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What did King John do for Liverpool? New Mersey crossing and the Dockers’ Umbrella under fire

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The Liverpool Echo has fun suggesting that last year’s 800th anniversary might have been 15 years too late. Deeds have been donated to the city which show that the area was populated as far back as 1192, over a decade before King John granted his charter. However, the evidence of this old habitation is still to be seen in the landscape, in both Liverpool itself and the surrounding areas. Birkenhead Priory has been in existence since the 12th Century. Evidence of Roman trade has been excavated in parts of southern Liverpool and to the east of the city, in addition to Iron Age evidence on the Wirral. The best evidence is in the place-names of Merseyside. Toxteth and Croxteth are of Viking origin, and indicate places where Toki’s and Croki’s people landed (staith = ‘landing place’). Aintree (the ‘lone tree’) has a name of Saxon origins. The last three letters of Garston, Allerton and Walton give the game away – tun started out to mean enclosure, or even fence, but soon came to include such a feature surrounding a farmstead or homestead. So it shouldn’t surprise you to find that people have been living in this area for a very long time. King John just made it official!

For almost 1000 years people having been looking for ways to cross the Mersey, from the monks of Birkenhead Priory, to the tunnel-builders and 20th Century bridge builders. A Transport and Works Order (TWO – planning permission) is being sought by Halton Council to allow purchasing of the required land, and the re-routing of the local road network, and the charging of tolls. Work could then be started on the latest crossing of the River Mersey.

The Liverpool Echo website has a short but very interesting article on the history of the Liverpool Overhead Railway (the “Dockers’ Umbrella”). I’m not sure why they chose today to write this, but it’s very informative nonetheless, concentrating on its trials and tribulations during the Second World War. The only curious fact is that “The bombings also left about 51,000 people in Liverpool homeless and 25,000 in Bootle”. These were certainly poweful bombs the Luftwaffe dropped on the city…

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