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Coordinates: 53°25′N 3°00′W / 53.417°N 3.000°W / 53.417; -3.000
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Location of Merseyside within England
Location of Merseyside within England
Coordinates: 53°25′N 3°00′W / 53.417°N 3.000°W / 53.417; -3.000
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth West England
Established1 April 1974
Established byLocal Government Act 1972
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
UK Parliament15 MPs
PoliceMerseyside Police
Largest cityLiverpool
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantMark Blundell
High SheriffNigel Lanceley
Area652 km2 (252 sq mi)
 • Rank43rd of 48
 • Rank9th of 48
Density2,211/km2 (5,730/sq mi)
Metropolitan county
GSS codeE11000002

Districts of Merseyside
  1. City of Liverpool
  2. Sefton
  3. Knowsley
  4. St Helens
  5. Wirral

Merseyside (/ˈmɜːrzisd/ MUR-zee-syde) is a ceremonial and metropolitan county in North West England. It borders Lancashire to the north, Greater Manchester to the east, Cheshire to the south, the Welsh county of Flintshire across the Dee Estuary to the southwest, and the Irish Sea to the west. The largest settlement is the city of Liverpool.

The county is highly urbanised, with an area of 249 square miles (645 km2) and a population of 1.42 million.[2] After Liverpool (552,267), the largest settlements are Birkenhead (143,968), St Helens (102,629), and Southport (94,421). For local government purposes the county comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and Liverpool. The borough councils (and Halton in Cheshire) collaborate through the Liverpool City Region combined authority, chaired by an elected mayor.

What is now Merseyside was a largely rural area until the Industrial Revolution, when Liverpool and Birkenhead's positions on the Mersey Estuary enabled them to expand. Liverpool became a major port, heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade and in supplying cotton to the mills of Lancashire, and Birkenhead developed into a centre for shipbuilding. Innovations during this period included the first inter-city railway, the first publicly-funded civic park, advances in dock technology, and a pioneering elevated electrical railway. The county was established in 1974, before which the entirety of the Wirral was in Cheshire and the remainder of the county was in Lancashire.

Merseyside is notable for its sport, music, and cultural institutions. The Merseybeat genre developed in what is now the county, which has also produced many artists and bands, including the Beatles. The county contains several football clubs, with Everton and Liverpool playing in the Premier League. The Royal Liverpool and Royal Birkdale golf clubs have hosted The Open Championship 22 times between them, and the Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe. National Museums Liverpool comprises nine museums and art galleries.


Port of Liverpool docks, at Seaforth. Merseyside lies on the Mersey Estuary

Merseyside was designated as a "Special Review" area in the Local Government Act 1958, and the Local Government Commission for England started a review of this area in 1962, based around the core county boroughs of Liverpool, Bootle, Birkenhead and Wallasey. Further areas, including Widnes and Runcorn, were added to the Special Review Area by Order in 1965. Draft proposals were published in 1965, but the commission never completed its final proposals as it was abolished in 1966.

Instead, a Royal Commission was set up to review English local government entirely, and its report (known as the Redcliffe-Maud Report) proposed a much wider Merseyside metropolitan area covering southwest Lancashire and northwest Cheshire, extending as far south as Chester and as far north as the River Ribble. This would have included four districts: Southport/Crosby, Liverpool/Bootle, St Helens/Widnes and Wirral/Chester. In 1970 the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (which operates today under the Merseytravel brand) was set up, covering Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral and Knowsley, but excluding Southport and St Helens.

The Redcliffe-Maud Report was rejected by the incoming Conservative government, but the concept of a two-tier metropolitan area based on the Mersey area was retained. A White Paper was published in 1971. The Local Government Bill presented to Parliament involved a substantial trimming from the White Paper, excluding the northern and southern fringes of the area, excluding Chester, Ellesmere Port, and, for the first time, including Southport, whose council had requested to be included. Further alterations took place in Parliament, with Skelmersdale being removed from the area, and a proposed district including St Helens and Huyton being subdivided into what are now the metropolitan boroughs of St Helens and Knowsley.

Merseyside was created on 1 April 1974 from areas previously part of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, along with the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Wallasey, Liverpool, Bootle, and St Helens. Following the creation of Merseyside, Merseytravel expanded to take in St Helens and Southport.

post-1974 pre-1974
Metropolitan county Metropolitan borough County boroughs Non-county boroughs Urban districts Rural districts

Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts, including six county boroughs and two municipal boroughs.
Knowsley Huyton with Roby • Kirkby • Prescot West Lancashire • Whiston
Liverpool Liverpool
Sefton Bootle • Southport Crosby Formby • Litherland West Lancashire
St Helens St Helens Newton-in-Makerfield • Billinge and Winstanley • Haydock • Rainford Whiston
Wirral Birkenhead • Wallasey Bebington Hoylake • Wirral

Between 1974 and 1986 the county had a two-tier system of local government with the five boroughs sharing power with the Merseyside County Council. In 1986 the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the county council along with all other metropolitan county councils, and so its boroughs are now effectively unitary authorities.


An aerial photograph of Merseyside

Merseyside is divided into two parts by the Mersey estuary; the Wirral is on the west side of the estuary, upon the Wirral Peninsula, and the rest of the county lies on the east side. The eastern part of Merseyside borders onto Lancashire to the north and Greater Manchester to the east, with both parts of the county bordering Cheshire to the south. The territory comprising the county of Merseyside previously formed part of the administrative counties of Lancashire (east of the River Mersey) and Cheshire (west of the River Mersey). The two parts are linked by the two Mersey Tunnels, the Wirral line of Merseyrail, and the Mersey Ferry.

Green belt[edit]

Merseyside contains green belt interspersed throughout the county, surrounding the Liverpool urban area, as well as across the Mersey in the Wirral area, with further pockets extending towards and surrounding Southport, as part of the western edge of the North West Green Belt. It was first drawn up from the 1950s. All the county's districts contain some portion of belt.


Population of Merseyside by district (2022)[3]
District Land area Population Density
(km2) (%) People (%)
Knowsley 87 13% 157,103 11% 1,816
Liverpool 112 17% 496,770 34% 4,442
St Helens 136 21% 184,728 13% 1,355
Sefton 157 24% 281,027 19% 1,795
Wirral 161 25% 322,453 22% 2,004
Merseyside 652 100% 1,442,081 100% 2,211
Ethnic Group 1981 estimations[4] 1991 census[5]
Number % Number %
White: Total 1,500,267 98.6% 1,422,453 98.1%
White: British
White: Irish
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller[note 1]
White: Roma
White: Other
Asian or Asian British: Total 9,061 11,624
Asian or Asian British: Indian 2248 2,740
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 716 912
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 489 764
Asian or Asian British: Chinese[note 2] 4,719 5,895
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 889 1313
Black or Black British: Total 8,344 9,914
Black or Black British: African 2,630 3,093
Black or Black British: Caribbean 1,890 2,208
Black or Black British: Other Black 3,824 4,613
Mixed: Total
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean
Mixed: White and Black African
Mixed: White and Asian
Mixed: Other Mixed
Other: Total 4,531 5,713
Other: Arab[note 1]
Other: Any other ethnic group
Ethnic minority: Total 21,932 1.4% 27,247 1.9%
Total 1,522,199 100% 1,449,700 100%


Ipsos MORI polls in the boroughs of Sefton and Wirral in the 2000s showed that in general, residents of these boroughs identified slightly more strongly to Merseyside than to Lancashire or Cheshire respectively, but their affinity to Merseyside was more likely to be "fairly strong" than "very strong".[6]

Local government[edit]

Coat of arms of the former Merseyside County Council.

Metropolitan boroughs[edit]

Merseyside comprises the metropolitan boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

County-level functions[edit]

Following the abolition of the county council, some local services are run by joint-boards of the five metropolitan boroughs; these include the:

Combined authority[edit]

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which includes the five boroughs of Merseyside and the Borough of Halton in Cheshire, oversees transport, economic development and regeneration.[7] The combined authority is chaired by a Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, who was elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2021[8] and in 2024.[9]

Local health system[edit]

The planning and commissioning of care within Merseyside is the responsibility of NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Service (ICS), which covers NHS and other care services within the Cheshire and Merseyside area.[10] NHS Cheshire and Merseyside serves a combined population of 2.7 million people, with some 17 NHS trusts, 349 GP practices, and 590 pharmacies under its control.


GVA and GDP by local authority district in 2021[11]
District GVA
(£ billions)
per capita (£)
(£ billions)
per capita (£)
Knowsley £4.0 £25,927 £4.6 £29,407
Liverpool £14.3 £29,489 £15.9 £32,841
St Helens £2.8 £15,448 £3.4 £18,803
Sefton £4.6 £16,275 £5.4 £19,418
Wirral £5.6 £17,527 £6.6 £20,688
Merseyside £31.3 £22,000 £36.0 £25,281



Motorway network around Merseyside

Merseyside is served by six motorways: the M58 to the north, M56 to the south, M6 & M62 to the east and M53 to the west. The M57 acts as an outer ring road and bypass for the city of Liverpool itself. The River Mersey is crossed by Queensway Tunnel and Kingsway Tunnel, which link Liverpool to Birkenhead and Wallasey respectively, and by the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Mersey Gateway Bridge, which link Runcorn and Widnes. The Mersey Gateway Bridge opened in 2017 and is designed to improve transport links between Widnes and Runcorn and other key locations in the vicinity.[12]

National Cycle Route 56 and National Cycle Route 62 pass through the region, the former along the Wirral and the latter from Southport to Runcorn.[13][14] Major bus companies are Stagecoach Merseyside and Arriva North West. Liverpool One bus station serves as a terminus for national coach travel.


Typical Merseyrail train at Liverpool Central underground station

Liverpool Lime Street mainline station is Merseyside's primary intercity railway station, being used by 10.46 million passengers in 2021–22.[15] Train services are provided by Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains, Transport for Wales, and Northern, and serve destinations across the UK.[16][17]

Merseyrail is the county's urban rail system and is operated by Merseytravel, the combined passenger transport executive for the Liverpool City Region. The network has 66 stations on two lines; the Northern Line covers the centre of the county, and the Wirral Line covers the eponymous peninsula.[18] The two lines meet in Liverpool City Centre, and Liverpool Central is the county's most-used station, with 10.75 million passengers in 2021–22.[19][20][15] The network extends to Ormskirk in Lancashire, and Ellesmere Port and Chester in Cheshire.[21] Merseytravel brands the network in the east of the county as the 'City Line', but the services on it are not operated by Merseyrail. The Borderlands line connects the west of the Wirral to Wales, and is operated by Transport for Wales Rail.


Liverpool Cruise Terminal provides facilities for long-distance passenger cruises. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines MS Black Watch and Cruise & Maritime Voyages MS Magellan use the terminal to depart to Iceland, France, Spain and Norway. Peel Ports have also planned a second cruise terminal as part of the Liverpool Waters project.[22][23]


Seacombe Ferry Terminal

Prince's Landing Stage on Liverpool's Pier Head serves Isle of Man Steam Packet Company summer service to the Isle of Man (and Mersey Ferries). The Twelve Quays ferry port in Birkenhead serves winter Isle of Man ferry service and Stena Line services to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Almost three quarters of a million people[citation needed] travel these Irish Sea ferry services.[24][25]

The Mersey Ferry has operated since the 1200s, currently between Wirral and Liverpool City Centre at Seacombe, Woodside and Liverpool Pier Head. In 2009–2010 it had 684,000 passengers using the service .[26]


The Port of Liverpool handles most commercial shipping, but the Birkenhead Docks complex in Great Float on the Wirral peninsula still handles some freight.

The Port of Liverpool is a container port that handles over 33 million tonnes of freight cargo per year[citation needed] and serves more than 100 global destinations including Africa, Australia, China, India, the Middle East and South America. Imports include grain and animal feed, timber, steel, coal, cocoa, crude oil, edible oils and liquid chemicals; there are exports of scrap metal for recycling.[27][28] A second container terminal, Liverpool2 at Seaforth, can handle Post-Panamax vessels and doubled the port's capacity when it opened in 2016.[29]


Liverpool John Lennon Airport is the county's international airport. It is in Speke, 6.5 miles (10.5 km) southeast of Liverpool city centre, with 5 million departures in 2020.[30] Flights are primarily operated by easyJet and Ryanair, and over 70 destinations are served by the airport, including regular flights to the Near East and North Africa.[31][32][33]

The airport is planning substantial expansion, and is forecast to handle more than 12 million passengers by 2030, as well as targeting permanent direct long haul flights and significantly larger terminal facilities.[34]


Merseyside is host to several football league football clubs including Everton F.C., Liverpool F.C. and Tranmere Rovers F.C. and several non-league football clubs including Marine A.F.C. and Southport F.C. Golf courses include Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Hillside Golf Club and Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club. Cricket clubs include the historic Aigburth Cricket Ground. Aintree Motor Racing Circuit hosted the British Grand Prix biennially between 1955 and 1961, and finally in 1962.[35] Aintree Racecourse hosts the Grand National and there is also Haydock Park Racecourse. Totally Wicked Stadium hosts Rugby League and Hoylake hosts sailing (such as the Southport 24 Hour Race) and is Britain's premier location for sand yachting. A ski slope facility is found at The Oval (Wirral).

Places of interest[edit]

Croxteth Hall
Knowsley Hall



St Helens[edit]



Notable people[edit]

See Category:People from Merseyside

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b New category created for the 2011 census
  2. ^ In 2001, listed under the 'Chinese or other ethnic group' heading.


  1. ^ "Mid-2022 population estimates by Lieutenancy areas (as at 1997) for England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 24 June 2024. Retrieved 26 June 2024.
  2. ^ "2009 Mid Year Estimates – Table 9 ONS". statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Mid-Year Population Estimates, UK, June 2022". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  4. ^ Ethnicity in the 1991 census: Vol 3 - Social geography and ethnicity in Britain, geographical spread, spatial concentration and internal migration. Internet Archive. London : HMSO. 1996. ISBN 978-0-11-691655-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Ethnicity in the 1991 census: Vol 3 - Social geography and ethnicity in Britain, geographical spread, spatial concentration and internal migration. Internet Archive. London : HMSO. 1996. ISBN 978-0-11-691655-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ Sefton poll Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine, where 51% residents belonged strongly to Merseyside, and compared with 35% to Lancashire; Wirral poll Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine, where 45% of residents belonged strongly to Merseyside; compared with 30% to Cheshire. In both boroughs, "very strongly" ratings for the historic county were larger than that for Merseyside, but "fairly strongly" was lower.
  7. ^ Wiggins, Kaye (12 August 2013). "Merseyside combined authority plans outlined". Local Government Chronicle. Retrieved 19 April 2024.
  8. ^ "Liverpool city region metro mayor: what is it, when will we get one and who will it be?". Liverpool Echo. 18 May 2016. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Local election results 2024 live: London mayor and West Midlands race being counted". BBC News. 4 May 2024. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Constitution". NHS Cheshire and Merseyside. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  11. ^ Fenton, Trevor (25 April 2023). "Regional gross domestic product: local authorities". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Halton Council: Runcorn & Widnes Communications". Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Route 56 – Sustrans.org.uk". Sustrans. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  14. ^ "Route 62". Sustrans. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  15. ^ a b Office of Rail and Road (24 November 2022). "Estimates of station usage: 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022" (PDF). dataportal.orr.gov.uk. p. 4. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  16. ^ "railway-technology.com: Liverpool Lime Street Station, United Kingdom". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  17. ^ "redspottedhanky.com: Stations Overview: Liverpool Lime Street". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  18. ^ "Stations". www.merseyrail.org. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  19. ^ "Transport Committee: Written evidence from Merseytravel (CTR 09)". 31 October 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  20. ^ "transportweb.com: Merseyrail Electrics". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Network Map". www.merseyrail.org. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  22. ^ "BBC Liverpool: Liverpool cruise liner terminal opening set for May". BBC News. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Liverpool Confidential: Second Mersey cruise terminal planned". 30 January 2012. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Direct Ferries Ltd: How To Get To Liverpool Ferry Port". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  25. ^ "parliament.uk: Written evidence from Blundellsands Sailing Club (MCA 53)". February 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  26. ^ "Merseytravel: Annual Statistical Monitor 2009/10" (PDF). 2009–2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  27. ^ "Peel Ports: Port of Liverpool". 2010. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  28. ^ "Port of Liverpool Introduction". 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  29. ^ "Liverpool Port Terminal Work to Begin Next Year". 6 March 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  30. ^ "Arrivals and departures at Liverpool John Lennon Airport 2020". Statista. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  31. ^ "Liverpool John Lennon airport provides key tourism gateway". 29 June 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  32. ^ "Ryanair's New Routes from JLA Take Off In Style". Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  33. ^ "Liverpool John Lennon Airport Destination Map". Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  34. ^ "Liverpool John Lennon Airport Master Plan". Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  35. ^ "Aintree Circuit :: Liverpool Motor Club". 10 March 2024. Archived from the original on 10 March 2024. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  36. ^ "Art Galleries – Museum – Glass Blowing- Victorian Furnace". The World of Glass. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]