Gavin Chappell

Location: Wirral, Merseyside
About me...

I am the author of ‘Wirral Smugglers, Wreckers and Pirates’, ‘The Sands of Dee: Legends and Traditions of Wirral’ and numerous magazine articles on Wirral local history. A speaker, tour guide, and documentary filmmaker, I have given presentations in locations as diverse as the British Museum and St George’s Hall, Liverpool, to Bidston Hill and Storeton Woods. Currently I am working on a documentary based on my first published local history book.

About my Talks...

My talks are supported by PowerPoint presentations. I have a laptop, extension flex, and a projector. A screen or a suitably flat, white wall are all I will require.


£75 within 10 miles of my home in Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside, for areas further afield I charge modest travel expenses.

My Contact Details:


Merseyside’s Pirates - Stories of swashbuckling in Liverpool and Wirral from the Dark Ages to the 19th century

Who would have guessed that Liverpool was once a pirate’s nest, the haven of a roistering cast of swashbucklers every bit as notorious as the more famous pirates of the Caribbean? Listen to tales of privateers, smugglers, bandits, and slavers—and the man whose career began in piracy but ended with honours heaped upon him by his king!



Smuggling in Heswall and Parkgate - The wicked trade in one corner of Wirral

Today, Heswall and Parkgate are the epitome of middle class suburbia, but they conceal a secret history of skulduggery. Where now stands luxurious housing dating from Victorian and more recent times once dwelt people whose lives revolved around the ‘wicked trade’ of smuggling. Listen to stories of ghosts, of mysterious caves, of feuding smugglers, and of the rascally revenue men.




The Wreckers and Mr. Atherton - New Brighton’s early days.

New Brighton in Wallasey was developed by James Atherton to be a seaside resort fit to rival her southern namesake, but its location was an unwise choice. Amongst the sand hills and dunes of that coast dwelt the notorious wreckers, who, since time immemorial, had shone false lights at night to lure ships onto the rocks, to plunder them! Hear what happened when two worlds collided; when the progressive minded Victorian entrepreneur encountered the dark, sinister ways of the wreckers.

Wallasey’s Forgotten Privateer Hero - The gallant and scurrilous career of Fortunatus Wright

In the Mediterranean of the eighteenth century, one man struck fear into the heart of the French. His name was Fortunatus Wright, born in Wallasey, who fled an unhappy marriage to settle as a merchant in Tuscany. When one of his ships was plundered by a French privateer, he vowed to take revenge, and so began a private war against the enemies of the Crown…




Wirral Smugglers and Wreckers - Mother Redcap and her Merrie Men.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Wirral Peninsula was a hotbed of smuggling and wrecking. The inhabitants exploited their proximity to the great port of Liverpool not only to plunder passing ships but also to smuggle in contraband from vessels moored in remote anchorages. Foremost among the smugglers was Poll Jones, the proprietor of the coastal tavern popularly known after her byname—Mother Redcap!



Wirral Smugglers’ Tunnels - Tales and legends of the ancient tunnels said to riddle the bedrock of the peninsula

Rumours abound in Wirral concerning tunnels supposed to riddle the sandstone bedrock. If only half of what is claimed is true, the ground beneath our feet is a veritable labyrinth. Some tunnels are still accessible. Others have been verified by eye witness accounts. Are they natural tunnels, as some maintain, or were they carved from the living rock by the smugglers of yore?

Gavin Chappell Contact Details:


Send a message to Gavin Chappell