Skip to Content


In 1803 Liverpool merchants concerned about a possible invasion by the French during the Napoleonic wars put forward the idea of a fort at New Brighton. Naturally there were disputes about how it was to be financed and consequently construction didn't get under way until 1826.

It was completed three years later. It was built out of red sandstone blocks on a base of sandstone rocks, confusingly known as the Black Rocks.

Designed by a Captain John Sikes Kitson of the Royal Engineers, it had room for 100 men plus officers with adequate provisions and armaments. It had 18 guns, sixteen of which were 32-pounders and they faced the Rock Channel that was the main entrance for shipping to the Mersey at that time. The ships passed 900 yards from the guns and the fort soon became known as the "Little Gibraltar of the Mersey".

The cost of the construction was £27,000 but not everyone was happy with the arrival of the new fort. Prior to its construction the area around the fort was described as a sandy waste and used by wreckers to lure ships aground.

The guns at Fort Perch Rock were fired only twice in anger. The first occasion occurred during the First World War. A Norwegian sailing ship came up the Rock Channel that had been declared closed at the start of the war. Unfortunately the gunners had the wrong elevation on their gun and the shell flew over the ship and landed in Hightown on the other side of the Mersey. Apparently an irate householder collected the shell, put it in a bucket and took it to the Merseyside Defence HQ and demanded some kind of explanation! The captain of the Norwegian vessel when eventually challenged about his ship's use of the closed channel replied that he did not know that a war had started!

The finder of the shell presented it to the resident Battery Commander and it was exhibited in the bar as "a present from New Brighton".

The fort was decommissioned by the War Office 1956 and passed through various hands until it was sold to the Darroch family who are the current custodians.

Fort Perch Rock is home to a number of permanent maritime and aviation based museum displays and frequent guest exhibitions and cultural events.