The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter 
Volume 1, Issue 24 - Online version

main menu

Open Days.
Plan Your Visit.
How to Join.
MIU Events.
Volunteers' Work.

Inside this issue:
Contacts and Tides.
Hilbre Painting.
History Day Course.

Wirral Ranger Service Events and Activities.
Note from Treasurer.
Compositing Toilets.
Seal Watching Group.
Safety Notice.
Latest Newsletter.



Hilbre Island
© Val Burnett

The Friends of Hilbre e-mail:

Tides and Information
Hilbre Islands Local Nature Reserve Ranger: 0151 1632 4455

Wirral Country Park Ranger Service 0151 648 4371/3884

North Wirral Coastal Park 0151 678 5488

Metropolitan Borough of Wirral Web Site:

If anyone has information, or photographs, or postcards regarding Hilbre from the past and would like to share them please contact:

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

The Fiends of Hilbre AGM

Wednesday 21st May, 7.30 pm
West Kirby Concourse
Guest Speaker: Christine Longworth
Topic: The Archaeology of Hilbre Island
Members of the public are welcome

At our AGM, we shall ask members to consider whether we get rid of one clause from our Constitution. This is the one which says that members of the Friends of Hilbre committee cannot belong to other committees which deal with Hilbre.

We have had this clause since the beginning, and it was intended to see that we looked after all Hilbre users, not just those linked to us. In practice, it has not been necessary.

Other groups including Wirral Council know that we are there for the general welfare of the islands, and now we can do more good by accepting places on the Dee Estuary Conservation Group, and the two Hilbre Management committees (to which we have sent observers up till now).

Copies of our present Constitution will be on show at the AGM, and the new Constitution, if accepted, will be signed by our newly elected committee.

This article will be supplied in the Newsletter to all our current members, so please take it as the necessary advance notice of a proposed change to our legal governing document.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Painting of Hilbre in 1826

A watercolour of Hilbre, dated 1 August 1826, was offered on E Bay, and I was fortunate enough to get it, with the help of friends. The year 1826 is especially interesting, as it was in 1827 that the first semaphore telegraph was set up. The painting gives a rare sight of Hilbre before the present brick and stone houses were put up in the 1849s and 50s, on the same site.

Recognisably on the east side of the main island, the house is a long two-storey place, painted white, with 3 chimney stacks. It would at that time have been a public house. Until recently, it had been in the hands of Joseph Hickson, but there were 2 more publicans before it vanished from the records, presumably taken over by the Dock Trust for its employees, and partly sub-let to Trinity House for the Buoy Master. The name of the pub is uncertain. The licences granted at Quarter Sessions each year often did not give names, but at this time many ale houses had no names anyway. They were merely referred to as “The Board”, on account of the licencee’s name board over the door, a legal requirement since Elizabethan times which is still in force. In West Kirby, some local families say that its name was “The Seagull Inn”, and another theory says “The Boat”.

A fascinating detail is the northern landmark or perch, which looms over the house. Its foundations are still visible on Hilbre in the bare rock, and nick-named the “Monks’ Graves”. From navigation charts, we can deduce that the two landmarks, north and south, were built in about 1800, and replaced some 35 years later by the shore marks, one of which lies in ruins on Little Eye. The other stood near to Red Rocks.

The painting is in water colour over pencil, signed with the initials JD. So far, I have not traced who JD was, only that landscape painting was a popular hobby at this time, and some amateur artists were very skilled.

by Sue Craggs

Here is the picture of Hilbre, painted in 1826, artist unknown, and showing the house which was then the inn. The tall structure is probably the north landmark, where the footings in the rock are known as the "Monks' graves!"

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

New Look Newsletter

The paper copy of the Newsletter is now in a format that is compatible with guidelines recommended by the government for publications. These include using a sans script font size 12 with no underlining or use of uppercase letters. We hope you find it easier to read.


Do you have any memories or stories about Hilbre Island? We would love to hear from you. Please send your contributions to The Editor, The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter at our e-mail address:

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Local History Day Courses on Hilbre 2008

Sue Craggs will be running a local history course about Hilbre and district this summer which will be repeated on 2 separate days, there will be a small charge. The materials used on the course will come largely from the collection of books, photocopied articles, photographs and computer discs purchased with a very generous gift from Hoylake Historical Society. If this arrangement is successful, future courses may be provided on a variety of subjects. There will be a small charge and booking is essential, for further information please contact: or ring Sue: 0151 678 336 8643.

  Wirral Ranger Service Events and Activities

Dates and information regarding events and activities arranged by Wirral Ranger Service are now available on-line at On the Home Page click on Leisure and Culture, and then on Parks and Countryside Newsletter.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Note From Treasurer

At our AGM in May last year, we elected Sue Craggs as the Treasurer of the Friends of Hilbre, with many thanks to Neil Kelly for his sterling work in the last few years. In spite of his increasing work load, he has remained on the committee as Assistant Treasurer.
We also changed our accounting year from the tax year (April to March) into the calendar year (January to December, from 2008). That means we had a 9-month “year” in 2007, which ended in December 2007. Accounts for this shorter year will be given as usual at our 2008 AGM, in May in the West Kirby Concourse. The Charity Commission, whose rules apply to all charities’ finances, has given its blessing to our new time scale.

We had very useful advice on keeping our accounts from the Community Accountant, based at the CVS offices in Birkenhead. Friends of Hilbre will continue to access the local and national funding available to voluntary groups.

The islands are benefiting from the current financial input by Wirral Borough Council, obtained by them from the Mersey Waterfront Project, and other funders. The developments to buildings on Hilbre are under way, but with due care for the island’s wild life and character. The Council has adapted two areas as day centres, for use by booked study parties. The Telegraph Station Lookout has been fitted with museum show cases, for displays of history, wild life and geology.

Compositing Toilets

Compositing toilets adjacent to the slate shed

The composting toilets are now functioning and the contractors have completed the path and railings past the toilets and to the far end of the Old Stable day room. It has been decided to let the outside of the toilets weather to a greyish sheen.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Seal Watching Training

Members seal watching.
Thanks you Vilja for painting the board!

A characteristic of the Atlantic Grey Seal is the shape of the head which is similar to a 'Roman' nose. © John Rodgers

Atlantic Grey Seals hauled-out on the West Hoyle Bank
in the Dee Estuary.
© Steve Cumberlidge

Seal watch training took place on Sunday 9th March following on from the task day. Eight new volunteers attended and I was very grateful to the few already trained seal watchers who stayed to give support. Training took place indoors as, by this time, the weather was cold and windy. We looked at the information about the seals from the booklet and everyone familiarised themselves with the

We had a brief visit to the cliff top with the telescope and we estimated that there were about 80 seals hauled out on the sandbank. Thank you to all who attended and I hope everyone enjoys their seal watching days on Hilbre.

Sea Pinks and Birds Foot Trefoil adorning Hilbre are a joy to behold
© Colin Jones


Always check the tides before going out to Hilbre. Tides change each day. Use the safe route, it is dangerous to use any other route. For full details of when to cross safely and the safest route to Hilbre see our Planning your visit to Hilbre Island page.


PLEASE NOTE: All articles and photographs in this web site are ©  COPYRIGHT of Friends of Hilbre unless specifically otherwise stated.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.