Hoylake R.N.L.I. Open Day

Hoylake Lifeboat

Hoylake Lifeboat

RNLI flags in the wind

Hoylake Lifeboat Station’s annual Open Day took place on Bank Holiday Monday 27th August at the Lifeboat Station on the promenade. The event is to raise funds for the RNLI which is funded by charitable donations.  Lifeboat crews and lifeguards of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution have saved around 139,900 lives at sea since 1824.  This year’s event raised around £20,000 for the RNLI.

Crowd enjoy the Open Day

Ice Cream van

Hoylake Lifeboat Museum

The event usually attracts a large crowd and despite the wind and rain it was estimated that almost 20,000 Wirral residents turned out for the event this year.

Mad Max fun fair ride

There are a range of attractions including air displays, a funfair rides, charity stalls, street theatre, an historic transport display, raffles, and tours of the town’s lifeboat and the Lifeboat Museum.

Wallasey Corporation bus

Birkenhead Corporation bus

Birkenhead Corpration bus

Wallasey Corporation bus

Birkenhead Corporation bus

The highlight is usually a display by the world famous Red Arrows display team.    They returned this year after having to pull out last year following a tragic accident where two pilots were killed in a display in Bournemouth just before being scheduled to appear at Hoylake.

Red Arrows red white and blue

Red Arrows low level

Prior to the event, there were concerns that the dispaly team would be unable to put on their show due to low lying clouds and bad weather conditions.

Red Arrows arrow formation

Red Arrows close formation

However the event received the all clear and the organisers cleared the beach area and the crowd were entertained by a low level flying display in front of the promenade and across the Dee Estuary.

Red Arrows smoke trails

Red Arrows low level 2

Given the poor light, a slow telephoto lens and jets flying at great speed I had to boost the film speed on my camera to the max to be able to get my shots of the aerobatic display.  This has meant that they are a little grainy but it all adds to the atmosphere of the display.

Red Arrows vapour trails

Red Arrows full formation

As the light faded the Red Arrows completed their display and flew out to sea and back to their visiting base at Hawarden Airfield where they stay overnight before flying to Bournemouth on 29th August to take part in an air display at Torbay.

Red Arrows cross over

Red Arrows out to sea

Wirral Food and Drink Festival

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th there was the Wirral Food and Drink Festival taking place at Claremont Farm near Clatterbridge.

Continental Cottage sausages and salami


Sunday was a warm sunny day but I went along on Monday.  By then the weather had changed and it was wet and windy. The weather had certainly had the effect to reduce the numbers turning out.  It was difficult enough just to keep my camera dry to take a few photos.

Empty outdoor food court

Waiting at the Liverpool One Style bus

There was a real variety of stalls selling just about every type of food.

Port of Lancaster Smokehouse

French Corner

French Corner breads

And there were the chef demonstration stages with a range of local head chefs showing their techniques.

Live chef demo stage

Chefs on dispaly

The fields had become muddy and were in parts churned up by the footfall over the festival show ground.

A muddy field…

Umbrellas in the rain

As well as being able to sample and buy good quality local produce and baking there were a range entertainment shows.  The sheep show is a humorous educational live stage show about sheep and wool with the highlight being a live sheep shearing.

Sheep shearing in progress

Sheared sheep

On the Music stage performances from Reckless Elbow, El Squeezebox, the Mockbeggers, the Mersey Morris Men and the Wirral Ukulele Orchestra took place over the two days. I managed to see El Squeezebox and Reckless Elbow.  Unfortunately I missed the legendary Wirral Ukulele Orchestra.

El Squeezebox on stage

El Squeezebox

Reckless Elbow

There was a circus for the children with a chef on stilts drumming up trade in the show ground.

Chef on stilts

The beer tent featured real ales from eight local craft brewers including brews from Birkenhead, Cheshire, St Helens and North Wales.  Given the weather it was probably the best place to be.

The beer tent

Matthew Street Music Festival

Matthew Street

The annual Matthew Street Music Festival took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend on 26 and 27 August.

The Beatles Shop Matthew Street

Carl Gustav Jung plaque

Matthew Street

Wall of Fame Matthew Street

The Festival has over 80 hours of live outdoor music which celebrates original and new bands playing their own songs or performing cover versions attracting local people and guests from all over Europe.

Waiting outside Eric’s

A photo outside the Cavern

Balloons outside Flares

The Cavern Club

I went along on Sunday where there were stages dedicated to the 70s, 80s and 90s, a Liverpool bands stage and a tribute to the legendary city venue Eric’s on the Water Street stage.  Sunday was a warm sunny day and the city centre was packed with revellers of all ages with the beer and wine flowing freely on the streets as well as in the pubs and bars. It was estimated that 160,000 people visited the first day of the event.

Bricks in the wall of fame in Matthew Street

John Lennon

Everyone wants to be with John

Outside Liverpool One

The Matthew Street Music Festival has been part of the city’s calendar of events for 20 years and over time has evolved from an indoor event to a high-profile outdoor music celebration.

Red light at the Derby Square stage

A camera in the crowd

Hypermused on the Derby Square stage

Hypermused on the Derby Square stage

Hypermused on the Derby Square stage

It is costly to stage the event and the City’s mayor Joe Anderson has said that with major cutbacks in public spending over the next two years tough decisions will have to be made on the running of such events in the future.

I’ll have another beer…

Harringron Street

Busker on Church Street

Crowd on Lord Street

Tin whistle player’s regular pitch on Church Street

A big landmark in the Matthew Street area is the Hard Day’s Night boutique hotel.  It has a whole host of Beatles’ memorabilia including some impressive statuesof the Beatles on the outside of the building.

Paul McCartney

John Lennon

George Harrison

Ringo Starr

Magical Myster Tour…

Round the corner in Stanley Street, Eleanor Rigby still sits all alone.  But someone left a yellow rose on her lap this weekend.

Eleanor Rigby still on her own

Bank Holiday Monday’s weather was a different story as the outdoor performances in the city  centre were cancelled due to dangerously high winds and heavy rain with a fear that the temporary outdoor stages could be damaged and make it unsafe for spectators.  Many of the indoor concerts went ahead as planned.

The Moore’s brothers walking down Church Street

Street Preacher being challenged

Helter Skelter (featured on the Beatles White Album)

Taking a ride on the Helter Skelter

No glasses

Monday’s events were going to have featured tribute bands to the Beatles to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the group which went on to take the world by storm following Ringo joining the other three Beatles.

The Sums on the Williamson Square stage

The Sums on the Williamson Square stage

The Sums on the Williamson Square stage

Hello Tiger

Walking with dinosaurs

I’m a regular visitor to Storeton Woods along with Toby my Golden Retriever.  It is a pleasant area to walk throughout the changing seasons to look at the greenery and wildlife.  But it’s also an area that previous inhabitants of the earth strode around as well.

Storeton Woods have grown up on the site of a sandstone quarry that was present since the times of the Roman occupation. The quarries were up to 60m (200 feet) deep by the beginning of the 20th century but they were exhausted and filled in during the 1930s with spoil from the excavation from the first Mersey tunnel. The current woods were planted on the site.

The quarry was the site of the discovery of fossilised dinosaur footprints 20m (65 feet) down into the quarry in 1838. No bones or other material remains were discovered. As the prints resembled human handprints the creature was named from the Greek words, ‘chir’ for hand, and ‘therium’ for beast: chirotherium or cheirotherium.  The full species name was Cheirotherium Storetonensis to recognise the site of the discovery in Storeton.  Similar tracks were also found on Hilbre Island out in the River Dee estuary off West Kirby.  Examples of the footprints can be seen in ‘World Museum Liverpool’ in Liverpool, the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead and also in nearby Christ Church, on Kings Road in Higher Bebington.

From the footprints, scientists have extrapolated an image of the dinosaur and in the year 2000 a life-sized carving of a cheirotherium was made on a quarried wall of sandstone near to the Mount Road and Rest Hill Road junction.  I’ve included a drawing of what the Cheirothermium looked like which is contained on the Friends of Storeton Woods website.  It is by Dr Geoffrey Tresise who wrote an article entiled ‘Merseyside’s Dinosaur’ which was published in the February 1994 issue of the Friends’ ‘Newsleaf’ newsletter.  I’ve taken a photograph of the carving of the Cheirotherium but with the recent year’s wet weather the wall is going very green and the carving isn’t as distinct as it used to be.

Since the Friends of Storeton Woods purchased the woods in 1989 they have with the help and support of the Woodland Trust been working to conserve and protect the area for future generations to enjoy.  It is a mixed woodland a long with a wider varied vegetation and as the Friends state ‘a pocket of wildlife interest in the surrounding, increasingly built-up, landscape’.

There’s no place like home

Wirral is an area of contrasts with leafy countryside, a varied coastline, affluent suburban areas and urban deprivation.

In 2003 the then government set up ten ‘Market Renewal Pathfinders’ across the north of England to deal with the high number of poor quality houses, problem neighbourhoods and abandoned homes in many of our inner city areas.  The ‘NewHeartlands’ pathfinder was charged with tackling the problems of low demand and housing market collapse in neighbourhoods across Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral.

Birkenhead had been chosen for intervention as it has been identified as an area suffering from severe social problems such as extreme anti-social behaviour and economic difficulties such as plummeting houses prices both of which were causing severe housing market failure.  The plans were to carry out significant clearance of older unpopular houses with the rebuilding of new homes to ensure that blighted parts of Birkenhead would be more attractive places to live for the future.

When the housing market renewal initiative was established in 2003 the programme was expected to last for 10 to 15 years.  Not since the 1960’s, when the landscape of many of our cities changed as councils tackled large scale slum clearance, had we seen such large numbers of homes being demolished to make way for new homes and the remodelling of some of our inner city neighbourhoods.  In Wirral the clearance of old houses with the replacement of new homes had taken place in the worst affected areas of Rock Ferry and Tranmere. The programme then moved on into Birkenhead.

However the programme came to an halt in March 2011 as the incoming coalition government withdrew the public funding as part of their austerity programme as a response to the severe national and international economic crisis.

Funds have been made available to finish off the clearance of the terraced houses in north Birkenhead.  I went along to the last site being cleared to take some photographs before the houses in the Carrington Street and Milner Street area are bulldozed to the ground.

Whilst further down the road the site between Brill Street and Bray Street the old terraced houses have already been cleared and a private developer is building an estate of new houses; up the road the large site cleared of homes on the old Rivers Streets’ estate remains vacant and overgrown except for one last remaining house standing defiantly on Ilchester Road.  The house is supported by two empty tinned up homes on either side and the Union Jack flag boldly flies in the front garden.