Archive for History

Where Did Easter Eggs Originate? – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Easter has a much older set of religious traditions than many of the Victorian Christmas traditions that we have come to know and love.   The custom of the Easter Egg as a gift can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia (now Iraq & Syria), and from there spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches.   Eggs, in general, were a traditional Christian symbol of fertility and rebirth but they came to symbolise the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection, hence their connection with Easter.   The oldest tradition was to use dyed and painted chicken eggs (often red to symbolise the “blood of Christ”).   In the 17th and 18th centuries the idea of the egg-shaped toy emerged and these were given to children at Easter often filled with sweets.   Not surprisingly the chocolatiers began to exploit this tradition and the first chocolate egg in the UK is attributed to JS Fry of Bristol in 1873, shortly followed by John Cadbury who made a “Plush” Easter Egg in 1875 which cost 3 shillings and sixpence.

The origin of the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts are more difficult to establish but one theory we heard was that an egg hunt is a simple way of proving to your children that they can indeed find anything they look for if they really want to!   Let’s hope we all find what we are looking for this Easter whether it is a huge Easter Egg, a relaxing time with family, better health, new flowers and growth in our waterlogged gardens, warmer weather or a smooth Brexit!   One reassuring thing is that a holiday that starts with a “Good Friday” is probably going to be a great weekend – let’s hope so.

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Bedford Lawn Tennis Club – Eg Pk News (Christmas 2016)

Some time ago we were contacted by a member of the public asking if any residents could remember Bedford Lawn Tennis Club, which was previously situated in Egerton Park.   We included this request for information in our summer newsletter 2016 and we have had a response from a resident who does remember the courts.

Apparently, they used to occupy the site where numbers 38, 38A, 40, 40A and 40B now stand and were surrounded by a high metal fencing.   This was demolished when the houses were built in 1973.   Our resident believes that they were clay courts as he often discovers sections of the clay surface when he is digging.

We would be interested to hear from those residents who live in the above-mentioned houses and whether they have ever found the odd stray tennis ball!   We are going to have a look at some old plans of the park to see if the tennis courts are shown there.

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Bedford Lawn Tennis Club – 11/08/2016

Some time ago we were contacted by a member of the public asking if any residents could remember Bedford Lawn Tennis Club which was situated in Egerton Park.   We included this request for information in our summer newsletter 2016 and we have since had a response from a resident who does remember the courts.

Apparently they used to occupy the site where numbers 38, 38A, 40, 40A and 40B now stand and were surrounded by a high metal fencing.   This was demolished when the houses were built in 1973.   Our resident believes that they were clay courts as he often discovers sections of the clay surface when he is digging.   We would be interested to hear from those residents who live in the above mentioned houses and whether they have ever found the odd stray tennis ball!

We are going to have a look at some old plans of the park to see if the tennis courts are shown there.

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Two Remarkable People – Eg Pk News (Christmas 2015)

Whilst researching for this short history piece we came across two remarkable people from Wirral.   In this year of First World War remembrance we thought you might like to hear about them.   One represents courage, valour and survival; the other represents peace, equality for women, and justice.   For Christmas 2015 we can all learn lessons from their lives and struggles and hopefully we can replicate in some small way the human values that make Wirral and its people so special.

Corporal John Thomas Davies, known as Jack, was born on 29th September 1895 in Railway Street, Rock Ferry.   In the great surge of patriotism which followed the outbreak of World War I he was one of the first to volunteer for the newly-formed 11th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment and was deployed to France in 1915.   He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and twice returned to active service.   By 1918, although still only 22 years old, Jack was an experienced and battle-hardened soldier when Germany launched a great spring offensive.   On 24th March his battalion were occupying positions near the village of Eppeville.   After heavy shelling the Germans advanced across the Somme and, within an hour, Jack and his comrades were surrounded and under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire.   When his company, outflanked on both sides, received orders to withdraw, Jack knew that the only line of escape for his comrades lay through a deep stream lined with barbed wire.   He mounted the parapet on top of the trenches, fully exposing himself, in order to get a more effective field of fire, and kept his Lewis gun in action to the last, halting the enemy advance and saving the lives of many of his comrades.   Army bosses assumed he had been killed and his parents were notified of his death in action.   He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, before information was received two months later that, he was in fact a prisoner of war.   He is therefore believed to be one of only two men ever to have been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross while still alive.   Jack Davies returned to England after the war, where he married and lived with his family for the rest of his life.   He died aged 59 in 1955, and is buried in St Helens Cemetery.   His Victoria Cross is on display in the Imperial War Museum, London.

The Royden family has a long historical connection with Wirral since 1660, living at Frankby Hall and later at Hillbark (Royden Park).   Although the family came from humble beginnings (bricklayers), Thomas Royden founded a successful shipbuilding company in Liverpool in the 1700s and became wealthy.   His granddaughter, Dr Agnes Maude Royden, was born in the family’s Liverpool home at Holmefield House in Mossley Hill in 1876.   Known to all as Maude, she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Oxford University.   After working with families in the slums of Liverpool she became a lecturer in English Literature but this was a time of suffrage and Maude became increasingly involved in the Suffragette movement.   In 1909 she was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and edited the Union’s newspaper, the “Common Cause”.   In 1915 she became the Vice-President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, campaigning heavily against the raging World War.   By now her fame was spreading and Maude became well known as a speaker on social and religious subjects.   In 1917 she became assistant preacher at the City Temple in London, the first woman to occupy this office.   In the 1920s she began the official campaign for the ordination of women priests when she founded the Society for the Ministry of Women.   She was the first woman to preach in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, but prior to that she had courted controversy yet again on her worldwide preaching tours, frequently being banned by the male local religious leaders.   In 1931, Maude became the first woman to become a Doctor of Divinity.   She continued to campaign tirelessly for pacifism during the troubled 1930s, but even Maude had to temporarily renounce it in 1939, believing Nazism to be a greater evil than war.   Maude died in 1956 leaving a legacy of philosophical and religious teachings and was an inspiration for many who were to follow in her footsteps.   While on a speaking tour in Australia in 1928 she was described as “England’s first woman preacher and England’s greatest woman”.

What an inspiration both Jack and Maude, opposite sides of the class system and war versus pacifist debate they were.   Should they be alive today the world would benefit enormously from their existence.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

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Minutes of AGM – 9th June 2015

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

Minutes of Annual General Meeting 

held at Royal Standard House, Rock Ferry

on Tuesday 9th June 2015

 

Attendance:               16 residents plus 4 committee members.

Apologies:                 Apologies for absence were received from 8 residents.

  1. Introduction and Welcome

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and then all those present introduced themselves by talking about their period of residence in the park.   Before the meeting began, the Secretary distributed comment slips for residents to complete before leaving, if any items they wanted to raise had not been included on the agenda.   The Chair suggested that the meeting take a more ‘open forum’ format to encourage discussion using agenda items listed as a guide.

  1. Road Repairs and Associated Matters

A total of £7,800 has been spent on repairs in last 12 months, £3,500 of that in May of this year.   The committee is currently satisfied with the quality of work which appears to be standing the test of time.   In addition our contractor has held the price of tarmac at £30 per square metre.   It is the committee’s intention to commission more repairs in the autumn focusing, as always, on the worst patches.   One resident commented on the excellent workmanship completing repairs at the entrance to Egerton Park Close.   Comment was also made that the road sweeper appears to go round the park less frequently and this could be as a result of council cuts.

ACTION:        Those present agreed that we should continue to use the same contractors and complete repairs as and when finances permit.

ACTION:        Could the committee consider a litter picking day?

ACTION:        Some evidence of an increase in dog fouling.   Should we re-launch anti-dog-fouling campaign?

  1. Speed Signs

Residents expressed concern about speeding vehicles clearly exceeding the 10mph speed limit.   This also includes delivery vehicles servicing residential homes, often in the early hours of the morning.   One of the unforeseen consequences of a better road surface could be that vehicles go faster.

ACTION:        All agreed that the speed bumps should remain and that if residents note a particular vehicle consistently driving too fast they should note the registration number and contact the committee who will seek out police advice regarding the most appropriate action.

The Secretary discussed her recent meeting with  David Rees, Road Safety Manager, Traffic and Transportation, Regeneration and Environment Directorate, Wirral Borough Council, who had advised that the most cost-effective and practical traffic calming measure would be the replacement of old 10 mph speed limit signs.   Existing signs are either damaged or illegible.   This could be achieved at a cost of £400-£500.   A bid to the ‘Your Wirral Fund’ had been unsuccessful but there might be another opportunity to bid again for a grant towards this work as it enhances public safety.   After considerable debate those present agreed that replacing the signs should be a priority for the committee in the next year in light of the perceived increase in speeding vehicles, the number of vulnerable residents in the park, and occupier’s liability in the event of an accident.

  1. Revised Constitution

Hard copies of the constitution were distributed to residents on arrival at the meeting.   Clarification requested regarding section of constitution which refers to maintenance payments.   Who should pay in multi-occupied properties – tenants, flat owners, landlords or overall owners?   The Chair informed the meeting that this is a grey area and that currently a number of individuals contribute ranging from tenants to owners.

Draft accepted by the meeting.   The revised constitution is on our website.

  1. Planning and Development

Derelict properties continue to blight the park environment.   In recent years the committee have had discussions with local councillors and the regeneration department of the council but little has changed.   The Chair made reference to recent correspondence from Russell Canner who owns 77, the empty site at 46-48 and has recently purchased the adjoining property, Englewood (previously a residential home).   In this correspondence Mr Canner said that he intends submitting planning applications to develop all these sites/properties in the next 6 months.   Until this happens all we can do is remain vigilant and continue to monitor the planning website.   In the event of a planning application being submitted the committee might need to call a special general meeting to seek resident’s views.   In the meantime the committee undertook to keep residents informed via email and the newsletter.

  1. Fundraising

The committee will continue in their efforts to encourage ‘non-payers’ to contribute.   Consideration is being given to targeted letters to non-payers when a repair has been completed outside their home.   Egerton Park bags are still available for sale.   There has been a steady increase in the proportion of residents paying but we cannot afford to be complacent.

Annual treasurer’s report noted.

  1. Committee Membership

As ever the committee would welcome anyone interested in joining.   The work is not onerous and also enjoyable.   At the meeting a resident was nominated and seconded to join committee.

AOB

i) Gates and roundabout require refurbishment – to be completed in forthcoming months.

ii) History snippets in newsletter much appreciated by those living in the park and other interested parties.   Could we do a pamphlet about the parks history?   Those present agreed it was a good idea but members of the existing committee are not in a position to take this on.

Once again the committee was thanked for all its hard work over the past 12 months.

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Christmas Past and Present – Eg Pk News (Christmas 2014)

It is hard to imagine it now but when the first houses in Egerton Park were built about 1860 Christmas was hardly celebrated and many businesses did not even consider it a holiday.   However, by 1900 it had become the biggest annual celebration and took on the form that we recognise today.   Many attribute the change to Queen Victoria, and her marriage to the German-born Prince Albert that introduced some of the most prominent aspects of Christmas.   In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, a German tradition.   It took a while to catch on but by the time the first big Victorian properties were built here, mainly near the Bebington Road entrance, the middle class families who lived here would have had a tree bedecked with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts.   No doubt this year these will be replaced by LED lights, artificial trees and a variety of flashing electrical decorations.   One wonders what the Victorians would make of our hectic, commercialised Christmas now taking place in some of the very living rooms that they would have inhabited well over 100 years ago.

Gift giving had been a New Year tradition but moved as Christmas became more important to the Victorians.   Initially gifts were rather modest – fruit, nuts, sweets and small handmade trinkets.   These were usually hung on the Christmas tree.   However, as gift giving became more central to the festival, and the gifts became bigger and shop-bought, they moved under the tree.

By 1863 the Cheshire Tithe maps show only 2 lodge houses and 4 substantial houses in Egerton Park but by 1899 there were 47 houses as the population of Birkenhead exploded and the wealthy merchants looked for a safe haven from the noise and grime of Liverpool.   However, by comparison with Birkenhead and Liverpool, Egerton Park grew at quite a slow rate which suggests it was exclusive and too expensive for anyone apart from the wealthy middle classes.   By 1888 the park was home to 4 gentlemen, 1 surgeon, 11 merchants, 1 manufacturer, 2 accountants, 1 ship’s broker, 1 languages tutor and a customs official.   Most houses had at least 2 servants and the first Egerton Park families often had as many as 10 children.   The Victorians transformed the idea of Christmas so that it became family centred.   The preparation and eating of the turkey feast, decorations and gift giving, entertainments and parlour games – all were essential to the celebration of the festival and were to be shared by the whole family.   By the 1871 census George Henry Lee, son of the founder of the famous Liverpool store, was living here with his wife, sister-in-law, 7 children, 1 governess, 1 nurse, 1 housemaid and a cook.   We imagine therefore that Christmas must have been a very busy affair and very family orientated.

On that note the committee would like to suggest that, if you know of a neighbour spending Christmas alone with no family or friends please think about popping in to see them or checking that they are OK.   If they are elderly it might be important to check that they are warm enough and can get to the shops.   Remember, Christmas is about people not presents and the best gift you can give anyone is an hour of your precious time.

 

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Wirral Archives Service – History Workshops for 2014

Wirral Archives Service presents a series of free local history workshops to be held at 2 p.m. on the following dates in the Lower Ground Floor Conference Room, adjacent to the Search Room.

6 March           The Changing Docks of Ellesmere Port   Cath Turpin

3 April             Educating the Poor in 19th-century Birkenhead   Judith Taylor

Extra Workshop: 15 April (Tuesday) 10am      Band of the Titanic and their Local Conections   Fred Eccleston

1 May              HMS Hardy and the Battle of Narvik   Alex Hughes

5 June           Wings Around the Wirral: aeronautical events, and Hooton Park   Colin Schroeder

3 July              The British Legion and its Wirral Roots   Steve Fletcher

7 August          The Outbreak of the First World War   William Meredith

4 September   The Four Free Churches in Birkenhead and the First World War   Morris Dickie

2 October         Reading the Wirral Landscape   Anthony Annakin-Smith

6 November      A Policeman’s Lot   Bill Johnstone

For further information, or to book a place on any of these workshops, please contact the Archivist, William Meredith, on 0151 606 2922, or e-mail williammeredith@wirral.gov.uk.

Please also see their webpage at the following address:

www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/leisure-and-culture/wirral-archives-service

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