The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter 
Volume 1, Issue 18 - Online version


main menu

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

Inside this issue:

Seal Watch Training.
Donation - Thankyou.
Task with lunch.
Excavation on Hilbre
Hilbre Memories.
Groundwork Awards.
Update: Annual General Meeting 2006.
Safety Notice.
Archived Newsletters.


Fundraising for restoration work on Hilbre

Hilbre Island © Val Burnett

Hilbre is owned by Wirral Borough Council. Paragraphs in the deeds state that Hilbre must be preserved as a wildlife area, but also be open to the public. As the Council own the island, the Friends have a role as voluntary partners in helping with tasks, including fund raising.

Obviously, restoration of the Victorian buildings will be expensive. We have been in touch with English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery and although their officers are interested in Hilbre, we have our work cut out to provide suitable written applications. For this, we rely on the funding and project officers of Wirral Borough Council.

At present, the favoured source of significant funding is the Mersey Waterfront project and the Friends of Hilbre are working with Wirral officers to set suitable targets. How do we involve members of the local community, as most funders now require? Should we run special information days? Or a photographic competition? Or get school parties involved? It is not easy, and takes a lot of detailed organisation by some lucky person to run any project like this.

Let us have your ideas! We make no promises, but will be grateful for your suggestions. And think about it; your contacts are a way of involving YOU as community, for a start! We can feed back what you have said in a later Newsletter.

Painting the Walls of the Hilbre Island's
Centre formerly the Telegraph Station
© Val Burnett

Wildlife Walk with Sue © Val Burnett

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Would you like to help with Seal Watching on Hilbre?
For insurance purposes, all participants must be member of Friends of Hilbre.

Seals hauled out on the West Hoyle Bank in the Dee Estuary
© Richard Smith

Dave Cavanagh, the Hilbre Ranger, will be running an informal, fun training session for volunteers at the end of June. You will learn about the seals in the Dee Estuary and how to use our wonderful new telescope. Volunteers who help with Seal Watching Duty can then share this information with visitors to the islands, helping to enhance their appreciation and respect for the Atlantic Grey Seal colony.

We hope that each trainee will commit to one or more Seal Watching duties this year. Wear sensible clothing/footwear and bring a snack to eat. If you have any binoculars, please bring these along.

To reserve your place on the training session, please e-mail at Val:

If trainees wish to volunteer for Seal Watching Duty between June and October, please e-mail Sue and Allen at:

Jo seal watching (with telescope)

© Val Burnett

Atlantic Grey Seal in the Dee Estuary
© John Rodgers

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Thank You

Our many thanks go to the Matthews family for their generous bequest of £500 to the Friends of Hilbre. The donation was made in memory of their father, Professor Matthews, who was very interested in our work on the island during the last few years of his life.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Task day with lunch for The Friends of Hilbre - members only

In July, we will be combining our task day out on Hilbre with a free lunch for members only.
Please e-mail Barbara at: if you would like to come, so we can confirm numbers for catering.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Excavation on Hilbre Island

Dawn Greeting © Christine Longworth

On 10th February a group of archaeologist from National Museums Liverpool squeezed into a 4-wheel drive driven by Pete from Hilbre Bird Observatory, they arrived on Hilbre Island just as dawn was breaking. Their purpose was to conduct a small excavation to check for any archaeology in advance of the construction of a new pond to attract wildlife.

At the end of a day of brilliant sunshine they were pleasantly surprised by the results of their labours. A small number of objects were found, including a fragment of medieval floor tile dating between the 1300s and 1500s, some pieces of post-medieval pottery which date between 1700 and 1900 and a tiny flint flake which may be 8000 years old!

Left: A fragment of medieval floor tile was discovered at the site 
© Colin Jones

Enough interest in the site had been generated to warrant a return trip. Two of the archaeologists returned to the excavation on a cold, wet day in March when more post-medieval finds and possibly a small sherd of prehistoric pot were found. The archaeologists hope to spend
another day on the site in the near future and will keep the Friends of Hilbre posted regarding any further developments.

Information provided by Christine Longworth, archaeologist and committee member of the Friends of Hilbre, 2006.

Right: Current excavation and site of the future wildlife pond. © Colin Jones.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.



  Hilbre Memories
Abroad for the Day!

Whilst giving a slideshow about Hilbre at the Unitarian Church in Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, Val met Joan Wilkinson. Joan later wrote to Val about trips made with children from the Convalescent Home in West Kirby to Hilbre Island during the 1960s and 1970.  

“…We all remembered Dr. McAfee taking some children who were unable to walk in his Landrover and some children going in a trap. The rest of us walked. Everyone had a good time paddling and exploring the caves. We took some sandwiches and drinks for lunchtime. It was a tired group which set off back to West Kirby and I remember carrying a little girl on my back for the last hundred yards. One boy wrote in his letter home that he had been “abroad” for the day!” 

Joan also remembered the Bailey family:
“Pete was a teacher at Caldy Grammar School but gave it up to be custodian of Hilbre, where he lived with his wife Barbara and their two children, Christine and Bill. To get to school the children rode horses, leaving them in a field by the White Lion. When the tide was in they came by boat.” 

If you would like to contribute your own recollections to future newsletters, please e-mail us:

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Groundwork Merseyside 21 Environmental Awards 2006


Friends of Hilbre receiving their certificate
From left: Steve Cumberlidge, Sue Craggs, Richard Smith, Val Burnett and Jane Kearley
© Colin Jones

The Friends of Hilbre were invited to enter a project in the Communications Award category of the 7th Groundwork Merseyside 21 Environmental Awards 2006. Five Local Authorities and other Sponsors support these Environmental and Health Awards for Businesses, Schools and Communities in Merseyside and the concept of sustainability in action. Tony Hawkhead CBE, the Chief Executive of Groundwork UK wrote:

“…Groundwork has been helping communities and businesses contribute to sustainable development for 25 years. Our work began on Merseyside in 1981 and now stretches across the UK and Europe with a growing Groundwork network also established in the USA.

No-one can deliver sustainable development for us – it’s a shared responsibility. We’re delighted to play our part and would urge community groups, businesses and schools to demonstrate their achievements and set an example by entering the Groundwork Merseyside 21 Environmental Awards. We need to celebrate our achievements. I believe deeply that the work we are doing can and will make a lasting difference.”

The Friends of Hilbre submitted ‘The Friends of Hilbre Website` in the Environmental Communication Award section and were delighted to be short-listed! On 2nd February a group of us attended the presentation and a buffet lunch at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Liverpool - this also gave us the opportunity to network with other groups. I felt so much admiration for the work so many volunteers do within their community and their achievements.

The Friends of Hilbre have worked since 2001 to promote and protect Hilbre Island, its flora and fauna, history and architectural heritage. The Friends realised from all their information outreach tasks that a website could keep people with an interest in Hilbre connected, it could act as a “virtual tour” for those unable to visit, and could be a two way communication tool for all involved with the Island and the wider public.

The website has been up and running since January 2005 and has had 14,000 hits. The Friends have received messages from all over the world and have acquired some new members via the website. A great example of new technology being used to enhance our natural heritage!

Incidentally, the Dee Estuary Wardens were short-listed in their section for their submission ‘Wild Birds on West Kirby Beach’. The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral’s submission ‘Hilbre Island Wind Turbine’ was also short-listed in their section of the Business Awards. Is it not an achievement that our little area of Wirral was so well represented?

Valerie Burnett

Update: Annual General Meeting 2006
The Friends of Hilbre AGM was held at West Kirby Concourse, Wednesday 24th May 2006.

Members and the public had the opportunity to hear a summary of all the activities that have been carried out by The Friends of Hilbre over the last year. All present had the chance to ask the committee questions and to raise issues about Hilbre Island and the activities of the Friends.

Members had the opportunity to nominate candidates for the committee.

Our speaker this year was Ron Thomas, a local wildlife photographer, who showed us some of his pictures and talked about his work.

Annual membership subscriptions are due in May but can be renewed throughout the year.

Back to 'Inside this issue'.

Member’s articles are welcome. They may be edited to fit the available space. Please send your contributions by e-mail to:


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'.