Merseyside

Area Map

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Merseyside (pron.: /ˈmɜrzisaɪd/) is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,381,200. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool. Merseyside, which was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, takes its name from the River Mersey.

Merseyside spans 249 square miles (645 km2) of land which border Lancashire (to the north-east), Greater Manchester (to the east), and Cheshire (to the south and south-west); the Irish Sea is to the west. North Wales is across the Dee Estuary. There is a mix of high density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations in Merseyside, but overwhelmingly the land use is urban. It has a focused central business district, formed by Liverpool City Centre, but Merseyside is also a polycentric county with five metropolitan districts, each of which has at least one major town centre and outlying suburbs. The Liverpool Urban Area is the seventh most populous conurbation in the UK, and dominates the geographic centre of the county, while the smaller Birkenhead Urban Area dominates the Wirral Peninsula in the south.

For the 12 years following 1974 the county had a two-tier system of local government; district councils shared power with the Merseyside County Council. The county council was abolished in 1986, and so its districts (the metropolitan boroughs) are now effectively unitary authority areas. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference, and several county-wide services are co-ordinated by authorities and joint-boards, such as Merseytravel (for public transport) and the Merseyside Police (for law-enforcement); as a ceremonial county, Merseyside has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Merseyside is joined by the neighbouring borough of Halton to form the Liverpool City Region, which utilises The Mersey Partnership as a development agency.

Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts from the former administrative counties of Lancashire, Cheshire and six autonomous county boroughs centred on Birkenhead, Bootle, Liverpool, Southport, St Helens, and Wallasey.

Merseyside was designated as a “Special Review” area in the Local Government Act 1958, and the Local Government Commission for England started a review of this area in 1962, based around the core county boroughs of Liverpool/Bootle/Birkenhead/Wallasey. Further areas, including Widnes and Runcorn, were added to the Special Review Area by Order in 1965. Draft proposals were published in 1965, but the commission never completed its final proposals as it was abolished in 1966.

Instead, a Royal Commission was set up to review English local government entirely, and its report (known as the Redcliffe-Maud Report) proposed a much wider Merseyside metropolitan area covering southwest Lancashire and northwest Cheshire, extending as far south as Chester and as far north as the River Ribble. This would have included four districts: Southport/Crosby, Liverpool/Bootle, St Helens/Widnes and Wirral/Chester. In 1970 the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (which operates today under the Merseytravel brand) was set up, covering the Liverpool and Wirral conurbations, but excluding Southport and St. Helens.

The Redcliffe-Maud Report was rejected by the incoming Conservative Party government, but the concept of a two-tier metropolitan area based on the Mersey area was retained. A White Paper was published in 1971. The Local Government Bill presented to Parliament involved a substantial trimming from the White Paper, excluding the northern and southern fringes of the area, excluding Chester, Ellesmere Port (and, unusually, including Southport, whose council had requested to be included). Further alterations took place in Parliament, with Skelmersdale being removed from the area, and a proposed district including St Helens and Huyton being subdivided into what are now the metropolitan boroughs of St Helens and Knowsley.

Merseyside was created on 1 April 1974 from areas previously parts of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, along with the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Wallasey, Liverpool, Bootle, and St Helens. Following the creation of Merseyside, Merseytravel expanded to take in St Helens and Southport.

post-1974 pre-1974
Metropolitan county Metropolitan borough County boroughs Non-county boroughs Urban districts Rural districts
Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts, including six county boroughs and two municipal boroughs.
Knowsley Huyton with Roby • Kirkby • Prescot • West Lancashire • Whiston •
Liverpool Liverpool
Sefton Bootle • Southport • Crosby • Formby • Litherland • West Lancashire •
St Helens St Helens Ashton-in-Makerfield • Billinge and Winstanley • Haydock • Rainford • Whiston •
Wirral Birkenhead • Wallasey • Bebington • Hoylake • Wirral •

Between 1974 and 1986 the county had a two-tier system of local government with the five boroughs sharing power with the Merseyside County Council. However in 1986 the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the county council along with all other metropolitan county councils, and so its boroughs are now effectively unitary authorities.

 

Merseyside is divided into two parts by the Mersey Estuary, the Wirral is located on the west side of the estuary, upon the Wirral Peninsula and the rest of the county is located on the east side of the estuary. The eastern part of Merseyside borders onto Lancashire to the north, Greater Manchester to the east, with both parts of the county bordering Cheshire to the south. The territory comprising the county of Merseyside previously formed part of the administrative counties of Lancashire (east of the River Mersey) and Cheshire (west of the River Mersey).

The two parts are linked by the two Mersey Tunnels, the Mersey Railway, and the Mersey Ferry.

To express location within the Merseyside area by the preposition on – thus “on Merseyside” as opposed to “in Merseyside” – was traditionally the more usual. However, the logic of suggestions in support of this from some quarters (that, after all, one would always be “on” the side of the Mersey, not “in” it) falls down; since it is, in fact, entirely possible to be situated [both] “in” or “on” [either] “side” of the River Mersey and area(s) thus designated. Therefore, more recent usage tends to draw distinctions between the geographical “Merseyside” – for which “on” is considered appropriate – and the Metropolitan county of “Merseyside”, for which “in” is used.

Ipsos MORI polls in the boroughs of Sefton and Wirral in the 2000s showed that in general, residents of these boroughs identified slightly more strongly to Merseyside than to Lancashire or Cheshire respectively, but their affinity to Merseyside was more likely to be “fairly strong” than “very strong”.

Merseyside contains the metropolitan boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

Despite the abolition of the county council some local services are still run on a county-wide basis, now administered by joint-boards of the five metropolitan boroughs; these include the:

  • Merseyside Police
  • Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service
  • Merseytravel (who are also responsible for the Merseyrail network)
  • Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority
  • Merseyside Pension Scheme, administered by Wirral Borough Council, with offices in Liverpool

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Merseyside at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 10,931 50 3,265 7,616
2000 13,850 29 3,489 10,330
2003 16,173 39 3,432 12,701

Other nearby towns are not part of Merseyside, such as Skelmersdale, Ormskirk, Warrington, Runcorn, Widnes and Ellesmere Port (all parts of either Cheshire or Lancashire), but the designation “Greater Merseyside” has sometimes been adopted for Merseyside and these six towns unofficially. This also has a semi-official usage by some local authorities and organisations and is used by Geographers’ A-Z Map Company for their Merseyside Street Atlas.[8] However, a separate ‘City region’, comprising Merseyside and Halton, has some official recognition as being Greater Merseyside, although it has also been referred to as Liverpool City Region. Halton also forms part of the Merseyside NUTS region.

Places of interest include:

Liverpool

  • Albert Dock
  • Anfield
  • The Cavern Club
  • Croxteth Hall
  • Gambier Terrace
  • Goodison Park
  • HM Customs & Excise National Museum
  • Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican)
  • Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Roman Catholic)
  • Merseyside Maritime Museum
  • International Slavery Museum
  • Mersey Tunnels – Queensway and Kingsway
  • Museum of Liverpool Life
  • Pier Head
  • Speke Hall – National Trust
  • St George’s Hall
  • Tate Liverpool, a branch of the Tate Gallery
  • Walker Art Gallery
  • World Museum Liverpool
  • The Beatles Story Museum Liverpool at Albert Dock

Knowsley

  • Knowsley Hall
  • Knowsley Safari Park

St Helens

  • The Dream
  • Knowsley Road
  • Langtree Park
  • North West Museum of Road Transport
  • St Helens World of Glass [10]
  • Haydock Park Racecourse

Sefton

  • Aintree Racecourse
  • Crosby Beach
  • Haig Avenue
  • Meols Hall
  • Pleasureland Southport
  • Southport Pier
  • Lord Street, Southport
  • Royal Birkdale Golf Club
  • Formby

Wirral

  • Bidston Hill and Bidston Windmill
  • Birkenhead Park
  • Birkenhead Priory
  • Hamilton Square
  • Hilbre Island
  • Lady Lever Art Gallery
  • Leasowe Castle and Leasowe Lighthouse
  • North Wirral Coastal Park
  • Port Sunlight
  • Prenton Park
  • Williamson Art Gallery and Museum
  • Wirral Country Park
Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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