Birkenhead Town Hall
0151 666 4010
0151 666 3965
The Wirral Museum, formally the Birkenhead Town Hall is situated in Hamilton Square, one of the finest Georgian Squares in the country. Hamilton Square was the dream of William Laird, the great shipbuilder. He wanted a fine square to be the centre of his Birkenhead, city of the future.
Between 1825 and 1844 the elegant houses around the square were constructed, with the area between Brandon Street and Mortimer Street earmarked as the site for the Town Hall. The building is a combination of Scottish granite and local sandstone and was designed by local architect, Charles Ellison in 1882. Its 200 foot clock tower is a major landmark visible from the waterfront on both sides of the River Mersey. Its Cambridge chimes have been heard around the town of Birkenhead since the clock was first started by young Elsie Laird, daughter of Mayor Williams Laird on November 27th 1886. The Town Hall has been the center of many celebrations and events in Wirral over the years.
Election results have been declared, coronations and jubilee celebrations have seen the front of the building decked out in bunting and during the royal visits local troops have been inspected in front of then main entrance. For over 75 years Remembrance Sunday has been celebrated here by a march past. The Assembly rooms have seen concerts, political meetings, balls and dances of all kinds. In 1974 the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral was created and Wallasey Town Hall was chosen as their base, because the Council Chamber was bigger. Birkenhead Town Hall continued to be used as council offices until 1990/1991 when the Town Hall was earmarked as the site of a new museum for Wirral.
The intention was to retain and restore as many of the original Victorian features of the building as possible, whilst bringing the building up to modern safety standard with access to all. The external stone was cleaned and the magnificent Council Chamber restored. Work continued with the removal of dry rot and the installation of a passenger lift and a new fire escape from the assembly Rooms. Restoration of numerous different types of marble, the replacement of broken ceramic tiles and the cleaning of stained glass windows challenged a team of building conservators.
Stained glass was uncovered from behind plasterboard, Victorian style wallpaper and paint was returned to the walls, and decorative plaster was repainted. The restored interior is a splendid example of Victorian architecture. Apart from the stunning council chamber and its anterooms and the mayors parlor, the building includes the Assembly Rooms, containing a gallery and fully fitted theatre, cinema and concert hall.
Birkenhead visitors can enjoy cinema presentations with Dolby surround stereo, video projection in any format, and computer generated programs can be projected onto a large cinema screen. There are 16mm and 35mm resources and sound facilities for tape and CD. New lighting and sound equipment adds to the presentation potential of this new venture. In addition a specially installed induction loop system helps those people with hearing difficulties.
Open all year Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 5pm
(includes all Bank Holidays)
Among the artifacts on display is a remarkable model of the Woodside area as it was on the day in July 1934 that King George V opened the Queensway Road Tunnel. The model was commissioned by the museum from the Merseyside Model Railway Society in 1990. After two years of research, a small group of members and other volunteers from around the region began construction. The buildings, trains, street furniture and other details were built at home and brought together on the baseboards in the Society's clubhouse. the model was completed in 1997 and moved temporarily to the Williamson Art Gallery to await installation in the new museum. The model operates with sophisticated audio visual systems. <P>Additional exhibits include the Wirral Silver and Mayoral collections, and a collection of Della Robbia pottery, for which the town of Birkenhead is famous. Additional attractions such as an archive study centre where historical documents relating to the Wirral area are collected and preserved. <P> The archive include ledgers, newspapers, photographs, maps, plans, films, title deeds, legal and business papers and microfilms. A secure, environmentally controlled strong room provides storage for over 500 metres of archives and more records are housed in a larger archive store. The collections are sorted and catalogued by a qualifies archivist, so that users can identify material relevant to their enquiry.
Key artists and exhibits
- Della Robbia pottery
- Wirral Silver