A Local History of the Wirral Peninsula
Lingham Lane is one of the last surviving country lanes in Wallasey. It starts at Leasowe Common, not far from Leasowe Lighthouse, and runs to Town Meadow Lane in Moreton. The lane was originally called Lighthouse Lane due to it leading to the Leasowe Lighthouse. It is only about two kilometres long but, in the two kilometres is contained a wealth of information about how the local residents lived and earned their living.
We start our trip along Lingham Lane at Leasowe Common. The lane starts at a couple of isolated houses but previously, Lingham Cottage, the last thatched cottage in Wallasey, marked the beginning of the lane. The River Birkett is soon crossed on a modern concrete bridge. The Birkett rises from a spring just past the lake close to the Lighthouse. The spring is said to be fed from an artesian well where seawater filters through the sand, silt and clay to form a subterranean reservoir from which the water rises. The river is now canalised and is joined by the River Fender behind the Leasowe housing estate. Itís levels are controlled by sluices next to the railway workshops on Wallasey Bridge Road in Birkenhead opposite the end Beaufort Road. The river then enters a tunnel to emerge at the end of a disused loading wharf adjacent to the Mobil Oil plant before where it then joins Wallasey Pool.
After leaving the Birkett behind, the lane skirts fields and soon, Lingham Farm is reached. After passing through the old farmyard and through a gate the lane winds itís way past more fields before emerging at the disused clay quarries now partially filled with water. The clay was virtually scraped out of the quarries by bucket excavators that moved around the perimeter of the quarries on movable railway tracks. The clay was then loaded into railway trucks similar to the type used in coalmines. The trucks ran on a narrow gauge railway line or tramway, which, like the excavatorsí track, was also movable. A thick steel cable was wedged into a fork mounted on the trucks. A large winching engine, originally steam driven but subsequently replaced by electric power, moved the cable, which was in an endless loop, and in turn moved the railway trucks. At the point where Lingham Lane crossed the tramway, the trucks were automatically disengaged from the cable as it rose on a gantry giving sufficient headroom for the traffic that used the lane to pass beneath. A man was responsible for reattaching the cable to the trucks so that it could continue itís journey to the brickworks about two kilometres distant. A thankless job, especially on cold, windy winterís days.
When the quarries on either side if the lane have been passed, there is a level crossing over the West Kirby line of the Merseyrail Electric Railway. The level crossing allows vehicular access to the quarries and is seldom used. For the traveller on foot, the railway lines are crossed on a footbridge. Whilst crossing over the railway footbridge, it is worthwhile taking the time to stop and inspect the surroundings from an elevated viewpoint. The route that the old tramway used can be seen but there is no evidence left of itís existence except for the memories of those, like myself, who actually saw it in operation. It is surprising just how far one has walked along the lane, as Leasowe Lighthouse seems small in the distance.
The end of the lane is now in sight. On coming down the steps of the footbridge, houses are met and line the lane which runs a little further on to where it makes a junction with Town Meadow Lane in Moreton. If the walker reached the start of the lane by car, a return journey can be made by either retracing their steps nor by walking along Town Meadow Lane to Maryland Lane and along Pasture Road, across the railway bridge and past the Premier Brands factory, over the River Birkett once more and back to Leasowe Common. A walk along Lingham Lane is rewarding as a step back in time and is truly a trip down memory lane.
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Updated - 24-09-09