|Area||100 acres (0.40 km2)|
|Operated by||Metropolitan Borough of Wirral|
|Year first constructed||1771 (first)|
|Tower shape||cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern attached to 1-storey keeper’s house|
|Markings / pattern||unpainted tower|
|Tower height||21 metres (69 ft)|
|Managing agent||Bidston Lighthouse|
Bidston Hill is 100 acres (0.40 km2) of heathland and woodland that contains historic buildings and ancient rock carvings. It is located on the Wirral Peninsula, near the Birkenhead suburb of Bidston, in Merseyside, England. With a peak of 231 feet (70 m), Bidston Hill is one of the highest points on the Wirral. The land was part of Lord Vyner's estate and purchased by Birkenhead Corporation in 1894 for use by the public.
Bidston Windmill replaced a wooden mill that was destroyed by fire in 1791, and was used to grind wheat until about 1875. However it is believed that there has been a windmill on this site since 1596. After falling into disuse it was bought and restored from 1894. It is open on the first Saturday of each month from April to September, between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon.
Bidston Observatory was built in 1866 using local sandstone excavated from the site. One of its functions was to determine the exact time. Up to 18 July 1969, at exactly 1:00 p.m. each day, the 'One O'Clock Gun' overlooking the River Mersey near Morpeth Dock, Birkenhead, would be fired electrically from the Observatory. In 1929 the work of the observatory was merged with the University of Liverpool Tidal Institute, being taken over in 1969 by the Natural Environment Research Council. The Research Council relocated the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory to the University of Liverpool campus in 2004.
There has been a lighthouse on Bidston Hill since 1771. Being more than two miles from the sea, it depended on a breakthrough in lighthouse optics, which came in the form of the parabolic reflector, developed at the signals station on Bidston Hill by Liverpool's dockmaster William Hutchinson. The reflector at Bidston Lighthouse was thirteen-and-a-half feet in diameter, and the lamp consumed a gallon of oil every four hours. The present lighthouse was built in 1873 and was operational until sunrise on 9 October 1913. Bidston and Leasowe Lighthouse together formed a pair of leading lights enabling ships to avoid the sandbanks in the channel to Liverpool. It is now privately owned, and occasionally open to the public.
Tam O'Shanter Cottage
Tam O'Shanter Cottage is a historic cottage on the hill. It is part of Tam O'Shanter Urban Farm, a free-to-enter city farm. The cottage takes its name from the poem Tam o'Shanter by Robert Burns and is opposite Flaybrick Memorial Gardens.
There is a 4 1⁄2-foot-long (1.4 m) carving of a sun goddess carved into the flat rock north-east of the Observatory, supposedly facing in the direction of the rising sun on Midsummer's Day and thought to have been carved by the Norse-Irish around 1000 AD. An ancient carving of a horse is located on bare rock to the north of the Observatory.
Robert William Hudson built a house called Bidston Court on Vyner Road South near Bidston Hill in 1891. Built entirely of wood, and based on Little Moreton Hall, it is believed to have been the inspiration for the Cecilienhof in Potsdam. The house was sold in 1921 to Sir Ernest Royden and in 1928 was moved to its present site in Frankby, brick by brick, finally being completed in 1931. It was renamed Hill Bark. The original site of the house was given to Birkenhead Corporation.[better source needed]
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- History of Hillbark Hotel at hillbarkhotel.co.uk; retrieved 4 Sept 2018
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- "Bidston Hill Underground Tunnels". wirralhistory.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
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