This blog is dedicated to uncover some of the history of the area in South Liverpool known as the Cast Iron Shore.

Known to locals as The Cazzy, this area runs from the Dingle to Otterspool and over the last 200 years has undergone huge change. From the 19th century as a beauty spot depicted in poetry, industrialisation, rescued for recreation in the 1980s, a period of neglect and its most recent incarnation as a place once again to breath fresh air and view the magnificent Mersey.

My love affair with the area began as a child visiting the site now known as Priory Woods. Like every child that played amongst the ruins carved with crosses, I’d ask my parents what used to be there and they assumed like most that it was the ruins of monastery but no one seemed to know anything more. So began my fascination with the place.

Through very sporadic postings I hope to convey the story of this relatively small strip of land by the river that has been, amongst other things, the scene of a 19th century duel, a Rock and Roll movie location and a line in a Beatles song.

If you have any recollections or photographs of the area, I would love to hear from you.



misty from back to southwood road looking across


Priory Woods from Southwood Road

33 comments on “About

  1. Richard says:

    I researched the area for my cousin who lives in Bristol. I have forwarded all info to her. items I can remember. The area is at the bottom of St Michaels Road. other side Southwood Road.
    There was a group of Mansions. One being the Priory. Inhabited by a Sir…… from Scotland. Mother and sisters buried in Smithdown Rd, he moved to London Buried in Twickenham Family called Cohen moved in. Capt Melly lived in other Mansion father of George Melly. Melly Rd now by station. There is an old wives tale that a relative of Queen mum lived in area.
    Behind the mansions towards Otterspool there was a golf course. Fulwood golf course This land was taken over in war
    Census and O/S map 113.07 1908, cemetery records Liverpool used as reference
    Best of Luck

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Richard
      Thank you for reading and your information. I have been looking into the golf course and I have been trying to find more information but not having much luck. I will have to investigate the Scottish Sir and the Queen Mother’s relative further! I must try and post more. There are some amazing photos on the comments of the blog I link at the beginning of the blog “That’s how the light gets in”

      • Richard says:

        Found the O/S Map. The Houses were Mansions with houses for employees. The piece of land between st mic and sthwd roads was St Michaels Mount.
        Other side of Sth Wood Rd = THE FRIARS.Then THE GRANGE, finally THE PRIORY. The Priory backed onto the R. Mersey (possibly now Riverside Rd.) Cohens on 1911 census Priory. The Beach was a large house on Melly Rd.
        Possibly the depression caused the houses to vacated and left to fall into ruin. Also servants became less after WW1. Reason for my search was uncle was supposed to live in area1926ish. Will dig thro E-mails to see if Sir name arises.

  2. Richard says:

    Sir James Malcolm left Priory after 1871 went to London Census 1861 & 1871

  3. Glen Huntley says:

    Hi Richard, thanks for the information and I look forward to your future input.
    I overlaid old maps with Google Earth to find the location of the houses. They are halfway down the page here:

    I think the reasons you gave for the houses being vacated are very true also the area at the turn of the century went from being an affluent area in the countryside to being built up with thousands of terraced houses for the working class (we lived in one of them). Areas like this and Toxteth saw the rich building grand houses close to their place of work but as the workers populated the same areas, the rich moved ever further out of the city. I think having a railway built right next to your house didn’t help. Like HS2 today, it shows that it didn’t matter if you had money or not, no house was going to get in the way of the building of the railway.

  4. Geraldine says:

    How do I post Photos please? I have three,

    Ah ha! The elusive “Glen Huntly”
    This is my grandma’s (family name ‘Sale’) wedding in 1916, the Owens’s and Sale’s have been Toxteth people for generations. The photo was taken at the rear door of the Glen Toxteth. It was taken a short time after the wedding (I think she said in August) the photographer could not set up on the wedding day (quite usual, if you take into account the number of studio pics of the era Foulds & Hibbert, come to mind).
    They lived (and my aunt is there still age 86) in Thirlstane Street, and Dalmeny Street, and the Sale’s were auctioneers/pawn-brokers) Grandad was a boiler maker/engineer of Welsh stock. The very handsome guy between the couple is Sid Owens father of Alun Owens the 1960s Liverpool Sound Playwright, script writer of Hard Day’s Night.
    Thirty years later my dad became caretaker of the Glen Toxteth and it became our home! I was actually born there (sort of near the wines and spirits aisle – so they told me!). So, I can take you on a guided tour if you like?…. sadly it’s a virtual tour. Dad had little to thank T & S Cohen and the Conservative Councillor (Cllr Nixon) who made us homeless in 1960. The Tory was particularly nasty to my mother refusing to consider her for a council home – “Have some more children!” he told her.

    I would really like to have a photo of the Glen, I have tried searching for a similar property but can’t find one even a bit similar. To give you some idea the Frontage was similar to the rear entrance of Sudley House, however it WAS NOT a grand house! it is so hard to find examples of 18C stone built architecture; I’ll describe The Glen; set back from the road with double gates and drive, yellow stone, lowish/two-storey but wide with caretaker lodge to the left hand side. Inside, Wide hall, sweeping staircase Mr Rose’s office to right, ballroom to rear with two French windows leading onto a bowling green, overgrown open ground to the rear of that; lots of upstairs rooms – some empty. We had lounge, living room, kitchen, (very damp!), two large upstairs bedrooms bathroom, our own front door and internal door into the big entrance hall. Interestingly, The Mayfair Cinema Manager next door to the Glen used to have deliveries of reel-film sent to the Glen for safekeeping. So there really was a time when Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton and Jimmy Steward resided in our kitchen – well, if only until the afternoon matinée.
    Geraldine Owens

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Geraldine
      I originally gave you an incorrect email
      It should of been thecastironshore@gmail.com
      Sorry, put it down to trying to type on a phone. Your information is great, I have quite a bit of information of the site so I can add your memories and photos once I get them to it and post it soon.

  5. Joan Hampaul says:

    Hi Glen,
    What a wonderful and fascinating journey into the Past, your blog is not only inspirational but also incredibly educational. I have a passion for researching my ancestors, and finding your blog was gold. More often than not, my research can lead to too many loose or dead ends.

    Finding your site with a real solid connection to our past is amazing. My great great Grandfather William Banton Clarkson (a Brewer) and his family lived first in the Priory in the early 1880’s and then the Friars from at least 1891 until his death in 1915. You have given me a glimpse into our past that only in my imagination could I conceive. I live in Alberta Canada and it is difficult to get a clear picture of our history from abroad. The maps, the photos and the history, are all outstanding.

    I will continue to follow this post and hopefully the next time I am in England I will make the trip to Liverpool and walk in the path of my distant relatives.

    Now if I could only find information on the Brewery that made him so prosperous.

    Thank you
    Joan from Calgary

    Resources 1881 to 1911 England Census & the London Gazatte (29094 Mar. 1915)

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Joan
      Thanks for your comments, getting feedback like that makes writing the posts worthwhile. I will see what I can find out for you. If you can get a copy I recommend the book ” Cains, the story of Liverpool in a pint” by Christopher Routledge as it tells the story of Robert Cain, the brewing magnate in the same period, late 19th century. Your ancestor may be in it. I will get a copy myself from the library and see. I hope you make it to Liverpool as although there is little left of the house, the area is a gem and well worth visiting. If you haven’t been before I would be happy to guide you on the best places to see. As soon as I find anything I’ll pass it on.
      Thanks again.

  6. Di Carroll says:

    Hi Glen
    Just to let you know that I find your blog fascinating and appreciate all the hard work that must go into it.
    Best wishes

  7. Janet Martin says:

    I played on the Cast Iron shore as a girl. We went down Fulwood Road and over a disused golf course to get there. It was destroyed when Otterspool Promenade was built – very sad.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Thank for commenting Janet. I’ll have to find out more about Fulwood Golf Course!
      I wish I could find some photos of the Cast Iron Shore in the 40s and 50s, I’m sure that some people must have family photos taken there. I have one that I posted with The Cast Iron Hamlet poem, so I’m sure that somewhere out there are loads. At least we have the consolation that the area, and the river, is a better environment than it was when I grew up in the 1970’s!

  8. Brenda Watson says:

    I was born in Aigburth Vale, my Mother used to take my brother and I to the Cast Iron Shore big sand stone opening, and big stones to jump down on to the beach not very big and dip our toes in the river, Mother had a brother who worked for one of the big houses this would be around 1947.

  9. Gerry Kaeo says:

    I remember going to the Cazzie as a child with my friend Gillian and her mother. You had to walk under big iron arches and go down a series of steps. Auntie Ev would sit with her back against the big stone walls/cliffs catching the sun with the other adults while we collected sandstone rocks. we used to bring home the rocks to the neigbours as they were used to scrub the big front door steps. Those days, 40s and 50s , you could watch big boats go up and down the river. I always found the Cazzie a special place. There was a movie “These Dangerous Years’ with Frankie Vaughan, I believe he was a Liverpool Lad. Some scenes were shot on the Cazzie and they show the caves that were there in the early 60s still.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Gerry
      Thanks for sharing your memories. I have always been fascinated by the obsession for scrubbing steps, my Mum used to do it all the time so I loved the idea of bringing the stones home from the beach. I posted about the release of the film on DVD in the blog but I keep forgetting to get it myself. Half of my interest in the area was the fact that everyone referred to it as a shore but by the time I played there the shore had disappeared completely. I love south Liverpool and its wealth of green spaces and old buildings but the idea of a beach as well has always captured my imagination.

  10. laurakristayates says:

    Hello! I’d like to use an image of Court Dwellings in Liverpool you have on your site for use in a free to download community made history app – I wondered whether the image needs to be credited in a specific way? Thanks for your advice Laura

  11. Peter Madariaga says:

    I lived in Ampthill Road from 1941 until 1967,our whole life during that period revolved around the Gollies [The golf links] and the Cassie [The cast iron shore] my pals at the time and still pals Tony McGuinnss and Tony Hughes just to mention a couple had all our escapades in this natural adventure location that was and still would be even with all the alterations carried out over the past 60 years or so,be the envy of children who did not live in the locality.Just touching on a few incidents,finding sacks of buried cigars,collecting hundreds of boxes of matches from a ship loosing its cargo in the Mersey,finding guns and taking them to the Police Station in Lark Lane,and washing ourselves in the” marsh” after a great time on the “Cassie” so that our mum’s would not give us a clip for being covered in mud.I have a photograph taken on the Gollies 1945 aged 4 with Patricia McCoubry my golf partner’s eldest sister.What great memories .

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Peter, thanks for adding your memories to the site, brilliant – I’m intrigued, I wonder where the guns came from? It’s the type of thing to set your imagination racing. if you’d like to share the photo I’m sure a lot of people including myself would be interested to see it. Thanks.

    • Peter just been reading your blog about the Cassy. I was just wondering about Patricia McCoubry. I worked with a girl in Ford Motor Co. In1965 .Her married name was Pont. She emigrated to Oz. Do you think this could be rpthe sane Pat McCoubry. Would love to know. About the cast iron shore. I was at Dingle Vale school. When they ade the film These Dangerous Years. Hope to hear from you. Carol Nevinson. nee Wignall.

    • Brian Gresty says:

      Hi , Pete . I`ve only just been put on to this site; hence the delay in commenting on what you wrote 12 months back . Climbing the cliffs , red with mud on wet days , and trying to get all the way along towards The Dingle along the cliff – top are great memories . D`you remember when the fence on the cliff top actually overhung the edge , and you had to hold onto it to get past , and the time we were hiding in your Dad`s allotment from that gang that had chased us along the shore ?
      The “Gollies” as we called them still had the remains of bunkers on them , and I suppose the marsh was a water hazard .

      • Peter Soens says:

        Hi,Brian,I have just come across your comments,amongst Many others it Brought Back Memories of My Childhood When I Heard the Words Cazzy,Gonks,and Gollies.I lived I Belgrave Rd,Aighburth,and the Cazzy ran along the bottom of my Rd.and the Gonks Was were we used to take Our Sleds during the Snow Season.in those early years.the Gonks was slowly being filled in with landfill.Could be a huge housing estate Now.The Old Waste Ground,(The Wastey)in Dalmeny St,was the site of an old Water Tank which was bombed during the war.It was also the site where we would all congregate on NOV 5 ,to see which was the Biggest Bonfire,and let off our Fireworks.it was finally turned into a Carpark to accommodate the Mayfair Cinemagoers.I believe the Cinema is now a supermarket.And The Belgrave hotel was shut Down in 2012 after a Murder was committed.Memories,How Times have changed.?Enjoy Your Day.

  12. Mark Brett says:

    Hi there, just come across your site and was interested to see the old maps of the Dingle, Aigburth and the Cazzy. I’m 58 and was born in Larkfield road and as a child played in the ‘grounds’ of the TA barracks, the land at the bottom of Larkfield (over the railway bridge with its concrete tank traps) down to the ‘Gonks’ and the Cazzy. The TA barracks were great for us kids, old gun positions and concrete bunkers to play in. There was a defile in the very sandy ground across which was a metal bailly bridge, built as a training excercise possibly? On the slope of this defile (which, if memory serves, ran towards the large army buildings at the St Micheals side) a small spring bubbled out of the ground and I spent many happy hours digging channels, pools and dams in the sand – one of the maps shows the line of a brook running to the river nearby, any connection perhaps? My bedroom faced those army buildings and I remember seeing them burning one night, flames roaring out of the roof! I also recall the wonderful ‘Plant Exhibition’ held here on a number of occasions. Dozens of shiny new diggers, bulldozers, and huge cranes filling the whole area. It was wonderful for us kids as we were allowed to climb on many of the machines and sit in the driving seats! I left Liverpool nearly 40 years ago but still have connections there and know that some of the gardens in Larkfield get very wet in winter and reputedly never did before the houses were built on the TA grounds. The deeds for my Mums house in Larkfield Rd had a set of developers/builders drawings of the area and the proposed Larkfield road developement is shown dotted in on land marked “the Lark Field”. Another play area in my teens was the what we called the Gonks and the parts of the Cazzy towards the Dingle. Then the council were backfilling it with the city’s rubbish and also a large area devoted to scrap cars – dangerous and smelly but when you are 13 what fun!

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Mark, thanks for commenting. You have very similar memories to me. I always remember the gun emplacements half filled with water, great for playing war in though! I seem to remember a bridge also. Have you read my post about Dickenson’s Dingle? It shows the route of the old stream in detail and backs up your theory as it once ran through through the land at the back of the barracks. Although a lot smaller now, the green space at the back still brings back memories if happy times spent there.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      I forgot to mention, the field still has water collecting on it although it is raised. This is of particular interest to our spaniel who runs straight to it every time we visit.

  13. Mark Brett says:

    Yes Glen, the stuff on Dickenson’s Dingle is fascinating and must have taken you some time to produce! Of course all things change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. When I left the ‘Pool to find work, it was on its knees (1977), now when I visit (once or twice per year) I see much to applaud (but still much to – after all “Liverpool scuffs new shoes”) but for me the greatest achievement is the River Mersey itself. When I was a kid the river was a foul, chemically poisonous open sewer! But now – wow, angling boats moored mid river, treated water and hardly any of the famous ‘fatballs’ rolling in and out with the tide and that oil/sewage smell – gone! A real and wonderful change for the better perhaps not appreciated by those who didn’t know it back then.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      I couldn’t agree more, I remember the tide going out and the mud was a foul green slime streaked with petrol and worse. When we used to play by the rugby ground my clothes would smell of gas. Even though it was cleaner in Gerry Marsden’s time, I read a great quote by him about playing on the Cast Iron shore, he said something like “when you came out of the water you had more chance of catching fire than catching the sun!”
      You can now walk much further than you used to as it was fenced off. Yes, some things have definitely changed for the better. A great walk any time of the year.

  14. Susan McCabe says:

    I went down as a child although told not to by my parents was told there was sinking sands down there and a horse went down there dont know how true that was.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Susan, we were also told not to go too! I’m sure there could have been sinking sands, I know the mud gets dangerous – I remember a few years someone was being chased by the police not far away and he jumped over the railings to get away, only to be stuck in the mud! He had to get rescued (them arrested).

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