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Fingerpost to Greasby, Meols - - 78085.jpg
The A553 junction with Heron Road
Grid reference: SJ232900
Location: 53°24’5"N, 3°9’19"W
Population: 5,110  (2001[1])
Post town: Wirral
Postcode: CH47, CH48
Dialling code: 0151
Local Government
Council: Wirral
Wirral West

Meols is a village on the northern coast of the Wirral Peninsula in Cheshire. It is contiguous with the larger town of Hoylake, situated immediately to the west. The 2001 Census recorded the population of Meols as 5,110 (2,380 males, 2,730 females).[1] The population of Meols was no longer recorded at the Census 2011.


Meols was named as such by the Vikings; its original name from the Old Norse for 'sand dunes' was melr,[2][3] becoming melas by the time of the Domesday Survey.[4]

Impressive archaeological finds dating back to the Neolithic period suggest that the site was an important centre in antiquity. Since about 1810, a large number of artefacts have been found relating to pre-Roman Carthage, the Iron Age, the Roman Empire, Armenia, the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.[5] These include items as varied as coins which belonged to the Coriosolites in Brittany. Also, tokens, brooches, pins, knives, glass beads, keys, pottery, flint tools, mounts, pilgrim badges, pieces of leather, worked wood and iron tools. They came to be discovered after the beginning of large-scale dredging (to accommodate the needs of the nearby growing seaport of Liverpool) started to cause notable sand erosion along the coastline near Meols. These finds suggest that the site was used as a port as far back as the Iron Age some 2,400 years ago, and was once the most important seaport in the present-day north-west of England. Thus trading connections are believed to have reached far across Europe.[6][7] Some of these artefacts are on display locally, at the Museum of Liverpool. In the 1890s the local authorities built the first sea wall. The rapidly eroding coastline was saved, but the sea wall changed the currents and archaeological sites at Meols were buried in the sand.[8] The remains of a submerged forest off Dove Point have now also disappeared but they were visible until the spring of 1982.[9][10]

On 10 September 2007, Professor Stephen Harding of the University of Nottingham, used ground-penetrating radar equipment to pinpoint the location of a 1,000-year-old Viking transport longship (Nordic clinker design) beneath six to ten feet of clay in Meols. The ship had been previously uncovered in 1938 during excavations for a car park. Workers at the time covered the ship over again so as not to delay construction.[11]

Meols was formerly called Great Meols. It originates as a township of the ancient parish of West Kirby in the Wirral Hundred, becoming part of Hoylake cum West Kirby civil parish in 1894. Great Meols had a population of 140 in 1801, 170 in 1851 and 821 in 1901.[12] The name Great Meols survives in the name of the primary school[13] and the Anglican church. It was still in more general use up to the 1960s, for instance in postal addresses and on the destination indicators of buses from Chester, but not as the name of the railway station.

There also used to be a village called Little Meols, on Meols Drive between Hoylake and West Kirby[14][15] The name Little Meols fell out of use in Victorian times, having been absorbed by Hoylake. From 123 inhabitants in 1801 and 170 in 1851, by 1901 at 2,850, its population had outstripped Great Meols.[16]

Meols was known to be spelt as Meolse[17] up until when the railway station was placed. The error came about at the time of the station's construction, when rail managers took the spelling of Meols from the Southport suburb of Meols Cop and used it for new signage.


The Railway Inn has an undated boat buried under its car park

Meols is mainly residential with a small yacht and fishing community on its Irish Sea shore line. The centre has a small row of shops adjacent to Meols railway station. There is a local community park known as Meols Park Recreation Ground and a Meols bowling green. There is also a primary school. The Friends of Meols Park are a community group set up in 2007 to help maintain and improve the recreation ground.

It was home to the cyclist Chris Boardman, winner of a gold medal for Great Britain at the 1992 Summer Olympics, before he moved to Hoylake.

In the 1930s a clinker-built boat was discovered in rebuilding the Railway Inn public house. After confirmation of its discovery by local police constable, Tim Baldock,[18] ground-penetrating radar equipment was used in September 2007 to confirm the existence of the boat. Professor Stephen Harding, of the University of Nottingham, is seeking funds for an excavation and removal to a museum.

Cultural references

Andy McCluskey of the 1980s electronic music band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) is from Meols. OMD had a track called Red Frame/White Light which referred to the public telephone box between the church and the Railway Inn on Greenwood Road, Meols. Hidden within the lyrics was the telephone number of the telephone box (632-3003). It is claimed that fans would call that telephone number from all over the world. The telephone box was removed by BT in August 2017 but was returned by October after a campaign by fans of the duo.[19][20]

The television sitcom Watching, produced by Granada Television between 1987 and 1993, utilised Meols as a filming location. This was likely because the characters Malcolm & Mrs Stoneway lived in the village.[21]

Miles Kane, former member of the Little Flames, the Rascals, one half of the Last Shadow Puppets with the Arctic Monkeys front-man Alex Turner and now successful solo artist also hails from Meols.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "wirral 2001 Census: Meols". Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  2. "Field Archaeology: Meols, Medieval & after". National Museums Liverpool. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  3. "Wirral & West Lancs 1100th Viking Anniversary". Nottingham University. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  4. "Cheshire (L-Z)". Domesday Book Online. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  5. "Lost Villages of Wirral". Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  6. "Field Archaeology: Meols, An ancient port". National Museums Liverpool. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  7. "Great Sites: Meols". British Archaeology magazine. December 2001. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  8. "Mersey Basin Campaign". Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  9. *Reid, C., 1913. Submerged Forests. The Cambridge Manuals of Science and Literature, Cambridge University Press, 129 pp.
  10. "Hoylake & West Kirby web site - Early history". Archived from the original on 11 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  11. BBC NEWS, Viking ship 'buried beneath pub'
  12. "Cheshire Parishes: Great Meols". GENUKI UK & Ireland Genealogy. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  13. "Great Meols Primary School website". Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  14. Hume, A. (1863). Ancient Meols: or, Some Account of the Antiquities found at Dove Point on the Sea-Coast of Cheshire. London: John Russell Smith. 
  15. "Sheet 79 - NE Denbigh (1840)". First Series. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  16. "Cheshire Parishes: Little Meols". GENUKI UK & Ireland Genealogy. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  17. "Little Meols". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Retrieved 17 September 2007. 
  18. Byrne, Ciar (10 September 2007). "Radar scans reveal Viking boat beneath pub car park". The Independent (London). Retrieved 10 September 2007. 
  19. "Outrage as red phone box made famous by OMD single 'Red Frame White Light' is removed" (in en). Retrieved 21 August 2017. 
  20. "OMD's red telephone box is now back where it belongs thanks to fans' campaign" (in en). Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  21. "Watching". Archived from the original on 23 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Meols)