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Things to do in Bootle, Merseyside

Looking towards Bootle
Looking towards Bootle © Paul Holloway via Flickr

Bootle is a large town four miles north of Liverpool on the banks of the River Mersey. It was known in Victorian times as Bootle-cum-Linacre.

The settlement was recorded in the 11th century Domesday Book as Boltelai. At that time it was a small village nestled in the dunes near the river.

Bootle War Memorial
Bootle War Memorial © Brian Sayle via Flickr

By the early 19th century it was attracting the well-to-do residents of Liverpool who used it as an upmarket bathing resort.

The old Bootle Village still has some large Victorian villas built for wealthy residents.

In 1840 the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport Railway was built and by the late 1800s the docks had been built, changing Bootle forever.

The docks expanded right along the waterfront as far north as Seaforth Sands and as the docks expanded, Bootle lost its sandy beach.

Irish immigrants boosted the population as they sought work in the docks.

The skilled workers lived in style but the casual dockyard workers were housed in tiny terraced cottages near the dockside.

Oriel House Bootle
Oriel House © By Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Teapot Murder!

The three main streets which offered cramped and sordid conditions were Raleigh Street, Lyons Street and Dundas Street.

Lyons Street was the scene of the Teapot Murder and had to be renamed to escape the ignominy! Sarah Rimmer attempted to poison her daughter Elizabeth by lacing her tea with oxalic acid.

Brunswick Youth Club Bootle
Brunswick Youth Club © By Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Due to the docks, during World War II the Borough of Bootle suffered the most bombing in the UK and 90% of the houses were damaged.

Captain Johnny Walker, the successful U-boat hunter, would often be entertained in the mayor's parlour of the Town Hall.

His ship's flags and bell from HMS Starling are now displayed in the council chamber.

In the 1960s the docks declined and Bootle suffered some of the worst unemployment in the country.

Harland and Wolff Old Foundry Entrance
Harland and Wolff Old Foundry Entrance © david lawler [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Present Day Bootle

Bootle is currently home to over 77,000 residents. It has an old civic centre filled with grand architecture including the town hall and the swimming baths.

Bootle still has areas of grand Victorian terraced housing made in high-quality pressed brick but most council housing was built after the war.

Most shops are found in and around the New Strand Shopping Centre, sadly known for the abduction of James Bulger who was murdered in 1993.

The town centre has been regenerated with a new image and employment is improving.

There are many high street chain stores and local shops along with pubs, snooker clubs, bars and restaurants.

Hi Rise Flats in Bootle
Hi Rise Flats © By Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The town has two railway stations, a leisure centre with a swimming pool and a sports hall.

Things to Do Around Bootle

The elegant seaside resort of Southport is just up the road and offers pavement cafes, upmarket boutiques on Lord Street and beautiful floral displays.

Liverpool Sculpture Bootle
Liverpool Sculpture © El Pollock [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pleasureland at Southport offers plenty of thrilling rides and entry to the park is free.

There are six championship golf courses in the area: Royal Birkdale, Southport and Ainsdale, Formby, West Lancs, Hesketh and Hillside which is said by Greg Norman to have the best back nine in the UK.

The Sefton trail is a fun walk around the area's highlights.

Other attractions are the premier racing at Haydock Park Racecourse and visitors to St Helens can see amazing glass-blowing demonstrations at the World of Glass.

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