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Woodside is a small riverside locality in Birkenheadmarker, on the Wirral Peninsulamarker, Merseyside, Englandmarker, situated almost opposite Liverpoolmarker Pier Headmarker across the River Merseymarker.

History

The monks of Birkenhead Priorymarker had been granted a charter establishing ferry rights to Liverpool, which was confirmed by Edward III in about 1330.These rights reverted to the Crown in 1536,upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.

There followed a period of private ownership by local landowners of the numerous ferry services on the Wirral bank of the River Mersey, including at Woodside. By the 18th century, an increase in stage coach traffic from Chestermarker spurred the growth of the transportation of passengers and goods across the river.With the rapid development of Birkenhead from the 1820s, facilities at Woodside would eventually need expanding. By 1842, the ferry service had been taken over by the Birkenhead Commissioners.A stone pier with two slipways and a small lighthouse at the pier head were constructed.There followed another period of major rebuilding, which included land reclamation up to the end of the pier. Construction of a floating landing stage in 1861 allowed for combined usage by the ferries and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.Improvements were made to the ferry's fleet at Woodside in 1890, with the replacement of paddle steamers for twin screw steamers.

A dedicated luggage boat service, which ferried goods and vehicles across the river, had begun by 1879. The opening of the Birkenhead to Liverpool Queensway road tunnelmarker on 18 July 1934 hastened the demise of Woodside's luggage boats, the service ending on 21 July 1941.

On 29 August 1860, Europe's first tramway was established, running from Woodside to Birkenhead Parkmarker. The idea of flamboyant American George Francis Train, the tramway was initially horse drawn. Electrified in 1901, tram services were discontinued in Birkenhead on 17 July 1937.A preserved Edwardian era tram is on display in the Woodside Ferry booking hall.

Originally built by the Great Western Railway in the 1870s, Birkenhead Woodside railway stationmarker was a mainline terminus, with services direct to London Paddingtonmarker. The station closed on 5 November 1967 and was demolished within a couple of years.

Transport

Woodside is one of two Wirral terminals for the Mersey Ferrymarker to the Pier Head in Liverpool. This terminal underwent a programme of extensive refurbishment in 1985. When reopened on 13 March 1986, the restoration of the historic booking hall had been completed and the large, dilapidated Victorian landing stage replaced with the current facility.

With the closure of Woodside railway station in 1967, and the construction of the new Birkenhead Bus Station in the late 1990s, the importance of Woodside as a major transport hub has declined, although numerous local bus services still use the terminus and seasonal tram services are occasionally run between the site and nearby Wirral Transport Museummarker.

The nearest railway station to Woodside is Hamilton Square stationmarker on Merseyrail's Wirral Line. Services run to Liverpool, Chester, Ellesmere Portmarker, New Brightonmarker and West Kirbymarker.

Historic buildings and structures

Woodside Ferry Terminal booking hall in 2006.


Mersey Ferries Booking Hall

A wooden construction on brick foundations, the 1864 booking hall is a listed building. It remained virtually unaltered until it was extensively refurbished from 1985 in the existing style, with many of the original timbers being replaced.

The formerly adjoining terminal building behind, of a similar construction, was demolished and replaced, due to poor condition. The passenger bridge and landing stage, which featured in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, were also replaced at the same time.

The building houses a cafeteria, shop, tourist information centre, transport memorabilia and a bookings office for the Mersey Ferries.

Woodside Hotel

Built in about 1834 to replace an earlier establishment of the same name, Woodside Hotel was a busy coaching house and originally had stabling for 100 horses. Until the land reclamation works of the mid 19th century, the hotel was situated on the riverbank.

The hotel was extended in 1963 with a new lounge 'Gough's Landing', named after a 19th century licensee.

The historic building was extensively damaged in two fires on 4 June and 13 August 2008, having been unoccupied for some time.Deemed structurally unsafe, the remains of Woodside Hotel were demolished without planning permission in October 2008.

Shore Road Pumping Station

Located opposite the Woodside Hotel, the Shore Road Pumping Stationmarker is now part of Wirral Museummarker. Built in the 1870s, the 'Giant Grasshopper' engine is a working example of a large steam pump, which was used to clear water from the Mersey Railway Tunnel.

Resurgam

A replica of the Birkenhead built, pioneering submarine Resurgammarker, was put on display in 1997 at Woodside. It is positioned near to the ferry terminal, on part of the site of the former floating roadway that once connected to the ferry landing stage.

U-534

On 27 June 2007, the Merseytravel transit authority announced that it had acquired the Germanmarker U-Boat U-534 to display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal. The submarine British bombers sank the submarine in May 1945; it was salvaged in 1993 off the Danish island of Anholtmarker.

The submarine was part of the collection of the Warship Preservation Trust at Birkenhead Docksmarker, which closed on 5 February 2006. For technical reasons and to facilitate economical transportation to its new site, the vessel was cut into four sections. It will be displayed in this form to allow visitors better access and visibility. Beginning on 10 March 2008, the sections were transported by floating crane over a number of days. The exhibition opened on 10 February 2009.

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