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Birkenhead Park was created between 1843 and 1847.  It was the first park in the world to be created by a municipality.  The land was acquired through Act of Parliament and the project was financed from the profit of the houses which surrounded the park.

Joseph Paxton designed the park with the help of Edward Kemp who came to supervise the construction in 1843.  In 1845 Kemp was awarded the position of Park Superintendent following recommendation from Paxton.  Kemp had a salary of £150 a year and lived onsite in the Italian Lodge.  He was given a budget of £1,000 per year and it was Kemp who was largely responsible for the planting and general development of Birkenhead.

Frederick Law Olmsted visited the park on a tour of Europe in 1850.  He was an American who later went on to incorporate many of the features at Birkenhead in his design at Central Park, New York.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):



Birkenhead Park was laid out by Joseph Paxton (1803-65) following the Third Improvement Act (Birkenhead) 1843. Paxton was appointed by Sir William Jackson, and Edward Kemp, who had worked with Paxton at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, was recruited to supervise the construction of the park. Another contact from Chatsworth, John Robertson, designed the lodges around the park with Liverpool architect Lewis Hornblower. Belts of housing around the park boundaries were intended to subsidise the expense of the park.

In 1845 Paxton was asked by the Commissioners to alter the plans of unsold building plots. Following this he withdrew from further involvement leaving Edward Kemp in charge of completion. Kemp remained in charge until 1891, serving forty-six years as Park Superintendent.

The park was opened in 1847. In 1850 Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) visited the site and the design influenced his own designs for Central Park in New York, which opened in 1858.

Site timeline

1850: Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) visited the site and the design influenced his own designs for Central Park in New York, which opened in 1858.

People associated with this site

Architect: James Gillespie Graham (born 11/06/1776 died 21/03/1855)

Architect: Lewis Hornblower (born 1823 died 1879)

Manager: Edward Kemp (born 25/09/1817 died 01/03/1891)

Other: Frederick Law Olmsted (died 26/04/1822)

Designer: Sir Joseph Paxton (born 03/08/1803 died 08/06/1865)

Architect: John Robertson


boat house

Creator: Lewis Hornblower (born 1823 died 1879)

ornamental bridge

The Swiss Bridge.

ornamental lake

ornamental lake

carpet bed

specimen tree

cricket pavilion

bowling green

gate lodge

The Italian Lodge.


Creator: Lewis Hornblower (born 1823 died 1879)