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Liverpool Bay Pilot Area
The first pilot area for England’s Historic Seascapes extends from the Dee Estuary in the south to Rossall Point in the north, and incorporates Liverpool Bay as far offshore as the 12 nautical mile limit of territorial waters.
The coastlines of both Lancashire and Cheshire contain areas of submerged forest. Human and animal footprints from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age survive in the intertidal zones in Merseyside. In the intertidal area of the Wirral large numbers of Roman and Medieval finds are known. Such discoveries show a clear potential for the human occupation of landscapes that are now inundated.
Liverpool Bay has seen maritime activity from at least the Roman period. Sea going vessels would have navigated the Dee and Irish Sea to and from the Roman town of Deva - now modern Chester. Placenames such as Formby and Flyde show Viking activity in the region and in Medieval times Chester and Liverpool were used as maritime bases for military campaigns in Wales and Ireland.
In the Medieval and Post-Medieval periods, Liverpool grew as a port to become a centre for trade with the New World colonies, including the trade in slaves. After the abolition of slavery, Liverpool remained a busy port exporting coal, salt and textiles. In the eighteenth century, an extensive new dock system was built to facilitate further expansion in trade, and by 1851 Liverpool was exporting more goods than London.
Other ports in the pilot area, such as Southport and Fleetwood, though never challenging Liverpool in export and import, remained active in coastal trade and fishing. Other towns on the coast like Blackpool grew greatly due to the growth of tourism in the nineteenth century bringing further prosperity to the region.
Offshore, the pilot area contains valuable resources such as the Douglas and Hamilton gas fields which are extensively exploited. Growing modern interest in renewable energy sources has led to parts of the pilot area being selected for the construction of offshore windfarms.
As can be seen, not only has Liverpool Bay a rich and varied maritime history, but it has wide range of development pressures and management issues which maritime historic landscape characterisation will help to address.