loop roller coaster.citeweb|url=http://www.sunnyfield.co.uk/eastham.htm|title=History of Eastham|work=sunnyfield.co.uk|accessdate=15 April|accessyear=2008]
Entertainers performed in the gardens during summer, and included
Blondin, the famous tight-rope walker who once wheeled a local boy across a high wire in a wheelbarrow. In 1894, the Manchester Ship Canalwas opened by Queen Victoria, bringing added prosperity to the area and a Jubilee Arch was built at the entrance to the Pleasure Gardens in 1897 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.
In 1854 the American novelist
Nathaniel Hawthorne, whilst in the position of United States consul in Liverpool, visited Eastham and declared it to be: "the finest old English village I have seen, with many antique houses, and with altogether a rural and picturesque aspect, unlike anything in America, and yet possessing a familiar look, as if it were something I had dreamed about." [http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/pfenb01.html "The English Note-Books"] (1870).
In its heyday Eastham Ferry was known as the 'Richmond of the Mersey', but its popularity declined during the 1920s and the last paddle steamer crossing took place in 1929. The Pleasure Gardens fell into disrepair during the 1930s and the Iron pier and Jubilee Arch were later dismantled. In 1970, to commemorate
European Conservation Year, the area was designated a Woodland & Country Parkand today, it is once more a popular place of recreation.
In the 1930s, significant housing development joined Eastham to neighbouring Bromborough leaving the Mersey side of the Wirral continuously built up to New Brighton.
As well as Eastham Country Park and Woods, The Lowfields, close to Eastham Rake Station, is the start of a guided walk suggested by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, following Dibbinsdale Brook and leads onto the Wirral Way.
Dibbinsdale Brook and Clatter Brook run through the Brookhurst area of Eastham and into Bromborough. There is also a private
golfclub, Eastham Lodge, a mature parkland course with views across the River Mersey.
Near to the village centre is a small public area called Torr Park. It was originally founded by the Stanley family as an area for recreation. In the present day the park offers
tenniscourts and a bowling green.
Eastham Lockforms the western end of the Manchester Ship Canal, and is the largest lock in the UK. In order to provide berthing facilities for large tankers that could not be accommodated on the canal due to size, the Queen Elizabeth II Dockwas constructed, with vehicular access from Ferry Road.
Eastham Rake railway station opened in 1995 on the
Wirral Lineof the Merseyrailnetwork.
* [http://www.wirral.gov.uk/LGCL/100006/200073/670/content_0001004.html Metropolitan Borough of Wirral: Eastham Country Park]
* [http://www.oldphotos.co.uk/eastham.htm Historic photos]
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