FORT PERCH ROCK
A review of our November talk - by Mary Champion
On Tuesday 4th November 2008 we had a talk from Derek Arnold about the Fort Perch Rock at New Brighton. Derek's talk gave us facts about the Fort, interspersed with anecdotes and lots of funny stories.
The Romans, while in Britain, set up two trade routes to Ireland, one via Chester and one via Liverpool. Eventually this led to Irish people coming east to Liverpool and the Vikings to the Wirral. In Henry VIII's time, salt and coal were shipped to Ireland from Liverpool.
In the 1700s we were embroiled in the Seven Years War against the French. There was piracy against French vessels and their cargo was seized and taken to Liverpool which became a target of the French as a result. Their ships would come to the Bar; therefore some form of defence was needed on the river. Five lots of fortifications were built between the town and Formby.
The Black Rocks - at the end of the Wirral Peninsula - were a hazard to shipping at the entrance to the Mersey. Bonfires were lit there, and a wooden marker 'perch' was built on what became known as Perch Rock. A heart-shaped castle was also planned there by a Colonel Pilkington of the Royal Engineers.
Napoleon wanted to conquer the world, but was defeated by Wellington at Waterloo and by Nelson at Trafalgar. Captain John Kitson was asked to look into the defences which Pilkington had started but not finished. In 1829 a flat base was created for the Fort. It was suggested that a lighthouse should also be built, and the Eddystone Lighthouse plans were borrowed. The lighthouse was 63 ft high and could be seen from 13 miles out to sea.
Eventually veterans were housed in the Fort, but it became outdated and the veterans moved out. The Fort was offered to Liverpool Corporation, who declined the offer. Instead it was bought by a businessman, and then in 1951 by an architect who kept the lighthouse and sold the rest to a local man who lived there. Exhibitions are held there and it is open to the public.