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Merseyside UK locator map 2010.svg
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region North West England
(Local Government Act 1972)
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament
PoliceMerseyside Police
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Mark Blundell
High Sheriff John Roberts [1] (2020–21)
Area645 km2 (249 sq mi)
  Ranked 43rd of 48
Population (mid-2019 est.)1,423,065
  Ranked 9th of 48
Density2,200/km2 (5,700/sq mi)
Ethnicity91.8% White British
2.7% Other White
2.2% Asian
1% Black
1.6% Mixed
0.8% Other
Metropolitan county
Area645 km2 (249 sq mi)
ONS code 2B
NUTS UKD72, UKD73, UKD74 and part of UKD71
Merseyside numbered districts.svg
Districts of Merseyside
  1. City of Liverpool
  2. Sefton
  3. Knowsley
  4. St Helens
  5. Wirral

Merseyside ( /ˈmɜːrzisd/ MUR-zee-syde) is a metropolitan and ceremonial county in North West England, with a population of 1.38 million. [2] It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral and the city of Liverpool. Merseyside, which was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, takes its name from the River Mersey.


Merseyside spans 249 square miles (645 km2) of land. It sits within the historic counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, bordering the ceremonial counties of Lancashire (to the north-east), Greater Manchester (to the east), Cheshire (to the south and south-east) and the Irish Sea to the west. North Wales is across the Dee Estuary. There is a mix of high density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations in Merseyside, but overwhelmingly the land use is urban. It has a focused central business district, formed by Liverpool City Centre, but Merseyside is also a polycentric county with five metropolitan districts, each of which has at least one major town centre and outlying suburbs. The Liverpool Urban Area is the fifth most populous conurbation in England and dominates the geographic centre of the county, while the Birkenhead Urban Area dominates the Wirral Peninsula in the south.

In the 12 years following 1974, the county had a two-tier system of local government; district councils shared power with the Merseyside County Council. The county council was abolished in 1986 and so its districts (the metropolitan boroughs) are now effectively unitary authority areas. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference, [3] and several county-wide services are co-ordinated by authorities and joint-boards, such as Merseytravel (for public transport), Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the Merseyside Police (for law-enforcement); as a ceremonial county, Merseyside has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. As the Lancashire county palatine boundaries remain the same as the historic boundaries, [4] the High Sheriff of Merseyside, along with those of Lancashire and Greater Manchester are appointed "within the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster". [5]

The boroughs of Merseyside are joined by the neighbouring borough of Halton in Cheshire to form the Liverpool City Region, which is a local enterprise partnership and combined authority area.

Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts from the former administrative counties of Lancashire, Cheshire and six autonomous county boroughs centred on Birkenhead, Bootle, Liverpool, Southport, St Helens and Wallasey.


Port of Liverpool docks, at Seaforth. Merseyside lies at the Mersey Estuary Seaforth Docks.jpg
Port of Liverpool docks, at Seaforth. Merseyside lies at the Mersey Estuary

Merseyside was designated as a "Special Review" area in the Local Government Act 1958, and the Local Government Commission for England started a review of this area in 1962, based around the core county boroughs of Liverpool, Bootle, Birkenhead and Wallasey. Further areas, including Widnes and Runcorn, were added to the Special Review Area by Order in 1965. Draft proposals were published in 1965, but the commission never completed its final proposals as it was abolished in 1966.

Instead, a Royal Commission was set up to review English local government entirely, and its report (known as the Redcliffe-Maud Report) proposed a much wider Merseyside metropolitan area covering southwest Lancashire and northwest Cheshire, extending as far south as Chester and as far north as the River Ribble. This would have included four districts: Southport/Crosby, Liverpool/Bootle, St Helens/Widnes and Wirral/Chester. In 1970 the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (which operates today under the Merseytravel brand) was set up, covering Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral and Knowsley, but excluding Southport and St Helens.

The Redcliffe-Maud Report was rejected by the incoming Conservative Party government, but the concept of a two-tier metropolitan area based on the Mersey area was retained. A White Paper was published in 1971. The Local Government Bill presented to Parliament involved a substantial trimming from the White Paper, excluding the northern and southern fringes of the area, excluding Chester, Ellesmere Port (and, unusually, including Southport, whose council had requested to be included). Further alterations took place in Parliament, with Skelmersdale being removed from the area, and a proposed district including St Helens and Huyton being subdivided into what are now the metropolitan boroughs of St Helens and Knowsley.

Merseyside was created on 1 April 1974 from areas previously parts of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, along with the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Wallasey, Liverpool, Bootle, and St Helens. Following the creation of Merseyside, Merseytravel expanded to take in St Helens and Southport.

post-1974 pre-1974
Metropolitan countyMetropolitan borough County boroughs Non-county boroughs Urban districts Rural districts
Merseyside County.png
Merseyside is an amalgamation of 22 former local government districts, including six county boroughs and two municipal boroughs.
Knowsley Huyton with Roby  Kirkby  Prescot West Lancashire  Whiston
Liverpool Liverpool
Sefton Bootle  Southport Crosby Formby  Litherland West Lancashire
St Helens St Helens Ashton-in-Makerfield  Billinge and Winstanley  Haydock  Rainford Whiston
Wirral Birkenhead  Wallasey Bebington Hoylake  Wirral

Between 1974 and 1986 the county had a two-tier system of local government with the five boroughs sharing power with the Merseyside County Council. However, in 1986 the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the county council along with all other metropolitan county councils, and so its boroughs are now effectively unitary authorities.


An aerial photograph of Merseyside Merseyside aerial photograph.jpg
An aerial photograph of Merseyside

Merseyside is divided into two parts by the Mersey Estuary; the Wirral is located on the west side of the estuary, upon the Wirral Peninsula and the rest of the county is located on the east side of the estuary. The eastern part of Merseyside borders onto Lancashire to the north, Greater Manchester to the east, with both parts of the county bordering Cheshire to the south. The territory comprising the county of Merseyside previously formed part of the administrative counties of Lancashire (east of the River Mersey) and Cheshire (west of the River Mersey). The two parts are linked by the two Mersey Tunnels, the Wirral Line of Merseyrail, and the Mersey Ferry.

Green belt

Merseyside contains green belt interspersed throughout the county, surrounding the Liverpool urban area, as well as across the Mersey in the Wirral area, with further pockets extending towards and surrounding Southport, as part of the western edge of the North West Green Belt. It was first drawn up from the 1950s. All the county's districts contain some portion of belt.


Ipsos MORI polls in the boroughs of Sefton and Wirral in the 2000s showed that in general, residents of these boroughs identified slightly more strongly to Merseyside than to Lancashire or Cheshire respectively, but their affinity to Merseyside was more likely to be "fairly strong" than "very strong". [6]

The towns and suburbs of Bootle, Kirkby, Maghull, Speke and Southport are referenced in the in the 1991 song, It's Grim Up North by the band. KLF.

Local government

Coat of arms of the former Merseyside County Council. Merseyside CoA.svg
Coat of arms of the former Merseyside County Council.

Metropolitan boroughs

Merseyside comprises the metropolitan boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.

County-level functions

Following the abolition of the county council some local services are run by joint-boards of the five metropolitan boroughs; these include the:

Liverpool City Region

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which includes the five boroughs and the Borough of Halton headed by a mayor, Steve Rotheram, elected in May 2017. [7]


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Merseyside at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

YearRegional Gross Value Added [note 1] Agriculture [note 2] Industry [note 3] Services [note 4]


Transport in Merseyside consists of travel by roads, rail, air and water. Motorways serving Merseyside include M53 motorway in Wirral, M57 motorway, M58 motorway and M62 motorway. Rail travel is provided by Merseyrail, Network Rail and Wirral Tramway (since 1995) with major stations at Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool Central, Liverpool James Street and Birkenhead Hamilton Square.

Merseyrail commuter lines

Aviation and air travel is provided by Liverpool John Lennon Airport, the oldest provincial airport in the United Kingdom. Major cycling routes on the National Cycle Network (such as National Cycle Route 56 and National Cycle Route 62) pass through the region too such as New Brighton and the Wirral Way. Major bus companies are Stagecoach Merseyside and Arriva North West. Liverpool One bus station serves as a terminus for national coach travel.


Liverpool Cruise Terminal provides long distance passenger cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines MS Black Watch and Cruise & Maritime Voyages MS Magellan using the terminal to depart to Iceland, France, Spain and Norway.


Prince's Landing Stage, Pier Head, Liverpool serves Isle of Man Steam Packet Company summer service to the Isle of Man (and Mersey Ferries). Twelve Quays, Birkenhead ferry port serves winter Isle of Man ferry service and Stena Line to Belfast, Ireland.


The Port of Liverpool handles most commercial shipping, but several other ports on the Wirral peninsula, such as Great Float and Queen Elizabeth II Dock, operate too.

River and Canal

The Mersey Ferry has operated since the 1200s, currently between Seacombe, Woodside and Liverpool Pier Head. Leeds and Liverpool Canal and Manchester Ship Canal are the main canal systems.


Merseyside is host to several football league football clubs including Liverpool F.C., Everton F.C., Tranmere Rovers F.C. and Southport F.C.. Golf courses include Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Royal Birkdale Golf Club and Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club. Cricket clubs include the historic Aigburth Cricket Ground, Liverpool. Aintree Motor Racing Circuit hosted the British Grand Prix. Aintree Racecourse hosts the Grand National and there is also Haydock Park Racecourse. Totally Wicked Stadium hosts Rugby League and Hoylake hosts sailing (such as Southport 24 Hour Race) and is Britain's premier location for sand yachting. A ski slope facility is found at The Oval (Wirral).

Places of interest

See also


  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Related Research Articles

Birkenhead Town in England

Birkenhead is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Merseyside, England; historically, until 1974, in Cheshire. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the south bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 88,818.

Metropolitan Borough of Sefton Metropolitan borough in England

The Metropolitan Borough of Sefton is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England. It was formed on 1 April 1974, by the amalgamation of the county boroughs of Bootle and Southport, the municipal borough of Crosby, the urban districts of Formby and Litherland, and part of West Lancashire Rural District. It consists of a coastal strip of land on the Irish Sea which extends from Southport in the north to Bootle in the south, and an inland part to Maghull in the south-east, bounded by the city of Liverpool to the south, the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley to the south-east, and West Lancashire to the east.

Merseyrail Railway network in north-west England

Merseyrail is a suburban railway network serving Liverpool, England, the surrounding Liverpool City Region, the Wirral Peninsula and adjacent areas of Cheshire and Lancashire, including a number of underground stations. The core of the network is formed by two dedicated electrified lines known as the Northern Line and the Wirral Line, which run underground in central Liverpool and Birkenhead. The third line, separate from the electrified network, is named the City Line. The City Line is a term used by the governing body Merseytravel referring to local Northern Trains services it sponsors serving in its area operating on the Liverpool to Manchester Lines and Liverpool to Wigan Line. Many of the City Line stations are branded Merseyrail using Merseyrail ticketing.

Seacombe Human settlement in England

Seacombe is a district of the town of Wallasey, on the Wirral Peninsula, England. Administratively, Seacombe is a ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside. Before local government reorganisation on 1 April 1974, it was part of the County Borough of Wallasey, within the geographical county of Cheshire. At the 2001 Census, the population of Seacombe was 15,158,, increasing to 15,387 at the Census 2011.

Merseytravel is the Passenger transport executive and Strategic Transport Advisor for the Liverpool City Region. Responsible for the coordination of public transport in Merseyside, North West England. Merseytravel was established on 1 December 1969 as the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive. From 1 April 2014 Merseytravel expanded its area of operation from the metropolitan county of Merseyside to also include the Borough of Halton.

Wallasey Town in Merseyside, England

Wallasey is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in Merseyside, England, on the mouth of the River Mersey, at the northeastern corner of the Wirral Peninsula. At the 2011 Census, the population was 60,284.

Wirral Peninsula Peninsula in North West England

Wirral, also known as The Wirral, is a peninsula in North West England. The roughly rectangular peninsula is about 15 miles (24 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide and is bounded by the River Dee to the west that forms a boundary with Wales, the River Mersey to the east, and the Irish Sea to the north.

Liverpool City Region Economic and political area of England centred on the city of Liverpool

The Liverpool City Region is a combined authority region of England, centred on Liverpool, incorporating the local authority district boroughs of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral. The region is mainly in the historic county of Lancashire and Cheshire. Depending on the definition used, the region's population is between about 1.5 million and 2.3 million.

Northern line (Merseyrail)

The Merseyrail Northern line is a cross-city railway running from Hunts Cross in south Liverpool then to termini in the north at Southport (Merseyside), Ormskirk (Lancashire) and Kirkby (Merseyside). It and the Wirral Line are commuter rail services operated by Merseyrail, serving Merseyside. A third line, the City Line, is not owned or operated by Merseyrail, although stations inside Merseytravel's area are branded as Merseyrail. All three lines are funded by Merseytravel.

Wirral line Commuter railway line in Merseyside, England

The Wirral line is one of two commuter railway lines operated by Merseyrail and centred on Merseyside, England, the other being the Northern line.

MTL (transport company)

MTL Trust Holdings was an English bus, coach and train operator based in Liverpool. MTL was originally part of the MPTE. To comply with the Transport Act 1985, the bus operations were divested into a new independent company, Merseyside Transport Limited (MTL). Merseyside PTA retained shareholding, but the company was purchased by its management and staff in 1993. On 17 February 2000, MTL was purchased by Arriva.

Liverpool Urban Area

The Liverpool Built-up Area is a term used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to denote the urban area around Liverpool in England, to the east of the River Mersey. The contiguous built-up area extends beyond the area administered by Liverpool City Council into adjoining local authority areas, particularly parts of Sefton and Knowsley. As defined by ONS, the area extends as far east as Haydock, and Ashton-in-Makerfield in Greater Manchester.

Spital, Merseyside Human settlement in England

Spital is a suburban area of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in Merseyside, England. It is located mid-way on the Wirral Peninsula, and is mostly incorporated into the town of Bebington and the most westerly point of Spital forms the most northern edge of Bromborough.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Firefighter organization in Merseyside

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service covering the county of Merseyside in north-west England and is the statutory Fire and Rescue Authority responsible for all 999 fire brigade calls in Sefton, Knowsley, St. Helens, Liverpool and Wirral.

Liverpool in North West England, is a major British city with significant road, rail, and ferry networks, in addition to an international airport and a well-known dock system. As with most other major UK cities, Liverpool's transport infrastructure is centred on its road and rail networks. Public transport services within the city are controlled and run by Merseytravel.

The geology of Merseyside in northwest England largely consists of a faulted sequence of Carboniferous Coal Measures rocks overlain in the west by younger Triassic and Permian age sandstones and mudstones. Glaciation during the present Quaternary Period has left widespread glacial till as well as erosional landforms. Other post-glacial superficial deposits such as river and estuarine alluvium, peat and blown sand are abundant.

Beechwood, Merseyside Housing estate in the west of Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, in Merseyside, England

Beechwood is a housing estate in the west of Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, in Merseyside, England. Administratively it is within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral as part of Bidston and St James Ward. The area is bounded by Bidston to the north, Upton to the west and Noctorum to the south. The elevation of Bidston Hill is immediately to the east.


  1. "John Roberts DL is new High Sheriff of Merseyside". WirralGlobe. 16 March 2020.
  2. "2009 Mid Year Estimates – Table 9 ONS". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  3. Office for National Statistics. "Gazetteer of the old and new geographies of the United Kingdom" (PDF). p. 48. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 December 2003. Retrieved 11 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 March 2008.
    Office for National Statistics (17 September 2004). "Beginners' Guide to UK Geography: Metropolitan Counties and Districts". Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved on 6 March 2008.
    "North West – Electoral Commission". The Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 14 November 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2011. Retrieved on 7 July 2008.
  4. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 15 Jun 1992". Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. High Sheriffs, The Times, 21 March 1985
  6. Sefton poll Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine , where 51% residents belonged strongly to Merseyside, and compared with 35% to Lancashire; Wirral poll Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine , where 45% of residents belonged strongly to Merseyside; compared with 30% to Cheshire. In both boroughs, "very strongly" ratings for the historic county were larger than that for Merseyside, but "fairly strongly" was lower.
  7. "Liverpool city region metro mayor: what is it, when will we get one and who will it be?". Liverpool Echo. 18 May 2016. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  8. "Art Galleries - Museum - Glass Blowing- Victorian Furnace". The World of Glass. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.

Further reading

Coordinates: 53°25′N3°00′W / 53.417°N 3.000°W / 53.417; -3.000