Our last stop of the day was in the town of Leasowe, on the Wirral. We had seen Leasowe lighthouse advertised on the train, so we decided to stop and have a look. Needless to say we couldn’t find it, but we got home and researched how exactly to get to it so one day we shall make a return visit. Never the less, we did find one or two interesting things in the town…
Status: Wirral District, Merseyside, Town, England
Travel: Merseyrail (Southport – New Brighton via Liverpool Central), Mersey Ferries (Seacombe – Liverpool Pierhead), Merseyrail (Liverpool – Hoylake/Leasowe), Merseyrail (Leasowe – Southport via Moorfields)
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Lighthouse, Beach, Leasowe Castle, Typhoo Tea Factory etc
As we walked in the general direction of the beach (and where we expected to find the Lighthouse) we passed the Typhoo Tea Factory. The brand was launched in 1903 by John Sumner Jr. from the city of Birmingham in the Midlands. The original factory was also located in Birmingham, but by 1974 production moved to Leasowe (sometimes associated as part of the nearby town of Moreton).
The brand itself originated from John’s desire to create a new brand of tea he could sell in his shop in Birmingham, which he founded with his father in 1870, as a joint Grocery and Pharmacy. Taking the name from the Chinese word for Doctor (due to his sister’s comments about the soothing nature of tea) he came up with his Typhoo tea brand.
As we reached the beach, we found our way blocked by Leasowe Castle, which I assumed was a more modern building, or hall. It is in fact a true Castle from 1593, and was possibly originally used as an observation point for the Wallasey races (Horse racing) which took place on the beach in the 16th/17th centuries.
It was built by Ferdinando Stanley, the 5th Earl of Derby (1559 – 1594), and the first part of the Castle built was an octagonal tower. This fell into disrepair by 1700, and in 1821 the complex was bought by the Cust Family, and turned into a hotel by 1826. In 1836 the building was honoured, as the ceiling of the Star Chamber in Westminster, London, which was demolished in 1806, was brought here to the Castle. It is famously decorated with gold stars, and four tapestries (one for every season) were also brought to the Castle. By 1911 and 1970 the building was converted and used as a Railway Convalescent Home, before becoming a hotel again by 2000.
As it’s still a hotel today, we couldn’t go in, but we got a good view from the road, through the ornate gate posts, to the Castle itself. Access to the beach is difficult here and you have to go further down the road to find a path to it, so we decided to turn back at this point, as we weren’t sure exactly how far away the lighthouse might be. We later found out it was constructed in 1763 and is the oldest brick built lighthouse in Britain.
We returned to the train station, and made our way back to Southport via the Liverpool Stations. Leasowe is served by one train station, with local buses connecting it to the rest of the Wirral. It’s a pleasant little town and we hope to return soon to find the lighthouse and get down the beach.
That’s it for our Wirral Adventure, but another one to the area is on the horizon, with West Kirby, Kirkby, Ellesmere Port (Cheshire) and Leasowe Lighthouse left to find around Merseyside using Merseyrail, along with St Helens.