New Mersey Shopping Park

Directly opposite the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Speke Boulevard – once the original terminal building for Britain’s first provincial airport – ‘Speke Airport’, stands the New Mersey Shopping Park. This original site, a rather dowdy, out-of-town shopping centre, was sold in 1997 to British Land, for £4m. After an investment by them of £40m, the site was sold in 2001, for £60m, and again, in 2003, this time for £160m. Following further significant investment and a complete redevelopment of the site, The New Mersey Shopping Park is considered to be one of the fastest growing and most financially successful retail parks in Britain.

There are plenty of places to eat here – of the fast-food variety however – and the range of shops is considerable. From the large furniture stores and computer retailers, and from book shops to sports shops, this is a large shopping site. Many popular high street stores have branches here too, including Boots, WH Smith, Comet, Argos, and a Marks & Spencer Food Store.

That people are returning to Speke to spend their money is a remarkable turn of events, as is the large number of local jobs that have been generated on this site, and on the surrounding commercial and industrial estates and parks, and which will increase as these continue to develop.

Speke and Garston Business and Enterprise Parks

The entire Speke/Garston/Halewood area is now one of the key economic growth areas of Liverpool, and this is clear from the remarkable land reclamations and commercial developments being created in the area: driven forward by both the public and private sectors. These include Speke District centre, Estuary Commerce Park, Liverpool International Business Park, Dakota Business Park, the Venture Point Industrial Estate, and Speke Boulevard Industry Park.

Redeveloped from large areas of disused airport runway and maintenance sites, and from arid, brownfield, ex-industrial areas, the zone between Speke Boulevard and River, and from Garston to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, is undergoing massive improvement and redesign. New manufacturing, warehousing, processing, commercial, and office accommodation has been created, served by the latest technology and an efficient local road network.

Beautifully landscaped with trees and shrubs, and criss-crossed with waterways and reed beds that provide home to fish and waterfowl, these developments are now home to such organisations as The National Blood Service, DHL, The Riverside Group, Classic Couverture, and the National Bio-Manufacturing Centre, as well as other major companies. Indeed, Speke is now home to the largest concentration of bio-manufacturing facilities in Europe.

In fact, Speke Boulevard – connecting Liverpool City to the South, via Runcorn and Widnes, has been re-named as The International Gateway, because this is now the principal southern transport artery into the City, from the M57 and M56 motorways. This will also be a principal route to the new River Mersey Crossing – the proposed Mersey Gateway Road Bridge.

Driving along this smart and impressive dual carriageway, one passes between the ten vanes of a powerful piece of colossal artwork. Named ‘The Mersey Wave’, this comprises two sets of five, erect, wave-shaped fins, standing on either side of the roadway and fanning out like pointed fingers. This dominating sculpture was erected in 2003, at a cost of £700,000, and each aluminum ‘hand’ measures 236ft in length, with each fin reaching a height of 98ft.

The Wave towers over the dual carriageway, and the fins, which are illuminated at night by internal lighting, create a spectacular portal to the International Gateway, and are a symbol of the optimism and commitment to the future that so characterise modern Liverpool, and especially modern Garston and Speke.

Written by popular local historian Ken Pye, who is the Senior Programme Director for the international educational organisation, Common Purpose. © Ken Pye February 2009

Ken Pye has written one of the best comprehensive books on Liverpool’s history called “Discover Liverpool”

that includes his excellent Discover Liverpool DVD. Available via this link 

The standalone DVD. Available via this link

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