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Coordinates: 53°26′42″N 2°59′42″W / 53.445°N 2.995°W / 53.445; -2.995

Bootle is located in Merseyside

 Bootle shown within Merseyside
Population 77,640 
(2001 Census)[1]
OS grid reference SJ340944
Metropolitan borough Sefton
Metropolitan county Merseyside
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BOOTLE
Postcode district L20, L30
Dialling code 0151
Police Merseyside
Fire Merseyside
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Bootle
List of places: UK • England • Merseyside

Bootle (oo as in boot) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside, England and a 'Post town' in the L postcode area. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) to the north of Liverpool city centre, and has a total resident population of 77,640.[1] Historically part of Lancashire, Bootle's economy has been centred around the docks and their associated industries for decades.


Geography and administration

Bootle, along with Southport, is one of the two main administrative headquarters for the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. Among Bootle's neighbouring districts are Kirkdale to the south, Walton to the east, with Seaforth and Litherland to the north. To the west contains the Port of Liverpool running alongside the River Mersey.

The old civic centre of Bootle contains large Victorian buildings such as the town hall and municipal baths. East of this centre is a sizable area of large office blocks, to the west is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and large areas of docks lining the River Mersey. To the north is the New Strand Shopping Centre, which gained notoriety after the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993.




Etymologically Bootle derives from the Anglo Saxon Bold or Botle meaning a dwelling.[2] It was recorded as Boltelai in the Domesday Book in 1086. By 1212 the spelling had been recorded as Botle. The spellings Botull, Bothull and Bothell are recorded in the 14th century.[3]


Bootle was originally a small hamlet built near the 'sand hills' or dunes of the river estuary. The settlement began to grow as a bathing resort for wealthy residents of Liverpool in the early 19th century. Some remaining large villas which housed well-to-do commuters to Liverpool are located in the area known locally as 'Bootle Village'.


Bootle Town Hall
Bootle-cum-Linacre inscription on the town hall's external stonework

The Liverpool, Crosby and Southport Railway arrived in the 1840s and Bootle experienced rapid growth. By the end of the 19th century[4] the docks had been constructed along the whole of the river front as far as Seaforth Sands to the north. The town became heavily industrialised. Bootle was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1868[5] under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and was granted the status of a county borough by the Local Government Act 1888 in 1889, becoming independent from the administrative county of Lancashire. During this time period it was sometimes formally known as Bootle-cum-Linacre. Orrell was added to the borough in 1905. There are still large areas of Victorian terraced houses in Bootle, formerly occupied by dock workers. These are built in distinctive pressed red brick.

Bootle's town hall and other municipal buildings were erected in the last quarter of the 19th century. The population of the town swelled during this period, boosted by Irish immigration and the attraction of plentiful work on the docks.[6] The wealth to pay for the splendour of the town hall and the gentrified 'Bootle Village' area was generated by these docks. The skilled workers lived in terraced houses in the east of the town, while the casual dock labourers lived in cramped, dwellings near the dockside. Stories about three streets in particular caused great alarm. They were Raleigh Street, Dundas Street and Lyons Street. The last was the scene of a crime dubbed 'The Teapot Murder' by local press. Lyons Street was so notorious that it literally 'died of shame' and was renamed Beresford Street shortly before the Great War.

Bootle was remarkable in other, more positive ways. It was the first borough to elect its own School Board, following the passage of Forster's Education Act of 1870. In 1872 Dr R J Sprakeling was appointed the first Medical Officer of Health, and was instrumental in improving sanitary conditions in the town. The Metropole Theatre on Stanley Road played host to stars such as music hall singer Marie Lloyd. The emporia in the Stanley Road and Strand Road areas of the town were filled with goods from all over the British Empire[citation needed]. Tree lined streets surrounded magnificent open spaces, such as Derby Park, North Park and South Park. Beautiful Roman Catholic and Anglican churches sprang up all over the town, and Welsh immigration brought with it Nonconformist chapels and the temperance movement. Local societies thrived, including sports teams, scouts and musical groups. The Bootle May Day carnival and the crowning of the 'May Queen' was real highlight of the social year. The town successfully fought against absorption by neighbouring Liverpool in 1903. This was a matter of some civic pride to the people who Bootle and the Latin motto of the town, 'Respice, Aspice, Prospice,' (the past, the present, the future) was emblazoned on school buildings, stationery, the local press, police uniforms and all manner of other places. The development of the area can be seen by looking back at one of the earliest old Ordnance Survey maps of the area publisher by Alan Godfrey Maps (ISBN 9780850542455)[7] and what it looks like now on Multimap.

Second World War

The docks made Bootle a target for Nazi German Luftwaffe bombers during the Liverpool Blitz of the Second World War, with approximately 90% of the houses in the town damaged.[8] Situated immediately adjoining the city of Liverpool, and the site of numerous docks, Bootle had the distinction of being the most heavily-bombed borough in the UK.[citation needed]

Bootle played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic.[9] The famous u-boat hunter the Royal Navy's Captain Frederic John 'Johnny' Walker, would rest in the Mayor's Parlour of Bootle Town Hall and his ship, HMS Starling, sailed out of Bootle and the ship's bell and flags signalling the General Chase can still be seen in Bootle Town Hall's council chamber today.

Post war

After the Second World War large council housing estates were built inland from the town centre, including the area of Netherton, which was built on New Town principles. The Liverpool Overhead Railway and Liverpool Tramways Company closure in the 1950s reduced Bootle's connection to Liverpool.

Bootle did share in the postwar boom. The centre of the town was redeveloped and the 'Bootle New Strand' shopping centre was opened in the late 1960s. At the same time, new offices were built in the town centre. The town lost its access to the beach when neighbouring Seaforth Sands was redeveloped in the early 1970s, but the Seaforth Container Port brought new jobs into the area. The local authority, and other 'social' landlords, saw to it that new housing was built and older stock renovated. Bootle did not go down the route of massive housing clearance, and many local communities remained intact.

The borough celebrated its centenary in 1968 and civic pride was much in evidence.


The docks declined in importance in the 1960s and 1970s,[10] and Bootle suffered high unemployment and a declining population. The establishment of large office blocks housing government departments and the National Girobank provided employment, but this was filled largely by middle class people from outside the Liverpool area. A further blow came in the early 1970s when local government reorganisation saw Bootle lose its borough status, to be absorbed into the new local authority of Sefton. While in the long run this was to be beneficial, the old borough being too small to support modern local government services, the town was robbed of its identity and few could muster any civic pride for the new creation. More fundamental than political change was economic change. The very reason for Bootle's existence, the access to the Mersey, became almost irrelevant as the docks closed and the new container port required far fewer workers than the old docks had. This in turn affected practically every other industry in the town. The problems slowly gathered pace until Merseyside hit crisis point in the early 1980s. Even by 2006 the area was one of the poorest in the country and had high levels of unemployment.[11]


Bootle is undergoing a massive regeneration project, which has already begun with the new HSE buildings and the new-look Strand Road. Many old houses are being demolished to make way for new housing projects and lots of regeneration projects for existing properties and council buildings are to begin shortly.

A number of other development projects have recently been submitted for planning permission and should commence development within late 2006 or 2007 after being accepted. These include the significant refurbishment of Oriel Road Station, promoted by Merseytravel, the creation of a new block of apartments on the site of the Stella Maris building and a Lidl store on Stanley Road. Walmart stores inc, owners of Asda superstores have invested in building a new superstore on Strand Road. It is perhaps in this new spirit of optimism, that banners have appeared, adorning the town centre with the Latin motto of the former borough: 'Respice, Aspice, Prospice.' In 2008 the town centre management programme was introduced,via the Stepclever initiative, to support SME businesses and drive the regeneration of Bootle as a retail destination. The programme has delivered a new brand image,and a website, [].


The economic recovery on Merseyside since the 1980s has meant that Bootle is ranked as only the tenth worst area for unemployment in Britain, and all other parts of the region have lower unemployment - a stark contrast to the 1970s and 1980s when areas of Merseyside dominated the list of Britain's least economically active areas. As of 2009, in the depth of a recession, unemployment stands at 12%. [1]


There are two railway stations served by frequent electric services from Liverpool to Southport. These are Oriel Road near the Victorian era civic centre, and New Strand, serving the Shopping Centre. A freight line, the Bootle Branch, is still in use. Sefton has pushed for the reopening of the North Mersey Branch.

The bus station is underneath the New Strand Shopping Centre.


The town has a leisure centre located in the North Park area, which includes a modern gym, swimming pool, and various indoor sports halls. The Bootle New Strand shopping centre contains many of the regular high street stores, combined with a smaller collection of local businesses. For entertainment there is a wide varienty of public houses, snooker clubs and late night bars. There are also a number of restaurants.


Originally a Conservative seat, early M.P.s included Andrew Bonar Law, a future Tory Prime Minister. The seat was briefly Liberal in the early 1920s. Labour first captured the seat in 1929, in the personage of local hairdresser John Kinley, but lost it in 1931. Although Kinley recaptured it in 1945 it did not become safely Labour until the long tenure of Simon Mahon. It is now impregnable, politically, and since 1997 Bootle has been the safest Labour seat in the whole UK.

The electoral wards of Sefton Council in and around Bootle are also extremely safe seats for the Labour Party, sometimes remaining uncontested by the other parties.

Notable people

Many notable footballers were born in Bootle. Jamie Carragher,[12] Steve McManaman[13] and Roy Evans[14] came to prominence playing for Liverpool (with Evans later going on to become the club's manager) whilst Alvin Martin[15] is regarded as one of West Ham United's greatest ever players.

In the arts, Bootle has produced the actor Craig Charles, the comedian Tom O'Connor[16], the television presenter Keith Chegwin, and early rock and roll singer Billy J. Kramer.[17] The BBC news and features presenter Will Hanrahan, is originally from Bootle, and the poet and intellectual, Mark Ford, has resided in the borough. The fashion retailer George Davies was educated in Bootle.[18]

The linguist John C Wells was born in Bootle and attended school in nearby Wigan, but has lived the majority of his life in London.

James Bulger was snatched from his mother whilst shopping in Bootle. Everton F.C rising star Jose Baxter was born in Bootle.


  1. ^ a b Young, R.; Cracknell, R.; Hardacre, J.; Tetteh, E. (30 January 2004). 2001 Census of Population: Statistics for Parliamentary Constituencies. House of Commons Library. pp. 58. 
  2. ^ "Bootle History: Bootle Past". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  3. ^ Farrer, W.; Brownbill, J. (1907). 'Townships: Bootle', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. pp. 31–35. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  4. ^ "Merseyside History, Seaforth Dock". Mersey Reporter. 
  5. ^ Google Books
  6. ^ "Merseyside History, Irish Immigration in Liverpool". Mersey Reporter. 
  7. ^ Map
  8. ^ "Liverpool Blitz: Buildings damaged in the May Blitz". Liverpool Museums. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  9. ^ "People's War: Bombed Out in Bootle and Evacuated". BBC. 
  10. ^ "Bootle tourist information". Tour UK. 
  11. ^ "Seaforth River terminal harbour revision order". Department for Transport. 
  12. ^ Bootle career stats at Soccerbase
  13. ^ "Steve McManaman". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  14. ^ "Roy Evans". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  15. ^ "Alvin Martin". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  16. ^ "The Legendary Tom O'Connor". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  17. ^ "Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  18. ^ "08 City signs up George". 23 March 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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