Campaigners speak of dismay after Bidston lighthouse is sold to private owners
CAMPAIGNERS have spoken of their dismay after a key part of a Wirral heritage site was sold.
Grade II-listed Bidston Observatory, nearby Bidston lighthouse and cottage, and land once occupied by the Braehead Cottages were put up for sale in 2006 by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC), which owns the freehold.
Community groups have long argued the entire site should be turned into a museum and education centre and the lighthouse opened to the public.
But the Wirral News can reveal that the lighthouse and former keeper’s cottage have now been sold to private owners.
A couple paid £160,000 for both properties in the summer, according to Land Registry records.
Peter Crawford, chairman of Bidston Preservation Trust, said: “I’m very disappointed that the lighthouse has gone. To us, it’s on the same par as other historic buildings like Bidston Windmill. It’s such an important part of our history.
“We would have loved to have used the whole site. All these people say one thing but no-one is willing to co-operate with us.”
Mr Crawford said his vision for the observatory also included using it as a base for a community drumming project.
The second floor of the lighthouse, built in 1872, has sweeping panoramic views across to Wales and Lancashire.
Bidston was the base for the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory – renowned for its work monitoring climate change – for 34 years until NERC staff moved to Liverpool in 2004.
A potential buyer came forward in 2008, but negotiations over a plan to turn the observatory into luxury flats broke down.
NERC said it was still seeking a new owner for the Grade II-listed Victorian observatory and surrounding land, and the site of the former Braehead Cottages.
The Proudman laboratory is also being marketed, but is on a 99-year ground lease from Wirral Council, at a current rent of £1,800 per year.
Liverpool property firm Mason Owen was instructed to market them in February and prospective buyers were told all offers would be seriously considered.
A NERC spokesman said: “The lighthouse was sold along with the cottage. We are still responsible for the other parts of the site.”