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Neston Cross Comments Page Exit Tours

The Parkgate Tour
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We're facing Parkgate Road with 'Jackson's Tower' on the right. The tower was built to allow the Jackson family to look over the rooftops and enjoy the views across the Dee estuary and the Welsh hills beyond.
Parkgate Road
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The policeman standing opposite 'Hales' sweet shop appears in several local photographs and has been identified as Sergeant Bee, our local bobby. The larger building was built in the eighteenth century and once housed two licensed premises, 'The Black Bull' and 'The Greenland Fishery'. Chester Northgate Brewery purchased both businesses in 1892 and combined them into 'The Greenland Fishery'. Behind the Cross, on the corner of Brook Street, stands the old vicarage where Tesco now stands.
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The two young girls on the left of the picture are standing beside a window that was, in the 1950s a, below street level, toy shop. I seem to remember entering it via steps just off the street, on the right of the building.
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Parkgate Road - c1900.
Parkgate Road
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Parkgate Road - 1913
Taken outside Vine House, on the right and Church Lane opposite. Behind Vine House is a 'Crinkle Crankle' wall which, I'm hoping, still survives today. The wall is built in a wavey, serpentine shape, the idea being that soft fruit trees can be grown in the shaded recesses to offer protection from wind. Fires could be lit on the opposite side to protect from frost. You could, at one time, see it from the bottom of Mill Lane.

Neston
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Neston Library was opened in December, 1908 on land donated in memory of Dr. Russell of Vine House. £1,200 was provided towards the cost of the building by Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist, who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. He was also one of the highest profile philanthropists of his era and had given away almost 90 percent of his fortune to charities and foundations by the time of his death in 1919.
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The bottom of Mill Street with Vine House, just out of shot, to the right.
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Parkgate Road c1913 - with Neston's, newly aquired, library on the right-hand side.
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Parkgate
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Parkgate Road c1910 - The first building on the left was our family dentist through the 50s and 60s.
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If we turn around, at this point and look back towards 'The Cross', we can see the houses on 'Church Lane' and the church itself. The library has yet to be built on the piece of land directly behind the cart so we can date this scene to pre 1908. There must have been a wonderful view over that wall and across the open fields to the River Dee and the hills, beyond.
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Looking back towards 'The Cross'. The milestone reads 'Chester 11 miles'
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At this junction, we can turn onto:
or continue on, towards Parkgate.
At this junction, we can turn onto:
Parkgate
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c1908 - The 4th Lancashire RFA have just disembarked at Parkgate Station and turned an immediate left, into Park Fields where they will camp for the duration of their training period. The road above is Parkgate Road, just before the bend under the railway bridge. The large sign, to the left, advertised the new 'Leighton Park Estate' which was to be accessed by 'Earl Drive', a new road built in 1903. Leighton Park never actually existed, it was simply a name invented by N.A. Earl, the developer.
Parkgate
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The 1st Worcester Artillery Volunteers arrive in Parkgate, Sunday, August 6. 1906, for training excercises on the Dee Estuary where the huge area of open sand made it the ideal place for guns. The tents of their camp can be seen in Park Fields, beyond.
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c1906 - Parkgate station, along with Neston South station was completed in 1866 and was the end of the line until the West Kirby extension was completed in 1886. The line was finally closed to passengers in 1956 and to goods in 1962.
You won't find a single person, in this photograph, without a hat!
Along Station Road we can turn into Lieutenant Mike Rimington's:
Parkgate
or continue on, towards Parkgate.
Parkgate
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Station Road, Parkgate - c1908. A lovely old photograph entitled 'Cheltenham Place' and taken from an upper story window of the station-master's house. The scene is almost unchanged apart from the, now, more mature gardens hiding the houses. The bottom left shows the cricket pitch boundary and spectator benches. The row of houses was built on school land and, originally, housed Mostyn School housemasters.
Neston
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A later photograph of the previous scene, showing the entrance to Mostyn House School, now widened to accommodate traffic. The sign to the left reads, 'CARRIAGE ENTRANCE TO MOSTYN HOUSE SCHOOL'.
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Mostyn School the 'Old Quad'.
Parkgate
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The bottom of 'Station Road' and the visitors' first view of the distant, Welsh Hills.
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And this is the view, back up Station Road with the 'Chester Hotel' on the right.
Chester Hotel, Parkgate
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And another view of the 'Chester Hotel' - c1910.
Parkgate
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c1917 - The Old Custom House ceased to be used by the Customs Officers in 1821 when the main channel in the River Dee changed course from the Parkgate side, to the Welsh side, leaving them with little to do. By 1828, the last Customs Officers left, for good.
Custom House, Parkgate
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This photograph must have been taken in the very early 1960s as the distinctive roof of the new 'Old Quay' is clearly visible on the left-hand side of the 'Cosy Cafe' or the Old Custom House. There was a fight to retain this building as it had been designated as being of architectural and historical value. Unfortunately, it was still demolished to form part of the Old Quay's garden.
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It's pretty well documented that many well-known figures passed through Parkgate via the ferries, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Elton John of his day (you must have heard his 'Crocodile Roquiem!!! :o)... but did you know that a young William Mallard Joseph Turner actually stood on these banks and created the above drawing: 'FLINT - from Park-Gate'. The text below reads: Engraved by J. Walker from an Original Drawing by William Turner. Published Aug. of 1797 by J. Walker, No. 16 Rosomand Street, London. That would make Turner only 22 years old at the time. He also painted many of the castles in Wales including Flint and Corwen. I remember that when the 'Old Quay' was first opened it was dedicated to Nelson with Turner's famous, 1824, 'Battle of Trafalgar' painting hanging on the wall of the Trafalgar bar.
South Parade and the corner of Station Road with the old Custom House on the extreme right.
Parkgate
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And down onto the South Parade looking towards Mostyn House School and beyond. This photograph is dated c1910, so the 'The Boathouse' and 'Parkgate Baths' have yet to be built. (This is one of my 'Sunnyfield' prints and is described as 'Mostyn Square & Promenade' but is actually the bottom of Station Road.)
Parkgate
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A similar shot, 20 years on, in the 1930s.
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South Parade - c1930
The old Custom House and the Chester Hotel (left-hand side) at the bottom of Station Road, where the 'Old Quay' would, eventually, stand.
Parkgate
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c1940. Here's a rare view of the Parade, looking from the south slip towards Station Road. This cottage stood next to the Custom House on the site that is now occupied by the 'Old Quay'.
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Off the south end slipway - c1910.
Mostyn House School
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In this 1890 photograph, the single story building, on the right and the two adjoining ones made up Mostyn House School. It originally incorporated 'The George Inn' which became the 'Mostyn Arms Hotel' in 1819 and was run successfully by Ester Briscoe until her death in 1855.
Parkgate
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c1879 - Upon the death of Mrs. Ester Briscoe in 1855, Edward Price, purchased the Mostyn Arms Hotel and transferred his school from Tarvin and named it Mostyn House School. His nephew, A.S. Grenfell, took over the school in 1862 and his wife is recorded as saying, "I had never seen such a horrible hole in all my life." Grenfell's eldest son, Algernon, became headmaster in 1890 and much improved the state of the buildings.
Parkgate
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South Parade - c1913
Some twenty years later and the school has been extended but it would be 1932 before the now familiar black and white colour sceme was introduced.
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South Parade - c1913
Strangely, the sea wall, stretching the full length of Parkgate, had nothing at all to do with it's shipping... in fact, ships had to anchor a long way from shore. The middle section, from the Donkey Stand to the Watch House, was built about 1810 as a promenade for the fashionable people who came to visit Parkgate during the bathing season. The second section, from the Donkey Stand to the south slip, was constructed about 1830 and the final North end, from the 'Watch House' onwards was finished in the 1840s. When complete, it was named the 'New Marine Parade'.
Parkgate
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Parkgate
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Shrimpers
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A very early photograph of mounted 'Parkgate Shrimpers' recorded at the turn of the last century. Mostyn House School was given its familiar white facade several years later, in 1932.
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And from the sand...
Parkgate
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1909 - With Mostyn House School on the right. Behind the cart is the Union Hotel, later to become the Ship Hotel. The building after the hotel is Dee House which was replaced by 'Nicholls' ice cream parlour.
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C1900
Parkgate
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C1900 - Two 'Birds-eye' views of 'The Parade' that have been taken from the same viewpoint, (almost certainly Mostyn School roof) within minutes of each other, judging from the shadows.
Parkgate
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Water Tower
The water tower in the grounds of Mostyn House school was built in 1906 and cleverly designed to blend in, perfectly, with the rest of the buildings.
Parkgate
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This photograph was captioned 'The Old Quad' Mostyn House, Parkgate.
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Parkgate Paddling
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Paddling by the Donkey Stand c1914.
Parkgate Beach 1910
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The sands - 1910.
Parkgate
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The Parade and Donkey Stand c1960.
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The Parade and Donkey Stand 1926 showing the building, right of centre, that would become the site of Nichols, the present-day, ice-cream parlour.
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The 'Donkey Stand' exists on the promenade simply because, when the first section of sea wall was built, in about 1810, it had to be built around the tall, narrow building that stood there. Originally built as a Custom House, it became the first 'Assembly House' before being converted to a Bath House in 1812. This amenity which would, of course, need to be situated close to the shore so that the water, from the sunken tanks that were filled daily by the incoming tides, could be pumped up and used hot or cold for the customers bath.
Parkgate
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Balcony House is a late eighteenth century building with the elegant balconies being added between 1860 and 1880. The building has always contained two houses. The one on the left, with a room that stretched to the rear, was the Assembly Room, earlier a billiard room, were Card Nights and Dances were regularly held.
Parkgate
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The Donkey Stand - c1915 - ish
I'm totally useless at fashions so I can't really give the exact year that this photograph was taken but as we know when the school received it's black and white exterior, we can say confidently, that this was pre 1932. A very detailed photo for the period.
Parkgate
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The Donkey Stand - c1963.
Parkgate
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Looking beyond the 'Red Lion' and the still adjoining cafe, towards the square.
Parkgate
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c1905 - Almost the same view-point as the previous photograph but a little earlier judging from the cafe frontage. This is another example of the tinting technique that enhances rather than detracts from the scene.
Parkgate
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Clontarf Cafe with the Red Lion adjoining.
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Parkgate
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c1932 - with the Clontarf Cafe and the Red Lion (before the familiar 'Worthington Ales' sign was hung above the entrance). The cafe is now part of the Red Lion.
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c1950 - a similar shot, taken about 20 years later. At this time, mum would either walk down from Mayfield Gardens with me in the pushchair, or catch the bus from outside 'Carter's' the paper-shop on Neston Cross. We'd call in on uncle Arthur and aunty Betty (Hill) for tea and a chat and then onto 'Uncle Bill and aunt Emily (Burke) for the same.
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Parkgate 1926
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A stormy day at Parkgate - 1926
Parkgate
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Rough tides outside the 'Red Lion' c1940.
Parkgate
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1940s.
Parkgate
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The wall, opposite Mostyn Square - 1920. How many kiddies have walked along that wall, skipping over the gaps whilst clinging to a parent's hand? I certainly did it with my parents. Years later I held the hands of my children and again, quite recently, with my grandchildren. I wonder if I'll manage it with another generation... that should go on my bucket list!
Parkgate
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Parkgate
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C1905-1910 looking towards 'Mostyn Square' from the sands.
Parkgate
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A very early and a rather sad-looking, Mostyn Square!
Parkgate
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St. Thomas's, The Fisherman's Church, in the background, was bought by the Church of England in 1910 but was originally built by the Congregationalists in 1843 who previously worshipped in the Assembly Rooms, on the Parade. The chapel was taken over by the Presbyterians in 1858 until they moved to their new church at the top of Moorside Lane.
Parkgate
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C1930 - Leeman's garage was originally in Station Road but moved to The Parade in the 1920s and was AA listed from 1918 to 1957.
Parkgate
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Lieutenant Mike Rimington and friends take some of the 'patients' of the Horse Reformatory on Station Road, for an early evening trot along the Parade.
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c1897.
Parkgate
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Local, Parkgate folk photographed with some of the wounded soldiers outside the 'Parkgate Convalescent Home' c1917.
Parkgate
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The Convalescent Home was used, during the First World War, as a Red Cross Hospital and housed evacuee children during the Second World War. The unusual square frontage was actually built to shore up the main building which had begun to lean towards the road. The building to the left was, originally, a single dwelling but now forms two residences, 'Overdee' and 'Greywalls'.
Parkgate
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c1938 - The convalescent home, which dated back to 1882, was eventually demolished in the 50s. The Boathouse, visible in the distance, would be a familiar site by now, in it's 12th year. To the right of the home was Leeman's garage.
Parkgate
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Parkgate
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'The Watch House' takes it's name from the very fact that His Majesty's Customs leased the property, in 1799, to keep watch on local shipping and as lodgings for the Customs officers. The Customs ceased using it in 1828 and leased the property to Mary Cunningham, the bathing house keeper.
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High Tide - 1948
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The Middle Slipway (or Midslip)
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Notice the far-end of the Parade, the Boathouse has yet to be built! This photograph must have been taken before 1926.
Parkgate
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Another pre-1926 view showing the 'Pengwern' site very flat.
Colin Mealor's grandad and great grandad are probably among that group.

Parkgate
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Parkgate
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3 horse power cocklers...
Cocklers
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Motor powered cocklers...
Parkgate
Middle Slip - c1930, with the newly built (1926) Boathouse, in the distance.
Parkgate
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c1923 and we're alongside the Watch House, during a high tide and looking towards the site of the old 'Pengwern Arms'.
Parkgate
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From almost the same viewpoint, an additional building can be seen at the end of the promenade but, as I haven't yet dated this photograph, I have no idea if it is the old 'Pengwern Arms' or the new 'Boathouse' which was built in 1926. When built, the 'Boathouse' was smaller than it is today. Any help with dating would be appreciated.
Parkgate
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The Watch House - c1900
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Middle Slip - c1900
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c1950s: Throughout my early years, these two white, upturned, boats lay opposite the square, like a memorial to a previous age.
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High tide - 1949.
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C1930 North End looking back towards the Watch House.
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The original 'Beer House', built in 1664, became known as the 'Ferry House' or 'Boat House' when a daily ferry service, to Flint, began operating from this point. From here, arriving ferry passengers could take a coach to Chester or to Birkenhead were they would then catch a ferry across to Liverpool. After 1840, they could be transfered to Hooton to join the new, expanding railway system.
The inn, later known as the 'Pengwern Arms' was demolished in 1885 after suffering extensive storm damage. The site lay empty until 1926 when the cafe was built. It was enlarged in 1977 to include a restaurant.
Boathouse - Parkgate
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Chester Observer - May 28. 1864.

ANOTHER FATAL BOAT ACCIDENT.

A melancholy boat accident has occurred on the Dee, near Parkgate, in Cheshire. A party of six made an excursion into Wales, crossing the Dee from Parkgate to Bagilt, in Flintshire. They spent the day at Holywell, returned in safety to within a short distance of the jetty, which a heavy swell rendered it imprudent to approach. The party then determined to effect a landing in a punt lying near; they no sooner got on board than the little craft capsized and all were precipitated into the water. Mr. Thomas Johnson, proprietor of the 'Pengwern Arms' hotel at Parkgate and his brother, Mr. Joseph Johnson, of Liverpool, were drowned; the rest escaped.

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At this point, we can turn left, onto:
or continue up Boathouse Lane.
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We're looking back to 'The Boathouse' from opposite 'James Edwards'.
The old, sandstone building in the mid-ground was the stable and all that remains of the old 'Pengwern Arms'. The building was demolished in the 1960s and now forms part of the car park.
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c1955 - This is exactly as I remember James Edwards, at the bottom of Boathouse Lane.
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This is the end of the Parkgate Tour you may continue up Boathouse Lane towards Chester High Road, or make your way, along the promenade to Neston Cross.
Boathouse Lane

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