Guide to Birkenhead
The schools in the immediate vicinity of Birkenhead are, in general, in the ‘good’ bracket of Ofsted ratings, though there are multiple ‘outstanding’ level schools at each level and many more within a short drive from all residential areas of the town – including the much sought after Wirral Grammar Schools for boys and girls located just 4 miles away in nearby Bebington.
With the outstanding options available at each level combined with the fantastic options nearby, Birkenhead offers fantastic opportunities for children to thrive throughout their schooling and is increasingly viewed favourably as a place to settle down and raise a family.
You can find out about the range of schools and their performance on the Ofsted website here.
While it’s not something we like to think about, it’s important to know the facilities are there if we need them, and Birkenhead is near to a variety of excellent medical facilities from neonatal through to end of life care. Not only are there plenty of well regarded doctors surgeries, there’s also a great choice of NHS and private dentists available. Birkenhead is also located a short distance from both Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge hospitals.
With all local facilities under the NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), care in Birkenhead is run according to a mission statement that aims to ‘commission high quality services which enable the people of Wirral to improve their own health and well being.’
You can find out more about NHS Wirral CCG here.
Birkenhead is rapidly becoming a foody’s delight, with options available to the discerning diner that range from one of the last remaining Wimpys in the UK to the Michelin starred and much lauded Fraiche, but with more than 30 restaurants boasting 4.5 stars or higher on Tripadvisor, the option is there for visitors to and residents of Birkenhead to take a culinary tour of the world without having to worry about dropping below a 4 star option.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, or traditional, however, you can also rest assured that there are plenty of traditional English public houses serving traditional food as well as a range of real ales.
Birkenhead is connected by road to Chester, Liverpool and Manchester, three thriving northern cities, all within an easily commutable drive of between 10 minutes and an hour – effectively opening up a wealth of career opportunity across the Northwest.
For those that prefer the train, Birkenhead is also served by both the Wirral and Northern Line, operated by MerseyRail which is rated as one of the best performing, least expensive networks in the UK. National rail connections are available at both the Liverpool and Chester ends of the Wirral Line.
For international travel, Birkenhead is located a little over 10 miles from Liverpool John Lennon Airport and 40 miles of Manchester Airport, with the former offering flights to the majority of Europe while the latter offers flights globally.
Birkenhead has been an occupied settlement since the Medieval period, and the Benedictine monks built a Priory there in 1150. However, Birkenhead really began to take shape in the early 19th Century as William and John Laird created first an ironworks, then later the shipyards that would become Cammell Laird. This was followed in 1886 by the Mersey Railway tunnel, the world’s first tunnel beneath a tidal estuary, which connected the town to Liverpool and brought with it further investment.
Birkenhead also had the first street tramway in Britain – opened in 1860 and initially horse drawn, the system was electrified in 1901 and operated until 1937.
The town has the second highest number of Grade 1 listed buildings in England and is filled with fantastic examples of different architectural styles from Gothic to Victorian and, if you look at the sandstone lodges at the three entrances to Birkenhead Park, Norman and Italianate.
While there are obviously the museums and galleries of Liverpool a short trip over the Mersey, Birkenhead is not short of attractions within the town itself. If you’re looking for a trip into the Medieval history of the area, you can visit the Birkenhead Priory which, at 850 years old, is the oldest standing building in Merseyside, or for some more recent history there’s the Wirral Transport Museum and Heritage Tramway which features numerous, lovingly restored old trams and buses.
Alternatively, you can take a stroll through Birkenhead Park – the park that inspired New York’s Central Park, and see the UKs last remaining covered bridge of wooden construction as well as the Grand Entrance and various lodges, each in a different historic architectural style.
You can take in a game at Prenton Park, or visit one of the many theatres and galleries that are dotted throughout the Wirral. You’re never too far from the opportunity for a cultured evening out, but equally if you’d rather just catch the latest blockbuster, then there’s the Vue cinema.
If a night out is more your thing, then Birkenhead residents can count themselves lucky that there’s the nightlife and wide variety of concerts, sporting events and more on offer in nearby Liverpool and Manchester, two cities regularly voted among the top 10 best for nightclubs and bars in the UK, and both close enough to make a late night cab journey easily affordable with a little help from your friends.
A news story published by local outlet The Wirral Globe may give some indication of the wealth of choice on offer in Birkenhead. The town ranked 10th in the UK by density of beauty venues per square meter. With salons, nail parlours and tanning centres all well represented, there’s little chance that you’ll fail to grab an appointment ready for your big night out.
As with anything in such a well connected town, however, the immediate vicinity is just the beginning – and there are plenty of spas and pamper days to be had in surrounding towns and cities. Whatever happens – you’ll seldom struggle to look your best in Birkenhead.
The avid shopper may want to take a trip to LiverpoolONE, a short journey to the nearby city’s retail and leisure complex, Manchester’s giant Trafford Centre, or Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks, but there are smaller shopping fixes available much closer to Birkenhead town such as The Rock Retail Park, or the town’s Pyramids Shopping Centre.
While it may take a little convincing to talk a real shopaholic out of a trip to one of the huge complexes on offer in the Northwest, there are plenty of independent stores on offer within a walk or short drive from most Birkenhead residential areas. However, the town’s excellent transport links and location between three major shopping destinations make it an ideal place to live for even the most ardent shopper.
Birkenhead is within walking distance of the usual supermarkets, and a quick drive to larger Asda and Tesco stores and even an international food market which specialises in Indian, Thai and Chinese food for anyone wanting to extend themselves a little more in the kitchen.
The town is as well served by chain supermarkets as one could expect, but there are also small, independently owned butchers and greengrocers – meaning that you have the chance to buy your favourite brands or pick up something a little more artisanal for a weekend treat.
Did You Know?
- Birkenhead is home to the first publicly funded civic park in the world. Birkenhead Park, designed by Joseph Paxton and opened on the 5th of April 1847, is a Grade 1 listed landscape and was a major influence on the creation and design of New York’s Central Park.
- The earliest ferry across the Mersey began operating from Birkenhead in 1150 and was operated by Benedictine Monks who had built a Priory there.
- Hamilton Square in Birkenhead town centre has the second highest number of Grade 1 listed buildings in England after Trafalgar Square.
- According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, Birkenhead likely takes its name from the Old English name for a birch tree: ‘Bircen’, and the town name can be translated as ‘headland overgrown with birch’.