Birkenhead Festival of Transport Circa 2012


The Birkenhead Festival of Transport takes place over a fall weekend in Birkenhead Park. For a number of years this was the festivals website.
Content is mainly from the site's 2012 archived pages as well as from some outside sources for images.

The highlight for transport enthusiasts is probably the collection of steam engines.  Some are working engines used in farming or industry for hauling large loads but quite a few are ‘showman’s tractors’.  


Fairground rides at the grand entrance, Birkenhead Park festival of transport
by Richard Ash



This year 2014, holds some very moving Anniversaries for this Country and the rest of the world.

It will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War 1 ( 4 August 1914 ), the Great War, the War to end all Wars ?

It will be the 75th Anniversary of the start of World War 2 ( 1st September 1939 ).

It is also the 70th Anniversary of the D Day Landings in Normandy France which heralded the looming defeat of the Natzi,s.

It will also be the 32nd Anniversary of the Falklands War ( 2 April 1982 ).


British and Commonwealth Troops played a part in all these conflicts, and are still today fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is very easy to look at these conflicts from a World view, and not to look more closely at the part played by local men and women from Wirral, Liverpool, and Cheshire both in the armed forces and those on the home front who fought for this Country. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice, others came home scarred both Physicaly and Mentaly from what they had seen and done.

For this years Show we will be looking at ways we can remember our Local Veterans, both those that have died and those still with us.


As this year is the centenary of the First World War we feel it is appropriate for our Festival to acknowledge the contribution made by Wirral service Men and Woman.

On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany, and took the first faltering steps along the road to Armageddon. Patriotic men “keen to have a crack at the Kaiser,” flocked to join the colours, precisely how many of these reservists or Kitchener Army recruits enlisted from Wirral is uncertain. We do know some 150,000 men enlisted at Liverpool, and among them were men from the Cheshire side of the River Mersey; other recruits enlisted locally or at Chester. Wirral men were also present among the pre-war regulars serving in various local infantry regiments or corps, not forgetting the Royal Navy. Local men traditionally served in the King’s Liverpool Regiment or the Cheshire Regiment, others joined their father’s former regiment. But freedom of choice ended following the 1916 introduction of compulsory military service. On completion of training, drafts of conscripted men were used to reinforce Battalions depleted by battlefield casualties.

At the outbreak of war the 1/Cheshire Regiment were stationed at Londonderry policing unrest in Northern Ireland. On 5 August they were mobilized, and nine days later they boarded a ship destined for France. The Battalion was a component of the small British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that made first contact with German troops at Le Cateau. Driven back by a numerically superior force the Retreat from Mons ensued, and after a series of reverses the Germans retired. They then established a series of defensive strong points, these were gradually linked by trenches and became known as the Western Front. The 1/Cheshire served with distinction in France and Belgium until December 1917 when they were transferred to Italy, they returned to France in April 1918. When the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918, the Battalion were near Le Quesnoy.

Wirral had long established Territorial Battalions and Corps that were primarily intended as a home defence force. However, following the outbreak of war some units volunteered for overseas service.

The 4th Cheshire Battalion was recruited locally and elected for overseas service. They sailed in July 1915, for Alexandria, and almost immediately they departed for Gallipoli.  After landing at Suvla Bay they received their baptism of fire on 9 August. Following the December Allied evacuation of Gallipoli the Battalion went to Egypt where they spent several months erecting defences against attacks by the Senussi. They repeated the work on the Tripoli border and between July and November worked on the Suez Canal defences prior to the advance on Palestine. On 26 March and 19 April 1917 the battalion was heavily engaged in the First and Second Battles of Gaza. In late May 1918 the battalion sailed for France where they joined the 34th Division. On 18 July they were near Soissons where the Battalion sustained very heavy casualties. By September the Battalion had returned to Belgium and on 14 October Menin was captured, they remained in action until the Armistice.

The Cheshire Field Company Royal Engineers, based at Harrowby Road Birkenhead recruited almost exclusively amongst Birkenhead and Wirral men. In the early months of the war a home service unit was recruited also a Foreign Service detachment. Early in the winter of 1914 they had the distinction of being the first Territorial Company of the Royal Engineers to be sent to the front. The squadron sporadically sent out detachments to France, Flanders and Gallipoli. A century later the squadron continues to welcome recruits and greatly contributes in our annual Transport Festival Show.

Another branch of the forces was the Cheshire Brigade Company Army Service Corps (ASC). The supply section of this company served at Suvla Bay, where they were under direct shell fire daily from landing until the evacuation. The section then went to Egypt, and took part in the campaign against the Senussi in the Libyan Desert, and then joined the 53rd Division advance towards Palestine. The Transport Section went to France at the end of 1915.

Some of the better known Kitchener battalions were the Pals. They were raised from a section of the community or workplace and would serve together as a Battalion of friends or pals. Commencing on 31 August 1914, Lord Derby raised four Battalions of Pals for the Kings Liverpool Regiment, these Battalions comprising city office workers included Wirral volunteers. The 2nd City (18/KLR) Battalion were briefly billeted at Hooton Park Racecourse now part of the Vauxhall site.

Wirral had its own Comrades or Pals Battalion – the 13th (Wirral) Cheshire Battalion. This was recruited during the early weeks of the war; some 700 men from the Battalion were employees of the Port Sunlight soap factory. The Battalion went to Aldershot for training, as part of 74 Brigade 25th Division they landed 25 September 1915 in France. They fought and died on the Somme and Flanders battlefields. Due to the reorganization of British infantry divisions the 13/Cheshire were disbanded in France 16 February 1918.

Birkenhead had the distinction of raising the world’s first Bantam (named after small fighting cocks) Battalions. These were recruited in Birkenhead on 30 November 1914 from men below the military minimum height of 5’ 3 inches. Within a few days the Birkenhead Bantams were raised, after adoption by the War Office they became the 15th and 16th Cheshire’s. Other towns followed the Birkenhead initiative leading to the formation of the 35th (Bantam) Division. In January 1916 the Division departed for the Western Front where they served at Ypres and the Somme. The 16th Battalion were disbanded in Belgium on 6 February 1918. The 35th Division played a vital defensive role during the German Spring Offensive. And when the Armistice was declared the 35th Division was at the forefront of the Allied advance. 

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War the festival will hopefully have in attendance military re-enactors kitted out as 1914 -18 Cheshire Regiment infantrymen. “Lest we forget.”

Written by Stephen Magreal


ABOUT Birkenhead Park


Opened on 5th April 1847 Birkenhead Park was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, who was later to design Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
His concept was to design a Park based on natural features such as open meadows and natural woodlands. The lakes were formed to resemble serpentine rivers with views across them to structures such as the Boathouse and Swiss Bridge.

Surrounding land was incorporated into the park and sold at 'enhanced' prices to wealthy townspeople who could build large private villas , thus contributing towards the costs of building the park. He also included a separate perimeter road for traffic, allowing the park interior to be enjoyed by pedestrians. This layout can still be seen today.

Paxton's first challenge was to reclaim the marshland. To do this, he radically changed the shape of the land by excavating tons of earth and stone to create an area of well drained grounds, lakes, hills and rockeries. In a letter to his wife he wrote, "It is not a very good situation as the land is generally poor but, of course, it will abound more (to my) credit and honour to make something handsome out of bad materials." Proper drainage pipes were laid alongside the road around the park to ensure the land did not revert to it former marshland state.

To implement his vision he and his team also designed original buildings, structures and lodges in various differing styles: Gothic Lodge, Castellated Lodge, Italian Lodge, Norman Lodge, the Boathouse and the Swiss Bridge. The most impressive structure of all is the Grand Entrance, similar to a classical triumphal arch, built to denote the pride of Birkenhead people in their wonderful park.
In 1850, as part of his European Tour, F. L. Olmstead, an American, visited the park. He later became famous as the designer of Central Park, New York, incorporating a 'natural' landscape into a city much larger than Birkenhead. Many details are remarkably similar, with the English country landscape being transposed across the Atlantic and thereafter to the the rest of the world.

The Birkenhead Cricket Club was founded right at the outset, with a clubhouse dating back to 1849, and on the edge of the park, the Rugby Club was started in 1871. Both clubs were of national importance in the 19th Cenury, hosting international events and matches. The lakes were used for fishing, and from 1861, football games took place in the park.

Over the years, with the good, there is invariably the bad: it has hosted the 1917 Welsh National Eisteddfod, attended by Prime Minister Lloyd George, while during World War 2 the park was bombed, presumably by bombers missing their intended targets of the nearby dock. A Spitfire crashed into the Tower Park and its engine is still embedded in the soil to this day.
Substantial restoration work has been carried out on the park recently, with £11.25 million being spent on the renovation of the Roman Boathouse, Swiss Bridge, roof level of the Grand Lodge Entrance, and major work on the trees, shrubs, lakes, bridges, drainage, plus the constuction of authentic railings.
By and large, Sir Joseph Paxton's designs remain intact. The park was designated a Conservation Area in 1977 and in 1995 it was declared a Grade I Listed Landscape by British Heritage.

Since the name of the event is the Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport, it's pretty safe to say that we're at Birkenhead Park, Wirral. Don't forget to say you're in the UK, otherwise you'll confuse it!

Note this event will run WHATEVER the weather.

The Timetable of Events for this Years Show is as follows.

All times and events are subject to change without prior notice.




Saturdays Timetable of Events.


Sundays Timetable of Events.




Saturdays Timetable of Events.

10.45 Parkgate Horse Sanctuary Display 
11.45 H&M Dog Display Team Display 
12.30 Fun Dog Show 
14.00 Parkgate Horse Sanctuary Display 
14:30 Fun Dog Show "Best in Show"
15.30 H&M Dog Display Team Display 
16.00 Arena Clear and Close 

Sundays Timetable of Events.

10.45 Parkgate Horse Sanctuary Display 
11.45 H&M Dog Display Team Display 
12.30 Fun Dog Show 
14.00 Parkgate Horse Sanctuary Display 
14:30 Fun Dog Show "Best in Show"
15.30 H&M Dog Display Team Display 
16.00 Arena Clear and Closed for this year, see you all again next year.



Exhibitors at 2012 Show Included:

His Majesty's 22nd Regiment of Foot.

His Majesty's 22nd Regiment of Foot is a Living History group focussing on the life and times of the ordinary British Soldier during the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783. This often overlooked period of British History saw the beginnings of what would later become known as the British Empire and the creation of a new nation, the United States of America. 

We represent a Section of the Colonel's Company of the 22nd Regiment of Foot as it would have appeared in the year 1776. At that time the 22nd Foot was garrisoned in New York (then a Loyalist or 'Tory' city strongly opposed to independence from Great Britain).

Military Vehicle Section

How about taking up collecting and restoring Historic Military Vehicles, yes it is legal to own them including tanks !

Collecting and restoring Historic Military Vehicles as a Hobby really started to take root shortly after the end of World War 2. This coincided with tens of thousands of ex-servicemen returning home from fighting in Europe and the Far East who had been introduced to mechanical vehicles of all types and taught how to drive, crew, maintain and fight in them.

These men and women came to form a bond with the vehicles they used every day and became quite attached to them in some cases.

At the end of the war the armies of England and America had a vast amount of war surplus vehicles of all types which were now not needed as the war was over. Some of these vehicles were destroyed, even if they were brand new, as it was too expensive to ship them back to their country of origin. Others were given to friendly countries that had been liberated from the Axis powers to help them build up their new defence forces. But the vast majority of these vehicles were sold off to civilians in their country of origin, America, England, Canada etc.

In these countries civilian cars and Lorries and agricultural vehicles were in very short supply as their production lines had been turned over to the war effort to make trucks and tanks etc. So the War Office in England decided to sell off these surplus Military Vehicles to the general public to reduce the vast surplus now held of them and to generate some income for a government which after six years of war was broke.

These vehicles had their guns removed or deactivated before sale and were advertised to the general public for disposal. Earth moving and construction equipment was bought up by the construction industry to rebuild the country which was ravaged by the Luftwaffe. Tanks were bought by farmers to use as tractors, they also bought Lorries and the jeep to use on the farms.

Lorries were purchased to be used by haulage companies, staff cars and jeeps were bought by people who needed transport for work or leisure. A Willys jeep purchased from the war dept. in 1950 for £5.00 today is worth over £10,000.00. Sadly all these vehicles did not survive the post war years they were used and abused until they fell apart and were then replaced by purely civilian vehicles whose factories had by now re started production of what they used to make before the war started.

There are several clubs in the U.K. and internationally whose members collect and restore these Historic Vehicles as a piece of history from World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. These vehicles stand testimony to the bravery of the men who went to war in them.


All the Military Vehicles on display here at the Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport are privately owned and restored to a high degree. Please feel free to look at them and ask any questions you may have of their owners. If you are a Veteran and drove, crewed or worked on any of the types displayed please make yourself known to the owner who would love to talk to you about their vehicle, you never know you might have even driven it when it was in service ?

Dave Sutton / Military Vehicle section Organiser.

The Aeroplane Collection (TAC

TAC, is an organisation dedicated to the provision of aircraft and aviation orientated artefacts. We operate out of Hooton Park with the old 1917 Belfast hangars. Below is attached a photograph of our resent display at the runway viewing area at Manchester airport. We would envisage a similar set out at Birkenhead park

We rent the use of half the ornamental lake in Ashton Park, West Kirby and we are subject to speed and time restrictions. However, these are far outweighed by the sheltered setting in amongst the mature trees and between the Bowling Green and the children’s play area.

Due to the nature of the lake we do not allow internal combustion engine powered boats or any that would pollute the water.

We sail vessels from across the full spectrum of kit and scratch built models from 575 and fairwind yachts, launches and pleasure cruisers, warships, merchant ships and tugs.

Around twenty competitions per year are held on the lake, with only one being restricted to members only, many of the others attracting competitors from throughout the north of England. We hold two regular fun days in support of the Friends of Ashton Park and support local charities with our static and Have A Go displays.

Even with this level of competition there is plenty of time for free sailing and most weekends in reasonable weather, members will be seen taking advantage of the beautiful setting.There are toilets close by and the Sunday tea shop for that relaxing cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.

If you are tempted, with or without a boat, pop down and see us; you are sure of a warm welcome and a good day out.


Carl Wynn Punch and Judy man

The Bamford family established the Pony Sanctuary in 1984. The sanctuary was then named 'Badger's Memorial Pony Sanctuary' after their much loved first rescue pony Badger.

Since 1984, the sanctuary has grown steadily and currently has responsibility for the care of 36 horses and ponies. It still remains a family run sanctuary, aided by a group of friends and much needed volunteers.

In 1997 a plot of land in Parkgate was donated by a sponsor, which has now become the main base for people to come and meet our ponies. In November 1998 the sanctuary changed its name to 'The Parkgate Pony Sanctuary'.

The sanctuary continues to exist purely by financial support from the public through sponsorships, donations, adoptions, fund-raising events and time given by volunteers.


1)To monitor the health and care of horses/ponies in the Wirral area. To help and advise owners where necessary.

2)To find suitable retirement for old, young, the not so pretty or athletic, disabled horses/ponies in the Wirral area. Enabling them to enjoy their latter years.

3) Once a horse/pony comes into the Sanctuary, IT WILL NOT BE SOLD ON but a caring home can be found, and constantly monitored by the Sanctuary’s Trustees or agents.

4)To enable children and adults, not able to own a horse/pony, to enjoy the love and companionship an equine can give.

5)To introduce the basics of riding, horsemanship, stable management and general care of horses/ponies.

6)To enable the disabled to enjoy driving and travelling in our horse/pony drawn vehicles.

7)To give talks and slide shows (free of charge to help raise the profile of the Sanctuary).

8)To give Sanctuary assistance to any animal or bird, be it wild or tame.


Guide Dogs Aiding Mobility for 2,000 Years !

The first special relationship between a dog and a Blind person is lost in the mists of time, but the earliest known example is depicted in a first century A.D. Roman mural found in Herculaneum.

From the middle ages too, a wooden plaque survives depicting a dog leading a blind man with a leash.
However the first systematic attempt to train dogs to aid Blind people came in 1780 at a hospital for the Blind in Paris.
However the modern Guide Dog story starts during World War 1 when thousands of soldiers were  returning home from the trench's having been blinded by poison gas and shell fire. A German Doctor,     Dr Gerhard Stalling had the idea of training dogs on masse to help those blinded. And in august 1916 he opened the worlds first guide dog training school in Oldenburg Germany training up to 600 guide dogs a year.

Sadly the venture had to close in 1926, but another larger training centre opened in Potsdam Berlin.
Around this time a wealthy American woman called Dorothy Harrison Eustis was already successfully training working dogs in Switzerland. She heard of the Potsdam guide dog training centre and spent several months there studying their training methods, she was so impressed with them that she wrote an article about it for the Saturday evening post in America in November 1927. She was so impressed by what she saw that in 1928 she set up her own guide dog training school in Switzerland and later opened one in America which she called “The Seeing Eye”

In 1930 two British women, Muriel Cooke and Rosamund Bond heard about the Seeing Eye dogs of America and contacted Dorothy Eustis and asked her to send over one of her guide dog trainers to train up English dogs. The dog trainer was given a lock up garage at the Cliff in New Brighton by Wallasey council to use as a training base for training the dogs and there new owners. In 1931 the very first four British Guide Dogs completed their training at the Cliff and three years later the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was founded..

In 1932 Mrs Eustis sent over a permanent dog trainer Captain Nicolai liakhoff MBE a former officer of the Russian imperial guard who left Russia after the Bolshevik take over of his native country. He was to play a key role in the future training methods of Guide Dogs adopted through out the world. He played  many key roles in Guide Dogs right up to his death in 1962.

In 1956 Guide Dogs recruited Volunteers to become Puppy Walkers. We bring the pups up from 7 weeks old till they are 12 to 14 months of age and train them in basic commands as well as socialising them and exposing them to as many new experiences as possible in preparation for them going to a regional Guide Dog training school to be trained as a Guide Dog.

In 1970 Guide Dogs opened their own dedicated breeding centre at Tollgate House near Leamington spar where Guide Dogs selectively breeds all its Guide Dogs today. In 1965 the work of Guide Dogs was brought to the attention of the public when Blue Peter followed Guide Dog puppy Honey through her training. And again in the mid eighties with Goldie and her pups, and again in 2006 with puppy Magic.

Since its beginning in the U.K. in 1931 here at New Brighton, Guide Dogs work has expanded dramatically making it now the Worlds leader in the breeding and training of Guide Dogs. There are now around 4,700 

Working Guide Dogs in the U.K. each dog costs £50,000 from birth till it retires to train, feed, vet fees and support. Guide Dogs has never received any Government funding for carrying out this vital work. Money is raised from the general public via street collections, selling Guide Dog merchandise at local shows and School fairs, and counter top collection boxes in shops and super markets.

Here on the Wirral there are three Branch's of Guide Dogs, Heswall, Wallasey and West Kirby. If you would like to help out at any of these Branch's please contact the Heswall Branch of Guide Dogs Secretary by email at or ring him on 0151/678/1942.

If you would like to know more about the work of Guide Dogs locally or Nationally please look at our website >

Please come and visit us at our stand at the show and see our puppies and working dogs and buy a souvenir to help support our work here on the Wirral. We are always looking for volunteers to help out at Branch events please talk to us if you are interested in helping out.


H&M Dog Display Team

The H&M dog display team was formed in 1984 and has become one of the most popular dog teams in the country. The team is lead by Jean Tyrell who is a member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers and has been with the team since 1989.

They have performed at hundreds of shows ranging from small schools and charity events right through to large shows such as the St Helens Festival, Southport Flower Show and the Glasgow Show.

They have appeared several times on local television and live on Channel 4's Big Breakfast and It's Me Or The Dog. The team have also performed their specialist security routines at the Manchester Military Tatoo.

Their biggest accolade was being invited by the Kennel Club to perform at the world famous Crufts Dog Show, not once but 5 times.



NUMBER: 12906
BUILT: 1911

This engine was last seen at our Show in 2009 in an un restored condition and was towed in the procession of Steam by another Traction Engine. After four years of a full restoration we are glad to be welcoming her back this year 2014, in her full glory now fully restored and under her own steam.


Foremost was built in 1911 at Fowlers works in Leeds for Charles Openshaw a haulage and traction engine dealer in Reading. She may have been built as a showmans vehicle despite never having a dynamo fitted.

The rest of her history is a little vague, one theory is that she was requisitioned by the War Office and shipped to France in 1914 to haul heavy guns during the Great War. And after the War ended she was abandoned in France with a vast amount of other heavy equipment.

However the records of Charles Openshaw reveal that two of the companys other Fowler engines were exported to Northern Spain during the same period, and as the engine was discovered just over the border in Southern France it is quite possible the engine had simply been sold on and managed to work its way northwards. For a more detailed article on her history and restoration please look at th


The People Who make the Show Happen

Everybody who works on planning the Show, setting it up and taking it down are local people who live on the Wirral.

We are all Volunteers and enjoy putting on this Fabulous Show for the People of the Wirral, and further afield, to enjoy each year. 

Predominantly, thanks must go to the following people, without whose help and efforts the Festival would not have happened:

The People Who make the Show Happen

Everybody who works on planning the Show, setting it up and taking it down are local people who live on the Wirral.
We are all Volunteers and enjoy putting on this Fabulous Show for the People of the Wirral, and further afield, to enjoy each year. 
Predominantly, thanks must go to the following people, without whose help and efforts the Festival would not have happened:
Ken Fretwell - Chairman
Bob Tennant - Event Secretary
Ian Lea - Treasurer
Ian Lea - Equipment Manager
Ian Lea - Friends of Birkenhead Park
Jim McCosh - Assistant Treasurer 
Neil Hilton - Deputy Event Co-ordinator
Neil Hilton - Health and Safety
Steve McGreal - Trade and Charity Stand Co-ordinator 
Martin Connolly - Traffic
Michael Friend - Meeting Minutes Secretary 
Robin Rushton - Lion
Barbara Clutton - Lion 
Adam King - Park Manager 
Ann Litherland - Senior Park Ranger
Pete Standish - Control Room Manager
Tony Bowyer - Volunteer co - ordinator
Dave Sutton - Military Vehicle and vehicle exhibits co-ordinator 
Steve McGrady - Web master 
Bryn Mallion - Steam co-ordinator
"Chunky" - Entertainment Organiser