The Priory: If you go down to the woods today…

Since my childhood I have wanted to know the history of “The Priory” ruins of St. Michaels in the Hamlet in South Liverpool. Although the Internet and a couple of history books provided glimpses, they didn’t give me a full picture. The Priory Woods as they are now called were a wasteland up to 1984 when they found a new purpose as a gateway to The International Garden Festival* This turned a previous Council rubbish dump into a tourist attraction. As the woods are right next to St Michaels train station they provided the perfect leafy entrance to the site. The woods were cleaned up and thankfully a lot of the character of the site was maintained.

*now reopened after years of neglect as Festival Gardens


Priory montage flat

Priory Woods, St Michaels in the Hamlet, Liverpool as it is today. A walk on a clear winter’s day like this shows more of the remaining ruins and adds magic to this charming and mysterious walk. Top row from left: The Archway in St Michaels Road, One of the original pillars that enclosed the whole site, a doorway provides a glimpse in the next field. Middle row: A tree grown into a gate post and two small bridges that span two brick cuttings. Bottom row: The Southwood Road entrance, Medieval style stone work on a curved wall and a boundary wall of the old Southwood Road that used to run all the way to the Mersey.

The Priory in the 1970s

My childhood was in the 1970s, the last decade before urban regeneration of Liverpool. As a consequence our playground was derelict remains of a once industrial Liverpool. Living in a terraced house in Aigburth, with the Mersey on our doorstep, this is where we inevitably chose to explore. Our playground extended from Otterspool to Dingle and this panorama took in a cricket ground, a rugby ground, a council rubbish dump, Second World War Anti-aircraft barrage bunkers and a disused oil jetty. This area was a narrow strip sandwiched between a closed down railway line (now the Hunts Cross to Southport line) and the Mersey. The railway, accessed via St Michaels was at that time, closed (between 1972 and 1978) so many of the places we explored were via this route. (I must point out that the lines were not electrified but still a stupid thing to do as we found whilst walking through a long tunnel when a diesel shunter came along. That was the last time we went on the railway!). The start of most of our adventures was what we called “The Cazzy”, or The Cast Iron Shore, although in our time the shore had long since disapeared. The gateway to this was the woods next to St Michaels train station.

For an inspiring history of the Cast Iron Shore and the neighbouring Dingle visit I also recommend

Before the Garden Festival in 1984 changed this area for ever, the Priory woods was quite scary place for an 11 year old, wild,  with a narrow, dark path between overgrown trees that created a canopy over your head. Brambles and ivy covered most of the wood, through which the stone ruins of what we were told was a monastery would appear now and then. To the left ran a high wall that used to enclose petrol tanks and to the right as it is now is an open grassed area. Next to this wall on St Michaels Road was a lovers lane (but we didn’t call it that). Towards the bottom of the woods was a narrow, deep ditch that ran from east to west. Through this ditch ran a large diameter, elevated pipe that must of linked the old petrol tank to the jetty and tanks in the Dingle. At the bottom of the wood, after a drop, was the Council dump, beyond that, The Mersey. When the Merseyside Development Corporation developed Priory Woods they took some these ruins and rearranged them to there present locations. The pillars bearing the medieval style cross with the sans serif lettering “The Priory” is original but the celtic cross is an eighties addition I think, at least I don’t remember seeing it. The arch was not there but looks as though it was part of the original grounds.

There was a common misconception that a monastery once stood here and this was fueled by the number of houses built by John Cragg in the early Nineteenth Century who also built the church of St Michaels that uses cast iron for a lot of its construction.  John Cragg (1767 – 17 July 1854) ran an Iron Foundry (The Mersey foundry) hence the area of shore being call the Cast Iron Shore. Most of the houses in this area were given ecclesiastical names such as The Cloisters, The Friars, The Hermitage and The Nunnery.

st micheals from cornercarfax

Shown left is the Church of St Michaels and right is “Carfax” one of the charming houses built by John Cragg that make up the Hamlet.

John Cragg's housejohn craggs house

Shown here is John Cragg’s house as it appears in Robert Griffiths “History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth” in 1907 and next to it the same view as it is today.

Plans for Sale of The Priory

In Robert Griffiths “History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth” he mentions the Priory belonging to John Sothern, father of Lord Dundreary, a google search of him brings a wealth of information. In the University of Liverpool Special Archive I found documents relating to the Priory. These plans, drawings and a photograph are from the sale of the property on the death of the owner James Sothern (John’s brother) and are not dated but must be from the second half of the Nineteenth Century (1859 see update below), prior to the 1880s as by then it was owned by the Rogerson family. The land is marked belonging to John Cragg Esq. The site that is now Priory Woods was originally home to four large houses, St Michaels Mount, The Friars, The Grange and The Priory as well as stables, coach houses and a lodge.

(Update October 2014, Advertisement from Liverpool Mercury 1859 detailing the sale

The Priory

Built at the start of the Nineteenth Century for John Sothern, a merchant and colliery proprietor. He was also a shipwright who owned Steam Paddle Ships called the Duke and Wallasey was involved with a ferry service from Toxteth to Egremont with John Fletcher who lived in St Michael’s Mount in the neighboring grounds to the west. He had his own ship building yard called South Bank:

The family were close friends with the Duke Of Bridgewater and were associated with The Bridgewater Canal. Benjamin Sothern, John’s father, was in the service of the Duke and was engaged on the canal and colliery works. Benjamin was the successor of Brindley, and had the charge of the construction of the canal from Worsley to Leigh.

plan of the priory front

The front of the documents, showing the south east of the woods. Lot 1 is The Priory, Lot 2 is Dudley House (later The Grange). Not shown is The Friars which stood right of Lot 2 on this plan to the north in reality, and St Michaels Mount which was in the grounds owned by John Fletcher at the top of the plan.

General view from the merseyThe Priory is on the left, The house on the right is The Grange. The owner of The Priory, John Sothern owned a paddle Steamer The Duke, much like that shown in the foreground. The posts on the boundary wall show the crosses that can be seen at the Priory Woods entrance today.

The scale and grandeur of the buildings can be seen from the drawings and plans. The Priory was the property closest to the Mersey and its boundaries are edged with a stone wall that features the crosses that can still be seen on the entrance to Priory Woods today. The plan of the building shows its library, two drawing rooms and two conservatories. A shippon was a cattle shed.

plan of the priory

the priory

My favourite from the documents showing groups of people in top hats and crinoline dresses with parosols taking a stroll a small child can be seen with the group in the foreground. Clear in this illustration are the pillars with the crosses. The illustration also shows the shape of the land as it drops towards the Mersey that is accessed via a railed pathway. Sail ships can be seen in the background. By the 1970s that whole drop had been filled with rubbish by the council.

plan of the priory croppedFrom the enlarged frontispiece (rotated 90 degrees to give a better idea of its geographic location) a lot more detail of the site can be seen with stables and what appears to be a pond surrounded by trees. These trees can be seen on the right of “General view from the Mersey” drawing.

the avenue

The Avenue

This Attractive scene is the the forerunner to St Michaels Road. Southwood Road is the other entrance to the woods, accessed via the Train Station, which at that time ran all the way to the Mersey. George Melly the jazz singer and writer remembers this avenue in his memoir  “Scouse Mouse”:

“Beyond the semis was the entrance to a lane, its surface unmacadamed, partially cobbled, dusty in summer, muddy in winter. It was, according to its street sign ‘unadopted’, which meant that it was not the responsibility of the Liverpool Corporation . It was darkened by great Arthur Rackham-like trees and there were fields behind its tangled hedges and sandstone walls. At the end was a tiny lodge which served the four or five houses which surrounded it. The lodge keeper was a gnomish, startlingly white-haired Welshman called Mr Griffiths, who would emerge suddenly from his pointed nail-studded door to identify visitors, cackling highpitched forelock-tugging greetings at those he recognised.”

Also included in the archive is a photograph of The Priory and although blurred it gives an insight to the building. A child can be seen sitting on the wall to the left of the picture and stripes can be seen in the well tendered lawns.

The Priory Photograph

The houses locations

1905 with houses1905 overlayed60s overlayedhouse overlayed

From the left, Picture 1 is 1905 Ordnance Survey Map with the houses coloured: Green is St Michaels Mount, Blue is The Friars, Pink is The Grange and Yellow is The Priory.  Picture 2 shows the 1905 OS map overlayed over Google Earth. Picture 3 shows 1960s with all houses demolished and a petroleum storage tank enclosed by a rectangular wall occupying most of the site. The last picture shows the houses locations over the satellite photograph, all but St Michaels Mount were on the site now occupied by Moel Famau View housing estate.

Lord Dundreary: The Priory, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Grand Theft Auto

EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary reading newspaper-Photo-B&W-ResizedEdward Askew Sothern in the role of the upper class dimwit, Lord Dundreary.

On April Fools Day 1826 at The Priory Edward Askew Sothern was born.  Edward went to school with Mr. Redhead of Rock Ferry and it was intended by his father John that he would become a doctor or minister but Edward wanted to become an actor:

“In spite, however, of parental advice and admonition (you might as well have advised a duckling not to take to water) the boy contrived to gratify his inclinations. While still at school he managed to pay surreptitious Saturday night visits to a penny theatre hard by his home. His soul was fired by the blood-curdling melodramas that he saw there, and the glorious and never-to-be-forgotten experience of having been permitted to cross the stage of a real theatre during a ” rally ” in the clown’s scenes that succeed pantomime”.
Lord Dundreary, a memoir of Edward Askew Sothern (1908)

He began acting as an amateur in 1848 under the stage name of Douglas Stewart and travelled to America in 1852 having several stage appearances including Barnum’s American Museum in New York.

Whilst appearing at Wallack’s Theatre, Sothern was given the part of Lord Dundreary in Tom Taylor’s Our American Cousin at Laura Keene’s Theatre. Lord Dundreary was a caricature of a brainless English nobleman, the original Nice-but-dim Tim. He made the role his own with his lisp, adlibs and famous ‘Dundrearyisms’ such as “birds of a feather gather no moss”. He is also credited as coining the phrase “The Tail wagging the Dog”:

“Calling to mind Lord Dundreary’s conundrum, the Baltimore American thinks that for the Cincinnati Convention to control the Democratic party would be the tail wagging the dog.”
The Daily Republican, April 1872

The fashion of the time for enormous side burns became known as “Dundrearies” after him.  Sothern was to play this role in a series of spin offs. There is some irony that being from such a wealthy family he would achieve fame by lampooning the English upper classes to an eager American audience. A stereotype still popular today with American audiences that in someway explains the career of Hugh Grant. What took his fame to another level was that it was at that play that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. Sothern wasn’t performing that night but it was his name that would be forever linked to the play.

Our American Cousin Playbill-Resized

A playbill from Our American Cousin, the play President Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated.


A stereoscope image from:

“Mr. Gladstone himself went to see Sothern act Dundreary, and laughed till his face was distorted-not because Dundreary was exaggerated, but because he was ridiculously like the types that Gladstone had seen–or might have seen–in any club in Pall Mall. Society swarmed with exaggerated characters; it contained little else.”
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

Whilst Sothern was employed by PT Barnum, he had a medium act then known as a “mesmeriser” and had formed “A Miracle Club”. It was because of this experience in his early career that later he took to publicly debunking the spiritualist movement on both sides of the Atlantic, insisting that he could expose any fake spiritualist. This led to a counter attack in the press by Benjamin Coleman, a Spiritualist Promoter. The shocking article accuses Sothern of using his skills as a mesmeriser to take advantage of a woman under his spell. Sothern succesfully sued for libel.


For more on this affair see:

Sothern was also famous as a practical joker and hoaxer, apt for someone born on April Fools Day.

“When the husband of actress Adelaide Neilson, Philip Henry Lee, visited New York, he had been warned about the wild behaviour of American authors, but gathered that it was a joke. Sothern assured him it was true and arranged a private dinner for Lee with twelve “writers and critics” (who were really actors). During the dinner, an altercation arose over the passing of the mustard with a fight breaking out, the men brandished both knives and revolvers. The room was filled with shouts, shots, and struggle. Someone thrust a knife into Lee’s hand, saying, “Defend yourself! This is butchery, sheer butchery.” Sothern advised him to “Keep cool, and don’t get shot.” The performance ended with Lee hidden behind a door as the real police burst in because of all the commotion”.

“Sothern and his friends demanded that clerks sell them goods not carried by the store in question, staged mock arguments on public omnibuses, ran fake advertisements in newspapers, paid street urchins to annoy passers-by and so forth. At one restaurant, Toole and Sothern removed the silver and hid under the table. When the unfortunate waiter found the dining room empty and the silver gone, he ran to report the theft. By the time he returned, Toole and Sothern had re-set the table as if nothing had happened”.

He married Frances Emily “Fannie” Stewart (d. 1882) and had four children, all became actors:
Lytton Edward (1851–1887),
Edward Hugh (E. H.), See
George Evelyn Augustus T. (stage name Sam Sothern) and
Eva Mary

Aged 54, Sothern died in January 1881 at his home in Cavendish Square, London, and is buried in Southampton. It is often reported that as he was so fond of practical jokes his friend didn’t attend his funeral believing that too was a joke. This cutting from The New York Times may provide another explanation.

sothern funeral

In 2007 an auction at Christies, a carved and painted figure of Lord Dundreary by Samuel Robb circa 1895, realised a price of $409,000

It is interesting to note that the Dundreary character has found its place in the most modern of art forms, the video game:

“Dundreary is an automotive company in Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V…a reference to Lincoln Motors.”

William Clarkson

In 1881 The Priory was home to William Clarkson, a ‘Brewer, Wine & Spirit Merchant’. By 1891 Clarkson had moved next door to The Friars, (see below for more information).

Louis Samuel Cohen

LS Cohen

The next prominent resident of The Priory is a Lord Mayor of Liverpool and owner of Lewis’s Department Store, Louis Samuel Cohen.

Lord mayor of Liverpool in 1899; born at Sydney, New South Wales, in 1846; son of Samuel Cohen, who represented Morpeth in the Parliament of New South Wales. He was educated in London, at Edmonton House (H. N. Solomon’s school) and University College, and went to Liverpool in 1864, where he became connected with the firm of Lewis, subsequently becoming its head.

It was not till 1895 that Cohen began to take a prominent part in public affairs. In that year he was elected member of the city council for the Breckfield ward (Everton). He now (1901) holds several public positions, and has made himself thoroughly acquainted with all the details of municipal government. He is chairman of the Estates Committee and member of the Hospital Sunday Committee. In 1897 he was elected chairman of a subcommittee of the Unsanitary Property Committee. In 1899 Cohen was unanimously chosen lord mayor of Liverpool.

Jewish Chronicle, Sept., 1899.
Cohen died at The Priory in 1922.

Update December 2015 

I was very grateful to hear from ‘Plodge’ who lived at Priory Lodge from 1939 to 1964. He was kind enough to share some photographs that show the Lodge and also the sandstone pillars in their original condition – with magnificent castellated tops, now lost. He also gave me a very amusing story expelling the origins of his nickname that in itself is an insight into the area in the past:
“I lived in Priory Lodge from March 1939 till July 1964 when I left to get married. I still have some photographs of the lodge. The Priory,The Grange and The Friars had long since gone but the lodges and cottages remained and occupied by railway workers. “There was Priory Lodge, Priory Cottage, Grange Lodge, and Grange Cottage and I can recall all residents. I believe the Railway bought the land to build docks there shortly before WW2 but the war postponed it so it was probably shelved for ever and they let the cottages to some of their employees. I could tell you about the bombing during the war and of some interesting stories about The Cloisters and The Hermitage but it would probably go on for too long and bore everybody. All residents were moved out [including my parents] during 1965 and 1966 and all property demolished, The two sandstone gate pillars engraved with ‘The Priory’ are still in their original position but unfortunately painted red, they looked much better in original sandstone.
I was led to believe by my parents that all six dwellings (2 for the Priory, 2 for the Grange, and 2 for the Friars) were condemned as unfit for habitation ie no damp proof course, no internal bathroom etc.  Perhaps the Council had earmarked the land for something but never got round to it for whatever reason, who knows! anyway, sadly they went and my parents never seemed to settle afterwards having spent 26 years bringing up a family in such an idyllic place.
On the name ‘Plodge’:
Our family butcher was “Wilkinsons” on Aigburth road, between Chetwynd St and Dalmeny St (next door to Martins Bank), and my job on a Saturday morning, after delivering my paper round, was to pick up the previously ordered joint for Sunday lunch. Ordered meat was hung on a small meat hook with a piece of bloodstained paper pinned to it with an address written in pencil. Presumably to save time, Mr Wilkinson, used to write P.lodge on ours and I eventually used to ask him for the meat for”plodge” which appeared to amuse him, and the name seems to have stuck ever since!
I attach a couple of photographs as promised.  One is of Priory Lodge taken in, I think, 1965 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the consecration of St Michaels in the Hamlet church in June 1815. The Lodge was demolished, I think in 1966.   The second photograph is of the top of one of the sandstone pillars where our cat used to sleep in the sun out of the way of “predators” I include this to show that the pillars originally had separate castellated tops of which both now seemed to have disappeared.”
Plodge 2015
 SCAN0010 - Edited
Priory Lodge in 1965, about a year before being demolished.
SCAN0012 - EditedPlodge’s cat taking a grooming break in one of the Priory’s original castellated topped pillars.
close upAfter seeing the photo of the original tops to the pillars I went back to the Priory drawing and enlarged the appropriate section.

The Grange

A map from 1900 shows this house as Dudley House, by 1905 it had become The Grange.
Date- 1900 George Philip & Son
A famous resident of this house is George Melly (Alan George Heywood Melly 17 August 1926 – 5 July 2007), the jazz singer, writer and critic. George was born at The Grange, his Grand-Fathers house although he lived in Linnet Lane, a short distance away. In “Scouse Mouse” he remembers The Grange but also gives an insight into the interior of the houses:
“Until I was about five Gangie and Gampa lived in the large house where I was born. It was called The Grange and was built on the banks of the Mersey in the Parish of St Michael’s, a small pocket of rus in urbe which lay unexpectedly concealed behind the bustle of Aigburth Road with its small shops and noisy trams. Even then I was charmed by the abrupt transition, You turned off Aigburth Road down the side of the Rivoli Cinema and walked along one of those two-up two-down terraced streets built of yellow brick with lace curtains and holy-stoned steps. This eventually petered out, and there were perhaps six semis of the early twenties, speculative building on a decidedly unambitious scale, and traversed by a very small streel along the side of two of the houses but of great interest and pride to me in that it was called Melly Road. I imagined then that this was due to the proximity of my grandfather, but realise now it was probably named after the family. If so it was a very modest acknowledgement of a century of public service and commercial acumen.  The Grange, shielded from its neighbours by tall shrubberies, was a long, low grey house of restrained early-Victorian Gothic. It had a large walled garden which ran down to the river. There were old fruit trees and little twisted walks. I found it enchanting if a shade sinister. The rooms of The Grange seemed, in contrast to Ivanhoe Road, enormous. My mother always maintained that ‘Mrs Melly has no taste’, by which I suppose she meant that she made no concessions to modernity , There were several good pieces of eighteenth-century furniture, polished floors with faded Turkish carpets and old glazed chintzes. It’s true the pictures weren’t up to much – mediocre water-colours in wide gold mounts and engravings of Arabs around an oasis – but my parents didn’t collect masterpieces either. There was one engraving I really liked. It showed an elderly but robust gentleman in eighteenth-century clothes toasting his beaming white-haired wife at the other end of a dining-room table, On the wall above the fireplace hung two oval portraits of them in their youth , I believed, despite their wig and lace-cap, that it represented my grandparents”.
599px-George_Melly_1978Photo credit: P. G. Champion
The Melly family were wealthy merchants in the 1800s and the road that George mentions is next to the St Michaels Road entrance to Priory Woods. George’s cousin was Emma Holt, the shipping family who owned Sudley House and later gave the house and its art collection to the people of Liverpool.
For more on Sudley House: Sudley House
For more on the Melly family visit:
Smelly road
Although this sign is a modern replacement to the one I remember from the 1970s, I have never seen this sign without the ‘S’ prefix. Indeed it is almost as though the council have indented the first line to make room for the next generation to add the essential extra letter.

St Michaels Mount

This would of been the first house when approached via St Micahels Road.This house stood in the grounds to the west of The Priory and was owned by John Fletcher. Of all the houses in the area, St Michaels Mount had the largest grounds. According to “History of Wallasey Ferries”, John Fletcher bought the Liverpool to Egremont Ferry service from his neighbour, John Sothern on 28th July 1847.
History of Wallasey

 John Fletcher’s name can be seen on the plans.
In the early 1900s St Michael’s Mount was home to John Rankin, Treasurer of the Excavation Committee of the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology.
“John Rankin (1845-1928) was a Liverpool based ship merchant who made his fortune working for his family company, Rankin, Gilmour & Co. He is also known to have been a prolific philanthropist who donated vast sums of money to a range of worthy causes, including the excavations of John Garstang in Egypt on behalf of the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology. As a result of his membership of Garstang’s excavation Financing Committee, Rankin received a notable collection of objects from Garstang’s Egyptian excavations as repayment for his donations. Rankin donated his collection of Egyptian objects, including those from Garstang’s excavations, to several institutions including the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology (now the Garstang Museum of Archaeology) and World Museum Liverpool. Rankin and his family are known to have moved to the Lake District in 1903 where they became enthusiastically involved in many aspects of local life. This link is perhaps illustrated most clearly by the donation of at least 40 Egyptian objects to Kendal Museum in 1923, and of several Egyptian objects for the study collection of Sedbergh School, where Rankin was a governor”.
 st-michaels-mount-1943A photograph and description of St. Michael’s Mount from 1943. The house had been taken over by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.

Updated March 2018: The Friars

Since starting this post I have been contacted by three relatives of William Clarkson, who as mentioned earlier, had lived at the Priory in 1881 and had moved to The Friars some time before 1891 when he appears on the census of that year. Clarkson was a ‘Brewer, Wine & Spirit Merchant’ who owned the company Green & Clarksons, later bought up by Walkers. The brewery was situated in Soho Street. He was also a Councillor for the St. Anne’s Ward and involved with the city’s hospitals and charities.

Simon Melville, who’s wife is related to Clarkson, was kind enough to share this information:
“William Clarkson (1830-1915) lived at The Priory at the time of the 1881 Census – and at The Friars at the 1891 Census (he died at the latter in 1915). William was born in Liverpool after his parents moved there from Poulton Le Fylde. His father Thomas died when William was very young and his mother (Nancy nee Banton) remarried to a Thomas Green (from Hertfordshire). Thomas Green was (according to the 1841 Census) a Publican and the family lived at Summer Seat, Liverpool. By 1851 they had moved to 154 Richmond Row, Islington.
William married his step-father’s neice Emma Lucy Green, whose father was a builder, in 1854. By 1859 he and his growing family were living at 171 Islington, Liverpool and he is shown as a ‘Brewer, Wine & Spirit Merchant’. At the 1871 Census the family are at 10 Marsh Lane, Walton and he seems to have moved from there directly to The Priory. Quite why he should then move ‘2 doors away’ to The Friars, I know not. He appears to have sold his business in 1890, and there is a long list of pubs, hotels and breweries that he sold.
His probate record says his Estate was valued at £102,932 19s 10d. (£9,544,604 in 2015)
His daughter Laura Anne Kitchen Clarkson (1863-1948) married in 1884 another Liverpool Brewer, George Wright Mumford (1850-1928) whose parents (Edwin Mumford and Ruth nee Wright) lived at 23 Alexandra Drive. George and Laura lived at 9 Parkfield, Toxteth Park.
Edwin Mumford was one of first 7 members of committee to establish St Paul’s Eye and Ear Hospital. He was also a Brewer as was his wife’s father. Edwin’s father John Mumford, was (according to a death notice in the 1812 Gentleman’s magazine) a “silversmith, and founder and proprietor of the Liverpool Royal Museum. He has left a widow and 12 children.”
I am indebted to another of Clarkson’s descendants, Mathew Jamison, for sending this amazing photograph of The Friars.
The Friars ©Matthew JamisonThe Friars, courtesy of Mathew Jamison
Comparing the photograph above to old maps, it is evident that the property was greatly enlarged some time between 1860 and 1908. This extension was probably undertaken by Clarkson. It appears that the original house was just the section that has two sets of four chimneys on top. I have compared these maps in the image below.
The Friars on mapsMaps from 1835 to 1908 that show how much The Friars was altered.
According to the website of the nearby church of St Charles Borromeo, The Friars in its latter days was occupied by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament from 1924 until it was demolished in the 1930s.

What happened to the houses?

This Ordnance Survey map from the early 60s shows the area with all the houses gone apart from a small coach house at the entrance.. The petroleum storage tank and encircling wall that still divides the site today has not been built yet but pathways and some of the walls of The Grange grounds remain. According to Allerton Oak website ( The Priory burned down in the 1930s. The Friars was demolished in 1930 but George Melly’s family were still at the Grange until 1959. George mentions The Grange being shaded from its neighbours by shrubberies but as he was born in 1926 not many of the neighbouring houses would of survived into his early childhood. The shaded area in front of Priory Woods is the Council rubbish dump.

110 comments on “The Priory: If you go down to the woods today…

  1. Gerry says:

    Fascinating … a superb piece of local historical research.

  2. Pete says:

    I especially love the tenuous Lincoln connection. “Scouse Mouse” is a great read, by the way.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Thanks for you comment Pete. I remember in the early 80s, asking the second hand bookshop that was in Renshaw Street if they had “Revolt into Style” and he said that George Melly was after a copy too! I’ll have to read the rest of Owning Up.

  3. Joy says:

    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you took to publish this article for the general public…congratulations on a job exceedingly well done. My partner and I took a stroll around the area yesterday (we live the other-side of Liverpool and it was my first visit to this magical little haven). We were commenting on the fact we would love to know more and I found your article. It was such a joy to walk around the entire area and your article was just the icing on the cake. We walked around Sefton
    Park, through to Otterspool Promenade then into the old Festival Gardens ( which have been re-opened) and then back towards St. Michael’s train station. To now be enlightened by your article puts a new level to our very enjoyable day out. Thank you again, especially enjoyed your introducing the article from the prospective of an 11 year old boys childhood adventures….my partner particularly enjoyed this…. Kindest regards Joy and Rowland 31st
    March 2013

  4. Patricia Booth nee Roberts says:

    Love it. My father Charles Roberts was born in the Priory in 1908 . His father was then the coachman.

  5. Tessa says:

    If this is your first blog I think you have a potential second career in your future. I grew up in the area and moved to Canada as a youth. I wondered what was there that I might recognise and low and behold found your blog. You have done an amazing job thank you

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Thank you Tessa, I didn’t know at the time of writing it but my older sister used to play there in the late 50’s. She told me that the Melly house was just abandoned and they used to play inside. I hope to share her recollections soon.

  6. Lee says:

    This information is amazing. I have recently moved to the area and have wondered about Priory Wood and the relevance of the name to its history. I completed a Google search about a year ago to find information about this place and couldn’t find any helpful information. My search today was very fruitful as it brought me here! The detail and the pictures are fascinating. Thank you so much for this research. Would you mind if I shared some of these images of the priory?

  7. Julia Convery says:

    Hi Glen,
    Many congraulations on such a fascinating blog! It brought back so many childhood memories for me because I used to live in the Dingle in the Fifties & early Sixties and used to go down the Cazzie with my twin brother and another twin brother-and-sister duo. I remember St Michael’s Mount and it was still occupied then. The road down to the Mersey was blocked off by huge iron railings, but you could still get down to the woods by going through a gap in the wall just beyond St Michael’s Mount and crossing a field to a gap in the wall around the woods. There were still raspberry bushes down there (yum!) and the remains of a walled kitchen garden and an orchard with gnarled old fruit trees. Like you, I found the place bit spooky and scary, and we stopped going entirely after we discovered the place was a haunt of flashers & assorted perverts!
    One question I have, Glen, is this – at the edge of Priory Woods where the land sloped down to the river, there were remains of tunnel entrances that had been bricked-up. The tunnel entrances looked quite old, and had been bricked up with much newer brickwork. Have you any idea what they were?
    Well, thank you again and good luck with research. I’ve long been resident in Surrey but still miss The Pool, so thank goodness for the Internet and Street View so I can “go back” occasionally. Kind regards

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Julia
      It is facsinating to hear from someone who remembers one of the houses. Like you, my older sister used to play there in the the 1950s and she remembers that quite a few of the buildings were still there, although mostly unoccupied.

      I think in this type of location, unoccupied and left it to go wild, nature can flourish. There is a wall on the left of the site that used to use the petrol tanks but now seperates the woods from the housing estate behind it. As the wall was high with a locked gate the are was completly overgrown. All that remained of the giant tank was a circular brick foundation which had filled with water and become a pond. Here I remember seeing wildlife that you’d never see in Sefton Park or any other maintained green space. In particular, the heatwave of 1976 brought quite exotic creatures (to us) like vividly coloured, giant, furry caterpillars and a reed warblers nest.

      I think there may be two explanations what the tunnel entrances are. Firstly in the picture on the blog named “General view from the Mersey”, if you look at the boundary wall by the steps going down is a door. This sounds like the location you mentioned. By the time I was playing there this was filled with rubbish so I was intrigued when I spotted it on the picture. Maybe it was an underground tunnel to allow deliveries to the house from the river? The second explanation appears in the book “The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth” by Robert Griffiths. At the time the book was written there were several tunnels or caves that the locals had wild theories about ranging from tunnels that led all the way to the Wirral and smugglers caves. In the book he explains that they were underground ice coolers. Also in the book he shows a castle folly built by John Sothern for his children to play in, was there any remains of this when you played there?

      I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the area and indeed the history of liverpool. I picked up a reprint in The Book Clearance Centre in St Johns Precinct for about £3! (a lot cheaper than ebay or Amazon).

  8. Julia Convery says:

    Hi Glen, thanks for your reply. The explanation about the tunnels being ice-houses or for deliveries seems mor rational & a lot less chilling than what we believed they were as kids – the rumours were that they were for bringing slaves ashore! As for the folly, it sounds fun, but I’m afraid there were no signs of anything like that.
    I’ve borrowed a book from someone who, like me, used to live in the Dingle & I don’t know whether you know of it or not but it’s got lots of old photos of the area – one that you might find of particular interest is Dingle Point circa 1890. The book is called “A Tram Ride to Dingle” by Philip Mayer (ISBN 1 82568343 ).
    Great blog! Best wishes,

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll have a look in my Library for it.
      Maybe my new post about a poem I found, describing same era you used to play there with your brothers and sisters may bring back some happy memories. It certainly did for me.

      • Patricia Booth nee Roberts says:

        My late father was born at The Priory in 1908, his father was the coachman there.Dad went to school in St Michaels, and used to tell us that he sat next to Arthur Askey’s sister.
        In 2008 ( Dad’s centenary) my sister and I went to visit St Michaels hamlet and the cast iron church.The church was as Dad told us ( he went too Sunday school there!) But the only bit of the priory we could find was the gate posts.
        We would love to find any old documents , other than the census that mentions those living and working at the Priory at the same time.
        We love your blog and all the comments, thank you.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Patricia
        Sorry for the delay in replying to your comment. After you mentioning Arthur Askey and St Michaels School, I had a little google.
        I found he got his phrase “I theng yow!” (I thank you) from the tram conductors on Aigburth Road (George Melly, Owning Up: The Trilogy). It reminded me that, Tramway Road was named after the old tram sheds that were once at the bottom of the road next to St Michaels school and St Charles (where I attended).
        I saw on St Michaels church records that Eleanor Mary Roberts is recorded as living at Priory Lodge. There is also records of The Priory gardeners living there as well. I don’t know if you’ve already spotted this but there are two lodges shown on the drawing “Plan of The Priory Estate” and these are clearer on the enlargement further down the page. The stables where your grandfather worked are also shown.
        If I come across any information about the Roberts in the Priory I’ll let you know. If you find anything about their life in The Priory please share it here.

      • Patricia Booth nee Roberts says:

        Thank you for the info on the Priory Lodges. I currently live in Italy but my Dads birth certificate is in England. From memory my great granny was Mary Roberts but I will need to check if she was in fact Eleanor Mary. I will get back to you on that.

  9. myleswalsh says:

    hello, I really enjoyed this, having grown up in lark lane ( b. 1943). I remember that after passing st michael’ s station you were met by a wall with an opening, and beyond that a huge pipeline, adorned with barbed wire. the real treat though was the sand,large grains of damp mustard yellow, that were never dry the way sea sand often is. further on it was just mud, oil and worse. I once walked then stepped gingerly on the increasingly scattered stones , and finally crawled across the oily mud to get a bunch of bananas taller than me ( I was 8) lying at the water’s edge, presumably from a Garston bound ship. Thrilled with my prize I carried it home , knocked on the door hoping to see a smiling mother . she took one look at me, said ” jesus Christ”, then knocked the daylights out of me.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Myles
      Thanks for the comment.
      One hot summer’s day in the mid 1970s, a group of us were at the end of that pipeline where there was a big pool of thick, foul smelling, black oil. There was something big in the middle of the pool completely covered by the stuff, obscuring its shape. One of the boys or girls shouted “It’s a pig!” and sure enough after getting a close as we dared without getting covered in oil, we confirmed it.
      I always wondered how the pig ended up in the Mersey as it wasn’t a butchered pig from a ships kitchen, or where in the world it had come from (literally). Unlike you though, I didn’t carry our discovery home!

  10. steve calland says:

    great to find this blog with all the comments about the cazzy…my brother gary and our mates used to frequent the cazzy in the 70s ..bunking off school.( dingle vale )..71-76..lightin a fire to keep warm smokin etc ….playing chicken with the old diesel engine through the tunnels and playin on the swing at the bottom of priory wood by the pipeline and the slope onto the dump….it was our playground and i have very fond memories of my childhood down there …the history about the priory and other houses has solved the mystery for me…. fascinating research kidda well done …my first school was matthew arnold (maggie ann).im sure the contributors so far will know of it ..we lived in south hill road/park road but loved the adventure of goin down the cazzy ..gonna fone our kid and tell him about this site …hello to all who have replied so far you have a shared part of my past …i was there yesterday and its lookin great in priory wood swing there anymore tho ….we all used to piley on that swing …wow …great memories …not sure about the names but ill bet weve seen each other somewhere in the past ….

    Ste Calland

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Ste
      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, thanks for your comment. I remember a swing that you had to stand on top of a wall and jump off. I remember it vividly as the first go I had go I shouted to one of my mates and a wasp flew into my mouth and stung me repeatedly. I had to keep one hand on the swing and fish the wasp out with the other. Almost as bad was the vinegar mouthwash my mates mum got me to gargle!
      The scariest swing was in Otterspool Park though. It was tied to a tree high on the embankment so when you swung out you were really high. A friend lost his grip and went flying into the air and crash landed on the stoney path, then got straight up, laughed and walked straight off non the worse.

      • steve calland says:

        Thanks for your reply Glen…great photo of your siblings guessing that they are standing somewhere near where the swing was …in the background.. id say.. was the new river wall built along where the Brittania pub is today ….then they filled it all in with our household rubbish ..great to see it before i knew it as the dump …I know they made a film down there starring Frankie Vaughn”” these dangerous years”” i think it was called ….i remember the swing in otterspool park very well we used to go on it to ..i rode through there a few weeks ago and im sure its still there ..some kids were on it about that lol….

    • Ray Young says:

      Like Steve I also used to play down the Cazzy – often played on that rope swing he mentioned. The pipeline did not have any barbed wire when it was fist constructed and we would dare each other to walk across on it ! The gang of kids I ran with replaced the rope swing several times over the years, we tied a huge knot on the end to sit astraddle on it, someone would go first, then as it swing back another kid would jump on, sometimes there would be 3 or 4 kids on it at the same time. I grew up on Roslyn Street which ran down to the cricket ground and the allotments. Went to St Michaels (where I was christened) and married a girl from Lark Lane who went to St Charles. We now live in Boston, USA but remember the old areas so well.

  11. Billy says:

    What a fantastic blog, I lived in the streets close by the Cassie and my child hood in the 70s was spent down in Priory Woods, I had no idea that four large houses once stood in this area.
    We always thought it use to be some sort of church or church related building.
    I will have to show this blog to some of my mates they will love it.
    Every neighbourhood should have its own Cassie, reading some of the comments from others here put a smile on my face , swings off the pipe at the bottom of the woods see how many you could fit on the swing until you all fell off haha taxi good help ya if you was the first one on.
    Spare parts for ya bike from the tip going ratting haha
    I never get sick I’ve always wondered is that because my immune system became strong from my younger days down the Cassie and the tip , no calpol in those days .
    Keep adding to this blog it’s fascinating to find the history on your doorstep.

  12. Moira says:

    Dear Glen

    I used to play in the Cazzie with my friends and my little brother, we made a den in the Priory with bits of old carpet and stuff we found lying around. We would sit in the den and read and draw maps of buried treasure until a man with a gun scared us, he was probably looking for rabbits I remember his startled face when he saw us, we ran away from him thinking he was trying to kill us.
    I remember the pipe and the pig and looking for ghosts and falling (or being pushed) off the Cricket Club wall next to St Michaels Station, it seemed like a good idea to be covered in crepe bandages and tomato sauce and knock on the door of the other kid who was on the wall to show his mother the injuries he had caused.
    I reminisced about my days in the Priory and the Cazzie a couple of years ago and my mother was alarmed and said ‘I didn’t know you were there I thought you were safely playing in Dingle Swings’

    We used to play on the Tarmack as well and crawl through an open basement window of a house on Southwood Road to play on a canoe until we saw someone quietly watching us inside the house so we stopped. No wonder I am obsessed with empty houses and derelict buildings.

    And the Tip what a delight, bananas, violins and the cocky watchman sipping tea talking to my father.

    Such happy days!

    A great blog keep on keeping on

  13. Glen Alexander says:

    Hi Glen I was searching the internet about Aigburth and found your blog. I lived in Jericho Farm Close in the 60’s and 70’s so was intrigued by your thoughts. We explored the tip from our end so the Cassie seemed like a journey to the ends of the earth. I went to St Charles School and walking home, unaccompanied we loved to explore the old army bunkers at the back of what we called the barracks. Do you remember the annual agricultural fair that was held there? Most reminiscent for me was your experience in the tunnel which we called the longey. We also were in there once when a train came. I remember my brother fell off that swing in Otty. Anyway thanks again. Do you remember Summer of 1971 when there was a methane gas leak and the whole area was closed off for a day. We snuck out to explore. Finally Scouse Mouse is a good read.
    Glen Alexander

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Thanks for the great comment. I think we were lucky growing up in that area as we had so much open space to explore within a big city.
      Regarding the agricultural fair, I remember being taken to it as a really young for maybe 6 or 7 in 70/71 and my Mum has a photo of me standing next to a massive army truck and the wheel is bigger than me. I remember the entrance was next to St Charles infants where we go now to walk our dog. Funnily enough that little patch of wild land is probably the only part of the area that hasn’t changed.
      I’m not sure I remember a specific methane leak but I do remember coming home smelling of it all the time (not pleasant). The worst place for it was by the Rugby Ground, it used to cling to your clothes.
      I’m sure I can remember cows on the bank opposite the Army barracks, I know the dairy used to take them to graze there. I had a milk round with Hoggs, dragging a milk cart though the streets, good money for an 11 year old but would be classed as child labour now!
      I went to St Charles too, if you haven’t seen the photo of the yard on Aigburth Rd already there is a brilliant pic here:

      Depending on your age you will remember the outside toilets on the left of the picture, freezing in winter.
      By the way, What type of school has a rocking horse that no one is allowed to play on?
      Did you ever “explore” as far as Sudley House? In the 70s it was amazing, cram packed with exhibits in cases and a whole room full of model ships, due to the Holt connection. The collections were split up in the early 80s leaving the house with half empty.
      Thanks for reading.

      • Glen Alexander says:

        I think Im a little older than you Glen. But two Glen’s at one school at that time must be quiet a rarity. I remember Mrs McKenna and a teacher I owe a lot to Mr Roderick. I think he went on to become head later. If I ever see him I’d like to say thanks. You are spot on about the fair at the barracks. Sudley was as you say a great adventure, I’m old enough to remember playing in the woods that are now the Cranatic Halls of residence. we loved playing in Otterspool Park and I was fascinated to read about the real pupose of the tunnels in the park. I would love to find a photo or sketch showing the area by the cafe/bandstand when it was tidal. I read that there was a dock at one time near to where the new adventure playground is now.I have seen the St Charles photo before and I think I might be in it. I left there in 1970.
        One more before I go. We were always drawn to the railway line did you ever explore the branch line just after Otterspool Station

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Glen
        There is information and photos on Otterspool here
        John Moss who developed it, inherited 1000 slaves and went on to build St Annes Church next to St Margaret’s School.
        If you haven’t already read it I highly recommend this book
        written in 1907.
        Another great book and free to download is
        (more of the general Liverpool history but fascinating. Written in 1836 by someone who could remember Liverpool in the 1700s.
        If you still live in Liverpool you can get it for £2.99 from the book shop in St Johns Market.
        If the tunnel you mentioned is the one high on a bank, it was a conduit for the river that ran down to the Mersey.
        Regarding Otterspool Station, I pass it every day on the train and wonder what it’s like inside. We seldom went much further than there. I remember seeing the private prom in Cressington from the end of Otterspool and it took us days of exploring before we found how to get to it. Its still one of my favourite parts of Liverpool.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hello Glen
        Further to your comments about the bandstand at Otterspool, I remembered seeing some good sites so I have copied some links for you.

        John Moss’s house, good quality colour print is here, together with modern photos at “A sense of place”:

        He has taken a photograph from the same angle of the print here that really helps locate the place:

        And here is another sketch that shows it from the south, and you can see that the landscape has changed little. It’s no wonder that field floods after heavy rain!

        There is quite a bit of information on the dock here on Mike Royden’s Local History page

        My son goes to St Margarets and I’m going to give ask him to take some photos of the carvings on St Annes Church as I’m sure they feature African heads. I can’t find any record of them on the internet though.

        On Otterspool, have you seen the photo of Jericho farm in 1929 here?

        Or finally, Otterspool Farm in 1961 here

  14. myles walsh says:

    that photo of st Charles playground brought back the memory of miss gibney,whose classroom was on the left of the entrance. I think she came to the school in the very early part of the century, and I came to her class in 1951.
    black hat pinned on, beauty spot on her cheek, she would clamber up onto the desk/raised seat, lay down the law, set us to work and raise her newspaper. behind this she would fix her makeup, have a cigarette and then, feeling refreshed, step down and cane five or six just to keep her eye in.
    there were no complaints from parents, as she would have probably caned them too. she would not last two minutes in a school nowadays, but I thought she was wonderful. she knew that mollycoddling was no preparation for the outside world. when she taught you, you stayed taught. the cane was a frequent companion too of miss Kelly, miss McKenna and mother phillipa, but miss gibney brought real character and life to her work, and we were the beneficiaries.
    perhaps others remember her too.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Myles
      The last few comments have got my memory going about St Charles!

      I tell my 11 year old son and my wife (who is younger than me) about caning and I’m sure they think I’m making it up.
      My Mum used to get slapped across the knuckles with a wooden ruler if she couldn’t recite the the catechism correctly. But as I said about pulling a milk cart around busy streets aged 11, looking back at these things from a modern viewpoint, they seem like recollections from the 19th century rather than the 20th. I certainly wasn’t complaining when I got my Christmas tips!

      I remember Miss McKenna but I’ll have to talk to jog my memory about the other teachers names. All of us went to St Charles starting with my Father when he first came over from Ireland in the 1930s.
      When they shut the Aigburth Road School and moved the juniors to Tramway in the mid 70s, the school had a brief period of being used as a youth club in the summer holidays. One day, myself and a couple of friends slipped unnoticed upstairs and looked into the attic. It was amazing time capsule, it must of been the old storeroom and was full of objects dating back to the start of the school in the late 1800s. Hung from the ceiling was old wooden tennis racquets in frames, everywhere were quill pens and ink pots and old sports kits. We opened some old wooden filing cabinets and found class photographs dating back 70 or so years. We must of be raised well because none of us took anything and left the room exactly as we found it. There would of been photos and records of every member of my family in there.

      I also remember that as an alter boy in St Charles, I turned up to Church one Saturday to find a skip outside. Inside was the remains of the old marble altar that used to decorate the back of the church.
      To my horror I found that they had demolished it but instead of carefully removing each angel and saint they had just taken sledge hammers to it and smashed them all to pieces. I went through the skip to find something undamaged and only found one head of a saint that I took home and had in our backyard for years.
      I think the destruction might had something to do with a synod regarding religious statues in catholic churches, but even as a child I was upset by the disregard to work involved in creating them. I would of thought the church could of made money by selling them? I fear the same fate might have met the contents of the attic of St Charles School when that was demolished.

      Do you remember the May procession to Sefton Park? Even though I’m not much of a church goer now, I always look back fondly on it. Father Mangam always reminded me of a priest from a Jimmy Cagney film. Mnsg Chaloner used to do sport with my older brother. I also remember school shows being put on in the Rivoli.

      Lastly I’ve always wanted to look at the waste ground that used to be the Little Sisters of the Poor, it’s so overgrown it must be a haven for wildlife. I used to taken out of class by Father Mangan to do services for the old people there.

      Thanks for commenting and bringing some memories back.

    • Tony Beckett says:

      Hi Myles and Ross,I wonder if you remember me,Tony Beckett,used to live in the next street to you,but we were almost neighbours from the back doors,I remember you all,your Dad,Mum,Bro and sister Geraldine.Nice to catch up with you again,I`ve lived in Germany for the past 35 years but visit Liverpool now and again,maybe meet you again some time,incidentally I was also at St Charles School,remember Mr Keating and Mr Sheilds ?

      • myles says:

        hello tony, I remember you very clearly, and your mum and dad, whom I thought were wonderful, and peter, your sister not so clear. the kindness of your parents made a big difference to us and I have never forgotten. they were real friends in need. I live halfway down the welsh border, with two middle aged children. I am enjoying my retirement from teaching. I go back to Liverpool and find the city greatly changed, and not for the better, but lark lane retains its charm. all my memories of childhood are tied up there.
        I remember so many of the teachers; miss harris, miss mulhearn, miss Kelly miss McKenna , miss barker, shields and keating.too
        I hope you are well. good to hear from you. myle

  15. Ross Walsh says:


    I wonder if you have ever come across a picture of either the Glenhuntley house or of South Grange school during your research? I was one of the kids moved out of the latter after it had become too dilapidated. The only information I have on Glenhuntly is that in 1908 it was occupied by two stockbroker brothers, Thomas and David Irvine. I spotted a family photograph on the net taken in Dalmeny St of a lady and her son with just a tiny bit of Glenhuntly showing. As for South Grange, my only knowledge is that it was occupied in 1908 by a surgeon, Vivian de Boinville. I’d be delighted to find out any more about either building.

    Do you remember the big wooden board on the wall of St Charles school which instructed parents wanting to enrol their children there what days this was done on. It was all done in gold script. My brother Myles and I were standing reading it sometime in the late 70s when we were approached by one of the priests from the church, concerned we might be about to remove it. It did disappear later. The teachers other than Miss McKenna that I remember from 1956- 1962 were Miss Whiteway, Mr McCann, Miss McCracken, Miss Kelly, Miss Keogh (died), Miss Keiran and Mr Nelson.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Ross
      Thanks for your information. I thought Glen Huntly (origin of my user name) was on the site of the Tesco store. I have a map from 1907 and I’ll have to check it when I get home. I’ll also check for South Grange. As you went there I’ll take your advice. There is a good description of the area in Scouse Mouse so I’ll recheck that too.
      I’m sure you will of seen the church’s site but if not it has a great history section:

      There is a photograph of Thomas Irvine here
      There is also a record of his being killed in India I’m trying to find, I can find it as an OCR file but it has missed the name off.

      I love that photograph of Dalmeny Street. It is from the Liverpool Record Office I think when they took photographs in 1964 when they widened Aigburth Road.
      One reason I like the the photo so much is that I was born i 1964 and we had a Silver Cross pram like that, so it could be me being pushed by one of my sisters!
      Where is South Grange on the photograph as I assumed it was behind this area? It’s great to get first hand knowledge, thanks!

      I remember the sign and the high fence to stop footballs going into the road. My sister reminded me of the secret little door that led to the church.
      Teachers names we have remembered are Mrs Cooney (lovely), Mrs McKenna, Mr Tunny and Mrs Persil.

      Do you remember that there were women who ran shops from there kitchen windows? I remember one in Chetwyn or Allington Street where you went in through the Entry (Enog) and into her back yard where she would sit leaning against her back kitchen window selling sweets etc. No sign or anything. There might have also been one in St Michaels Road by the school but I can’t be sure.

      Thanks again.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hello Ross
        I found my map from 1908 and it shows Glen Huntly on the corner of St Michaels Road and Aigurth Road, where the Tesco is now. A part of the house still exists possibly in the form of a long strip of sandstone wall on the side of Gerrards newsagents (Roughleys)
        Someone has taken a photo of it here and what is nice about the shot is you can get an idea of the view the house must have had of St Michaels Hamlet.
        Newsagents Aigburth Rd and St.Michael's Church beyond.
        There is a house on the map to the left of Glen Huntley I’ll have to look into, called Barn Hey.
        I can’t find South Grange on the map but Philip Mayer on flickr says in was on the site of the current Parochial Hall, a building is marked with no name but so far not much more information.

        Here are more of the photos of Aigburth Road from 1964. I like the photo showing Wallers because I remember in the 70s when there were black outs and I believe the bakers went on strike. Wallers could still make the dough so I queued up for my Mum for hours, in a queue that went around the block, for a small bag of dough to bake at home!
        Aigburth Road/Blythswood Street, Liverpool 17.  26 March 1964.  (LRO photo).
        I am still trying to find more information on the houses and their occupants and If I find anything interesting I’ll keep you posted.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hello Again Ross
        I have just spoken to one of my sisters, Joan (Kenny) who was also at South Grange. One day she recalls that the ceiling fell in so they were moved first to the army barracks. The children were making too much noise and distracting the soldiers so so were moved to the Rivoli. She remembers that in the barracks they were so close to The Little Sisters of the Poor that they could hear them singing and smell their rice pudding at lunchtime! Joan must of been there the same time as yourself.

        She also told me that the house on the Tesco site was in her time a ballet school. (This could of been either the old Barn Hey House or GlenHuntly)

        I may of mentioned this elsewhere but Joan recalls the houses on the priory site and that they were all left open and abandoned. She and her friends used to play in them.
        I remember, although later, some houses in Parkfield Road being the same. My friends family lived in one of the big houses in a ground floor flat, but the rest of the house was completely empty with scores of flats left open. This made for the best game of hide and seek ever!

        It just goes to show that you can search the internet for information and all you have to do is ask your older sister.

      • Ray Young says:

        I believe the backyard shop you are thinking of was actually in the entry between Roslyn and Errol streets – it was owned and run by a Mrs Monaghan. We lived on Roslyn Street and my Grandnmother/Auntas/Cousins lived a little further down the same entry. I used to be sent there often to get stuff for the family table. Do you remember Jones’s dairy and store at the junction of Errol St and Brynston Rd?

      • steve calland says:

        i remember miss mons the back street shop in the entry ….we used to get 2 loosies and a book of matches off her …little old scots lady ….the joneses dairy too…rosslyn steet and bryanston road ….i still pass through priory wood by the railway bridge …..does anybody remember buying chips from Daves dingle diner ?….it was next to wallers bakery where we would buy a vienna loaf rip out the soft bread inside and stuff the chewy outer loaf with the chips…simple pleasures hey …

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Ah the legendary docker butty!

      • Tony Beckett says:

        Hi,The wonderful Mayfair Cinema used to stand on the site ot the then new Tesco Store,I also remember the lady selling sweets from her back yard window,fond memories………..

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Ross
      You have renewed my interest in finding a photograph of GlenHuntley and after a couple of days Googling I have found a glimpse of it in two photos. You can just make out the wall of the premises here on this lovely photo of The Mayfair front here. This photo is from 1937
      Mayfair Aigburth ext1937

      And in this photo you can just make out in background, the house itself with 2 stacks of chimneys visible, 2 levels to the roof, trees and a light on in the house.

      Although they are only tantilizing glimpses, I’m so pleased to finally get an idea of how the house looked. Going by these pictures it looked a pretty smart residence.
      Do you remember when the Tesco and other shops were built? I’m sure I recall as a very young child in the early 1970s, an opening with a Outspan Orange car appearing. Was this the opening I remember or just a promotion?
      Do you remember those cars? Here is one!
      1972 Austin Mini based Outspan Orange Car

      If I find any other photos of the houses I will keep you posted. If I find enough information I’ll add it to the blog instead of the comments.

      Thanks again

      • Glen Alexander says:

        What a great set of replies and comments over the last few days. It’s really sparked my curiosity. I’m going to have a look for any photos my Mum might have. Seeing the Mayfair in all its art deco glory has reminded me of all the classic movies I saw there. My favourite was seeing Goal, the official film of the 1966 World Cup. what an atmosphere all pre teen boys if I recall, all singing clapping and shouting. My Dad took me to see Goldfinger and One Million Years BC there I didn’t realise until much later that his motivation was not Ray Harryhausen’s special effects but Raquel Welsh’s fur bikini. What was the name of the cinema on the corner in the Dingle, now a Bingo Hall I think. I saw Jason and the Argonauts there. I have no recollection of Glen Huntley House and I can remember back to about 1963. I certainly remember the sweet shop just past Tesco, with its penny tray. I can remember walking down Tramway Road singing Michelle by the Beatles. I can also recall school dinners in the Rialto(?) and school plays being put on there. And in the corner of my mind I remember us walking from St Charles to get dinners somewhere near St Michael’s school and on the way we were allowed to stop for ice cream at a the dairy. Help(?) Sorry I’ve had a couple of pints and I’m feeling nostalgic and missing the river from here in Birmingham. St Charles teachers would include Mr Nelson, great bloke loved Everton, Mr Roderick taught me my first bit of French, Mrs Mulhern, Mrs Purcell, Mrs McKenna the Head Teacher, Miss Phillips young really attractive teacher. Was there a Mrs Mines? We were on school camp in St Mary’s Bay, Kent in July 1969 when the moon landing happened. Does anyone remember the short cut from the campus at the bottom of Tramway Road to the church. We were marched up there on holy days of obligation. Sports Day was held on the church lawn to begin with. I remember Aigburth Road being widened and graffiti on the walls asking us to vote labour, that must have been about ’64. Enough I’m rambling

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Glen
        I went to the Mayfair quite a few times but the only film I remember is a Saturday matinee of “Holiday on the buses”! Not a classic by any means. I remember the little path well and somewhere my Mum has a photo of me at my First Holy Communion that was taken on the stage in the Rivoli. I recall huge tables being laid out with sandwiches and jellys after the service.
        Its nice to know that I’ve brought a few memories back, thanks.

      • Glen Alexander says:

        The Wimpy that seemed like it had been sent fro the US. The frankfurter and ketchup in plastic tomato containers. There was a great panorama of the waterfront in there.

      • ross walsh says:

        Hi Glen The ballet school rings a bell now you mention it. I remember the name Kenny in St Charles but can’t remember anyone in our class of that name. The ones I remember are John Bridgeman, Paul Adams, Joe Maguire, Susan Barton. Ask your sister if she recognises any of those names. I left in 1962 after the Eleven Plus and went to TTI at the Dingle. Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 21:21:04 +0000 To:

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Ross, yes I’ll pass the names on, thanks. Was your school “Tocky Tech”? My late brother Mike went there.

      • Ross Walsh says:

        Hi Glen

        Yes, Tocky Tech for me from 62 to 67. Again, no recollection of anyone named Kenny but he might have been in the same year, different form.
        Harrison the chandlers in Lark Lane had a good long run. Paraffin, coal bricks, dog food, candles, washing powder etc. He certainly spent nothing on decoration. My sister saw the shop in 2012 having not clapped eyes on it for almost fifty years and said it looked exactly the same as she remembered it

        My brother is having some difficulty posting so he asked me to pass on this memory of Lark Lane:
        “The most memorable shop in lark lane was maggie mare\’s.She sold groceries,and would emerge slowly from the darkness of her rooms, small and intense of eye, so dirty she might have just left a double shift in a coalmine. I saw a man buy what i thought were two walnuts, but it was bits of cheese, enough for two mousetraps if the mice weren\’t fussy. Her silence was unsettling, to an eight year old at least,and her slow movements deepened the impression that she was extra-terrestrial. I was under strict orders not to buy bread there, for although there was a small mountain of crusty loaves in the window,the cat used to lie there across the loaves,stretching from time to time as he studied the passers-by. Strangely,the shop was next door to stephensons, a cake shop to rival any in the world, if the chauffeurs in leather gaiters coming in for madam\’s morning treats were anything to go by.”

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Brilliant comment Ross, that shop sounds horrible! We used to watch mice in the butchers on Aigburth Road when it got dark. They had loads of them running over the steel trays and window bay.

        Do you remember the sign at the top of Aigburth Road by where the Sandringham Medical Centre is now. It faced South and read “You are entering Toxteth” Then another that said “Aigburth 2 Miles”.
        That was before they decided to move Toxteth. I never really noticed that sign before 1981, and not knowing the history of the area then I thought the sign was facing the wrong way. I know it has been said before but before the riots I had never heard of anyone saying they lived in Toxteth. It was on my birth certificate as Toxteth Park, there was a Toxteth Branch Bank and as you mentioned, Toxteth Technical Institute but as far as I can remember it was never a neighborhood. Where the riots happened I recall it referred to as Liverpool 8, Parly, Lodgy, etc. I always said I lived in Aigburth but that was more to do with the road than the area. I may be talking rubbish though!

      • Steve Calland says:

        Great to read all your comments recently…i was sitting on the posh prom last Friday at 5 08 pm as somebody mentioned it…hence correct time…different memories at different times…i remember st charles and st michaels as we played footy against at jericho lane…i went to matthew arnold aka maggie ann loved the cazzie as ive said before and the four houses mystery..i thought it was a monastery the building that is partly still in priory wood i mean ..i still ride through on my bike and visit some of these places …great pic your siblings against the as yet unfilled dump but the sea wall in the background where the seing was years later that we all did takees on Ste Calland…

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Thanks for your comment Steve.
        Wasn’t there a gate at the bottom of Dingle Lane that took you to the burnt out jetty? I remember climbing up the petrol storage tanks in Dingle and getting a great view. If you threw a pebble at the top of the curve of the tank it made a really weird, echoey noise as it rolled down. Reading my comments and my blog back I sound like I spent my whole youth trespassing. Come to think of it, I we think we all did!

      • Steve Calland says:

        Oops sorry for typos in my reply and a line about the monastery which didnt read too well on reading it…i meant swing and the the bit of old brick wall still left in situ and covered in creeper which i thought was part of an old monastery……i went to dingle vale and we amalgamated with tocky teck and welly road in 1973..which became shorefields….i left school in 1976…..boy did i miss sagging school on the railway…does anybody remember miss mons the shop in the entry off rosslyn street..what dear old scottish lady she was …selling us loosees and a book of matches lol Ste Calland

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Miss Mons!
        I mentioned in one of the earlier comments about a woman selling sweets from her kitchen but couldn’t remember where it was. Well done, I was beginning to think I was making it up!
        Before Alley gates and at the time of the strikes, the I remember the entrys stacked high with rotting rubbish.

      • Ross Walsh says:

        Hi Glen
        I can certainly vouch for my brother’s comments about Maggie Mare’s shop. She had I think, some medical problem as the pinging of the shop doorbell was usually accompanied by the sound of the lavatory flushing, then she came in to serve you. The only thing I can ever remember buying there were the packets of sherbert you mixed with water to make lemonade. Her pampered tomcat, after a lifetime of snoozing on the warm loaves in the window, eventually passed away. My mother was a nurse and had gone into the back room of the shop to see how Miss Mare was and saw the cat, lying in state in a shoebox on the sideboard with a candle at each corner. I think the history of Lark Lane and it’s colourful inhabitants down the years would need a web site of it’s own to describe.

        The anti aircraft site behind the barracks was a great place for gangs of kids to play in. Perfect little forts and trenches, ready made for battles of Germans v English. There were a lot of wooden huts on the site then that would have been accommodation for the people manning the guns during the war but all derelict by the Sixties. Each November the TA set up a massive bonfire and firework display and doled out fish and chips and mugs of cocoa.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        They should of buried the cat in a bread bin.

        I’ve been trying to find photos of the Anti Aircraft Barrage in use but so far no luck. I’ll keep trying though. Great comment again Ross.

      • Glen Alexander says:

        Lots of comments. Someone mentioned P and I sports. That was a great place to buy Subbeteo teams. Another shop I rember was further along Aigburth Road nearer to the Vale which sold records. Well it certainly did at the back, but it might have been sweets at the front. You could get those ex-jukebox singles for a good price.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        And Kinsey’s bakery, a lovely old fashioned shop with a really nice sign, but for the 40 years I can remember, the top of the bread was burnt black.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Other shops I remember from the area are the Co-op, Waterworths, P & I Sports, Dave’s Dingle Diner and Jones’ sweet shop where Mr Jones was blind but sold the newspapers, the speed he checked your change fascinated me. Also the Chandlers in Lark Lane. Due to to blackouts in the 70s he must of had a roaring trade in fuel and candles. Imagine a young kid going in a shop today and asking for bottle to be filled with paraffin! As Ross said it’s funny how small things from the past stick in your memory.

      • ross walsh says:

        Hi Glen Yes, a great picture of the Mayfair. Must have been when it first opened. I never thought to look that closely at the Mayfair night time shot and would never have spotted Glenhuntley next door in the dark. Must pass that on to my brother Myles. The alley that separated the two buildings led down to the Mayfair fire exit. Left open in the heat of the summer and perfect for kids to bunk in. The car park behind actually had a bloke in a little hut to arrange the parking. If you notice on the upstairs photo of the circle, many of the seats were set up as doubles with no dividing armrest. For couples who wanted to get closer to each other. It was quite a smart cinema and contained a ballroom as well. My oldest sister worked there as an usherette and ice cream girl for a year or so before she went to the US. Lots of complimentary tickets and free ice cream for us. The manager then was Mr Barnes. You’d always see him standing outside at night in full evening dress, smoking a cigar. Tescos was built in 1962 or 63. My youngest sister had a Saturday job there on the checkout. I remember seeing the Outspan car in town but I think that was the late 60s. Next to Tescos on that block when it opened was a Wimpy Bar – a sort of half hearted MacDonalds. It didn’t last long unfortunately. They used to sell espresso coffee in glass cups with saucers. A few years ago the chandlers on the corner of Bowden Rd closed down and sold all the stock off for next to nothing. In the window were four of these identical glass cups for a quid. I had to have them. I’d be delighted if you found a full picture of the house. Strange how fishing around for these fragments of your early years becomes important when you get older. If I find anything at all I’ll send it over. Ross. Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:40:24 +0000 To:

  16. myles walsh says:

    hi, Maggie mare’s shop was striking enough but even worse for me was the coop butchers next door but one to glenhuntly. it was round the time of the Christie murders ( 10 rillington place) and the daily mirror showed a full page picture of the murderer,( bald head, glasses) , and it was the living image of the butcher. when I saw him sharpening knives prior to cutting a joint, I was terrified, and wondered why he hadn’t been arrested.
    lark lane was a great place to grow up in, the park and the cazzy so near. st Charles church on sunday was dreary until ,with johnny archendopolous , we discovered going up into the choir, where you could stretch out on the benches and chew bubbly gum uninterrupted, then lean over and look at the hats and the bald heads. After I saw the film Trapeze, and became obsessed with that brief version of flight, the metal roof struts of the church became my imaginary circus high wires ,and I did endless triple somersaults over the heads of the congregation.

  17. Dominic Mann says:

    Hi Glen, many thanks for the article. I am shamefully ignorant of Liverpool, even though my grandmother was born there. I, perhaps should mention, that Louis Samuel Cohen was my great grand uncle and my great great grand uncle was David Lewis, the founder of Lewis’s Department store. Because David was childless, various nephews etc arrived from Australia to run the various stores. I don’t know when Uncle Louis purchased the grange but the census record of 1901 show him and Aunt May living there. Prior to that they were living in Alexandra Drive. My Mother tells me that my grandmother was a great friend of George Melly’s Mother. I wonder if you have a date for when the photograph of The Priory might have been taken?

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hello Dominic,

      First of all thanks for commenting, it’s great to have a relative of someone who lived there contributing.

      I don’t think there is anyone in Liverpool who doesn’t miss the Lewis’s department store, not only was it a wonderful store and an important part of Liverpool history, but probably the most popular meeting place for friends and lovers in Liverpool, meeting under “Dickie Lewis”.
      I have fond memories of been taken there by my Mum to get my school uniform and my First Holy Communion outfit when I was 7 (43 years ago). Losing Lewis’s together with the other big stores like Blackler’s, Binns and Owen and Owen is such a shame, we still have George Henry Lees in the form of John Lewis but now sadly housed in the heartless Liverpool One development. Lewis’s! I miss the cabinets of wooden drawers filled with neatly folded shirts. The Christmas Grottos were out of this world, you really started to feel Christmas was coming when you walked passed the illuminated windows on the street and saw the animated figures. One year when I was being taken to see Father Christmas (late 60s possibly) it was a Batman theme and they had Adam West’s Batmobile there, Imagine!

      Did David Louis live in the Grange or the Priory? I came across him when I found the entry here:×90

      I’m afraid I don’t know when the photograph was taken, I found it in a Liverpool University record with the plans that appear on the blog.
      The original location of the photo and the plans were found here:

      then type in the reference D71/13/31:

      “A collection of architectural plans by Dr. Quentin Hughes

      The Priory, Aigburth.
      6 items.
      Scope and Content
      Photographs of plans and measured drawings of the following:

      /1 Ground plan of the estate.
      /2 Ground plan of the house.
      /3 General view from the Mersey.
      /4 View of the house from the south.
      /5 The avenue.
      /6 View of the house from the south.”

      The plans are from the sale of the house and this must be prior to 1881 when the Rogerson family were living there. As the photograph was with the plans and it looks very early, I would be tempted to say it is from the same time. Although, the photo seems to show topiary bushes but the drawing of the same view does not (artistic license maybe but I would of thought they would of made a nice feature to help sell the house).

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help but if you find out anything more about the house I would love to here from you. If you had a photograph taken inside or in the grounds that would be amazing!

      I found out a lot of fascinating history about nearby houses but I never seem to find the time to post.

  18. Dominic Mann says:

    Apologies Glen, Louis lived at the ‘Priory’ not ‘The Grange’. Thank you for the link to the picture of Louis, I shall add it to my family tree. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of The Priory inside or out, but checking through the census records for Louis’ children, The Priory did not remain in the family. All, however, remained in Liverpool. Of course, I am very aware of the importance Lewis’s had to the people of Liverpool and they to it. And I was very gratified to read that on David Lewis’s death a trust was set up to be used for Liverpool. One of Louis’s sons, Sir Jack Brunel-Cohen, who lost both legs in the 3rd battle of Ypres, was a co-founder of the British Legion and MP for Fairfax. Thanks again Glen. And if I can help with any info please let me know.

  19. Billy says:

    I used to go down to the cazzie at least twice a week in 60s,if you stood by st Michaels station and looked down towards the river that road went down all the way to the shore,this was before the oil tanks were there,there were steps going down with big steel railings stretching across the road,about four sets of these every thirty feet or so with a gate that you could walk through. I dont know what they were for but the stone walls were at least as high as a terriced house,at the bottom was another stone wall that ran along from the steps to the end of the woods we used to go into the woods and climb over a wall for the apples and if baggy boots as we called him caught you it was a slap on the back of your legs with his stick,I dont know why we went to nick them as they were crab apples and so we could not even eat them,there was a well by the wall that had quite a fast flowing stream,at that time you could walk along to the golf links as we called it,there were always frogs and newts in the pools,there used to be grouse,pheasant,and bats flying around of a night and of course foxes,it was a good day out just walking around and it wasent until they built the wall for the prom that they started tipping the bin wagons down there that all the wild life left and all the wild flowers were killed off then the cricket field went almost down to the river,

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Billy
      Thanks for sharing your memories, I’m intrigued about the well and the stream. Also I want to know who baggy boots was!
      By the time I played there the tip dominated the site but there was still a surprising amount of wildlife. I remember walking across the tip and there were game birds, grouse possibly that would nest camouflaged on the ground and wait till you were right up to them the fly up in your face so you’d jump out of your skin!
      I’ll have to get back to posting as I have quite a bit of new information about the area. Hopefully they won’t sell off the cricket ground. Thanks for commenting.

  20. Billy says:

    the well was at the end of the next road to the station and about 30 feet in and 10 feet to the right
    there was a wall about six feet from it I can remember looking down it and it was or seemed to be lined with cobble stones,I dont know who baggy boots was but he got the name because of the boots he wore,they looked about three foot long never had laces just abit of string in the top holes,my god he could move through those woods like a tiger,never made a sound,you didnt know he was there until he roared got yer,I can laugh now but at the time,your blood ran cold and you froze.ah good old days two rounds of bread a bottle of water and the world was ours,we owned it,and we could be any where in it,that was the cazzy,the jungle on an island or lost on another planet,dens to be made swings to use monsters to hid from including baggy boots.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Billy
      I have just returned from holiday so sorry for not replying sooner.
      Was the road you mentioned the continuation of Southwood Road that is now blocked off? If so this used to be the western boundary of St Michaels Mount and now survives as a narrow strip of wasteland so I wonder if your well still survives somewhere? Across the Priory site is a ditch with two walkovers so I wonder if this was originally the stream you mentioned?
      I will have to mention Baggy Boots to my oldest sister who used to play there in the late 1950s and she if she remembers him as I am sure she has mentioned a caretaker. He also reminded me of a character in George Melly’s recollections of The Grange:

      “The lodge keeper was a gnomish, startlingly white-haired Welshman called Mr Griffiths, who would emerge suddenly from his pointed nail-studded door to identify visitors, cackling highpitched forelock-tugging greetings at those he recognised.”

      I was pleased you mentioned making dens as we often built them on the site in the 70s. I lived in a terraced house with my parents and 8 brothers and sisters so I think I enjoyed building a personal space. Unfortunately they never survived the night as older kids always pulled them down.

  21. Angela Scott says:

    I have read your blog, and all of the fascinating reply, and despite not remembering much of Aigburth, I have very much enjoyed what everyone has to say about its History. I was born in Wingate Road in Aigburth, 1964. Now, at 50 years of age, I am working in a house in Southwood Road, very close to the train station, on the right hand side. I have been searching the internet for further details and History of the house in which I am working. It is a very large house, with a very large garden. My interest has been sparked by my work colleagues who tell me that the house is haunted, the ghost is called ‘Molly’ apparently. The story my colleagues tell me is that about 100 years ago, a gentleman lived there with his wife, she was ‘mentally unstable’ and because in those days mental illness bought you a ticket to a lunatic asylum, this gent built an extension to his house and kitted it out specifically so that he could keep his wife at home and have her cared for there. However, she took her own life by hanging herself from the banister on the stairs. None of us know what her surname is, or even her husbands first name, but many of my colleagues have seen or felt her prescence in the house, especially in the kitchen area near the west stairway.
    I am hoping that maybe you know or have heard about this ghost, or maybe somebody else that has posted on here has?? I really would be grateful for any information at all, or maybe a clue as to how I can find names of past owners of the property, it is number 24 in the road but I have no idea if it has always been numbered or perhaps initially it was a house name.
    Many thanks

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Angela

      I’m glad you have enjoyed reading the blog, 24 is the hostel isn’t it?

      That sounds like a sad story, I hope it’s just a myth. It must be a bit off-putting if you work there and you believe in such things!

      Researching a specific house can be a bit tricky but here a few hints. is free this weekend (If you register make sure you unclick auto renewal or you will be charged every month). Under “Search” leave names and year blank. For location put “Toxteth, Lancashire, England”. Then in the “Keyword” box put “24 southwood Road” and click “exact”. I found two results – one from 1888 and another from 1911. I won’t post the names as it could be upsetting for relatives surviving.

      “The British Newspaper Archive” could help if the person committed suicide as it may have made it into the local papers. You have to pay but it often has offers for just £1 a month. (again unclick auto renewal)

      Another hint is when you Google search put “24 Southwood Road Toxteth Park” as this is the older name for the area it brings up some church records for the occupants. I found a couple doing this.
      Also try “24 southwood road st michael’s hamlet”.

      lastly, Ross who regularly contributes to this blog sent me a great link to a map website that allows you to look at Liverpool back to 1888 but has the modern satellite image next to it so you can see where you are searching. I have pasted the link here and hopefully it will open at the right spot.

      Good luck with your research and I hope these hints help.

    • Ross says:

      Hi Angela As children walking down Southwood Road to the Cast Iron Shore in the 50s, we would often speculate which of the houses looked the most likely to be the haunted one we had often heard mentioned. A woman’s suicide was also part of the story. But more than that, I couldn’t add anything.

  22. Mick Gill says:

    Hi Glen
    Love the blog. I went to St Charles in the mid 70s and was terrified of Mr Tunney. We lived in one of the big yellow brick houses in the Wallers photo – 11 Aigburth Rd opposite Mr White’s sweetshop My dad – also Mick Gill – had a lorry yard in St Michaels in the 60s and 70s. Aigburth road sure was a special place to grow up!
    Best wishes
    Mick Gill

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Mick
      We were all terrified of Tunney. He once caned every boy in the class because the real culprit wouldn’t admit to some petty offence and we wouldn’t tell him. He had to take a breather half way through. Prior to him my experience at St Charles was joyful, after him I never had much enthusiasm for school again. The other teachers were lovely though.
      Thanks for commenting.

  23. Tony Howard says:

    Very much interested by your blog – super work! I have lived in Scotland most of my life now, but I lived in Belvidere Rd as a kid, and attended St Michael’s in the Hamlet school 1951-1957. My grannie lived in Rosslyn St, and I used to go to her house for lunch (since the school meals served up at the hall in Belgrave Rd were just unspeakable!). I have more memories of playing on the “Gollies” than on the Cast-Iron shore itself – I also remember a school outing when our class walked down Southwood Road (I think) and spent our art lesson sketching an old blacksmith’s shop somewhere down there – the smith was shoeing horses, so it was obviously still working. My only real contact with the kids from St Charles was snowball fights in Burdett St every time it snowed!

    Great work – thanks! – Tony Howard

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Tony
      The scene you describe of a working blacksmith is fantastic and what a great subject for children to draw, it would be great to see a photo of it if anyone has one.
      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading it and it is nice to get so much feedback because when I started the blog I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested.

    • John Molyneux says:

      Hello Tony my name is John Molyneux and have lived in this area all my life first Belgrade rd now in Rosslyn st you are right about the blacksmith it was next to the cottage opposite the station,spent most of my childhood down there,I have an original oil painting of the Cazzie by Alan Curran a local artist,l don’t know how to put a picture on this site !!

    • Malcolm Lord says:

      Firstly, I enjoyed the blog very much – brought back many memories. Secondly, I remember you from St Michaels Tony. We were in the same class together. I live in Australia now but get back to Liverpool from time to time. Best regards, Malcolm Lord

  24. plodge says:

    Hello Glen, I lived in Priory Lodge from March 1939 till July 1964 when I left to get married. I still have some photographs of the lodge. The Priory,The Grange and The Friars had long since gone but the lodges and cottages remained and occupied by railway workers. There was Priory Lodge, Priory Cottage, Grange Lodge, and Grange Cottage and I can recall all residents. I believe the Railway bought the land to build docks there shortly before WW2 but the war postponed it so it was probably shelved for ever and they let the cottages to some of their employees. I could tell you about the bombing during the war and of some interesting stories about The Cloisters and The Hermitage but it would probably go on for too long and bore everybody. All residents were moved out [including my parents] during 1965 and 1966 and all property demolished, The two sandstone gate pillars engraved with ‘The Priory’ are still in their original position but unfortunately painted red, they looked much better in original sandstone.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi, thanks for getting in touch. I would love to hear more as I’m sure would a lot of people so please feel free to share your memories of the place. If you are happy to post your photos too that would be great. You can either post it as comments or you can email me at and i’ll put your story into a proper post. Very exciting to hear from you!

  25. plodge says:

    Glen, Earlier on this page it says the Mellys lived at the Grange until 1959? I lived at Priory Lodge from March 1939 till July 1964 and the Grange was gone before my parents moved in. I would suggest the Grange was demolished in early 1939 or maybe earlier. I remember the Griffiths (also mentioned earlier) who lived in Grange Lodge, Mr Griffiths being the gardener for The Grange stayed on until he passed away when I was about 4 years old and Mrs Griffiths stayed for many years after that till I was well into my teens. Also earlier is a photo of the newsagent shop next to Glen Toxteth as was, you say you remember it as Roughleys, well before that it was Grindleys and I delivered papers for them from 1952 till 1955, I don’t know why but I remember a grocers by the name of “Irwins” a couple of shops away on the corner of Thirlstane St. and I think next door to them was a hosiers by the name of “Danks”.The newsagents doesn’t seem to have changed much over the last 60 years “good for them”. I alternated visitng the Mayfair and Rivoli picture houses on a weekly basis and during the holidays found what we called the “Mayfair hill” ideal for our steering cart made from redundant pram wheels (a bit dangerous at times!). I often return to the Priory area for the sake of nostalga, there is something I just can’t get away from. Incidentally I attended St.michaels in the Hamlet infants and juniors school and Toxteth Tech (1950 to1955).

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi, thanks for the information, I’ll have to go back and check my sources and correct. We used the hill for exactly the same activity but you had to make make you but the brakes in (usually your feet) before you reached Bryanston Road!
      I was driving my home made cart down there one day (with pram wheels) and a policeman stopped me and asked if I had a licence and insurance. I bottled it but he laughed and walked away. Ross Walsh sent me a list of old shops that used to be on Aigburth Road – I’ll see if I can find it for you. The diversity of the shops is incredible.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi, I’m back on my computer after a holiday so checked where I got the 1959 date for the Grange. It was from George Melly’s recollections in his book ‘Scouse Mouse’. after the passage I qouted he states:

      “There were only two indoor servants at The Grange, both of whom were there before I was born and who remained with my grandmother, heavily exploited and frequently abused, until her death in 1959. Her maid was called Marjorie, a large, rosycheeked, heavy-breathing woman who retained the slow rural burr of her native Shropshire. She had caught my grandmother’s feudal fantasies and whenever I went to call on Gangie at however short an interval, would greet me with a cry of ‘Welcome home, Master George’, as if I were the young lord returning to his great estates after completing the Grand Tour. When I was small this seemed merely peculiar. I knew that my real home was 22 Ivanhoe Road . It was later that I found it absurd, and especially after my grandparents had left The Grange, which at least resembled a modest manor house, and moved into a semi-detached facing Aigburth Boulevard. After my grandfather’s death Gangie rented a flat, but even this didn’t modify Marjorie’s ritual. Dressed during the war as a temporary post-woman, she would still evoke wide parklands and rolling acres.”

      But as you can remember it so clearly and place the dates so accurately, maybe George made a mistake?

      • Dominic Mann says:

        Hi Glen, my understanding of the Melly quote differs from yours. Melly states that his grandmothers’ servants remained with her until her death, in 1959; he does not state her then address His paternal grandmother, Edith (nee Court), died in 1959, at 29 Algburth Drive, Liverpool. His maternal grandmother, also named Edith Isaac (nee Samuel) died in 1952, at 2 York Mansions, Sandringham Drive, Liverpool. As mentioned in my other post, I do not know Liverpool, but my great great grand Uncle was David Lewis (founder of Lewis’ Department store) and my great grand uncle was Louis Cohen (Mayor of Liverpool). My grandmother was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool and knew the Melly family.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Ah! That explains it. I’ll correct the post thanks Dominic.

  26. plodge says:

    It appears there is still a lot of enthusiastic interest in the accuracy of the history of the Priory Wood area, which is pleasing. Recent Melly quotations from your goodself and Dominic Mann mention is made of Marjorie (Mellys servant), well I remember she often came back to Grange Lodge to visit the Griffiths who were Lodgekeeper/gardener to the Mellys. Marjorie was large and loud and rode an equally large “sit-up-and-beg” ladies bicycle with a big basket at the front. If I saw or heard her approaching I ran off to find a place to hide. I have eventually got a couple of photographs of Priory Lodge and Friars Cottage put on to this computer (wih the help of a grandson) but I am not sure exactly how to get them to you, so if you can please bear with us we will come up with something.

  27. Simon Melville says:

    Hi Glen, I came across your fascinating blog about The Priory yesterday evening when I was looking into my wife’s Clarkson rellies. Her gt gt grandfather William Clarkson (1830-1915) lived at The Priory at the time of the 1881 Census – and at The Friars at the 1891 Census (he died at the latter in 1915).

    William was born in Liverpool after his parents moved there from Poulton Le Fylde. His father Thomas died when William was very young and his mother (Nancy nee Banton) remarried to a Thomas Green (from Hertfordshire). Thomas Green was (according to the 1841 Census) a Publican and the family lived at Summer Seat, Liverpool. By 1851 they had moved to 154 Richmond Row, Islington.

    William married his step-father’s neice Emma Lucy Green, whose father was a builder, in 1854. By 1859 he and his growing family were living at 171 Islington, Liverpool and he is shown as a ‘Brewer, Wine & Spirit Merchant’. At the 1871 Census the family are at 10 Marsh Lane, Walton and he seems to have moved from there directly to The Priory. Quiite why he should then move ‘2 doors away’ to The Friars, I know not. He appears to have sold his business in 1890, and there is a long list of pubs, hotels and breweries that he sold here

    His probate record says his Estate was valued at £102,932 19s 10d. (£9,544,604 in 2015)

    His daughter Laura Anne Kitchen Clarkson (1863-1948) married in 1884 another Liverpool Brewer, George Wright Mumford (1850-1928) whose parents (Edwin Mumford and Ruth nee Wright) lived at 23 Alexandra Drive. George and Laura lived at 9 Parkfield, Toxteth Park.

    Edwin Mumford was one of first 7 members of committee to establish St Paul’s Eye and Ear Hospital. He was also a Brewer as was his wife’s father. Edwin’s father John Mumford, was (according to a death notice in the 1812 Gentleman’s magazine) a “silversmith, and founder and proprietor of the Liverpool royal museum. He has left a widow* and 12 children.”
    (*Eliabeth nee Cartwright)

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Simon, thanks for the information, is your wife Joan? I remember her commenting a couple of years ago. It’s great to find out more about the people that lived there! You have done a great job researching the family.

      • Simon Melville says:

        Hi Glen, no, Joan is a distant cousin of my wifes.

        My wife is descended thus:
        William Clarkson(1830-1915) = Emma Lucy Green (1835-1910)
        Laura Anne Kitchen Clarkson (1863-1948) = George Wright Mumford (1850-1928)
        Violet Mumford (1885-1952) = Brian Gresley Elton Sunderland (1883-1971)
        Joe Leslie Mumford Sunderland (1922-1996) = Margaret Mary Burton (1924-2016)
        Susan Mary Sunderland…

        I have an extensive family tree on Genes Reunited – nearly 43,000 individuals!

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Wow, that’s some family, good job you don’t have to get them all Christmas cards! I did my family history, which is the reason I haven’t posted in the blog for a while. Mine was tricky as most go back to Ireland which I’m sure you will have come across isn’t the easiest to research. I am always envious if those with American relatives as there seems a lot more early photographs than those in Britain. Or maybe it’s just there is a lot more people researching there?

      • Hotmail Outlook says:

        Great information what a place it must have been in the day

        Sent from my iPad


      • Glen Huntley says:

        Wow, that’s some family, good job you don’t have to get them all Christmas cards! I did my family history, which is the reason I haven’t posted in the blog for a while. Mine was tricky as most go back to Ireland which I’m sure you will have come across isn’t the easiest to research.

    • Matthew says:

      I’m American, my mother’s maiden name is Clarkson, and I think we must be related to William Clarkson (still trying to trace how) because I found a framed photograph of The Friars, apparently right before it was demolished in the 1930s:

      Simon, do you have any suggested resources?

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Mathew, what an amazing photo! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your photo. William Clarkson’s name has popped up so often in my research so it’s great to hear from a relative. If you want to share what you know of him I’ll include it on the site. To find a photo of The Friars is very special.

      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi Mathew

        That really is an incredible photo, it’s so clear! I love the gardens and the sculpture in the centre. It’s such a shame it no longer exists.

        Looking at the shape of the building got me confused when I looked at a couple of old maps this morning because your photo shows a rectangular structure whereas on the two maps I looked at this morning The Friars looked more square. So I took to Photoshop and put 3 maps together, one from 1835, another from the 1840s (updated in the 1860s to include the new railway) and another from 1908. The latter shows a building of the exact shape on your photo, meaning that the building was greatly extended sometime after the mid 1860s.

        You can see the 3 maps here:

        The original building would have been the part that has two sets of four chimneys on.

        So William Clarkson lived at The Priory in 1881 and then moved next door to The Friars sometime before 1887 when he is listed as living there when he is running for the local election of the St. Anne’s ward.

        All those rooms and there were only 6 family members living there!

        The Friars seems to go off the radar in the 1870s and 1880s until William occupies it so I wonder if he was the person who extended the building?

        If you send me an email to I will send you any information I have found about William Clarkson. I collected some clippings to go with the second installment of the St. Michael’s in the Hamlet I am researching. I have over 30 news clippings alone with him on that I could send you.

      • John Molyneux says:

        Hi Glen. I would love see photos of the Priory and the Friars… Is this possible ….thanks John Molyneux


      • Glen Huntley says:

        Hi John, if you go to the first post called “If you go down to the woods today” there is an old photo of the priory, together with plans. Also in the same post is a photo of another house called St. Michael’s Mount. My delay in responding was that very recently I was sent an amazing photo of the Friars from a descendant of one of the owners (see the comments section) I have now added it to the post so you can see that too.

      • John Molyneux says:

        Thanks Glen for the info…..I remember Friars cottage….because I lived in Belgrave rd from when I was born in 1948….I still live in the area…..the remains of the walll in front of the the cottage is still there I pass it most days on my walk…thanks. John Molyneux

  28. […] settlement had a much longer history. This continues today with many people thinking the ruins in Priory Woods were the remains of an ancient monastic building, rather than a private house. Robert Griffiths, […]

  29. Clare Nicholson Hodgson says:

    I grew up playing in the cazzy I have the iron keys to the front door of the hermitage I found them in the hollow of a tree wrapped in cloth just by the entrance of priory woods.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Clare, what an interesting find.
      I wonder why they were hidden in the tree? I’m intrigued. It may be an overactive imagination but I can’t help wondering if there is a story behind them being left there? Did an untrustworthy employee of The Hermitage leave them there for someone else to let themselves in? Did a burglar leave them there so he could return? Did a servant girl leave them for her boyfriend? Or was it just a more elaborate form of leaving them under the plant pot? Thanks for commenting.

  30. Alison Smyth says:

    My father was born in cloisters cottage and I have been trying to find a picture of it to frame as a present for him. Does anyone remember the Myles family. My dad is James, born in 1940. He had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. His parents were Frank (Francis) and Pauline. He would be delighted if I could find a photograph as he always talks of how much he loves the area of st. Michael’s in the Hamlet. He also met my Mum there and they did their courting in the area.

    • Glen Huntley says:

      Hi Alison, have you seen my post ‘St. Michael’s Hamlet Part 1’, you’ll find information, and an old photo, of The Cloisters there. Thanks for commenting

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