Bootle – Stubb Place
Bootle is listed in the Domesday Book and received a market charter in 1347 from King Edward. Whilst the market had all but ceased by mid-19th century, cattle fairs and hiring fairs for servants continued.
Bootle’s most famous son Captain Isaac Shaw was a local hero and benefactor. Isaac Shaw was the youngest of the nine children (born 1780) of farmer William and Hannah Shaw. He joined the Navy aged 12 and served for 20 years, including alongside Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar as a lieutenant on the HMS Neptune.
Horatio Nelson, already a national hero, was fatally injured aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Both Nelson’s body and his badly damaged ship nearly didn’t make it home. The stricken Victory was taken in tow to the safe haven of Gibraltar by HMS Neptune.
On his retirement Captain Shaw returned home to Bootle where he endowed the village school in 1830 and built Underwood House in 1835 with the 'lantern' at the top of the roof, so he could still see the sea! He became a magistrate and played a key role in establishing the Bootle Union Workhouse.
A Very Local Battle
The Battle of Annaside (1838). A practice had grown up for vessels to load cobbles from the sea shore which were then transported to Runcorn and Liverpool. This practice contributed to loss of the coastline, property and roads which had hitherto been ‘protected’ by the stones on the shore. Despite peaceful protests from the parish which was being put to considerable expense in trying to remedy the damage, the practice continued. In 1838 three vessels removed all the stones from Stubb Place and then moved to Annaside to gather more. The villagers of Whitbeck, Bootle and Annaside, having suffered enough drove the crews to their vessels who then re-emerged with spars and bludgeons. The villagers armed only with ‘a good sprig of oak’ each stood their ground and eventually drove the ‘enemy’ back to their ships.
Fleet Air Arm Pilots
In 1941 the Ministry of Supply requisitioned land half a mile south of Bootle station
to house 500 workers engaged in the construction of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Hycemoor. The Hostel was transferred to the Royal Navy in 1943 and work began to adapt the site as a transit camp where new Fleet Air Arm Pilots were to assemble on their return to the UK after completing their preliminary flying training in Canada.
The first batch of newly qualified pilots arrived at the end of January 1944 and within a matter of months the hostel was filled to its capacity of around 400 'Pilots in Training'
Protecting Britain Today
North along the coast from Bootle lies the MOD’s Eskmeals firing range, which continues to have a role in protecting Britain today. The site, previously a rabbit warren, was acquired as a naval gunnery range by Vickers of Barrow in 1897. Today Eskmeals specialise in range and accuracy trials, and hard target trials. Fourteen firing locations enable equipment testing over land for short ranges up to 1km and over sea for long ranges up to 49km.
A Modern Day Hero
Herbert Norman Stubbs
On 22nd March 1945 a freight train exploded on the coastal line just south of Bootle, a result of a fire on one of the wagons carrying munitions. The fire was spotted by Fireman Stubbs who raised the alarm. With the train brought to a halt, Mr Stubbs risked his life to uncouple the burning wagon from the train. The village escaped damage, but when the wagon exploded killing the driver and injuring the fireman and the guard, it also blew out nearby windows and was said to have rattled others up to 40 miles away. The crater was 105 feet long, fifty feet deep. Mr Stubbs managed to warn the signaller at Silecroft of the incident and delay an oncoming passenger train, keeping it out of harms way. Herbert Norman Stubbs was awarded the George Medal for his gallantry, by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in 1945.
Coastal Wildlife and Flora
Key species that live around the dunes and estuary include Natterjack toad, various fritillaries (Dark Green Fritillary), moths (Elephant Hawk Moth) and birds (stone chat and skylark).
Birds on the estuary in winter and spring include red breasted merganser, shelduck and curlew. In summer the dunes have attractive displays of heart's-ease pansy, wild thyme and pyramidal orchid.
Specialities: Natterjack Toad, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Bee Orchid