Remembrance Sunday 2018

This year, Sunday, November 11 marked the centenary of the end of the First World War. I went to Hamilton Square in Birkenhead where the cenotaph saw the Mayor of Wirral Councillor Geoffrey Watt joined by service men, women, their families and armed forces representatives at 10.55am for the start of the remembrance service.

At 11am, Birkenhead fell silent as the hundreds who turned out paid their respects. It was difficult to get any good photos given the size and depth of the crowd. The sizeable crowd marked the two minute silence impeccably.

The service on Sunday was the final act of remembrance this year. Across the Wirral a number of events had taken place to mark the 100 years since the end of the First World War and poignant ceremonies to remember those who had fallen had been taking place for more than a week.

In local churches, ‘Tommy’ silhouettes were placed to mark those who lost their lives from individual parishes while in Little Neston, a remembrance bench was unveiled.

The annual Remembrance Cavalcade took place in Thornton Hough which saw 100 horses meet to mark the centenary in which eight million horses gave their lives besides soldiers, acting as cavalry, ambulances, artillery carriers and transportation.

Many schools held events to mark the First World War and as part of a nationwide campaign, Bidston and Leasowe lighthouse lit up to mark the end of Remembrance Sunday.

An event of more national significance saw the unveiling of a statue by local actress Patricia Routledge and MP for Birkenhead Frank Field on November 4 to pay tribute to Wilfred Owen on the centenary of his death on 4 November 1918 – just a week before Armistice was announced on 11 November 1918.

The statue, based at one corner of Hamilton Square, was adorned with poppies after residents placed them there as a mark of respect.

The statue is named after one of Owen’s many war poems, ‘Futility’. It was cast in bronze at a Liverpool Foundry by sculptor, Jim Whelan. The statue represents an exhausted World War One solider. Frank Field said that “The height of the soldier is extremely important to me. It is not just a sculpture, it is a soldier that we can touch, and I think we should do that.”

Lieutenant Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, MC was one of Britain’s most celebrated war poets. His short career was directly inspired by the conflict and the horrors of war – he composed nearly all his works from August 1917 to September 1918, many published posthumously.

Owen has strong links with Birkenhead. Whilst he was born in Oswestry on the Welsh borders he was brought up in Birkenhead and later Shrewsbury.  Owen’s grandfather had been a successful business man and the family had a good life in Oswestry however they suffered hard times and their substantial house at Plas Wilmot near Oswestry had to be sold to pay off his grandfather’s creditors. The family went to live in a much more modest home in Birkenhead in 1900, when Owen’s father managed to secure the job as stationmaster at Woodside rail terminus in the town.

Wilfred was seven when the family arrived in Birkenhead, and he was enrolled at Birkenhead Institute, where he remained a pupil until the he left the town. Wilfred flourished at the school, working hard at his studies (excelling especially at English and French) and winning several prizes. The family lived initially lived at 7 Elm Grove and then 14 Willmer Road in Tranmere before moving to 51 Milton Road, in Higher Tranmere. This would be the family home until 1907, when they left Birkenhead after his father gained a promotion to a more senior post with the railway company in Shrewsbury.

After the family moved from Birkenhead Wilfred continued his education in Shrewsbury and worked as a pupil-teacher and a private tutor in France before enlisting in 1915, a year after the outbreak of war. He joined the Artists’ Rifles before receiving a commission in the Manchester Regiment in June 1916 leaving for France in December 2016 with the Lancashire Fusiliers.

In March 2017 he suffered a head injury and, diagnosed as having shell shock, was sent to a hospital in Edinburgh, where he met fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, an important influence on Owen’s work.

He returned to France in September 1918. In October he was listed for the award of the Military Cross for gallantry during an attack on a well-defended position that caused so many casualties among officers that he took command and held the line. However, he was killed in action a few weeks later on 4 November during a battle to cross the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors, a week before the end of the war. The news of his death reaching his parents on Armistice Day. In 1919 he was posthumously awarded a Military Cross. Owen knew before his death he had been recommended for the award which he had welcomed as he thought it would add authority to his anti-war views. These, and the poems that express them with such vividness and power, are much admired now, but this recognition only came after his death. Only five poems were published during his lifetime, and the first collection of his poems did not appear until 1920.

The statue in Hamilton Square was made possible by the efforts of the Birkenhead Old Boys Institute. 600 men from Birkenhead were sent to fight in World War One
with 88 Old Boys of Birkenhead Institute losing their lives in the conflict. Following the war the Ingleborough Road playing fields in the town were dedicated in 1926 as a War Memorial to the 88 Old Boys of the School who did not survive the Great War and then subsequently those who lost their lives in later conflicts. Tranmere Rovers the local football club who subsequently became the owners of the playing fields obtained planning permission to build houses for sale on the site with the proceeds going toward the creation of a state-of-the-art training facility for the club elsewhere in the Wirral. This meant removing the memorial status of the playing fields. As part of this arrangement the football club agreed to work with the Birkenhead Institute Old Boys to replace the memorial playing fields with a fitting tribute to all those that sacrificed their lives during the war. This has culminated in the creation of the new memorial which was unveiled on the corner of Hamilton Square which is dedicated to the 88 Old Boys of the School including the school’s most celebrated Old Boy, Wilfred Owen. The statue now speaking to a wider audience about the futility of war.

During the 1918 – 2018 commemorations Wilfred Owen had become a major focus on both regional and national news channels. Owen had links with another area which was featured in the 100-year commemorations. Film-maker Danny Boyle marked the 100 years since Armistice and the end of the First World War through a live exhibition of art called ‘Pages of the sea’. On selected beaches around the UK, over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War was sketched out in the sand. And then, as the tide came in it was washed away as the crowds of spectators took a moment to say a collective goodbye.

Owen first left for the front from Folkestone on 29 December 1916, having written a letter in the Metropole Hotel the previous day. In the final hours before his embarkation from the town in 1918, Owen swam in the sea and described the experience in a letter home. So, to mark Wilfred Owen’s contribution to our remembering of the First World War his picture was marked out on Sunny Sands, in Folkestone in Kent one of the thirty two beaches across the UK to feature in ‘Pages of the sea’.

Wilfred Owen’s family’s three houses all survive however the Birkenhead Institute, was demolished in the 1970s when the school moved to Claughton, but that too has now gone, replaced by houses and a new road called Wilfred Owen Way.

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On Two Bridges

I’ve blogged about Wirral’s Four Bridges which cross the Birkenhead dock system before (see my article ‘On Four Bridges’ at the attached link: https://briansimpsons.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/on-four-bridges-around-birkenhead-docks/)  Work has been on-going to replace two of the four bridges and last Thursday the two new bridges that link Alfred Dock and the East Float in the docks between Birkenhead and Wallasey finally opened to the public some six months after the original target opening date.  There has been no through traffic along Tower Road, which goes across the docks between the two towns, since the end of March last year.

The two old bridges were replaced because of outdated features including height and weight restrictions and they were requiring more frequent and costly maintenance works to keep them functioning.

The works saw the “C” bridge which is the bridge closest to Wirral Met College – replaced by a new structure.  Most motorists will drive across it now without knowing it’s a bridge, the old ‘girder’ style bridge has been replaced with an uninteresting flat crossing with a set of protective barriers either side, technically called a flat deck bridge.

There was more complex work to replace the “A” bridge, the lifting bascule bridge which allows ships access to the Wirral docks from the River Mersey.  It was originally expected to take until the New Year to complete but technical difficulties were encountered.

I’ve taken images from when the old bridge was in place and during the replacement works as well as today of the new structures.

Before…

During…

After…

The initial delay to the project completion was caused by the discovery of an obstruction behind the dock walls – uncovered during excavation work – which meant the permanent foundation for the new ‘A’ bridge had to be moved.

Then in February the planned ‘floating-in’ of the new structure had to be postponed due to snow.  With that part of the project requiring a full closure of the docks to shipping for a week, the earliest this could be rescheduled with dock owners Peel Ports was April.  The replacement lifting bascule bridge was lying in wait in the contractor Dawnus Construction’s yard on Dock Road during this time.

Since the bridge was successfully moved into place in April, contractors have been completing the remaining works and putting the structure through testing.

Both the original bridges were constructed around 1931.  The original steel truss opening bridge (the A bridge) has been replaced with a new semi-through steel box girder single leaf rolling bascule bridge built by Dawnus Construction from Swansea.

The original fixed truss bridge has been replaced with a new pre-stressed-reinforced concrete composite flat deck bridge.  The other works completed were the highway improvements including improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

As for the ‘A’ bridge I have taken photographs of the original ‘C’ bridge as well as during the construction work and following the installation of the new structure.

Before…

After…

During…

I have to say when you compare the new structures with the original bridges they have very little architectural merit, they are modern and functional but lack anything to get your heart racing.  The original structures were landmarks their replacements are not unfortunately.  The new opening bridge looks odd with no wider supporting structure around it.  The original bridge was a product of its time when British engineering was still world famous and the industrial revolution was in its last throes.  I suppose the new one is a product of its time too.

Liverpool Tall Ships 2018

During the Late Spring Bank Holiday from 25th to 28th May an in international fleet of tall ships were berthed in Liverpool for the Liverpool Tall Ships 2018 event. This forms the start of the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta 2018.

This is so called as the ships visit three ports in three different countries as part of their planned race route. From Liverpool the tall ships race across to Dublin, Ireland before heading south via the Bay of Biscay for the finale of the Three Festivals Regatta in Bordeaux, France.

The event in Liverpool was taking place to celebrate the Liverpool Capital of Culture tenth anniversary. The tall ships event was one of the highlights from the 2008 celebrations.

The sailing ships were berthed at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal, Canning Dock, Canning Half Tide Dock and Albert Dock during the festival weekend.

The highlight took place on a sunny and hot Bank Holiday Monday with the parade of sail when the seventeen strong ships escorted by a couple of Mersey tugs and the Royal Navy’s HMS Somerset a Type 23 frigate (F82) sailed down the Mersey and out to sea. There was a flotilla of other smaller craft accompanying the tall ships.

The two Mersey Ferry boats also had special trips up and down the river packed with sight seers.

The event started at 12 noon as the HMS Somerset announced the event by four firings of its canons.

The seventeen ships taking part were: Adventure Wales, Arawak, Atyla, Belem, Belle Poule, Brian Ború, Hosanna, Juan de Langara, La Malouine, Lord Nelson, Maybe, Morgenster, Pelican of London, Royal Helena, Sir Stelios, City of London and TS Royalist.

There were massive crowds along the Pierhead and waterfront in Liverpool and at New Brighton on the Wirral side at the mouth to the River Mersey. I decided to go down to Woodside Ferry on the Birkenhead waterfront which was still accessible. I managed to get a few shots of most of the ships heading down the river with the various landmark buildings of Liverpool in the background.

After an hour or so the tall ships had passed by and the crowds dissipated going home after seeing a spectacular display of ships under full sail. Till next time…

Art in the docks

On a bright crisp late February morning I had a wander around the Twelves Quays area.

The ‘four bridges’ crossing of the docks between Birkenhead and Wallasey has been closed for some time whilst the Council’s contractors replace the aging bridge structures and renew the highway.

Close to the Wirral Met College Wirral Waters campus a public art installation has been put into place. Three double sided panels contain artwork commissioned by local Wirral Methodist Housing Association with a grant from the Arts Council of England and assistance from Peel Holdings who own the dock estate.

The art project called ‘And the River flows on’ involved professional artists led by Robin Woolston helping a number of groups in the community develop their artistic skills to paint images that tell the story of the history of Birkenhead Docks.

The area where the art panels have been installed is still derelict and undeveloped. The panels sit on land adjacent to the new college building.

The college on Tower Road opened in September 2015, with approximately 35,000 square feet (3,300 square metres) of space. It provides courses focusing on construction. Students were involved in every stage of the development which won a Royal Institute of British Architecture award in 2016.

Fog on the Mersey

I took a few pictures of the River Mersey from Birkenhead just before the Christmas break. An early morning fog was burned off by the sun on both the Liverpool and Wirral riverbanks, but it refused to fade away over the river itself and by lunchtime it made for an eerie sight. The blanket of fog made the famous skyline of the city appear to be built on a low-level cloud.

The City’s two cathedrals, St John’s Tower and the both the old and new old Royal Liverpool hospital buildings can be seen clearly. However, the Albert Dock and Pierhead are under the mist, with only the top of the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre to be seen. The rest of the City is in bright sunshine.

Just another day on the river and with apologies to the Geordie band Lindisfarne who sang about the Fog on the Tyne… the fog on the Mersey is all mine, all mine, the fog on the Mersey is all mine.

Manchester Ship Canal Cruise

We took a trip aboard the Mersey Ferry boat the ‘Snowdrop’ which is currently painted as a dazzle ship (see my earlier blog post) on a cruise up the River Mersey and along the Manchester Ship Canal to its terminus at Salford Quays.

The Manchester Ship Canal is 36-miles long (58 km) linking Manchester to the Irish Sea.  In large part it follows alongside the routes of the rivers Mersey and Irwell.

There are many landmarks along the way.  There are many different types of bridges which have to be lifted or swung aside to allow ships to pass up or down the canal.  As well as bridges there are many sets of locks to be negotiated.  In order to travel from the tidal River Mersey the ship canal has to negotiate four sets of locks (including the entrance lock at Eastham) which lift vessels around 60 feet (18 m) up to Manchester.  And on the banks of the canal there are many historic buildings and a changing industrial landscape.

The rivers Mersey and Irwell were first made navigable in the early 18th century. Goods were also transported on the Runcorn extension of the Bridgewater Canal (from 1776) and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (from 1830), but by the late 19th century the Mersey and Irwell Navigation had fallen into disrepair and were often unusable.  Manchester’s business community viewed the charges imposed by Liverpool’s docks and the railway companies as excessive and a ship canal was proposed as a way of giving ocean-going vessels direct access to Manchester.  A public campaign was set up to enlist support for the scheme and was presented to Parliament as a bill in 1882. However, faced with stiff opposition from Liverpool, the canal’s supporters were unable to gain the necessary Act of Parliament to allow the scheme to go ahead until 1885.

Construction of the ship canal began in 1887 taking six years to complete at a cost of £15 million which is estimated to be equivalent to about £1.65 billion in today’s money!  When the ship canal opened in January 1894 it was the largest river navigation canal in the world, and enabled the newly created Port of Manchester to become Britain’s third busiest port despite the city being about 40 miles (64 km) inland.

Changes to shipping methods and the growth of containerisation during the 1970s and 1980s meant that many ships were now too big to use the canal and traffic declined, resulting in the closure of the terminal docks at Salford in 1984. The canal is able to accommodate a range of vessels from coastal ships to inter-continental cargo liners but it is not large enough for most modern vessels. By 2011 traffic had decreased from its peak in 1958 of 18 million long tons (20 million short tons) of freight each year to about 7 million long tons (7.8million short tons).

The canal was bought by the private company Peel Ports in 1993.  Peel are re-developing sites along the ship canal and are looking to increase shipping from 8,000 containers a year to 100,000 by 2030 as part of their Atlantic Gateway project.

I took a number of photographs along the route.

We took the ferry from Seacombe with a short hop to the Pierhead at Liverpool and down along the Mersey.

Woodside Ferry terminal in Birkenhead is the second Mersey Ferry terminal on the Wirral side.  The New Brighton and Tranmere ferry terminals having long since closed down.

Cammel Lairds shipbuilders yard with the twelve century Birkenhead Priory building as a backdrop.  I’ve posted in the past about both of these sites.

The former grand merchants houses at Rock Park on Wirral look much more elegant from the river even looking through the Tranmere Oil Terminal.  Rock Park comprises a varied selection of Grade 2 listed villas built between 1836 and 1850 along with landscaped drives and a Victorian Esplanade overlooking the River Mersey.  The Tranmere Oil Terminal was opened on 8 June 1960 to handle vessels of up to 65,000 tons, and is connected to the Stanlow Oil Refinery by a 15mile (24 km) pipeline. Part of the terminal occupies the site of a former ferry service to Liverpool, with the old pier considerably modified.

At Eastham locks on the River Mersey forms the entrance to the Manchester Ship Canal just after the Eastham Ferry Hotel.  We passed the Sten Idun chemical tanker being navigated down the canal by the MSC tugs Victory and Viking.

At Ellesmere Port the canal is joined by the Shropshire Union Canal, at a site now occupied by the National Waterways Museum. The area was a 7-acre (2.8 ha) canal port linking the Shropshire Union Canal to the River Mersey. It was designed by Thomas Telford and it remained operational until the 1950s.  I’ve posted about the boat museum in an earlier blog.

Essar Oil UK Stanlow Oil refinery is situated on the south bank of the Manchester Ship Canal, which is used to transport seaborne oil for refining and chemicals for Essar and Shell.  Stanlow has a refining capacity of 12 million tonnes per year, it is the second largest in the United Kingdom and produces a sixth of the UK’s petrol needs.  Stanlow is also a large producer for commodities such as jet fuel and diesel.  The refinery serves much of England through the UK oil pipeline network.  Oil is delivered to the Tranmere Oil Terminal via ship and pumped to Stanlow, where it is then refined and stored for delivery.

At Weston, near Runcorn, the ship canal also connects with the Weaver Navigation.  Stobart Ports now own the docks at Weston Point.  They are developing the site as an ‘inter-modal’ port facility to enable freight, currently carried by road, to be transported by rail and water. This will see increased warehousing, new container handling facilities, an extension to the existing West Coast main line rail siding, a new link road, and improved navigable access between the dock and the Manchester Ship Canal.

At Runcorn Ineos manufactures chemicals including chlorine, chlorine-containing compounds including vinyl chloride, heavy chemicals including alkalis, and fluorine-containing compounds. A separate business within the same company manufactures salt from brine transported by pipeline from the saltfields of central Cheshire.

The Runcorn railway bridge is on a branch of the West Coast Main Line and provides frequent services to the Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston stations.  Locally it has been called the Queen Ethelfleda Viaduct but more widely as the Britannia Bridge. The bridge is named after Ethelfleda because the southern abutments and pier were built on the site of the Saxon walled settlement built by her in 915.  Parts of the bridge are castellated to reflect this. There are three shields above the footway – the Coat of Arms of the City of London, Britannia (from the crest of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) company and the Liver Bird of Liverpool.  Because of the crest the bridge is also known as the Britannia Railway Bridge.

The A533 road crosses the Runcorn Gap over the Silver Jubilee Bridge, the lowest bridge crossing of the River Mersey.  It is a through arch bridge with a main arch span of 330 m. It was opened in 1961 as a replacement for the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge, and was initially known simply as the Runcorn Bridge or Runcorn–Widnes Bridge.  In 1975–77 it was widened, after which it was given its official name in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  The bridge is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.

The Silver Jubilee Bridge is a bottleneck and becomes congested at peak travel times, and in the event of a breakdown or accident on the bridge, traffic in the area comes to a standstill. To resolve this problem, a second crossing of the Mersey the Mersey Gateway is now being built.  Construction began in May 2014 and is due to be completed by the autumn of 2017. It is located approximately just less than a mile (1.5km) to the east of the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge that connects the towns of Widnes and Runcorn.  It is will be a toll bridge, with three lanes in each direction.  The design is a cable-stayed bridge with three towers across the river and a second bridge across the ship canal.  It will be 2.3km long with a river span of 1km. The main bridge deck is made from reinforced concrete and the spans are supported by steel cable stays attached to pylons rising up to between 80 and 125m above the river bed.

As we move on down the ship canal we travel past a number of bridges.  The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal included the construction of several swing bridges and high level bridges which would not obstruct tall vessels travelling on the Canal.

Old Quay swing bridge

Moore Lane swing bridge

Acton Grange Railway viaduct

Chester Road swing bridge

Northwich Road swing bridge

Latchford High Level Bridge, Knutsford Road swing bridge and Latchford viaduct

Latchford Locks.  Latchford was chosen as the location of intermediate locks on the Manchester Ship Canal. These comprise a larger lock for ocean-going vessels and a smaller lock to its south for coasters, tugs and barges. A ship mooring area was provided on the canal’s south bank and enabled two large vessels to pass each other at this point.

Thelwall Viaduct or officially called Thelwall High Level Bridge.  The viaduct is a steel composite girder viaduct close to the village of Lymm  It carries the M6 motorway across the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey.  It actually comprises two entirely separate bridges, one of 4,414 feet long carrying the northbound carriageway, which was the longest motorway bridge in England when it was opened in July 1963, and one 4,500 feet long carrying the southbound carriageway which was opened in 1995.  The longest single span is the one of 336 feet crossing the ship canal.

Warburton High Level Bridge.  Warburton Bridge is a privately owned high-level cantilever bridge which incorporates a public highway the B5159 road, connecting the A57 with the A6144.  It has a statutory toll charge of 12p.  It was commissioned under the Rixton & Warburton Bridge Act 1863. It is unadopted and privately maintained.  It is one of the few remaining pre-motorway toll bridges in the United Kingdom.

Cadishead Railway Viaduct now disused

Irlam container terminal

Irlam Locks.

Barton Locks

Barton High Level Bridge carries the M60 over the ship canal.  It was opened in October 1960 as part of the then M63 and was known as the Stretford – Eccles by-pass.  Prior to its opening all the traffic in the area was forced to cross the Manchester Ship Canal via the Barton Road Swing Bridge or further upstream via the Trafford Road Swing Bridge.  The bridge was designed of such a height to give a clearance from the water level somewhere in the region of 100 feet to allow waterborne traffic to pass freely under it.  It was originally built with two lane carriageways in either direction but road traffic soon increased to the point where it became essential to widen the bridge to three lanes either side with each extra lane being supported by additional reinforced concrete piers built alongside the originals.  The work on this widening process was completed in 1990 – 30 years after its original opening.

Just a little further on a 60ft lifting road bridge which was being built collapsed next to the M60 Barton High Level Bridge in May 2016.  Construction was part way through the bridge which would carry a new dual carriageway over the Manchester Ship Canal to relieve congestion.  The lifting platform crashed onto the canal and has subsequently been taken way leaving the four bridge towers some of which suffered damage in the collapse.  The bridge’s completion has been put back indefinitely.

Barton Road swing bridge and Barton Swing Aqueduct, the only swing aqueduct in the world.  The Barton Swing Aqueduct is a moveable navigable aqueduct carrying the Bridgewater Canal across the Manchester Ship Canal. The swinging action allows large vessels using the ship canal to pass underneath and smaller narrowboats to cross over the top. The aqueduct, is a Grade II listed building and is considered a major feat of Victorian civil engineering.  It was designed by Sir Edward Leader Williams and built by Andrew Handyside and Company of Derby, the swing bridge opened in 1894 and remains in regular use.

Centenary Lift Bridge is the last bridge that we sail below as we then enter into the Salford Quays complex.

We then pulled into a side dock just before the ITV studios.  Media City is well named given the number of broadcasting satellite dishes next to our disembarkation point.

 

The trip had taken us over six hours passing through a varied landscape and a history of our industrial past and present.

King’s Day at Birkenhead Town Hall

I’ve taken photographs of Birkenhead Town Hall before in a few articles on this blog.  But as I walked past on Thursday 27th April I noticed that rather than the union jack flying overhead there was the national flag of the Netherlands flying.

Well the 27 April is the Netherland’s national day; it is the King’s official birthday and is known as King’s Day or ‘Koningsdag’.  In the Netherlands it is celebrated with parties, street markets, concerts and special events to celebrate the royal family.  Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods and King’s Day themed products in many city and town centres.  The day features official musical performances and many people spontaneously sing “Het Wilhelmus”.  This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people.  Each year, the royal family visits some of the venues and they are entertained with displays and performances around local historic events. Royal family members generally join in with the games in a good natured way and greet the thousands of people who turn out to see them.

Well there was none of that in Birkenhead but a number of civic dignitaries and Dutch nationals currently residing in the Merseyside area held a civic reception along with the Mayor of Wirral Councillor Pat Hackett in Birkenhead Town Hall.

Interestingly in October 2016 the Council adopted a protocol for flying flags at Wirral Town Halls which will be overseen by the Council’s ‘Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee’.  Whilst the rules are in the main about flying the union jack or the Wirral Council flag it seems unclear to me as to when the flag of other nations can be flown at the town halls in Wirral.  It’s an interesting aside to the usual civic protocols.