NEW FERRY ONLINE

 The Community Website of New Ferry, Wirral, UK

 

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New Ferry Park

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NEW FERRY PARK


The first New Ferry Park was not built here. It was laid out on land to the rear of the New Ferry Hotel (off New Ferry Road) in the late 19th century, and was intended to cater for residents of the new houses being built down by the riverfront and for the many day-trippers who came over from Liverpool on the ferry to New Ferry’s pier. However, developers viewed the land the park occupied as highly desirable, and the Council sold the site for housing. The housing at Onslow Road now covers most of the site, whilst the New Ferry Hotel was demolished in the last century and the site of it is now occupied by the Derwent Lodge retirement home.

The Council decided to rebuild the park on its new site at the end of the 19th century. This land had been a mixture of farmland, where some clay pits had been excavated (for brick-making) and these had often been left as a series of small ponds. The ponds were filled in and the park laid out during the late 1890s. As well as the tennis courts (two of the original four of which survive today in Stanley Road), the park also featured a bowling green surrounded by benches and a pavilion covered with clambering roses.

The park even boasted a garden for the blind, with highly-scented flowers and braille nameplates next to them.

The Lodge, built in 1904 (and pictured opposite circa 1922) once guarded the main entrance to the park. The two large gates, one on either side of the lodge, were locked every night and the park patrolled by the park keeper. This Grade II listed building was empty for many years before being restored as a restaurant in 2000.

The park was originally to have been surrounded by fine Victorian houses. You can see the first few of these were built in Sefton Road. But, as often happened in the late 1890s, builders went bankrupt, the remaining land was then resold and more inferior, smaller houses built. Just look at the age and style of the houses along the road.

For generations, the park was a popular place for the people of New Ferry to relax and enjoy themselves.

During the first half of the 20th century it played an important role in the annual Port Sunlight Festival when the procession of highly decorated carnival floats would end up here after a winding tour of the village’s streets. The fair on the park had many attractions as can be seen in the photographs on the next page which were captured from some old cine footage from the late 1920s or early 1930s.

In the pictures, we can see merry-go-rounds, horses being paraded through the crowds, residents playing hoop-la, and two little girls in their best dresses posing for the camera.

Does anybody recognise anyone in these grainy pictures of yesteryear?

During WWII, the park was one of the few open spaces in the area with enough space and distance from surrounding buildings to build public air raid shelters to protect residents from German bombs. The shelters were indeed useful, as a bomb fell onto terraced houses in nearby Egerton Road in May 1941 (on the site where the new houses stand today). The shelters were still open to the public in the 1960s and 1970s – and many people remember playing in and around them until they were covered over for safety reasons. They still exist, under the mounds next to the play area.

For many years, the area to the north of Grove Street School was used for allotments.  Many older residents remember spending happy hours with their parents and and grandparents growing their own vegetables.  In the 1960s, the allotments were removed and Council maisonettes built, the streets being named after famous poets. 

The park suffered from cutbacks in maintenance budgets during the latter half of the 20th century. The bowling green disappeared, along with the flowers and the blind garden. Part of the park disappeared when the original New Ferry clinic was built on it.

Although the play area was improved in the early 1990s, and the tarmac kickabout area created in the dip, the park has seen little investment since. The football pitch was improved in the early 2000s when some land drainage work was carried out, and the pitch is now the popular home of local teams.

The park is also home to New Ferry Village Hall, which – as well as being a popular venue for local clubs and societies – houses the successful and award winning Wirral Farmers Market on the second Saturday of every month.

The community still has a fond connection to the park. The Council owned maisonettes were demolished in the late 1990s, and the Beazer estate of fine homes was built in their place (also taking out two of the original four tennis courts). These homes now overlook the park on its southern and western boundaries, creating a “village green” look.

 

New Ferry Park once had a bowling green.  It is shown here as it was in 1934.  Long since removed, the site is now used by the tarmac kickabout area.

 

New Ferry Park Lodge, pictured in 1922.  After being empty for decades, it has spent the last 10 years as a restaurant which unfortunately closed in 2009.  The building is currently for sale.

 

The Park Lodge as seen from inside the park in 1926.  Note the well tended bushes and plants in the foreground, now sadly long gone and replaced with just grass and towering trees.  To the right of the Lodge and on the other side of New Chester Road is St Marks Church.  To the left, the building with the tall chimneys was the old vicarage, now sadly demolished and replaced with a more modern house for the vicar in the 1970s. 

 

 

Above are four images taken from some old cine footage dating from the late 1920s or early 1930s of the fun fair in New Ferry Park.

 

Friends of New Ferry Park

The Friends of New Ferry Park are currently trying to obtain funding for improvements to the park.  If you would like to get involved, please contact us by sending an email to newferryonline@gmail.com 

 

 

Between 2005 and 2008, local community organisation New Ferry Regeneration Action Group organised four “fun weekends” for residents, the first of which – in 2005 – included a team of WWII re-enactors displaying and recreating a battle between British forces and German troops. The 2007 event even had a team of Viking re-enactors displaying how our ancestors lived here over 1000 years ago.

 

New Ferry Park - Photo Gallery