Hamilton Square Architect receives Blue Plaque.

On Saturday, 10 March 2018, Wirral’s Mayor, Cllr Ann McLachlan unveiled a Blue Plaque on the flanking wall of No 63 Hamilton Square. The plaque commemorates James Gillespie Graham who had worked with the Laird family in Scotland and when William Laird thought that the rising new town of Birkenhead needed designing, Gillespie Graham was top of the list to do the work. Having designed Moray Place in Edinburgh, which had proved very successful, Gillespie Graham used the same formula for Hamilton Square – resulting in the largest number of Grade I listed buildings in England, outside London. Placing the plaque on the flanking wall of No 63 was particularly relevant as John Laird actually lived in the house for some years.

James Gillespie Graham 11-6-1776 to 11-3-1855 was born in Dunblane, Scotland. Graham principally designed country houses and churches, including St Andrews Cathedral in Glasgow. He was commissioned by William Laird, after he had seen what Graham had done in the New Town, Edinburgh a few years earlier.
Graham’s design envisaged long and straight wide avenues lined with elegant town houses. Hamilton Square would be located where it would get the maximum benefit from the area’s topography. This would ensure it would be visible from the Liverpool waterfront emphasising Birkenhead’s civic pride. Work started on the eastern side of the new town around Hamilton Square in 1825. However, due to the economic depression throughout the mid 19th century, this would become the only part of Graham’s plan to be fully completed.
As the square would be the focal point of civic authority in Birkenhead, a lot was purposely left vacant on the east side of the square for a town hall. In 1883, almost sixty years after work started, construction on the town hall began. Birkenhead Town Hall, which opened in 1887, was designed by local architect Charles Ellison. Hamilton Square Railway station was opened on 1st Feb 1886.

For photo’s see my pics on my Facebook page:-

Wirral Mayor Cllr Ann McLachlan officially unveiled a new blue plaque outside number 63 Hamilton Sq, (Former home of…

Posted by James O'Hanlon on Monday, March 19, 2018

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Memorial unveiled to Dunkirk hero who inspired scene in blockbuster film

Spitfire pilot Sgt Jack Potter served over Dunkirk and in the Battle of Britain.

A riverfront memorial to a Second World War hero who inspired a scene in the recent hit film Dunkirk has been unveiled.

Wallasey-born pilot Jack Potter is not mentioned by name but the moment in Christopher Nolan’s movie that a pilot ditches his Spitfire into the sea after an engine seizure is based on his own experience.

Family and friends of the airman, including his son Robert, travelled from as far afield as Australia and Canada for Wednesday’s service on Seacombe Promenade in Wirral, Merseyside.

Mayor of Wirral Cllr Ann McLachlan  joined family members at the unveiling of a memorial to Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot Sergeant Jack Potter, whose story helped to inspire a scene in the Hollywood movie Dunkirk.

He survived the war and later settled in Brighton.

Councillor Jerry Williams, Wirral Council’s “heritage champion”, who traced Mr Potter’s family, said: “He had an illustrious war record.

“At Dunkirk, he destroyed a Messerchmitt. Less than a week later, his engine seized 15 miles from the English coast and he ditched into the sea, later being picked up and landed at Dover.

“During the Battle of Britain, he ditched into the Channel again, (was) picked up by a German vessel and spent the rest of his war in a Prisoner of War Camp.

“Jack survived the war and died in Brighton in 1977. Around this time I was corresponding with Battle of Britain pilots, collecting signatures, and wrote to Jack. Sadly, his relatives said he had just died but they sent me a copy of his signature.”

The stretch of the promenade where the memorial is located has been renamed Jack Potter Walk.

For my photo’s see link below:-

Memorial before the unveiling

WW1 Hero Honoured in Dual Special Ceremony

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in memory of Cyril Gourley who was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War One whilst serving with the 276th West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 
He was born on 19th January 1893 at 6 Victoria Park in Wavertree before moving with his family to West Kirby in 1899 when he was six years old.
Cyril was educated at Calday Grange Grammar School and graduated from Liverpool University in 1913 with a degree in Commercial Science. He then went on to work for the Alfred Holt Shipping Line, who owned the Ocean Steamship Company, known throughout the world as the Blue Funnel Line, before joining the Territorial Army in 1914.
Sgt Cyril Gourley had previously been awarded the Military Medal in September 1917 for conspicuous gallantry in putting out a fire near an ammunition dump, however the action for which he received the Victoria Cross was on 30th November 1917 at Little Priel Farm, east of Epehy, France, during the Battle of Cambrai.
Cyril was only 24 years old, and a Sergeant in the ‘D’ Battery of the 276th West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, and was in command of a section of howitzers during an enemy advance.
When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 13th February 1918, the citation read:
For most conspicuous bravery when in command of a section of howitzers. 
Though the enemy advanced in force, getting within 400 yards in front, between 300 and 400 yards to one flank and with snipers in rear, Sgt. Gourley managed to keep one gun in action practically throughout the day. 
‘Though frequently driven off he always returned, carrying ammunition, laying and firing the gun himself, taking first one and then another of the detachment to assist him. 
When the enemy advanced he pulled his gun out of the pit and engaged a machine gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. 
All day he held the enemy in check, firing with open sights on enemy parties in full view at 300 to 800 yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall. He had previously been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry 
(London Gazette, No. 68/886).
On 5th January 1918, Cyril Gourley was given a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and he remained with the 55th Division until its disbandment in 1919. He was then appointed as a Captain in 1919, and proceeded home for demobilization with 276th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, in June 1919.
Post-war, Cyril worked for Lever Brothers, travelling widely to open up new business for the company and in 1925, he moved to Hill Close, School Lane, West Kirby. His house was later renamed Gourley Grange and the Lane was also renamed Gourley’s Lane in his honour. During the Second World War, Gourley was a Firewatcher in Liverpool and then in 1952 he moved to Haslemere, Surrey. He never married and died on 31st January 1982 in Haslemere and was buried in Grange Cemetery, West Kirby.
The Cyril Edward Gourley VC Scholarship is awarded in his honour by Liverpool University to undergraduates from Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby Grammar School or the Hoylake and West Kirby area. His VC medal is held at the Royal Artillery Regiment Museum.
The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.  In 2014, the UK government launched a campaign to recognise the First World War centenary commemorations and honour those men awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War.
On Thursday 30th November 2017, a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in his honour at Liverpool Parish Church, following the earlier unveiling of a plaque at his graveside at Grange Cemetery in West Kirby.
In attendance was the Rector of Liverpool, Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, army reservists serving with Liverpool-based 208 (3rd West Lancashire) Battery, 103rd (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery, the unit directly descended from the unit with whom Sgt Gourley served.  Both events will also be attended by Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Colin Gourley, who has travelled from Australia, and staff from Calday Grange Grammar School Combined Cadet Force.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said:  “Cyril Gourley was a courageous soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty and Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why the City is honouring him with this fitting ceremony. I am personally privileged to be able to unveil this stone in his honour.”
“The stone will be a permanent reminder of the incredible contribution that he made to the war effort and his role in making sure that more soldiers weren’t lost.
“Exactly 100 years ago, Cyril fought for the freedom and peace that we all enjoy today. Therefore, we should reflect and give thanks to Cyril and others who gave so much for their country and our liberty.”
Both events will also be attended by Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Colin Gourley, who has travelled from Australia, representatives of Wirral and Liverpool councils and cadets and staff from Calday Grange Grammar School Combined Cadet Force.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Edwards RA, Commanding Officer 103rd (Lancashire Artillery Volunteers) Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “Along with Wirral and Liverpool Councils, who have enabled this commemoration, the Regiment is honoured to mark this act of valour and recognise all those who have served and still serve in the British Army.  We are even more proud to do so with Sgt Gourley’s nephew, Mr Colin Gourley.”
For Pics see 2 links below:-
Grange Cemetery Service:-
Liverpool Parish Church Service:-

World War One Victoria Cross hero honoured

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in Liverpool in memory of 2nd Lt Stanley Henry Parry Boughey who was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War One whilst serving with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1/4th Battalion. 

 It is the last of 10 paving stones to be installed in Liverpool as part of a scheme launched by the Government to recognise those British and Commonwealth forces awarded the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry, as part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War.
Stanley Boughey was born on 9th April 1896 at 3 Danube Street in Toxteth Park, before moving with his family to Blackpool in 1905. Stanley was educated at Clifton College and in 1908 he co-founded the Hound Patrol of the Boy Scout movement, which together with the Lion Patrol became the 1st Blackpool Scout Troop. Before the war, Stanley was a keen athlete and was also a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade, however when war was declared in 1914, he went to France and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps at only 18 years of age.
In May 1916 Stanley joined the Ayrshire Yeomanry as a Private and then in April 1917 he joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1/4th Battalion, as a Second Lieutenant.
The action for which Stanley Boughey received his Victoria Cross took place on 1st December 1917 at El Burf, Palestine, during the Battle of Jerusalem, whilst serving with The Royal Scots Fusiliers. Unfortunately Stanley was mortally wounded at the point of surrender. Therefore Stanley’s Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously.
When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 12th February 1918, the citation read:
“For most conspicuous bravery. When the enemy in large numbers had managed to crawl up to within 30 yards of our firing line, and with bombs and automatic rifles were keeping down the fire of our machine guns, he rushed forward alone with bombs right up to the enemy, doing great execution and causing the surrender of a party of 30. As he turned to go back for more bombs he was mortally wounded at the moment when the enemy were surrendering.”
   
On Friday 1st December 2017, a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in his honour at Princes Park in Toxteth.
The event was attended by relatives, The Rector of Liverpool, Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, the Deputy County Commissioner of Merseyside Scouts and military representatives from the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Stanley Boughey was a courageous soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty and Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why the City is honouring him with this fitting ceremony. I am personally privileged to be able to unveil this stone in his honour.
“The stone will be a permanent reminder of the incredible contribution that he made to the war effort and his role in making sure that more soldiers weren’t lost. Exactly 100 years ago, Stanley fought and sacrificed his own life for the freedom and peace that we all enjoy today. Therefore, we should reflect and give thanks to Stanley and others who gave so much for their country and our liberty.”
For photo’s of the event, see link below:-

Umbrella Project Officially Launched in Liverpool

200 Umbrellas were hung above the street in Liverpool City Centre to raise awareness of ADHD.

The Umbrella Project was named by children who work with the ADHD Foundation because ADHD and autism are ‘umbrella terms’ for a whole variety of neurodevelopment difficulties.

Each umbrella will be signed by a young person with ADHD and or autism, with a statement written by a Liverpool child stating “My Superpower is…”.

Children from St Oswalds Primary School in Old Swan, performed to the song “Happy” with umbrella’s and a simple dance routine.

The Umbrella Project has been made possible thanks to sponsorship from Equazen, makers of the scientifically developed omega-3 supplements, Liverpool City Council and the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, who has pledged to make Liverpool “a truly ADHD and autism-friendly city.”

Explaining the idea behind the Umbrella Project, Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of ADHD Foundation, commented: “The name for the project was actually chosen by the brilliant children who work with the foundation.

“ADHD and autism are ‘umbrella terms’ for a whole variety of neurodevelopment difficulties, and we want to highlight that fact and challenge the stigma of what can be ‘invisible’ disabilities.

“The Umbrella Project is about reminding adults – be it parents, teachers or potential employees – that young people with ADHD and other conditions possess many gifts, talents and skills to offer their communities.

“Their condition is not a disabler, but an enabler, a superpower!

“The foundation would like to thank Equazen, Liverpool City Council and the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, whose support for the project has been amazing.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “I wholeheartedly support ADHD Foundation’s Umbrella Project.

“Liverpool City Council is fully committed to supporting the education, mental health and employability of people with ADHD and autism.

“Raising awareness is fundamental in engaging conversations and promoting the general public’s understanding of ADHD.

“With half a million children across the country being affected by the condition, with many going completely undiagnosed, it is more important now than ever that as a city we lead the way in doing everything we can to support them.

“I want Liverpool to truly be an ADHD and autism friendly city.

“We have to work together to remove the barriers that are preventing people from being able to reach their true potential.

“The Umbrella Project is a great way of showing that commitment and engaging those conversations.”

For pics see the link below:-

Church Alley

Pte William Ratcliffe Commemorative Memorial Stone Unveiled.

A commemorative paving stone has been unveiled in memory of a Liverpool docker, a century to the day since he was awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1.

The stone was laid in honour of William Ratcliffe (1884-1963) who was presented with the Victoria Cross in 1917 whilst serving with the South Lancashire Regiment (now amalgamated into the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment).

William – known as Bill – was born at 38 Newhall Street in the Dingle, and was a pupil at St Vincent’s School in nearby Norfolk Street. When he left school, William worked on the Liverpool docks before joining the British Army at the age of 17 and served in South Africa during the Second Boer War. After serving, he returned to the docks until the outbreak of WWI when he re-joined his old regiment.

In April 1917, during the Battle of Messines, William Ratcliffe was awarded a Military Medal for gallantry and on 14th June, only a matter of weeks later, earned his Victoria Cross. He was 33 years old and a Private in the 2nd Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment, when his battalion was ordered to attack a line of German trenches on Messines Ridge. William Ratcliffe was a stretcher-bearer, following up behind the advancing troops to bring in the casualties, and spent most of the night bringing in the wounded through a heavy barrage. He also located an enemy machine-gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, picked up a rifle from a dead comrade and single-handedly rushed the machine-gun position and bayoneted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action on the frontline. His actions brought the award of the Victoria Cross, with which he was invested personally by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 26th September 1917.

When the war was over, Bill again returned to his job on Liverpool docks where he was affectionately known as “The Dockers VC”. In 1956, celebrations were held in London to mark the centenary of the Victoria Cross and all living holders were invited to be reviewed by the Queen in Hyde Park. Bill was reluctant to attend as he couldn’t afford to buy a suit for the occasion. When this became apparent, The South Lancashire Regimental Association intervened and a local gentleman’s outfitters readily made him a new suit free of charge, and Bill travelled to London.

He never married and later lived with relatives at St Oswald’s Gardens in Old Swan. He died on 26th March 1963, aged 79, and is buried at Allerton Cemetery. His medals, including his Victoria Cross and Military Medal, are on loan to the Imperial War Museum London. The German Maxim machine-gun which he captured that day in 1917 is on display at the Lancashire Infantry Museum.

His citation in the London Gazette reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery. After an enemy’s trench had been captured, Pte. Ratcliffe located an enemy machine gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, whereupon, single-handed and on his own initiative, he immediately rushed the machine gun position and bayonetted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line. This very gallant soldier has displayed great resource on previous occasions, and has set an exceptionally fine example of devotion to duty.”

The commemorative stone is part of a national scheme run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which will see every World War One Victoria Cross recipient remembered in this way.

The event was attended by Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, veterans and serving military representatives and also relatives of William Ratcliffe.

The Lord Mayor said: “William Ratcliffe was a gallant and fearless soldier whose selfless actions saved many lives. He was completely devoted to his duty.

“Liverpool is incredibly proud of him and this is why we are honouring him with this fitting ceremony on the centenary of his VC award. I am personally privileged to be able to attend and unveil this stone in his honour.

“The stone will be a permanent reminder of the incredible contribution that he made to the war effort and his role in making sure that more soldiers weren’t lost.”

William Ratcliffe is one of nine men from Liverpool who were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1, and a further four will be honoured in this way between now and December 2017.

For pics see link below:-

Memorial Stone

Mermaid Trail Launched in New Brighton, Wirral

The New Brighton Mermaid Trail, which takes its inspiration from ‘The Black Rock Mermaid’, who was said to have appeared to a local sailor in New Brighton in the 18th century, was officially unveiled on Wednesday 7th June.

The Mermaid Trail is a set of six identical Mermaid statues situated in key locations across New Brighton. They have each been individually decorated, four of them by local schools, one by a community group and one by the local artist who designed and sculpted the statues, Barry Canning-Eaton. Both the design and decoration have been kept a closely guarded secret in the lead up to the unveilings.

Each statue is accompanied by an information board which, when followed in order, takes trail followers through a story based on the legend of ‘The Black Rock Mermaid’, as told by local storyteller Cathy Roberts.

Starting from Kings Parade, the first statue – the ‘Ebb & Flow Mermaid’ – is situated next to the Championship Adventure Golf and is decorated by children and young people engaged with Ebb & Flow Community Interest Company, with its decoration inspired by natural wonders in and around New Brighton.

Statue number two is the work of pupils from St Mary’s Catholic College, with a nautical and sea-faring inspired decoration that they have called ‘The Inked Siren of Black Rock’. This is situated on the corner of Victoria Road and Atherton Street close to New Brighton railway station.

The location of the third mermaid is on Seabank Road near to its junction with Magazine Lane. The ‘Rock On Mermaid’ is decorated by pupils from The Mosslands School in Wallasey and tells a strong story of young people, boys and girls, who are finding their own voice.

Vale Park, looking out onto the promenade, is where visitors will find the fourth mermaid, decorated by young people who attend Wirral Hospitals’ School. Entitled, ‘Paxtonea – the Soothing Siren’, its decoration tells the story of the legend in a way that provokes awareness of the sensory needs of people with anxiety and on the autistic spectrum.

Pupils from St George’s Primary School are responsible for the ‘Mermaid of Memories’, the fifth statue on the trail. Situated on the promenade opposite the Floral Pavilion Theatre and Conference Centre, the pupils have sought through their decoration to take people on a journey back in time to a dark yet glowing evening at New Brighton fairground.

The trail ends on Victoria Parade in ‘Old Town’ New Brighton with the sixth statue – the eponymous Black Rock Mermaid – this one decorated by the creator of the Mermaid statues, Barry Canning-Eaton.

The Mermaid Trail project has been made possible thanks to a successful bid for £10,935 by the New Brighton Coastal Community Team (NBCCT) to the Burbo Bank Extension Community Fund, a grant scheme set up by DONG Energy to benefit voluntary groups and organisations located near to the coastline where it is carrying out the extension to the offshore wind farm.

Caroline Laing, Wirral Council’s representative on the New Brighton Coastal Community Team, said:

“It is hoped that the trail will raise awareness of the legend of The Black Rock Mermaid and bring her story to the attention of the hundreds of thousands of visitors the resort attracts each year. The trail is purposefully designed to show visitors parts of New Brighton that they might not otherwise have got to see and show them some of the attractions and unique character that can be found away from the traditional tourist locations.”

For photo’s click below:-

Mermaid of memories