Welcome to the Burton & Neston History Society
The Society started as the Burton and District Local History Society on 21 April 1975 at Burton Manor College. It grew out of a local history course there led by Paul Booth from Liverpool University. Paul Booth became our President in 1999. The Society meets monthly for talks from October to May and outings or history walks are organised during the summer months. We have an active Research Group where members pursue their own research interests but also collaborate for projects such as exhibitions and publications. New members are always welcome - come along to a meeting and see if you would like to join or fill in the form on our membership page.
What we do
Our prime purpose is to study and research local history, and our research work has resulted in a number of books, smaller publications and exhibitions. Burton in Wirral published in 1984 and Neston 1840-1940 in 1996 are now out of print, but are available in Neston Library. Our most recent book Neston Stone Age to Steam Age was published in December 2014 and is for sale in local outlets and on Ebay. Check our noticeboard in the reference section of Neston Library for details of our meetings and other forthcoming events.
Our talks Programme for 2022-23 starts on October 13th 2022 with speaker Tony Bostock's talk on 'Cheshire Villages'. The rest of the years' programme can be seen below.
We have now resumed meetings at Gladstone Village Hall (Burton) after a two year break due to covid.
In normal circumstances, our talks programme runs from October to May, with talks on the second Thursday of the month. We (usually) meet at Gladstone Village Hall, Burton, CH64 5TH.
For any talks that may take place by zoom, members will receive a zoom link by e-mail. The meetings open from about 7.45pm and talks start at 8pm. If you are not yet a member and would like to receive a guest zoom link to try out a talk/meeting, please contact us by e-mail.
All talks at Gladstone Village Hall start at 8pm and doors open at 7.30pm. Visitors are welcome, free on the first occasion.
The small car park can get full when more than one event is scheduled at the hall or the Cricket Club, so please car share if you can. Overspill car parking space is available adjacent to the cricket field (beyond the main car park on the left), but this is unlit. If the overspill car park is also full you can park on the road opposite the hall entrance (close in to the hedge) or further down in Burton Village where the road widens.
Our 2022-23 talks programme is listed below:
13th October Tony Bostock Cheshire Villages
10th November Anthony Annakin Smith Statesmanship, Tragedy and Love: a Remarkable Tale of Nineteenth- Century Parkgate Overseas Adventurers
8th December Peter Bolt Thomas Brassey
12th January Gavin Hunter Crossing the Mersey
9th February Dave Thomas History of the Anderton Boat Lift
9th March Heather Butler 'Plotlands’ a housing phenomenon of the early twentieth century:
a case study of Moreton, Wirral.
13th April Mary Ward The Rise of Tranmere
11th May Robert Knowles The Pubs of Oxton
Article: Neston's South American Links which you can find on our articles page: https://sites.google.com/site/burtonnestonhistory/home/articles
‘The Neston Collieries 1759-1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire’
by Anthony Annakin-Smith, published by the University of Chester.
Anthony Annakin-Smith's eagerly awaited new book ‘The Neston Collieries 1759-1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire’ was launched on Friday 29th November 2019.
Anthony Annakin-Smith is a long term member of our Society and its Research Group and his new book has been a labour of love, nearly 20 years in the making.
About the book…. The early coal works at Neston operated for almost 100 years and, for a time, Ness Colliery in particular was highly successful. The collieries were notable in many ways – for example for the serious acts of sabotage committed by one mine owner on the neighbouring works, for the use of canals for hauling coal deep under the Dee Estuary, and for introducing the earliest steam engine in the region. There are also links to famous names such as George Stephenson and Nelson’s future mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton.
The book gives a comprehensive account of every aspect of the early Neston collieries – not just a detailed review of how the mines operated but also, for example, covering the social background of the colliers and their families including their health, mortality, education and living conditions, and the operation of the land and sea trades which saw Neston’s coal shipped as far as the Americas. Other topics include the many accidents at the works and the use of child labour. Events are placed in the context of the profound changes which were affecting Britain during the Industrial Revolution.
The mines’ story is intertwined with events in Neston and Parkgate at the time so anyone interested in our area’s past will find much of interest. Furthermore, comprehensive research into the life of every known Neston collier in the period means that there is a wealth of information on the often pitiful lives of the men and children who worked at the collieries, many with surnames which are still familiar locally.
Dr. Mike Nevell of the University of Salford has said ‘This book deserves to become the standard work for the region on early industrial coal mining for historians and industrial archaeologists’.
Priced at £19.99, it is available from the publisher (www.chester.ac.uk/university-press), from TIG (The Ideal Gift) and Paisley Grey in Neston, Ness Gardens, Gordale Garden Centre, Nicholls of Parkgate and Linghams in Heswall.
New local Greeting Cards for sale in support of Burton & Neston History Society
Greetings cards in five different design are now on sale in support of Burton & Neston History Society.
The A5 cards, printed on silk art card, show views of historic or landscape interest in the area covered by the Society.
They are on sale at Paisley Grey on Neston High Street, at Gordale Garden Centre and at our monthly meetings and for those living further afield can now also be purchased from ebay in packs of five https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Neston-Wirral-Cheshire-local-views-greetings-cards-Free-UK-postage/264567623977
All the photos for the cards were taken by local photographer Robert Thrift.
Burton & Neston History Society Exhibition, ‘Great War - Neston Remembers’
Volunteer researchers from the Society have uncovered a wealth of information, photographs and maps bringing to life stories of local people and everyday life in Neston, Parkgate and Burton during the Great War. These include details of the local hospitals for wounded troops and the existence of a small scale munitions factory sited in the garden of Leighton Court. An incident in an atmosphere of raised tension resulted in a near riot on 'The Green', all caused by a misunderstanding and resulting in a man having to be rescued by the police.
The exhibition coincided with the completion and publication of several intensive years of research by Society member Ian Norris who has researched the war records and family histories of the period for each of the 170 men of Burton and Neston who died in War service or shortly after from injuries sustained in battle. Ian was interviewed on October 24th 2019 at the library by BBC Radio Merseyside.
This exhibition has now completed its run at Neston library but the panels can be viewed here by clicking on the images below:
Burton & Neston History Society Exhibition 'With Punt & Gun' can now be viewed on our articles page
This exhibition was first researched and created by Ina Bushell and others from the Society, and went on show in Neston Library in 1982. It also marked the 75th Anniversary of Neston Library.
Please view the exhibition here: https://sites.google.com/site/burtonnestonhistory/home/articles
A Short History of Neston & Surrounding Villages - new printed booklet now available
A new illustrated Short History of Neston & Surrounding Villages has just been published by the Society in printed form and is available in local outlets. The 31 page A5 booklet, contains a brief history of Neston, Parkgate, Little Neston, Willaston, Ness, Thornton Hough, Ledsham , Capenhurst and Raby and is illustrated with many colour photographs. The new booklet is based on the Villages Heritage Guide (pdf version still available below) with much revision of the text and many new photographs.
The booklet can be purchased at the following local outlets for £3:
Paisley Grey (formerly My Gift Place), High Street, Neston (opposite The Neston Centre)
Gordale Garden Centre, Village News, Little Neston and on ebay
The booklet can also be purchased at our monthly meetings when they resume (further details of our meetings are at the bottom of this page).
Neston and Parkgate Audio Trails and Neston Colliery Audio Trail
These local audio trails were put together by the Society in 2011 and can be downloaded from the Neston Town Council website at the links below. Free to download, the mp3 audio guides explain the history behind these popular locations and should make for a more interesting visit if you are new to the area. Download to your mobile phone or mp3 player (remember those?!). All the guides were professionally recorded by Audioguide Productions Ltd http://www.audio-guide.co.uk/
Three local trails covering 1) Neston Parish Church 2) Neston Town Centre and 3) Parkgate Parade can be found at
The Neston Colliery Trail* explores locations related to the Ness Collieries near the Harp Inn and Denhall Quay and can be found at:
The Colliery audio trail will be easier to follow with the help of the accompanying pdf leaflet here:
HomeTown Heroes by Ian L. Norris - now published on NestonPast
In October 2018 Ian Norris, a BNHS and Research Group member, published a highly-detailed 10-volume work which examined the lives and deaths of 170 men, known to have had a significant connection to Neston or Burton and who died as a consequence of the First World War.
Available then only by purchasing a version which could be used on a home computer (although printed copies of all the volumes are still available for reference in Neston Library) this large work is now accessible to all, anywhere in the world. After many months of updating the information, three more men have been identified and their stories told. The work has been digitised and is now freely available, thanks to BNHS-member, Stella Young, on the excellent NestonPast.com website.
Not only could this comprehensive resource provide interest for the many families who lost ancestors in that war, but there is a wealth of interest here for anyone curious to know more about our area's past or, more generally, to learn more about what was often described as 'The War to end all Wars'.
Many of the men's stories are evocative and, even if you are not related, paint a grim picture of the hellish conditions they faced daily. All are worth reading but, for two contrasting accounts, read about ‘Billy’ La Touche Congreve - one of two local winners of the VC - and Ratcliffe Handley who was lost in action shortly after facing a court martial.
BNHS to have closer involvement with NestonPast website
If you are interested in the history of Neston and surrounding area you are probably already aware of the website Neston Past http://www.nestonpast.com/ It contains an interesting, thoroughly well researched and varied collection of articles contributed by a number authors, together with maps and historic photos. Do pay it a visit if you have not already done so and consider joining the NestonPast facebook group!
The Nestonpast website was set up by Susan Chambers in November 2015, and subsequently was jointly managed by Susan Chambers and Stella Young. As of 1st July 2018 the site is being jointly managed and supported by the Burton and Neston History Society and Stella Young.
It continues as a site to share memories and research about Neston and Parkgate and now also provides information about the Burton and Neston History Society and its activities, but its main focus remains the articles. If you have any research or memories you would like to contribute to NestonPast please email email@example.com
Dee Estuary from Leighton Road, Parkgate