The village of Heswall is centred around the church of St Peter. This area is known as lower Heswall
and has retained much of its old character and buildings. Its thought that the original village is was
founded on the banks of the river Dee by Norse settlers between 800 – 900ad. Many people have
pointed out links between a Norse chieftain named Essul who settled on the banks of the Dee and
the name Heswall which is thought to be derived from his name. This can be shown through the
translation of the word Heswall, which originally was spelt without the “H” being pronounced as
Essulvall meaning “Home of Essul”. As yet this is still to be proven.Others believe the name Heswall
to be derived from a Hazel spring or well near by. However given Wirrals strong Scandanavian
History I believe it far more likely to named after Essul.
|At the time of the Doomsday Survey in 1086
Heswall was recorded as “Eswelle” and owned
by Robert de Rodelent, who also owned much of
the land on the eastern side of the River Dee. In
1277 it became the property of Patrick de
Haselwall, who was Sheriff of Cheshire.
Heswall stayed a small cluster of dwellings and
remained very much a fishing village and hamlet
until the introduction of the shipping trade in the
early 14th century. Cargos would be frequently
stored and exported from Heswall and the
surrounding areas of the Dee estuary for goods
such as grain, fish, salt, wine and spices.
Omerod travelled around the Wirral peninsula in
1819, his description of Heswall at the time is as
“Heswall is situated on the shores of the Dee,
along which they present a fertile tract of meadow
ground, which gragually changes to a drary and
barren flat as it advances inwards; to the North
East this rises into a wild and rocky moore,
immediately under which the parish church is
situated commanding the estuary and environed
by huts and farms mostly of stone, rude in their
structure, and placed in great disorder”.
As time went by merchant Princes began to set up houses in the area along the banks of the River
Dee, initially as holiday homes to admire the spectacular views of Wales. The wonderful scenery
and clean fresh air was a of a quiet fishing village was sought after by many businessmen of the
It was the completion of the Hooton to West Kirby railway line in 1886 that kick started the p
[population boom in Heswall. The creation of Heswall train station was a much awaited addition to
the village. Now with high speed access to the surrounding villages and easy access to Birkenhead
and Liverpool many businessmen began to settle in the area and many more opened up shop
around village centre. The wealthier of the migrant’s setup home by building new houses on the
slopes of the hills to maximise views across the Dee to Wales. Many of these still stand today just
behind the old village.
Due to the housing boom a second railway company provided an additional train station. After much
deliberation the new station was named Heswall Hills. Many residents found this confusing as the
station was quite far from the actual Heswall hills but despite protests and a number of other names
being put forward, they kept the name. Over time the settlement on Heswall hills expanded
significantly and became known simply as “Heswall” , whilst the village below which was first called
Heswall became subsequently known as “Lower Heswall”. The second train station still kept the
name “Heswall on the Hills”. This name spread through to the surrounding fields and hills, which
became even more confusing as that area actually fell under Barnston and not Heswall.
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|The photographs to the left show School Hill
off the main Village Road looking out to the
Clwydian Hills in North Wales. Trees now
obstruct the view of Heswall parish church,
whose tower we can clearly see here.
St Peter’s School stands at the top of School
Hill. During May 1941, Heswall was bombed,
the school lost three classrooms and the
headmaster’s daughter and her fiancé were
killed. The shop on the right is advertising
|The picture to the left is taken from Dee
View Road and is part of the Francais Firth
collection. The building in the picture is
actually the Dee View Inn. The inn stands
on the junctions of Dee View Road, The
Mount and Dawstone Road.
The photograph was taken at the war
memorial on the edge of the park. The shop
on the left is now a house, and the Co-op to
its right no longer trades either. The roads
today still command good views across the
Dee Estuary and across to North Wales.