The History of Wallasey : Part 5

Wallasey In The
Post War Years

1918 - 1939

A Period of Expansion

The growth of Wallasey to the time of the First World War had been traced in Part 4. By the year of 1914, Wallasey had been constituted a County Borough  and had established itself primarily as a residential area tributary to Liverpool, with subsidiary, but important, roles as a sea-side resort, an industrial area and a market-gardening region. A period of arrested development followed during the years 1914-1918 when attention was directed to the special problem and activities related to the waging of the greatest and most horrific war the World had ever known. In the succeeding years several pressing problems had to be dealt with and

“all municipal departments, administrative, financial, educational, trading and non-trading alike had their duties and responsibilities increased either directly by legislation or by sheer force of changed circumstances and demands”.

It was a period of reconstruction and of expansion the beginnings of which date from the Local Act of 1920.  Even so, a higher administrative status had been acquired in 1918 when the County Borough of Wallasey, previously in the Wirral Parliamentary Division, became a Parliamentary Borough.

The Population of Wallasey

The outstanding problems to be faced were those connected with the remarkable growth of population that has been discussed previously, and, in particular, they included the problem of housing with its related questions of the extension of the Borough boundaries and Town Planning. Before discussing these and other problems connected with the development of New Brighton as an up-to-date sea-side resort and the provision of additional public services and amenities, it is desirable to study the population of the Borough in the post-war years. Especial attention will be paid to the following aspects:-

a). The Growth of Population;
b). The composition of the population;
c). The occupations and movements of the people.

a). The Growth of Population

The Census figures of the years 1911, 1921 and 1931 together with the Registrar General’s estimated population of 1934, show that a marked change is taking place in regard to the growth of population in Wallasey.

Year Population % +/-
1911 78,504 +47
1921 90,809 +16
1931 97,626 +7.7
1934 97,000 -.6

It will be remembered that the percentage increases in earlier decades were as follows:-

1871, 39%; 1881, 42%; 1891, 37%; 1901, 61%;

Thus, it appears  that from the middle and until the end of last century, the rate of increase was rapidly advancing, but in the early years of the 20th century the rate of increase began to drop considerably, in the census year 1931, the rate of increase was given as 7.7 per cent, but this tends to create a wrong impression in that, during the proceeding decade, the Borough had been extended to include Moreton. In 1926, just prior to the absorption of Moreton, its population was estimated at approximately 9000, a figure that would bring the 1931 population of Wallasey up to 1000,000 when the extension took place. Accordingly it can be assumed that the population of Wallasey (excluding the added area) was already stationary in 1931. Since then, the population had begun to decrease. The decreases is shown as 626 but once again it must be borne in mind that another extension of the Borough boundary had taken place in 1933. By this extension the Saughall Massie area was added with a population of 830, thus bringing the total decrease in population of the 1931 Wallasey up to 1456 or 1.4%. Though the decrease was small it is symbolical of the modern tendency of people to move from the urbanised areas to the bordering rural or semi-urban districts. This tendency is very apparent in the 1926 Density Map of the Wirral Townships which shows clearly the beginnings of the outward expansion of population from the over-crowded north-eastern corner.  In general, the areas mainly affected are to be found in North Wirral and in the Dee side districts and more particularly, Hoylake, West Kirby and Heswall. This migration of population from the larger urban areas can be parallel in many parts of the country, as for example, in Lancashire, where most of the large towns, excluding Lancaster and Liverpool show a smaller decline in population during the decade ending in 1931.

In Wallasey, as in Birkenhead, the chief factor accounting for this migration of population, apart from the natural desire of people to live in less congested and more amenable areas, is the provision of better, cheaper and faster means of communication. Improved railway services, the advent of motor buses, private motor cars, and motorcycles make it possible for people to live in the less-populated areas of the Wirral and still be in easy reach of Liverpool where a large proportion have their businesses and occupations. The opening of the new Mersey Tunnel on 18th July, 1934 and the later electrifying of the Wirral Railway lead to a greater migration from Wallasey, Birkenhead and Liverpool.

For over a century, 1830-1939, the growth of Wallasey had been dominated by the provision of better and better ferry services but now a repetition in modernised form, of what occurred between Liverpool and Wallasey during the nineteenth century, was beginning to take place between Wallasey and the Wirral. Then, over-population and urbanisation together with the development of communications led to large numbers of Liverpool people taking up their residence in Wallasey. These same factors were resulting in the settlement of many Wallasey people in other parts of the Wirral and further afield.

b). Composition of the Population

The effect of the marked growth of population during the closing decades can be seen in the census returns of 1911. These returns indicate that of the total population enumerated in Wallasey, only 29.8 per cent have been born within Wallasey, only 29.8 per cent had been born within the borough, 26.7 per cent having been born in Liverpool or Bootle. Unfortunately, the returns of the 1921 and 1931 census do not give figures of the birth places and therefore no statistical evidence is available for comparison.  However, an attempt was made in about 1934 to confirm the birth-place of some 500 parents of pupils attending the Oldershaw School for Boys, Wallasey. The results then were 

Liverpool & Bootle
Wirral & North Wales
Lancashire & Yorkshire
Other places

These figures include parents of a number of boys residing in Moreton most of whom were not born in Wallasey or Moreton having come mainly from Liverpool or Birkenhead.  Thus, it is possible that the figure of Wallasey-born adult people will be a little higher than the figure indicated above (34%). When further allowance is made for the number of children born in the Borough and still resident there, the total percentage of people living in the Borough who were born in Wallasey will probably be in the neighbourhood of 35-40%

Movements of Workers and Occupations

An illuminating insight into the fundamental character of Wallasey can be obtained from a study of the Census returns for the years 1921 and 1931. In 1921, the following figures obtained in relation to the movement of workers:-

Living within the Borough and working outside
Working within the Borough and living outside
Net daytime decrease in the Borough

From these and other figures, the importance of Wallasey as a residential rather than an industrial area is clearly established.  In 1921, no less than 41.1 per cent of the total working population earned their livelihood outside the Borough. (Worth noting the contrast the corresponding figures for the other Merseyside Boroughs which were:- Bootle 35.5%; Birkenhead 27.1%; Liverpool 6.4%). This resulted in a marked decrease in the day-time population, amounting to 16.6 per cent, inasmuch as there was little compensation for the large exodus of workers to be found in the relatively small number of workers coming in from outside. The areas in which the outgoing workers were occupied together with the origin of the incoming workers is indicated in the diagram below.

click to enlarge graph

The workers going to Liverpool and Birkenhead were 13,875 and 1,898 respectively and represented  89 per cent of the outgoing population. The movement of people from Liverpool and Birkenhead to Wallasey was 906 and 1,023. Accordingly, in the case of Liverpool the net gain in workers from Wallasey was 12,969 whereas in the case of Birkenhead the net gain was only 875. The inter-movement of workers between Birkenhead and Wallasey was largely absorbed by the industrial activities on both sides of the Birkenhead and Wallasey Docks, and more especially by the flour billing industry. The more marked outward movement from Wallasey to Liverpool was in 1921, mainly composed of men and women  working in the commercial offices and retail shops of Liverpool (as it is today) and provides further proof of the function of Wallasey as a dormitory for Liverpool.

Unfortunately, the 1931 Census Returns do not indicate the movements of workers and comparison, therefore, is not possible. It is very useful, however, to compare and contrast the occupations of the working population of the Merseyside Boroughs in order that the true position of Wallasey in Merseyside can be ascertained. The varied occupations given in the Census Returns are too numerous for a detailed study to be made here so a classification has been used. This classification divides the occupation into the sex groups given in the following table:-

Occupation Year
    M. F M F
Group 1.
1931 31.8 14.3 35.8 20.6
1921 34.7 11.9 52.9 19.6
Group 2.
Transport & Storage
1931 18.3 3.2 24.9 1.9
1921 22.0 4.0 25.4 8.0
Group 3.
1931 29.4 28.8. 23.1 26.7
1921 31.5 34.0 14.4 28.4
Group 4.
Personal Service
1931 4.8 38.2 4.3 35.9
1921 2.6 37.6 2.0 34.5
Group 5.
Public Service/Admin
1931 11.9 8.2 9.1 8.5
1921 5.3 2.9 3.0 1.7
Group 6.
1931 3.8 7.3 2.8 6.4
1921 3.9 9.6 2.2 7.8

Occupation Year
    M. F M F
Group 1.
1931 35.5 36.5 33.0 40.1
1921 43.6 28.7 43.9 32.8
Group 2.
Transport & Storage
1931 25.2 1.8 35.9 2.1
1921 32.7 9.0 37.9 7.0
Group 3.
1931 23.3 24.5 18.9 21.5
1921 15.3 24.8 11.6 25.9
Group 4.
Personal Service
1931 4.5 24.3 3.7 24.7
1921 3.1 29.0 2.1 27.0
Group 5.
Public Services/Admin
1931 9.0 7.6 6.7 8.6
1921 3.3 1.5 3.0 1.7
Group 6.
1931 2.5 5.3 1.8 3.0
1921 2.0 7.0 1.4 5,0

On analysis, the table reveals that in each of the Boroughs the most important group, in so far as males are concerned, is the Industrial Group and that of the 1931 Census, the proportion in each case was approximately one-third of the male working population. This proportion in Wallasey meant that there had been little change since 1921, whereas Birkenhead, to a very marked degree, and Liverpool and Bootle, to a less but still considerable degree, showed a decrease.  The post-war depression in Merseyside shipping and industry generally would amount for this decline but in Wallasey the effects of the depression would not be felt to quite the same extent owing to the importance of flour-milling in the industrial life of the Borough, on industry that naturally would suffer less than others in a period of depression. In Birkenhead, on the other hand, the great depression in the ship-building and related industries would account to a large in a large measure for the biggest decrease in any of the Boroughs.  In contrast to the regularity of percentage of male workers engaged in industry in the Merseyside Boroughs is the pronounced variation in female labour, ranging from 14.3% in Wallasey to 40.1% in Bootle. In each Borough the number of female industrial workers had increased since 1921. In Wallasey and Birkenhead the increase is very small but it is more clearly seen in Liverpool and Bootle where a number of light industries, such as artificial silk and clothing factories, have been developed during recent years on the outskirts of the urbanised area.

Closely related to the industrial and shipping activities of Merseyside is the group of occupations classed  as Transport and Storage and here again a decrease is shown during the decade though it is not quite so marked as in the Industrial group. It is most noticeable in Liverpool and Bootle and applies to both male and female labour. The percentage of females engaged in this group is very low in each Borough and there is a marked similarity between them, much more so then in the 1921 Census. The male labour engaged in this group varies between the 18.3 per cent of Wallasey and 35.9% per cent of Bootle.

Classifying together both the Industrial and the Transport and Storage Groups reveals some interesting contrasts and changes in the four Boroughs during this decade. The figures are given:-

  1921 1931
Males 56% 50.1%
Females 15.9% 17.5%
Males 78.3% 60.7%
Females 27.6% 22.5%
Males 76.3% 60.7%
Females 27.7% 38.3%
Males 81.8% 68.9%
Females 39.8% 42.2%

In Wallasey, the relatively low percentages of both male and female workers as compared with the other three Boroughs is particularly noticeable. Wallasey also in 1931 shows little variation from 1921. Birkenhead and Liverpool are almost identical. In male workers both the former shows a decrease in female workers while the latter shows a considerable increase. Bootle had a very high percentage of male workers in 1921 and, like Liverpool and Birkenhead, had undergone a decrease. The female labour engaged in these two groups of occupations, already high in comparison with the other areas, had increased still further and is approximately double that of Wallasey and Birkenhead.

In Wallasey, by far the greater number of the workers in Transport, Storage and Industry (excluding those few who travel to Liverpool) are engaged in the industrial concerns, with their related transport and storage facilities, to be found in the parts of Wallasey and Birkenhead bordering the Dock Estate. Some of these industries included United Mo laces Co. Ltd, Anglo-American Oil Co., Yelverton Dawburn Co. Timber Works, Uveco Cereals (Spiller's), Vickers-Armstrong Iron Works, Buchanan's Ltd Flour Mills, , Gandy Belt Co. Leather Works, Wallasey Corporation Gas Works, Noris Ltd Oil Refinery, Paul Bros Flour Mills, Currie and Rowland's Manure and Fertilser Works.

Outstanding amongst these industrial concerns were:-

a) The flour and grain mills employed some 1,400 males and 500 females
b) The docks and water transport, employed some 3,000 males - some of these, however, would of had employment on the ships as seamen, pursers, stewards etc.
c) Road and Railway transport workers, almost wholly men, who total approximately 1,400.
d) The Corporation Gas, Water and Electricity Works, employing some 560 men.

The remaining activities in the industrial group were chiefly small in character and a large proportion of their workers was composed of mechanical engineers, motor mechanics, plumbers and electrical engineers.

The group classified as industrial includes several occupations that, in Merseyside as a whole, are of little importance such as Fishing, Agriculture, Mining and Quarrying, and Brick, Pottery and Glass manufacturing. In Wallasey, therefore, it should be noted that the proportion of agricultural workers although small is considerably higher than in any of the other Boroughs. This is explained by the presence of the market-gardens which provided regular employment for about 250 people with approximately another 250 in seasonal employment, made up largely of women and girls many of whom came from Birkenhead. Likewise, in regard to Brick-making, Wallasey's percentage is higher than in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Bootle, some 100 people finding employment mainly in the three Brick Works situated in Pasture Road (Moreton), Leasowe Road, and by the Dock Estate in Oakdale Road.

Group 3 consists of people occupied in Commercial, Financial and Insurance activities. Such people as business owners and managers, commercial travellers, shop-keepers, and above all clerks, typists, and shop assistants come under this heading. In general, these people are less restricted in their choice of habitation then the workers in Industry, Transport and Storage with the result that they tend to spread out to the more favoured localities. The distance from their residence to their place of occupation depending to a considerable degree upon their social and financial status. In the past, as already stated, large numbers belonging to this group of workers came to live in Wallasey and consequently in 1921, the percentage of the total working population engaged in such activities was considerably higher in Wallasey than in the other Boroughs as regards both males and females. Most of these people consisted of clerks and typists of both sexes working in the shipping, banking and insurance offices of Liverpool, together with large numbers, more especially in the case of females, employed as assistants and supervisors in the shipping centre of Liverpool. The growth of 'Football Pools', at this time, such as Littlewood's and Vernon's, also provided seasonal occupation for large numbers of women and girls. >>>

During the period between 1921-1931 the difference in this group became less marked amongst the Boroughs, Wallasey showing a decrease in both males and females (males 31.5% to 27.4%; females 34.0% to 28.8%), whereas Birkenhead, Liverpool and Bootle show marked increases in the male working population and little change in the female. The slight percentage decline in the male workers of Wallasey engaged in commercial and financial occupations is absorbed in the increased number of people finding employment in Public Services and Administration and in Personal Services. Increased numbers of female workers in Public Services and Administration will likewise account to a considerable degree for the decrease in female workers in commerce and finance. This is further absorbed by the increase in industrial workers.

Group 4, Personal Service, is dominated by female workers, in 1931, only about 4 per cent of the male working population of each Borough finding employment therein. In contrast are the percentage of the females, namely:-

Wallasey 38.2, Birkenhead 35.9, Liverpool 24.3, and Bootle 24.7.

These higher percentages of female workers can readily be appreciated when the types of occupations composing this group are noted. These included the occupations of Domestic Servants and Housekeepers, followed by Restaurant and Cafe Workers, Laundry Workers and Cleaners, Hair-Dressing, Undertaking, and several others. Obviously, these with a few exceptions are the occupations usually associated with female workers and moreover, they are the types of employment related to residential areas. They can be used as evidence of the residential character or otherwise of the Merseyside Boroughs. Allowance must be made for the large number of waitresses whose employment in Liverpool is necessitated by the requirements of the daily workers in the business houses, banks and shops. The exclusion of these waitresses will probably reduce the Liverpool percentage of female workers engaged in Personal Service from the 1931 figure of 24.3 to approximately 20.

Comparing the 1931 figures of female employment in this group, it is found that Wallasey takes first place being followed closely by Birkenhead with Bootle and Liverpool well behind. Accordingly these figures, taken in conjunction with those already given in regard to other branches of employment, indicate the outstanding importance of Wallasey as a residential area. In this connection, Wallasey is a good example of the following observation of E.H Rideout ("The Growth of Wirral"):-

"It may frequently be observed that in suburban districts occupied by a non-industrial population the possession of a servant is held to be an essential criterion of respectively. Hence we find streets occupied by lines of houses quite densely packed together, each with its separate servant, yet whose tenants in similar financial circumstances would, in a manufacturing community, regard such a servant as an unwanted luxury extravagance".

Public Services and Administration (Group 5) and Professional Occupations (Group 6) show little variation between the four Merseyside Boroughs as would be expected seeing that the demand for such is fairly constant in most towns. Wallasey, however, does show a slightly higher percentage of male and female workers in the professional group. This merely confirms the evidence accumulated to illustrate the residential character of the town. The demands for professional workers such as doctors, nurses, and teachers being normally greater in residential than industrial towns. Specially noticeable in each of the Boroughs is the marked increase in the percentage of the enumerated working population engaged in Public Services and Administration. This is not peculiar to Merseyside but applies to all large urban areas throughout the country and results largely from the multiplication of duties undertaken by Local Authorities in the post-war years. In this group it is noteworthy that Wallasey has a higher percentage than Liverpool, Birkenhead and Bootle, possibly owing to the special problems associated with the rapid growth of the Borough and boundary extensions in recent years that involved the absorption of Moreton.

The relative importance of the different occupational groups in the four Merseyside Boroughs has discussed and it is now desirable to re-state these, in so far as Wallasey is concerned, in term of actual figures rather than percentages.

Occupations in Wallasey, 1931 Census
  Males Females
Total Population 44,224 53,402
Under 14 years of age 10,176 9,780
14 years of age and over 34,049 43,622
Unoccupied and retired (14 and over) 3,887 29,667
Occupied (14 and over) 30,161 13,955
Out of Work 3,898 1,102
Total number in employment 26,263 12,863
Group 1 : Industrial 8,747 1,836
Planning 19 -
Agriculture, mainly Market-Gardening 402 37
Mining, Quarrying etc. 60 8
Bricks, Pottery and Glass 114 3
Manufacture of Chemicals, Dyes, Paint and Oil 655 126
Manufacture of Metals, Machinery etc & repairs 1,566 166
Manufacture of Textiles and Textile Goods 92 82
Preparation of Skins and Leather 104 66
Manufacture of Clothing 411 430
Manufacture of Food, Drink and Tobacco 1,642 562
Wood Working 351 25
Paper, Stationery, Printing 608 189
Building Trades 1,861 46
Other Manufacturing Industries 297 88
Gas, Water and Electricity 565 8
Group 2 : Transport & Storage 4,667 382
Water Transport 1,854 233
Docks 1,146 46
Roads 941 56
Railways 485 24
Storage 155 14
Group 3 : Commercial & Financial 7,545 3,612
Group 4 : Personal Services 1.044 4,834
Group 5 : Public Services and Administration 2,954 1,044
Group 6 : Professional 935 895

These figures, on analysis, show exactly the importance of certain types of employment. Many of the workers are engaged in occupations that are common to all large communities. Enumerated these will include :-

a) considerable numbers of motor-mechanics and engineers, electrical engineers, plumbers, painters and decorators, carpenters, builders and brick-layers. printers, gas and water workers, and others of less importance in the male section of industrial activities; a fair number of the women workers classed as industrial will include dress and blouse makers, milliners, cooks, pastry-makers, and the like;
b) in the transport section there will be road workers such as the drivers of goods and passenger workers such as drivers of goods and passenger vehicles, lorries and vans together with railway workers of all descriptions;
c) in the commercial and financial occupation there will be the usual shop=assistants, clerks and typists, proprietors and managers of businesses, agents, travellers, hawkers and canvassers;
d) the various types of occupations classified as personal services, public services and administration, and professional will likewise, in large measure, be common to all.

Excluding, as far as possible, the above mentioned classes of workers, it will be seen that the chief occupations of the male working population of Wallasey are to be in

1) the industrial and transport activities of the southern part of the Borough bordering the Dock Estate. These provided employment for large numbers in the grain mills, and handling of cargoes in the docks and the movement of cargoes to and from the docks and factories by road, rail and water transport; in addition many were engaged in the ferry services;
2) the commercial, financial and insurance activities of Liverpool.

The female working population, again excluding the larger number finding employment in the local enterprises and domestic services common to most urban areas, is largely engaged in Liverpool. Here, the majority are clerks, short-hand typists, to shop assistants supplemented by those who work in the cafes and restaurants.

In this study of the population of Wallasey from the three-fold view point of its composition, the movements of workers, and the nature of occupations, sufficient evidence has been revealed to prove conclusively the fundamental importance of Wallasey as a residential area (a "bedroom" of Liverpool) with a southern portion devoted to industrial activities and other activities related to a shipping community. Evidence has also been given to show that another district west of Wallasey Village, is occupied by market-gardens which, while covering a fairly large area, do not provide employment for many people.

The remaining function of Wallasey, that of the northern part (New Brighton) as a sea-side resort, is difficult to prove statistically. Nearly all this period visitors were accommodated in small boarding houses by the wives of people engaged in Liverpool as clerks, shop assistants and the like. Accordingly, in the Census Returns, these will not appear as Occupied People. Their domestic servants, however, will be classified and these with the waitresses in the cafes and hotels partly will account for the high percentage of Wallasey people engaged in Domestic Service. Furthermore, the amenities at New Brighton such as the Bathing Pools, Tennis Courts, Golf Links, etc, only provide seasonal employment for a relatively small number. (The 1931 Census gave 356 males and 227 females under the heading, 'Entertainment and Sport'. A large proportion of these, however, would of been employed in the local Cinemas). As most of the visitors are day-trippers and come mainly by the ferry services they can be handled by the travel facilities already in existence, in the form of motor-buses and ferry-boats, to provide for the daily movement of Wallasey people to and from Liverpool.

Although the Census Reports are of little value in this connection, there is abundant statistical evidence available in the increased number of passengers carried during the summer season by the ferry-boats and in the number of people using the sea-side amenities especially the New Brighton Baths and Derby Bathing Pool. The role of New Brighton as a sea-side resort will therefore be discussed in a later section of this part.

Extension Of The Borough And The Problems Of Housing

The most pressing problem facing the Wallasey Council in the post-war period of World War One was that of housing.The post-war decades had shown a remarkable growth of population that few urban areas in England and Wales could equal. In the decade 1901-1911, only 5 out of the 105 large towns could show a higher percentage rate of increase than the 47% of Wallasey; in the succeeding decade, although the rate fell to 16%, Wallasey was eighth on the list. An inheritance from this period of population growth was the overcrowding in certain parts of the existing built-up area. This can best be shown by an analysis of the density figures:-

Density of people per acre 1921
London (Administrative County) 59.9
Next 12 largest towns 23.0
Liverpool 37.8
Bootle 39.3
Birkenhead 37.2
Wallasey 27.3

These figures indicate that Wallasey, with a much lower density than the Administrative County of London, had a density comparable with the next twelve largest towns. Only 21 of the 79 county boroughs in England had a greater density; large and important industrial towns like Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Nottingham, Leicester and Bolton had a lower density. At the same time, it must be appreciated that Wallasey was the least densely-people of the Merseyside Borough having approximately 10 persons per acre less than each of the others. But these figures with their average for the whole area give no indication of the differential rates of density appertaining to various parts of the Borough. If the Ward densities are substituted, marked contrasts can be seen from one district to another. Even so, the Ward densities are not a completely satisfactory measure of the extent to which people are crowded together or otherwise in that they do not take into account Open Spaces, land used for industrial purposes, shops, special buildings and land not yet developed. By making allowance for such areas and taking only those that are used for residential purposes a much truer statement can be obtained both of the housing density and the number of persons per acre.

The appended table gives both sets of figures:-

Whole Area
Built-up Area
Houses Per Acre
Persons Per Acre
Houses Per Acre
Persons Per Acre
New Brighton 7 36 8 41
Upper Brighton 11 51 13 55
North Liscard 9 37 11 48
South Liscard 16 74 16 74
North Egremont 17 73 17 73
South Egremont 17 73 17 73
North Seacombe 20 104 20 104
South Seacombe 7 39 30 157
Somerville 8 32 25 114
Poulton 5 25 33 136
Marlowe 4 19 22 103
St. Hilary 7 28 20 68
Warren 3 12 6 21
Wallasey 1 5 21 93

A comparison of the individual ward densities (whole area) with the average (27.3) for the whole of the Borough shows that only 4 of the 14 wards were below the average, the remaining 10 being in most cases well above it. This illustrates clearly the danger of relying on the average figure. In 1921 practically all the western part of the Borough, the low-lying land east of Wallasey Village, was undeveloped consisting largely of open fields, market-gardens and golf links. The inclusive of the this area gave a completely erroneous conception of the built-up area. The ward densities (whole area) indicate that 5 of the Wards had a density of over 50 persons per acre and in the case of North Seacombe Ward the number exceeded 100. High as these densities were, they did not compare with certain wards in Liverpool and Bootle Bootle e.g. Netherland Ward (237) and Everton, Low Hill, and St. Domingo each exceeded 150 persons per acre.

A study of the revised figures for the Built-up Area reveals some striking contrasts. In the first five wards, with but limited open spaces and undeveloped land, there is little change in both the number of houses and persons per acre. In South Seacombe, Somerville, Poulton, and Marlowe where large areas were devoted to the Dock Estate and the related industrial works, and densities show a decided increase which was most marked in the case of Somerville and South Seacombe. Somewhat similar increases are indicated for St. Hilary and Wallasey Wards where large areas of land were undeveloped. Warren Ward, although including Harrison Park and the Warren Municipal Golf Links, does not show a very marked increase in the revised figure. This is explained by the character of a large proportion of the houses set in big gardens, the density varying from about 1 to 5 houses per acre.

The over-crowding of people in the houses as well as the over-crowding of houses per acre showed a pressing need in 1921 for steps to be taken to relieve the housing shortage. Here, it must suffice to state that the percentage of population living more than 2 persons per room had almost been doubled in the decade 1911-1921. Comparison with the other Merseyside Borough is given in the following table:-

Year Liverpool Bootle Birkenhead Wallasey
1911 10.1 9.2 7.8 3.3
1921 12.1 11.6 12.6 5.7

Prices were high and it was well nigh impossible to obtain a house under any circumstances. Thus, the urgent necessity for attending to the problem of housing in the immediate post-war years was very apparent to all. While some parts of the Wallasey built-up area were quite necessary from the point of view of density others had far too many houses per acre and in certain parts, over-crowding in the houses themselves existed. These unsatisfactory conditions could not be adequately evolved by the enterprise of local builders alone. In common with most local authorities, the Town Council of Wallasey used the facilities afforded them under a succession of Housing Acts and, after 1920, started with the first of several housing schemes.

At first, building operations proceeded slowly owing to the difficulty of obtaining suitable sites at reasonable prices. Further delays were caused by the high building costs of the years following upon the First World War period. Nevertheless, in 1920-1921, the first scheme was completed. This involved the construction of 18 parlour and 15 non-parlour houses in the Alderley Road area. In the next few years further and more ambitious schemes were carried out as follows:-

Under 1919 Act. Mill Lane Estate - 171 houses including 118 of parlour type;
Under 1924 Act. Belvidere Road Estate - 138 houses of a better type and sold to owner occupies. (£750-£760);
Under 1924 Act. Poulton Road - Surrey Street Estate - 56 houses including 26 of parlour type;
Under 1924 Act. Mostyn Street-Norwood Road Estate - 59 houses including 35 of parlour type;
Under 1924 Act. Hillcroft Road-Lyncroft Road-Gorsedale Road Estate - 364 houses including 117 of parlour type.

These Corporation-built houses, supplemented by those built by private enterprises were rapidly filling up the vacant plots of land in the eastern part of the Borough. Even though the number of inhabited houses had increased from 19,503 in 1921 to 21,675 in 1927 the demand was still very great. In that year (1927), although the Corporation list of people requiring houses had been closed for three years, there were still over 2000 people on the waiting list. Most of these required "working-class houses" and the position was very difficult. The newly-developed Corporation Housing Estates had "practically exhausted all the available land in the Borough on which worker's houses could be erected". Hence, it became necessary to acquire authority for an extension of the Borough boundary so as to include the Leasowe and Moreton area.

Almost of equal importance as the necessity to provide additional building land was the factor of the health of the community. In the Moreton area, lying in the path of the westerly winds that sweep over the elevated eastern part of Wallasey, there had grown up a community of people living in almost unbelievable conditions of sanitation. This 'bungalow' of 'caravan-town' was thus not only a danger in itself but might have become a menace to the built-up area of Wallasey. The origin and growth of this community provides an object lesson of the way in which wholly unsatisfactory conditions of habitation can arise, out of what were originally good intentions, when the development is allowed to proceed with but little control from the Local Authority.

New houses at Kirkway, 1927
New houses at Poulton Road, 1927