The Welsh influence on Liverpool and the Scouse accent

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Althorp Street Liverpool with view of the Mersey and Welsh Hills

Althorp Street Liverpool with view of the Mersey and Welsh Hills

There are many connections between Liverpool and Wales. It’s said that Liverpool is regarded by many people in North Wales as their capital, not Cardiff. The Welsh accent has influenced the Liverpool accent, and the border with Wales is just twelve and a half miles down the road from Birkenhead.

You can see the Clwydian hills from many parts of Liverpool including Althorp street in Toxteth in the image above.

And the view down onto the Liverpool region from the A55 in Flintshire is magnificent.

There are Welsh communities in Liverpool and many people go on day trips to North Wales or for a longer holiday.

Welsh people started to migrate to Liverpool in the 18th century and it’s reported that by 1813 around 8000 people or 10% of the residents of Liverpool were Welsh.

People from Wales created communities around Liverpool and Welsh was the dominant language in those places.

As in other British cities there are streets named after places in Wales such as Denbigh Road and Barmouth way.

But the most important symbol of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the area called the Welsh streets in Toxteth, next to Princes Park, about a 10 minute bus ride south of the city centre.

The street names include Kinmel Street, Rhiwlas Street and Madryn Street, former home of Ringo Starr.

These streets were built by Welsh workers around the end of the 19th century, but over the years they have become very run down.

There has been some controversy about the Welsh Streets area. In 2013 Liverpool city council put forward plans to redevelop the area. Some houses would have been demolished but new houses would have been built. The plan was rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles. In early 2015, the future of the Welsh Streets is still uncertain.

The Welsh influence in Liverpool declined during the 20th century. According to the 2001 census, around 1.17% of the population were born in Wales, but there are plenty more people in the city who have a Welsh heritage.

VIew Everton Brow Liverpool with the Welsh Hills

View of Everton Brow Liverpool with the Welsh Hills

For me the clearest evidence of the Welsh influence in Liverpool is the accent. Compare the up-and-down intonation of the Scouse accent with the Welsh accent in English or the Welsh language and we can literally hear the influence of all those people who migrated to Liverpool in past centuries.

The patron saint of Wales is Saint David, or Dewi Sant in Welsh. Saint David’s Day is celebrated every year on 1 March.

See also this article: Welsh Arts Review – the Welsh of Liverpool by Jim Morphy

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