New book on the History of Birkenhead Park

When it was officially opened on Easter Monday, 5th April 1847, Birkenhead park became the first municipally funded park in Britain. It was a pioneer in the development of urban public parks, designed for use by everyone, irrespective of social class, ethnicity or age. In terms of town planning, it demonstrated the importance of including green infrastructure in urban development as a vital contribution to public health and wellbeing. Paxton’s design for the park was heralded as “a masterpiece of human creative genius” it served as a vehicle for the global transmission of the English landscape school and led to the creation of numerous public parks everywhere, most famously Central Park, New York, incorporating of many of Paxton’s design features.

This book addresses a long-standing gap in the Park’s historiography. Regarded as “one of the greatest wonders of the age”, it is an important contribution to nineteenth-century landscape history with a local focus, but of international significance. But it seeks to interpret the Park’s development until 1914 within a political and cultural context, drawing on economic and social history, as a means of explaining why it was not until the late-nineteenth century that it finally became a focal point for recreation and public health.