The seeds of Heswall - whose name derives from Hazel Well – were sown when the Merchant Princes set up houses on the Wirral banks of the River Dee, initially as holiday retreats because of the spectacular views of Wales, wonderful scenery and invigorating fresh air. Subsequently, when a rail link was made between West Kirby and Hooton, passing through Heswall, they decided to build their grand homes there and commute to Liverpool.
The History of the Hundred of Wirral by William Williams Mortimer in 1847 states that, in 1801 the population of Heswall was recorded as 168. This had grown, forty years later, to 398 and the area was quoted as 1167 acres with an annual value of £868.
In the Doomsday Book, Heswall, then called Eswelle, is noted as being owned by Robert de Rodelent, to whom most of the land on the eastern shores of the River Dee belonged. In 1277, it became the property of Patrick de Haselwall, Sheriff of Cheshire.
The speedy development of Heswall has seen the once separate villages of Gayton, Heswall, Pensby and Thingwall become joined by continuous housing, although the (original) Lower Village has managed to retain much of its original character.
The oldest structure is the tower of the beautiful St.Peter’s Parish Church, which is about 500 years old. The present church building itself, the third to have been erected on the site, was built in 1879. The previous church had been destroyed by a violent thunderstorm on 19th.September 1875, during which the organist and the boy who pumped the bellows for the organ, were both killed.
The remains of Gayton’s windmill which stopped operating in 1860 and which is now converted into an attractive house, can be seen close to the Devon Doorway Restaurant on Gayton Roundabout, a short distance back up Telegraph Road towards Heswall.
Though occasionally businesses fail due to the economic climate, most survive and prosper, and the future for Heswall looks to be bright.
For further information, contact The Wirral Archives Service 0151-666 3903 or local booksellers Gould’s or Linghams who have a selection of books and leaflets on the area, giving details of history, some by means of interesting walks around the area.