A familiar landmark off the Wirral shore for sailors entering the Mersey Estuary is Perch Rock Lighthouse and the nearby Fort Perch Rock.
A report recommending construction of Fort Perch Rock to protect the Mersey Estuary from attack, was published by Colonel Pilkington, Royal Engineers, in 1814. However, with the defeat of Napoleon the need for such defences gained a lower priority.
However, following the destruction of a marker perch which identified the location of the rock in a storm during March 1824 the Liverpool Ship Owners Association passed a resolution recommending the construction of a lighthouse.
Liverpool Corporation petitioned the Duke of Wellington as Master General of the Board of Ordnance to take steps to provide permanent defences for the Mersey Estuary and provide both a fort and lighthouse.
Construction of the Fort was undertaken under the direction of Captain John Kitson, Royal Engineers, using Col. Pilkington's plans with some modifications.
The new Perch Rock Lighthouse was constructed to the design of John Foster [jnr], Liverpool Corporation Surveyor and based on the successful Smeaton's Lighthouse on the Eddystone Reef off Plymouth [Now preserved on Plymouth Hoe.].
On completion of the lighthouse the Corporation handed it over to the Mersey Dock Trustees who were to pay a rental of £1.00 a year until 1973 when the light house was abandoned and handed back to Liverpool Corporation which then sold it into private hands. The lighthouse had been automated since 1925.
The Fort, mainly constructed of Runcorn sandstone, was completed in April 1839 having cost £26,965.
Fort Perch Rock was modified during the twentieth century. The search light and observation position were constructed on the east tower in 1919. The modern looking radar tower and lookout on the west tower dates from 1941.
The fort was run down during the early 1950s and by the mid 1950s it was being opened as a museum and tourist attraction by the local Royal Artillery Association. In 1958 Fort Perch Rock passed to local amusement operator Tommy Mann and business partner T. Kershaw proprietor of a number of Lancashire cleaning shops. The fort has now passed through several individuals, its previous owner Mr. Kingham being responsible for some substantial restoration work. The fort is open to the public during the summer season.
A detailed history of the fort and lighthouse was published in the early 1990s and is recommended reading. Details below:
Further Reading: Fort Perch Rock by Ken McCarron - Countyvise / Merseyside Portfolios