With its large shipbuilding tradition, the Wirral Peninsula in northwestern England played an important role in the American Civil War when the Confederate navy contracted for two of its most successful commerce raiders, CSS Alabama and CSS Shenandoah, from the Laird Brothers' shipyard at Birkenhead. The Wirral Museum, formerly the Birkenhead Town Hall, marks the beginning of the Wirral Maritime Heritage Trail. The museum features a major American Civil War exhibition complete with an original model of the Alabama, which raided Union naval and merchant ships before being sunk in combat off the coast of Cherbourg, France, in 1864. Other highlights along the Heritage Trail include the Argyle Rooms, an important meeting place for England's antislavery campaign, the townhouse and statue of John Laird, whose company built the Alabama, and No. 4 Dock, where the keel of the Alabama was fitted out.