Parkgate started out as a hunting ‘park’ for the manor of Neston. But with the progressive silting up of the river Dee, and Chester becoming increasing unviable as a shipping port, new ports & quays had to be set up further down the Dee estuary. On the English side of the river the first one was at Burton, this too became silted up and so a quay was established at Neston and finally during the early Georgian period in the area that came to be known as Parkgate.
Parkgate became a thriving port during the Georgian era, and in particular as the embarkation point for Ireland. With Lord Nelson being a frequent visitor to the area, with Lady Emma Hamilton being from Ness. However as the River Dee silted up even further helped by the dredging of the Welsh side of the Dee estuary towards the end of the Georgian era, resulting in the growth of extensive marshlands., Parkgate became unusable as a port and was superseded by the Port of Liverpool, on the nearby River Mersey.
Victorian Seaside Resort
During the Victorian era Parkgate reinvented itself as a popular seaside resort. The Victorians being firm believers in the health benefits from bathing and the sea, and the now booming port of Liverpool gave an endless stream of visitors wishing to escape the grime of the city. But soon the silting up and vegetation consumed the sands of the beach at Parkgate, accelerated by the deliberate introduction of the invasive colonizing grass ‘spartina anglica’ in Connah’s Quay in 1928. And so once again Parkgate lost out to areas that had yet to be effected by silting such as West Kirby and Hoylake. With no beach and no direct access to the sea, Parkgate could manage only small subsistence from fishing and shrimps, and day visitors wishing to take in the view, some sea air and perhaps an ice cream or two.
During the mid 20th century due to its quiet and picturesque nature, Parkgate developed into an attractive and popular residential area.
Mostyn House School
Mostyn House School, the striking black and white building sat next to The Ship Hotel, was opened in 1855. From 1862 until it closed in 2010, it was run by the Grenfell family, most recently as a co-educational day school. Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865–1940), famous medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador, was born in Parkgate and was a pupil at the school. It has now been converted into a number of apartments yet maintains the original tudor facade.
The influence of World War II
During the second World War two of Parkgate’s houses which both contained cellars were converted into shelters and used for public protection from the bombs. Small lights were placed on the marsh to trick the German bombers into thinking settlements were below. After the war, Parkgate flourished as a highly desirable residential area. It became a conservation area in 1973. The Church of England church of St. Thomas, Mostyn Square, built in 1843 reopened for worship in May 2010 after it had been declared unsafe in 1994.
Parkgate is a busy residential and tourist area, it boasts bird watching, regionally famous homemade ice cream, eclectic dining and stunning sunsets. During seasonal high tides the water reaches the sea wall (and further on occasion), and visitors arrive at the village to witness the unusual sight. Also popular with bird watchers who come and visit the area to see the birds usually hidden in the grasses of the marshland.
More information can be found at www.visitparkgate.co.uk