HILBRE ISLAND

 

Grid Ref: SJ 183 881
Date 13 July 2008

 

spacer Hilbre Island
From Little Eye back towards West Kirby   Hilbre from Little Hilbre
Hilbre Island   Hilbre Island
Mast and signal station   From the north
Hilbre Island   Hilbre Island
Life boat station   View from route to Red Rocks

 

On the 13th July 2008, high tide was at 8 am, making it safe to walk to Hilbre Island from the north end of the marine lake at West Kirby.  The visitor centre at Thursaston recommended departure from West Kirby after 11 am and leaving the island by 5 pm.  Just off the coast there is a shallow ridge of rock running from NW to SE linking Little Eye, Little Hilbre and Hilbre Island.  When the tide is well out, on this occasion after about 1 pm, you can make the rather shorter return to Red Rocks but as shown in my picture at the bottom right, you will encounter some pools and possibly some slippery mud rather than the firm sand en route for West Kirby.   July 13th was an "open day" when you can see the semaphore signalling station that relayed messages along the coast from Anglesey to Liverpool.

The signal system was set up in 1826 by Trustees of the Liverpool Docks and and a Lieutenant Barnard Watson was given the job of setting up a line of semaphore stations from Holyhead to Liverpool using semaphore signals with arms swinging on a mast.  The line of signal stations has been mentioned on the BBC Television "Coast" series in which it was stated that the record for a message was 27 seconds.  This was to transmit a four digit code which corresponded to a phrase in the code book.  At the outset the station was to be at Hoylake but in 1828 Lieutenant Watson obtained the site at Hilbre Island for the executors of Dr. Trevor, the late rector of West Kirby.   The present building dates from improvements made in 1841.  The station was retained for use with the electric telegraph system in 1861.

In 1836 part of the island was sub-let by the Trustees of Liverpool Docks to Trinity House.  They maintained all the navigation bouys in the Dee Estuary, the Mersey and Liverpool Bay.  This station was superseded in 1876 by a new one at Holyhead.

 

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Cheshire Antiquities
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