A Local History of the Wirral Peninsula
Mariners' Park - Wallasey
Whilst the Navy League on Withens Lane in Wallasey looked after the welfare of Sailors starting their careers, a short distance away, off Seabank Road, is an establishment that caters for Sailors at the opposite end of the age spectrum. The Mariners Park is a collection of cottages and bungalows that offer sheltered accommodation and medical care for retired mariners, their wives and widows.
The park was founded in 1882 by the Mercantile Marine Service Association, an association that looked after the welfare of mariners. Most of the buildings were funded by donations from entrepreneurs with maritime connections. One of the most imposing buildings on the estate was Cliff House. This building was to house sixty-five men in private cubicles and was an imposing addition to the River Mersey frontage. It was built on an elevated position and itís tall clock tower was visible for many miles.
Cliff House was added to in 1925 with the construction of the North Annexe, which provided an extra twenty-four places. Almost one hundred years after it had been built, in 1981, the decision was made to demolish Cliff House, as there was little or no demand for the type of accommodation it offered.
The other accommodation within the park consisted of cottages and semi-detached houses. They were paid for by donations from wealthy ship owners and other benefactors, as is illustrated by the names of the roads and cottages. Most of the original cottages have now been demolished and replaced by modern centrally heated bungalows, but a few of the original cottages remain.
The Wallasey Manor House became part of the estate and was converted into an infirmary. By 1937, it had to be replaced by a purpose built building. The John Davies Memorial Infirmary for Aged Mariners and Widows was funded by Jeanette Davies, the wife of a wealthy Liverpool Underwriter, who met the £8000 costs in memory of her husband.
Next door to the estate, on the other side of Maddock Road, is the Andrew Gibson Home for the Widows of Seamen. The home was built in 1906 and provided homes for forty widows. In 1982/3 the building was modified and now contains twenty-five flats plus two guest rooms. In addition to Seamenísí Widows, the building also accommodated retired female sailors. The home closed in 2002 and the future of the site is uncertain but it will most probably be demolished and the land sold for housing.
For over one hundred years, the estate was administered by the Mercantile Marine Service Association. In 1985, the M.M.S.A. merged with other various Maritime, Aviation and Communications Trade Unions to form N.U.M.A.S.T., the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers, who administer the estate today.
In the not too distant future, the John Davies Memorial Home is due to be replaced by a purpose built residential care home on the site of Cliff House. Other developments will include a terrace of single person flats and other properties to extend the range accommodation available. These developments will secure the place of Marinerís Park well into itís second century of offering high quality care for Retired Mariners and their families.
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Updated - 24-09-09