Walking past the smashed window in a fast food restaurant and a group of youths with their trousers tucked into their socks, without a single bicycle in sight, I was suddenly reminded that I was again in Birkenhead. For years people have told me that this is the centre of the Wirral mainly due to it being the place where most bus routes diverge, but I’ve been questioning whether it’s still the centre of the local Ale scene?
Birkenhead has been in a state of flux ever since the decline of the ship building industry. While I’m sure there are other factors, the recent recession hit Birkenhead especially hard. Budget enterprises remain well patronised, as do those filling unique rolls or niche markets, while the larger more generic pubs have struggled to survive. Pubs, popular only two years ago, are up for lease and have been for some time.
Either people are going out less, or there has clearly been a large shift of the pub goers away from Birkenhead, but are they drinking in the local large urban areas such as Liverpool or Chester, or are they staying closer to home?
Unless you live or work in Birkenhead, chances are you will need to take public transport to get there, but why stop there? Most return tickets now cost the same as roving tickets, meaning that people can travel further for the same cost. I suspect that’s what’s happening here.
The West tip of the Wirral has recently undergone a resurgence. Thanks to the likes of Spitting Feathers, Hickory’s and Curio’s all offering new, upmarket choices, helping West Kirby attract a variety of demographics. It also means that this little seaside town has the presence to host nine bars and pubs within a one mile radius of the train Station while the far larger Birkenhead only has six.
Maybe this surge in local development is by people coming to enjoy a relaxing walk by the sea; Maybe they are just coming to see the fantastic sunset over Hilbre Island; Almost certainly it’s been helped by the upcoming British Open., but whatever the reason, I would like to believe that more people are choosing stay, drink locally and support their local pubs. From traditional “hobbit like” pubs, Gastro pubs, Bars, Restaurants and even the odd coffee shop serving crafted American keg, it’s refreshing to see a thriving local pub scene.
What is clear however is the West Coast of the Wirral has fast become the center of the local Ale Scene.
Please note that if you’re planning visit West Kirby during the British Open, Mersey trains will terminate at Hoylake!