After Robert de Rodelent, the lands passed through many families including the notorious Litherlands,
Vyners, Meoles and Stanleys. The early days of the village consisted of a small road running North to
South, a large church, several inns, lots of farms and a single windmill. Most of the inhabitants were
farmers, fisherman and other labour intensive trades. The village was slowly built around the Church
of St Hillary's which is also the oldest known surviving church on the Wirral. The topography of
Wallasey is extensively high, with many contours and anomalies. The Breck is a large hill which runs
through the centre of the village, although today it is densely populated with modern houses and is
barley visible from most points. In 1545 there were only 140 recorded inhabitants in the village which
later dropped to 130 before the population began to increase again.
It wasn't until the 1800s that Wallasey, like many areas in Wirral; saw a population boom and
subsequently a large increase in residents. It was during this time that the shoreline between
Seacombe and Rock Point started to become an attractive area to which affluent Liverpool merchants
and sea captains could retire. Development at Egremont began around this time, and gained pace
with the introduction of steam ferries across the river. The area also had a defensive role overlooking
the growing port of Liverpool for which in 1829, Fort Perch Rock was built and in 1858 Liscard Battery
at New Brighton.
In 1830, the merchant James Atherton purchased much of the land at Rock Point, which enjoyed views
out to sea and across the Mersey and had a good beach. His aim was to develop it as a desirable
residential and watering place for the gentry, in a similar way to one of the most elegant seaside
resorts of that Regency period – hence "New Brighton". Substantial development began soon
afterwards, and housing began to spread up the hillside overlooking the estuary - the gunpowder
magazine being closed down in 1851.
With the expansion of trade on the Mersey, new docks were constructed between 1842 and 1847 in
the Wallasey Pool, and by 1877 the dock system between Wallasey and neighbouring Birkenhead was
largely complete. The area around the docks became a centre for engineering industries, many
associated with shipbuilding, and other activities including sugar refining and the manufacture of
cement and fertilisers. Bidston Dock, the last in the area, was opened in 1933, but was filled in during
1886 saw the opening of the Mersey Railway which allowed further commerce from Liverpool. At this
time the pace of housing development increased, particularly in the Liscard and Wallasey Village
areas. The area now called Wallasey comprises several distinct districts which gradually merged
together to form a single built-up area during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was around this
time was the first hospital was built in Wallasey village being built in St Georges Road. The first
hospital had only three beds and was incorporated into a lodge. The building was demolished in the
80s, but the foundations still lay under Nightengale Lodge.
Wallasey has many areas of historical value, and it is the topography of the land which also helped
form its varied layout and quirky features.
Robert de Rodelent of Rhuddlan
became the land owner of Wallasey
through Norman invasion taking over
from the Saxon occupiers at the time.
Robert is noted in many historical
reports as a brave and loyal soldier,
who did much for Wirral and especially
the area of Wallasey. It is also
reputed that he was involved heavily
with the building of St Hillary's parish.
In July 1088 Robert was out with only
one other solider when he came under
attack from the Welsh. He was at the
port of Deganwy in North Wales, and
is reported to have died in a shower of
arrows during the skirmish.
The Breck is a large feature of
Wallasey village which cannot be
passed by unnoticed. The Breck
rises to around 180 feet at its
peak as was a large open common
for the people of the township. In
1845 Sir John Tobin of Liscard Hall
purchased the land and worked
the rocks as a quarry. The largest
and most sheer rock face is known
locally as Grannie Rock. The Breck
was an old playground for the
older people of Wallasey and many
people would climb or attempt to
climb the rock face. In recent
years this has stopped as many of
the foot holes and grips have
eroded which is the only method of
being able to climb up the face.
The top ground of the Breck is a relatively flat area which had been used as a bed for the large crane
to sit on whilst it lifted materials from inside the quarry. This part of the rock face was much more
difficult to climb and has resulted in several injury's and reported deaths. In Noel E Smiths book
"Sand Stone & Mortar" he mentions that a young boy in 1927 attempted to jump from the top and
parachute down using an umbrella. Needless to say the poor lad did not survive.
Before the massive onset of housing after WW2 the view from the breck would have been that of
large opened field with sporadic towns and villages dotted around the landscape. We can only
imagine how much the view has changed over the years, but a small clue has been left in the for of a
painting by W H Robinson.
The painting was called "The view from the Breck" and was immortalised by the artist W H
Robinson in 1878. The painting not only shows the view from the Breck, but also what was known
locally as "Nelsons Gutter" or "The Nelly". The closest building to us is in the picture is the 17th
century half timbered cottage with thatched roof, which was a land mark for the villagers at the time.
The small cottage known as the Post & Pillar or the Toffee shop, which once stood in the centre of
the village but was destroyed during road widening in the 1920's having been used at the end of its
life as a toffee shop by Mrs Smith.
Also in the picture we can see what was known locally as "The White Cottage" which sat next to it
and was owned by George Nelson; this is where the name of Nellys Gutter derives from. Also in the
painting is the school house built by St Hillary's Church in 1840.
The lane having no proper title other than Nelsons Gutters, was later renamed School lane after the
small stone school of St Hillary's. Also in the painting is Roseberry House which was built by Admiral
Richard Smith of Poulton Manor in 1800. Finally in the picture we can see a row of houses slightly to
the right. These famous houses were known locally simply as
"The Twenty Row" and were used for accommodating families working at the brickwork's near
|The Painting by W H Robinson in 1878.
|The Post & Panel Cottage and White Cottage as seen above.