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. 


Our regular monthly meetings and talks programme are currently cancelled due to the covid 19 pandemic.  We plan to resume meetings as soon as it is safe to do so, and will post updated information here and let members know by e-mail when the situation changes.

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.

New 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.  

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 coincides 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 at the library by BBC Radio Merseyside. 

Ian's research runs to ten printed volumes and is available in Neston library for anyone to read. It will be of particular interest to local families who lost relatives in the War and anyone interested in local history. 

This exhibition has now completed its run at Neston library but can be viewed here by clicking on the images below:
https://sites.google.com/site/burtonnestonhistory/home/Great%20War%20Exhib.%20(vertical%20panels).jpg   (vertical panels)    https://sites.google.com/site/burtonnestonhistory/home/Great%20War%20Exhib.%20(horizontal%20panels).jpg(horizontal panels)

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.

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) but 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: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/A-Short-History-of-Neston-and-Surrounding-Villages/264284359678?hash=item3d88934bfe:g:6jkAAOSwzqtcFiba 

The booklet can also be purchased at our monthly meetings (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:

Two Neston men who died following army service in WW1 – can you help?

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) records, and honours, 832 000 men from the UK who served in the military and supporting services and who lost their lives in, or as a consequence of, the First World War. 

Neston local historian Ian Norris, in his recently-produced 10-volume work HomeTown Heroes : The stories of the Casualties of War of Neston & Burton, 1914 – 1921, researched and recorded the stories of 170 local men who served their country and died at this time. Ian discovered two local men who are not recorded by the CWGC and now hopes, with the information that he can provide, to get them formally acknowledged. However, although Ian has considerable data on these two men (although no photograph of either) he would like to contact any relatives who may be able to supply additional supportive material for submission to the CWGC. So who were these men?

The first man, Second Lieutenant William George Ross BUTCHER served with the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and died, aged 25, at a sanatorium in Bournemouth of pulmonary tuberculosis on 24 May 1921. Although this was well after the Armistice the date still falls within the time-scale recognised by the CWGC. Interestingly, William is commemorated on the plaque in the United Reformed Church on Parkgate Road although, by 1911, most of the Butcher family had moved from Hinderton Road to a house called Memel on Poll Hill Road in Heswall.

The second man, Private Joseph SMITH (Service No. W/1138) joined the 13th Battalion Cheshire Regiment (unofficially known as the Wirral Battalion) and moved with his unit to France in September 1915. Joseph’s life in the army was dogged by illness and he moved, with a series of conditions, through a number of hospitals and medical centres before the army repatriated him in January 1916. Having spent some time in a hospital in Northamptonshire Joseph was released in May 1916 and returned to the family home at Sunset Cottages, Ness. Considered as being no longer physically fit for war service Joseph was formally discharged from the army in June 1916 and he died at home in Ness on 11 June 1918. As with William Butcher, Joseph Smith died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Anyone with any knowledge of, or links to, these men can contact Ian by email at:  hometownheroesneston@gmail.com  and this same contact can be used to request details of the CD and USB FlashDrive version of HomeTown Heroes – a very few copies are still available for purchase. 

Photo right: The WW1 memorial plaque in the Parkgate & Neston United Reformed Church, Parkgate Road.
The only man commemorated here who is not recognised as a casualty by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is William G.R. Butcher, the last name on the list. Can you help to gain his acknowledgement?

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!

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 info@nestonpast.com


  • Past Bulletins added Our past bulletins contain many interesting and well researched articles reflecting members varied interests since the late 1970's. So that these can find a new and wider audience, they ...
    Posted 12 Oct 2018, 02:43 by Burton & Neston History Society
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    Posted 5 Nov 2019, 02:01 by Burton & Neston History Society
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    Posted 2 Sep 2019, 06:25 by Burton & Neston History Society
  • 'Neston Stone Age to Steam Age' - 2nd print run for sale Our most recent book Neston, Stone Age to Steam Age has sold out of its first print run, but a new print run has just been delivered in good time ...
    Posted 12 Dec 2017, 07:03 by Burton & Neston History Society
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Meeting or eventWhereDateTime
 Gladstone Village Hall, Burton CH645TH 12 March 2020  
 Gladstone Village Hall, Burton, CH64 5TH 9 April 2020 Talk starts at 8pm, doors open 7.30pm 
Showing 2 items from page News & Events sorted by edit time. View more »

For other local events of interest, please see the events calendar: https://sites.google.com/site/burtonnestonhistory/events/calendar

Dee Estuary from Leighton Road, Parkgate

Talks Programme for 2020-21 is currently suspended
In normal circumstances our new talks programme would commence in October, but the continuing Covid-19 situation means it is still not considered safe for larger groups of people to meet indoors. Our normal talks programme will resume once it is safe to do so, but in the interim we hope to offer some on-line talks.  Members will receive details of these via the monthly newsletter.

We (usually) meet at Gladstone Village Hall, Burton, CH64 5TH on the second Thursday of each month, from October to May.
All talks 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.