Main Associations in Wirral - Liverpool City Region
The Wirral Peninsula has been a hive of activity over the last couple of centuries.
It grew from a collection of small villages to become a major tourist destination and one
of the biggest manufacturers of large ships in the world.
When William Laird opened an Iron Works at Birkenhead Docks in 1824, he couldn't have envisaged the affect it would have on the town and its surrounding areas. Over the next two centuries the population of the Wirral increased 32-fold, this is largely due to the influence that the docks had on the borough. As workers flocked to the port town in search for work on the busy industrialised zone, the rise of Cammell Laird as a global brand was nothing short of phenomenal.
William Laird's initial plan was to just build railway rolling stock, which they did very successfully for over 100 years. The business was taking huge orders for rolling stock by the early part of the 20th century, for the London Underground and across the world, in places like India. When his son John joined the business back in 1828, they turned most of their attention towards the more lucrative ship manufacturing trade.
The Liverpool Royal Institution educated John had an epiphany, realising that the techniques they used to make boilers could be applied to making ships. Within a year, they'd made their first ship, it was an iron barge. The business continued to grow from strength to strength, they were one of the first to use iron in the construction of ships, making major advances in propulsion and using groundbreaking techniques, such as bending iron plates and riveting them together.
In the early 1860s, through a cotton broker in Liverpool with ties to the Confederacy, they secured a secret agreement to build the controversial CSS Alabama for the Confederate States Navy. The ship left Birkenhead docks in 1862, after seven successful expeditionary raids, it was sank by the USS Kearsarge at the Battle of Cherbourg in 1864.
Before that time, the huge Cammell Laird yard was already building ships for the Royal Navy and later other countries worldwide. Throughout its existance, Cammell Laird have manufactured various types of ships for countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greece, India, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Netherlands and the United States of America.
By 1947, they'd built over 1,100 vessels at Birkenhead. With a whole host of different ships launching from the Cammell Laird slipways into the River Mersey. Twenty years later, they built their first Nuclear Submarine at the docks, the Royal Navy's Resolution-class ballistic missile submarine 'HMS Renown'.
The major contracts to build extraordinary vessels wasn't anything new to Birkenhead, over the years Cammell Laird have also built many Aircraft Carriers, Battleships, Banana Boats, Cable Ships, CAM Ships (Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ship), Canallers, Cargo Liners, Cruisers, Destroyers, Dry Cargo Ships, Ferries, Frigates, Ironclads (Steam-propelled Warships), LPG Carriers, Mail Ships, Mooring and Salvage Ships, Oil Rigs, Oil Tankers, Packet Steamers, Passenger Liners, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ships, Sloops (Specialized Convoy-defence Vessels), Submarines, Training Ships, Tugs and Turret Ships.
The name Cammell Laird has been synonymous with the Wirral since the days of William Laird, it is an internationally recognised brand that embodies a sign of excellence in manufacturing.
In the latter part of the 20th century, the whole of Birkenhead Docks succombed to huge changes. When the whole ship manufacturing industry was nationalised in 1977. The reprivatisation of the trade by the Margaret Thatcher's incumbent government in 1986, led to the business being handed to a Barrow-in-Furness company called Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (VSEL).
They down-scaled the Birkenhead side of the business, before ceasing production at the Cammell Laird site altogether.
A period of almost two decades of decline followed. In 2007, the Peel Holdings Group, owners of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and 50% owners of Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders, purchased the Cammell Laird shipyard site.
In 2008, the world renowned name of Cammell Laird returned to the town. By 2012, it was announced that complete shipbuilding was set to return to the yard. In October 2012, Cammell Laird began work on building two new vessels for the Scottish based ferry operator Western Ferries.
For the rest of the Birkenhead dock system, the Peel Holdings Group are building the largest regeneration project in the United Kingdom.
The £5 billion Wirral Waters project is set to transform the 120 hectares of semi-derelict docklands into a global hotspot for business, tourism and city living. The development is part of the wider Mersey Waters scheme totalling £10 billion in investment for the River Mersey. With Wirral Waters being a sister programme to the equally grandiose Liverpool Waters project.
The borough may have been shaped by big names like Cammell Laird in the past, but there's no doubt that one of the names for the future is the Peel Holdings Group. Once complete, the already awe inspiring River Mersey skyline will be a match for any city in the world.
Some of the other main associations with Wirral include; Wirral Metropolitan College, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Radio Control Flying Society, Wirral Globe, Bromborough and Bebington News, Wirral & District Amateur Radio Club, Wirral Mencap, Claire House Children's Hospice, Wirral Art, Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society, The Mersey Forest and the Liverpool City Region LEP.
Wirral Borough Council
Formed in 1974, Wirral Borough Council has had no overall control on four occasions, it has been a Conservative controlled council once and a Labour controlled council three times. In the 2012 council elections, Labour won control and have held it since.
|The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral was formed||1974|
|Partnered with four local authorities to form Merseyside||1974|
|Joined five other local authorities to form the Liverpool City Region||2009|
Cammell Laird was founded in 1828 and is based in Birkenhead. Initially building just railway stock, they extended their trade to ships. They quickly became a global name in ship manufacturing, building some of the biggest ships in the world.
|The Birkenhead Iron Works was opened by William Laird||1824|
|Established Cammell Laird for ship manufacturing with his son John||1828|
|Built the World's First Steel Ship called the 'Ma Roberts'||1858|
|Built the 'CSS Alabama' for the Confederate States of America||1862|
|Built its first Royal Navy Battleship called the 'HMS Royal Oak'||1892|
|Built its first Packet Steamer for the Isle of Man called the 'TSS Manx Maid'||1910|
|The 'HMS Caroline' holds the record for the fastest built significant warship||1914|
|Built the Royal Navy Cruiser called the 'HMS Birkenhead'||1915|
|Built the World's First All-welded Ship called the 'Fullagar'||1920|
|Built 20 trailer cars and 20 control trailer cars for the London Underground||1920|
|Built 160 passenger railway coaches bound for India||1927|
|Sold off the majority of their railway rolling stock business to Vickers||1929|
|Built their first Royal Navy 'HMS Ark Royal' aircraft carrier||1937|
|Built the Royal Navy Battleship called the 'HMS Prince of Wales'||1941|
|Largest Royal Navy Vessel the Audacious-class aircraft carrier 'HMS Ark Royal'||1950|
|Built its first Royal Navy Nuclear Submarine called the 'HMS Renown'||1967|
|All of the British shipbuilding industry was nationalised||1977|
|Built the Royal Navy Destroyer called the 'HMS Liverpool'||1980|
|Reprivatised to the Barrow-in-Furness-based company 'VSEL'||1986|
|VSEL announces the closure of the Birkenhead yard||1993|
|VSEL was forced to enter receivership after financial difficulties||2001|
|The Birkenhead shipyard was acquired by 'A&P Shiprepair Group'||2001|
|'Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders' bought the Birkenhead site||2005|
|Peel Holdings purchased the Cammell Laird shipyard site and surrounding land||2007|
|'NS&S' acquired the rights to the Cammell Laird name||2007|
|'NS&S' renamed itself 'Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders Limited'||2008|
|The new Cammell Laird S&SL won a £28m Ministry of Defence contract||2008|
|Cammell Laird received a £44m order for flight decks off the Royal Navy||2010|
|Cammell Laird announces a complete return to shipbuilding for the yard||2012|
The Peel Group
The foundations for the Peel Group was established by John Whittaker, with a philosophy of recycling capital and long term investment, predominantly in the North West of England. The Peel Ports division is the second largest ports group in the United Kingdom.
|Established by John Whittaker||1971|
|Embarks on the creation of an airports group buying 76% of Liverpool Airport||1997|
|Acquire 100% of Liverpool Airport renaming it to 'Liverpool John Lennon Airport'||2000|
|Acquire the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company with the Port of Liverpool||2005|
|Announce a £50 billion investment strategy known as the Ocean Gateway||2008|
|Wirral Waters is granted planning permission||2012|
|Liverpool Waters is granted planning permission||2013|
Formerly called 'Wirral Partnership Homes', Magenta Living are the largest Registered Provider of affordable housing in the Wirral. They are a not-for-profit organisation responsible for approximately 12,200 social housing properties on the Wirral.
|Formed following the transfer of homes from Wirral Council||2005|
|Changed the name to Magenta Living from Wirral Partnership Homes||2013|
|Wins the 'People Development' award at the Wirral Business Awards||2013|