Andrew Peace talks about an earthquake in about AD 600 that changed the direction of the Mersey

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 9th September 2011 by Liam Physick

Andrew Pearce, chairman of the now-defunct Liverpool Heritage Forum talks about the Mersey, explaining that it is an estuary, not a river. It was once a river, he says, but then an earthquake in about AD 600 changed its direction and turned it into a estuary: this may explain, he feels, why the Romans never settled in what is now Liverpool, despite being in many neighbouring locations. He also says that there is fresh water under Bootle, and this used to supply the drinking water for the people of Liverpool, until the building of the Rivington Reservoir. The Rivington Reservoir, designed by Thomas Hawksley, was built between 1850 and 1857. Seven structural embankments were used to dam and flood the valleys used for the Reservoir, and several hamlets and an inn had to be abandoned as a result of its contruction: also lost were a large part of the River Yarrow, and a popular area of walking countryside. It is rumoured that church towers and other landmarks below the water will be revealed in times of drought: in fact, all buildings were demolished before the flooding

Interviewee Gender: Male

Date of Interview: 26th February 2010

Interview Transcript

Interviewee: The, the, the Mersey, down there, is actually an estuary, not a river.

Kenny: Right.

Interviewee: Cos it’s a tide, it comes in and out, and years ago I started to ask myself, why were the Romans never in Liverpool? Because they were in Otterspool, they were in Tarbock, they were all over the Wirral, they were in Formby, in Wigan, a big base in Warrington, Preston, all over the place, and there’s no trace of them in, in, in Liverpool, and I have, I read a book, I think, I think, I think I got the book which said that around the year 600, the estuary as we now have it was a flowing river, small river, flowing the other way. The water rose in sandbanks where the Mersey bar is. Certainly the land went out a long, long way because there are photographs of huge trees of Mells, and Morton and the Wirral, go way, way out and the land went out at Penwymyr, Wales, went 20 miles out there though, yeah this is possible. The river flowed the other way till it got to where the Shell oil refinery is now. There it met the river from Mersey coming from Stockport, those sort of places, and then it flowed into the Dee, coming out at Chester, and in that year, so the story has it, in six hundred and something, there was an earthquake which split the, the land, changed the direction of the river, changed it from a small flowing river into a raging estuary which it is now, that it split Anglesey from Wales, that it damaged the Hebrides, it sank land off Cornwall, and it, it is said that there is a, a cavern of water underneath the Liverpool side, underneath where the Liver Building is roughly and that, that British Rail or whatever it’s called, has access to it, they were able to get to the bottom of it. There is fresh water under Bootle cos for years as Liverpool grew, the water that people drank came from Bootle by cart . . .

Jenny: Oh, right . . .

Interviewee: . . . and was very expensive, which is why the built the reservoir at Rivington, to, you know, short-circuit that. But there is this story that, and that would possibly explain why the Romans weren’t here.

Tagged under: river mersey, bootle, estuary, romans, fresh water, rivington reservoir

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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