View of Parkgate showing salt marsh and quayside
|Population||3,591 (2011 Census Ward)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Parkgate is a village on the Wirral Peninsula, in the part that lies in the unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, in the North West of England. It is on the banks of the River Dee, adjoining 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) of salt marsh, separated by a sandstone former sea wall. At the 2001 Census Parkgate had a population of 3,702, reducing to 3,591 at the 2011 Census.
Parkgate was an important port from the start of the 18th century, in particular as an embarkation point for Ireland. The River Dee, which served as a shipping lane to the Roman city of Deva (Chester), had silted up, in part by 383 AD, creating a need for a port further downstream. Quays were built, first at Burton and later near the small town of Neston, but further silting required yet another re-siting slightly further downstream near the gate of Neston's hunting park. Hence the settlement of Parkgate was born.
During the years when the port existed, two distinguished guests stayed in the local hostelries. One was Lord Nelson's mistress, (Lady) Emma Hamilton, who was born in nearby Ness and bathed at Parkgate, apparently as a cure for a skin complaint. Another was George Frideric Handel. Contrary to often-repeated legend he did not stay in Parkgate before sailing to Dublin in November 1741 for the first performance of his Messiah (he travelled from Holyhead). However, he returned from Ireland via Parkgate in August 1742.
As the Dee silted up even further, Parkgate became unusable as a port and was superseded by the port of Liverpool, on the nearby River Mersey. Towards the end of the 18th century Parkgate was popular as a seaside resort with bathers, but this diminished as the sands of the estuary were consumed with grass. Sailing from Parkgate across the estuary to Bagillt was still possible in 1864, as there is report of an accident in which the landlord of the Pengwern Arms and his brother were drowned when trying to land in rough sea conditions – three others survived. But as silting progressed, with no beach and no direct access to the sea, Parkgate could manage only small subsistence from fishing and shrimps. The silting of the Dee has been accelerated by the deliberate introduction of the invasive colonising grass Spartina anglica in Connah's Quay in 1928, resulting in the growth of extensive marshlands.
Mostyn House School, a striking black-and-white building, was opened in Parkgate in 1855. From 1862 until it closed in 2010, it was run by the Grenfell family, most recently as an independent co-educational day school. Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865–1940), famous medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador, was born in Parkgate and was a pupil at the school. The Duke of Westminster's children attended Mostyn House.
During the Second World War two of Parkgate's houses which both contained cellars were converted into shelters and used for public protection from the bombs. Small lights were placed on the marsh to trick the German bombers into thinking settlements were below.
After the war, Parkgate flourished as a highly desirable residential area. It became a conservation area in 1973.
During seasonal high tides the water reaches the sea wall, and visitors arrive at the village to witness the unusual sight. Birdwatchers also come at this time to watch the birds usually hidden in the grasses of the marshland. A popular location is the Old Baths site, to the north of the village, from which the marshes can be viewed from a parked vehicle. Current sightings are recorded daily on a local website which covers the whole Dee Estuary. The marshlands of Parkgate are currently managed by the RSPB as part of the Dee Estuary Nature Reserve.
- Neston website: About Parkgate, The Neston Market Town Initiative, archived from the original on 8 October 2007, retrieved 21 October 2007
- Population Data, 2001 Census: Parkgate, Office for National Statistics, retrieved 3 July 2007
- "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- DEVA VICTRIX / CASTRA LEGIONIS Roman Legionary Fortress & Settlemen, www.Roman-Britain.org, retrieved 1 October 2010
- Neston website: Parkgate History, The Neston Market Town Initiative, archived from the original on 10 October 2007, retrieved 26 July 2007
- The Wirral: Parkgate, Neston, Willaston and Burton, Allerton Oak, archived from the original on 20 November 2008, retrieved 20 February 2008
- Cheshire Magazine: Lady Hamilton and Parkgate, C.C. Publishing, retrieved 26 July 2007
- Place, Geoffrey (1994). The Rise and Fall of Parkgate: Passenger Port for Ireland, 1686–1815. Manchester: Carnegie Publishing Ltd. p. 154. ISBN 1859360238.
- Historical information about the River Dee, The Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, archived from the original on 12 March 2008, retrieved 26 July 2007
- "Another Melancholy Boat Accident". Oxford Journal. 26 May 1864. p. 6.
- Huckle, Jonathan Mark; Marrs, Robert H; Potter, Jacqueline. Characterising the salt-marsh resource using multi-spectral remote sensing (PDF). University of Chester Digital Repository. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
- Natures Calendar, Estuaries – Dee Estuary, BBC, retrieved 1 October 2010
- James, Erwin (25 September 2012). "Edwina Grosvenor". Guardian. London.
- Chester Diocesan News, July 2010
- Discover Parkgate..., Parkgate Guide website, archived from the original on 6 March 2007, retrieved 20 August 2007
- Dee Estuary Birding..., retrieved 30 March 2009
- "Dee Estuary – Parkgate". RSPB.
Media related to Parkgate, Cheshire at Wikimedia Commons