A look back to a fictional Birkenhead in 1894 and how things hardly change!

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson on a train

A look back to a fictional Birkenhead in 1894 and how things hardly change!


Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson on a train
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson on a train

As the Christmas special for Sherlock was set in Victorian times, I thought I would write a Christmas special for this blog also set in Victorian times.


Queen Victoria is still on the throne and in recent years a railway tunnel between Birkenhead and Liverpool opened in 1886. Mr and Mrs Brace live in the County Borough of Birkenhead in the township of Bidston which is in Cheshire, England.

Mrs Brace is a foreign princess from one of the British Empire’s colonies now called the Dominion of Canada. Mr Brace, a native of Birkenhead edits and owns a small newspaper.

Mr and Mrs Brace sit down to have breakfast together.

MRS BRACE: I hope you slept well, there is much talk in the town about you.

MR BRACE: I’m all ears, what have I done now?

MRS BRACE: Your request using the Public Health Act 1875 to see Birkenhead councillors’ expenses has caused much consternation amongst the political class. They do not approve of you using such modern laws and regard you as a nuisance, in fact Councillor Jones had written a strongly worded letter to a rival newspaper!

MR BRACE: Well dear, I predict that one day Europe will be at peace and the courts will be adjudicating on whether European politicians’ expenses should be revealed. However I fear that will take around a hundred and twenty years. Some things never change!

MRS BRACE: You do have some very fanciful notions my husband! The political class is most perturbed that you have asked for copies of their hackney carriage expenses, the hackney carriage drivers have horses to feed you know!

MR BRACE: Well the voters should know what politicians are doing with their money!

MRS BRACE: But I don’t even get a vote!

MR BRACE: True, true but one day that will change.

MRS BRACE: Do you think the new train to Liverpool will lead to the end of the Mersey Ferry at Woodside?

MR BRACE: Where do you get these strange ideas? No, the trains don’t have the capacity to take everyone who wants to go to Liverpool. The trains carry only 25,000 passengers a day, but the ferries 44,000 passengers a day. It would take at least two further underground tunnels between Wirral and Liverpool to change things! And who has the money to build those tunnels anyway?

If that does ever happen and anybody ever suggests ending the ferry at Woodside I’m sure my newspaper will still be around to report on it then!

(They both laugh).

MRS BRACE: Well that does sound fantastical. Another two tunnels under the River Mersey? It’s like a Jules Verne novel. I’m puzzled as to where the smoke from the trains go as it is.

MR BRACE: Indeed, anything else?

MRS BRACE: Yes, the new maid is working out well.

MR BRACE: I’m glad to hear that.

MRS BRACE: Oh and before I forget, my relatives in Canada have written to me and tell me that the Americans are experimenting with motion pictures.

MR BRACE: How intriguing, I wonder what the public would make of motion pictures of Birkenhead Council meetings?

MRS BRACE: It is only silent movies at the moment and it will be many years before it is perfected.

MR BRACE: I’m sure politicians would not want voters to see their meetings even as silent movies. They seem to spend a lot of the time shouting at each other and getting very cross!

MRS BRACE: Indeed. I just thought you might be interested in it.

MR BRACE: Anyway, I had better get back to writing. Thank you for your most interesting insights.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

6 thoughts on “A look back to a fictional Birkenhead in 1894 and how things hardly change!”

    1. Mr. Brace (1894): Pray tell who is this Bobby47?

      Mr. Brace (2015): We assume he is a native of Herefordshire.

      Mr. Brace (1894): And how is he magically making words appear on your newspaper?

      Mr. Brace (2015): Well you know how gas lamps are being phased out for electric lamps?

      Mr. Brace (1894): Yes, a most interesting modern invention based on the electron.

      Mr. Brace (2015): Well we now use electrons to power our newspapers, they are viewed on a screen as newspapers on actual paper are getting less popular.

      Mr. Brace (1894): A most intriguing idea, so anyone in the world could read it, not just a person with the paper in their hand?

      Mr. Brace (2015): Anyone with a screen yes, but many go around with screens in their pockets. You’d call them telephones.

      Mr. Brace (1894): But what about the wires?

      Mr. Brace (2015): They work on a long distance wireless telegraph principle instead.

      Mr. Brace (1894): How fascinating!

      1. Happy New Year John. Happily, I’m not a true native of Herefordshire. After my father accepted that our house in Tuebrook was to be demolished and there was little he could do about it, he, we and I journeyed South to Shropshire to begin our rapid race to the bottom of the food chain where, after a period of unblemished achievement I found myself resident in Hereford where I continued to retain my rightful place at rock bottom.
        You only get an odd way of looking at the World if you’ve spent any time near the Mersey and that’s why I’m cursed with this odd writing style. Only on Merseyside do they germinate idiots like me and frankly speaking, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        1. Happy New Year Bobby,

          There are times that I don’t feel like a true native of Merseyside. Oh yes I was born here in Birkenhead, but….

          one of my parents is a citizen of the Irish Republic (probably not uncommon here) and my wife is a Canadian.

          My grandfather is from Liverpool though (but not from Tuebrook).

          So at times I feel like a foreigner in this country I was born in.

          A lot of Liverpool politics happens along the lines of your sort of writing style.

          The politics of protest, banners, strife, strike and anger at a political system on a collision course with the people it’s supposed to represent.

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