Bygone Liverpool -new posts to read

We have been very busy at Bygone Liverpool during the Lockdowns!

This new website is a collaboration with Daz at Liverpool Fragments and myself. There’s now four posts on lesser known aspects of Liverpool’s history.

Rather than focusing on just South Liverpool, this website concentrates on the town centre. In documenting Liverpool’s fascinating history, so far we’ve covered Witches living in Castle Street, a Nazi consulate in town, Civil War and the early development of Liverpool and the town’s shameful involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Tradeand we’ve got plenty more to come.

We hope you enjoy the posts and would appreciate your feedback. If you have any questions for us we’d love to hear them.

Our posts so far:

The Witches of Castle Street
Over 350 years ago two witches lived on Castle Street, Liverpool. This story is not a myth, it comes from a contemporary account from their long-suffering landlord. The authors have located the exact location of where that was. Now wrap up warm and come with us as we explore the witches’ coven.

A Nazi Consulate in Rodney Street
Did you know that there was a Nazi Consulate in Liverpool from the 1930s right up to the start of WW2?
It’s hard to believe but a Swastika was flown from the building in Rodney Street, even when there was a Royal visit. Not only that, it was at the centre of a scandal about a spy who sold plans of a new ammunition factory. You’ll be glad to hear that from an early date the people of Liverpool protested about the consul and Germany’s treatment of the Jews.

Lord Molyneux’s House and the early development of Lord Street, Liverpool
Lord Street was named after Lord Molyneux and used to have a building that survived for 250 years. Built in the late 17th century for Lord Molyneux and featuring his coat-of-arms, this town-house would be destroyed by enemy bombs in the Liverpool Blitz of May 1941. For the first time we give a full history of the street and this remarkable house. We illustrate the house, showing how it looked though time.

Goree, Liverpool. Part One
An attempt to recreate the Liverpool strand of 1750 from original sources. In this first of a series of three posts we look at an area of Liverpool bearing the name Goree, this area would forever be linked to the city’s shameful involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Bygone Liverpool is a collaboration between Daz at Liverpool Fragments and myself. This site will concentrate more on central Liverpool and will cover everything from before Liverpool was the Capital of the Slave Trade right up to being the Capital of Culture. There will be strong emphasis on the 18th century and we’ll be revealing little known (or previously unknown) facts about the city. We’ll also be posting drawings, paintings an photographs of Liverpool that have so far been overlooked in the archives. We’ll be dusting them off and telling their story.

As well as the website you can also follow @BygoneLiverpool on Twitter

Your feedback is important
There’s plenty more to come so please Follow us to make sure you don’t miss any future posts. We’d also love your feedback so please feel free to leave a comment.

I will still be posting finds on this site. In fact I’ve only made a dent in the history of Toxteth Park and much more is to come in the near future. Drop in from time to time to check for anything new or Follow this site to get news of the latest posts.

Thanks for your incredible support and feedback over the years. I hope it continues and also that you enjoy the new website also.

Your old school photos

If you have any old school photos you would like to share of the area around Aigburth, St Michael’s Hamlet and Dingle (old Toxteth Park) please send them to with a much detail as you can of the children and teachers featured. If you recognise yourself or anyone else please feel free to add a comment.

St Michael in the Hamlet school, 1949/50

The first photo featured is another great photo sent to me by Lesley (Len) Murley who lived in Priory Lodge. This time it is of his classmates at St Michael in the Hamlet school. Len says:

This photo (probably 1949, but could be 1950 ) is of the top class in St Michael’s school, Neilson Road. I am in the front row, seated, extreme left as we look at it. If somebody recognises themselves it may stir them into adding further interesting information. I recognise almost all of them but can only put names to a few. They were mainly from the areas of the Hamlet to Sefton Park, and the Dingle to Fulwood Park. I have recently received the photograph, sent to me by the sister of one of the boys with whom I was friends. The school teacher was Mr Davies.

From my memory, apologies as it may be inaccurate and or misspelt!
From left to right as we look:
Top Row: Joe Sambrook, Mike Fives, Les Craig, Charles Travar__, Raymond Burkey, Peter Burnett, Jeffrey Preston, Brian Roberts, and Donald Mcaulay.
Second Row: Eric Griffiths, ?, ?, Valerie Jackson, ?, ?, ?, David Williams, ?, and John Webster,

Middle Row: ?, ?, Gelda Salisbury, Ursula Roberts, ?, Ann Rimmer, ?, Pat Watkins, ?, and ?,
Fourth Row: Marjorie Nixon, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, and ?,
Bottom Row: Len Murley, ?, ?, Alfie Fairbrother, ?, Raymond Wilson, and ?,

St Michael in the Hamlet school, 1957

My thanks go to Al Owens who sent in the following photo and message.

Taken in 1957. Teacher was Mr Clark, his first year with Class1, having deposed Mr Davis from the top spot. Important Eleven-plus year for everyone and Mr Clark was a great teacher. Most of us got to the secondary schools we wanted. The photo shows Mr Clark and his class.
Names are purely from memory – it’s over 60 years ago. Apologies to those I can’t remember, shown by a bold ?

I don’t remember the girls as much as I would like. Some names will be wrong and some misspelled!
Top down, left to right: 

Row 1: Lawrence Lander, Robert Smith, Peter Riley, ?, Robert Lund, David/Malcolm Craig, Albert Owens
Row 2: Keith Holman, Graham Jones, George Pratt, John Hogan, ?, Tony Howard, Alan P?, Malcolm Lord, Keith Scargill
Row 3: ?, Ruth Fairbrother, Jill?, ?, Dorothy ?, ?, Beryl ?, Linda ?, Diane ?, ?
Row 4: ?, Pamela Jones, ?, ?, Barbara ?, Pauline ?, Yvonne Inkster, ?
Row 5: Ian ?, ?, ? John Wilson, Andre Coxon.

Please fill in the gaps. I see Malcolm Lord and Tony Howard have already written to this site. Be great to hear from folks.
I hope you had wonderful lives.
Al Owens, Dallas, Texas, USA

If you are in this photo it would be great if you leave a comment so I can fill in the blanks for Al. If you would like your school photo adding to this page send it to

New Liverpool History Website!

If you have enjoyed my history posts on Toxteth Park and Aigburth please take a look at a new website I co-author.

Bygone Liverpool is a collaboration between Daz at Liverpool Fragments and myself. This site will concentrate more on central Liverpool and will cover everything from before Liverpool was the Capital of the Slave Trade right up to being the Capital of Culture. There will be strong emphasis on the 18th century and we’ll be revealing little known (or previously unknown) facts about the city. We’ll also be posting drawings, paintings an photographs of Liverpool that have so far been overlooked in the archives. We’ll be dusting them off and telling their story.

Daz will be well known to anyone with an interest on our city’s history as he has been posting his finds online for two decades, first on the Yo! Liverpool forum and more recently via his Liverpool Fragments. He is expert in locating historic sites shown in paintings and drawings and placing them in their modern landscape. He has also helped with this site in the past by unearthing previously unpublished paintings that had been hidden in the archives such as the painting of Old Hall on Aigburth Road.

My contribution will be continuing the method I apply to this site – cramming in as much ‘new’ information as possible. This earned one post the amusing but reassuring review of ‘Long but interesting’.

As well as the website you can also follow @BygoneLiverpool on Twitter

A book on the way
Daz and I have a book we hope to publish soon that we have been researching since 2017. While doing so we discovered many unrelated aspects of Liverpool’s history that we believe have never been shared before, or not given the in-depth investigation they deserve. Bygone Liverpool will be an opportunity to do just that.

Our first post
For our first post we chose the story of the Witches of Castle Street. This is the true story of two woman who confessed to being witches in 17th century Liverpool.

For the first time we can reveal the exact spot where they lived on Castle Street!

Your feedback is important
There’s plenty more to come so please Follow us to make sure you don’t miss any future posts. We’d also love your feedback so please feel free to leave a comment.

I will still be posting finds on this site. In fact I’ve only made a dent in the history of Toxteth Park and much more is to come in the near future. Drop in from time to time to check for anything new or Follow this site to get news of the latest posts.

Thanks for your incredible support and feedback over the years. I hope it continues and also that you enjoy the new website also.

Lark Lane, Part One: the early years

Lark lane street viewTaken during the Coronavirus Lockdown – a rare glimpse of Lark Lane with few people and parking spaces available. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

How do you describe the often named ‘bohemian oasis‘ of Lark Lane in a few paragraphs? If you are from Liverpool it needs no introduction. If you’ve lived here for any period you have probably visited there. If you’re thinking of living here it’s probably on you ‘to do’ list.

You don’t have to take my word for Lark Lane being unique, as I was writing this post during the Coronavirus Lockdown, Condé Nast Traveller voted Aigburth as ‘One of six coolest neighbourhoods in the UK’ . The lane is central to their review:

The next chapter for an established enclave

So many of Liverpool’s addresses are known through song titles that it’s surprising someone hasn’t penned a few lyrics about Lark Lane by now, such is the city’s sense of its own mythology. Even more so considering the street is home to the Motor Museum studio, where Arctic Monkeys and Jake Bugg laid down early tracks. South of the centre, Lark Lane is the heart of Aigburth, with cheek-by-jowl independent outfits drawing folk from all around.

There’s always been something happening here – Keith’s Wine Bar and the Old Police Station, with its craft-led makers bazaar, are veterans – but now a new generation is raising the game. Street-food pioneer Hafla Hafla has become a fully fledged restaurant with Persian roast chicken on the menu; Polidor 68, inspired by counter-cultural Paris, experiments with lamb-keema lasagne and pistachio tiramisu, while the brilliantly named Woo Tan Scran is a vegan Chinese chippy wrapping up ‘prawn’ toasts and jackfruit pancakes. Since Liverpool’s time as European Capital of Culture in 2008, it has been high on confidence, doing bold, imaginative things. Inner-city hits include the buzzing Ropewalks and Baltic Triangle areas with street art, club nights and cafés. Aigburth, though, has the community spirit and open spaces, with nearby districts worth exploring, too: Granby Workshop for ceramics, seasonal menus at Belzan and Otterspool Promenade, from where you can follow the river right into town.
By Joe Keggin

Lark Lane leads from Aigburth Road to Sefton Park and is lined with Victorian properties and some older. One building probably dates to the reign of George III (see St. Michael’s School below) . Many of the original shops have made way for bars, restaurants and specialist shops. Keith’s Wine Bar was opened in the 1977 by Keith Haggis, (I had my first ever pint in there two years later). The lane has a great choice of lively pubs and bars, the names of several have changed often over the years, apart from the Parkfield Inn and The Albert. The family-ran Maranto’s Restaurant has been a favourite since 1983.

Kieth'sKeith’s Food and Wine Bar. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

The AlbertThe Albert. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

lodge - masonicThe Lodge formerly The Masonic, Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

MezaMeze Turkish Bar & Grill, one of the oldest buildings on the lane itself, dating from the 1850s. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

marantosMaranto’s Restaurant. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

The old Police station now serves a community centre run by the St Michael’s and Lark Lane Community Association (SMLLCA). The lane also hosts regular Farmers’ Markets. Lark Lane was designated as a Conservation Area since November 1976.

police stationThe Old Police Station, Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

In this first of several posts I’d like to cover the earliest years of the lane from the 18th to the mid 19th centuries, before Sefton Park was opened in 1872. This period of the lane has not been covered before to my knowledge.

Before Lark Lane

Lark Lane was laid out around 1800, prior to that it was simply a path running through fields of the mostly rural Toxteth Park. ‘Old Marld & Lane’ can be seen from a map from the 1760s below. The name Old Marl’d Lane would have derived from a Marl Pit, a limey-clay, was used as a fertiliser for the fields.

old marlds laneToxteth Park in the 1760s showing the area that would become Lark Lane, top centre.

The road running left to right on the map above is what became known as Aigburth Road. Previously this had been known as Park Lane as it spanned Toxteth Park. A stream can be seen doglegging from the top left, this is the entered the Mersey at Dickensen’s Dingle. St Michael’s Hamlet was built in the area surrounding the stream after it crossed Aigburth Road. The field boundary at the top of the lane became Linnet Lane. Along with the names of two British birds, the Lark and the Linnet, there are fields called Near Coney Bar and Further Coney Bar, ‘Coney’ being an old term for a rabbit (from the Latin cuniculus).

old marlds lane lark lane 1860s, before Sefton Park was opened in 1872.
This has been
rotated to match the orientation of the 18th century map. Even at this time the lane is still mostly bounded by fields, Prince’s View and May Cottage are shown and near to Hadasassah Grove is St. Michael’s School.

Toxteth Park

Lark Lane was originally part of Toxteth Park, a royal hunting ground laid out for King John in the 13th century. The park was originally enclosed by a wooden (later stone) wall. This may have given the park it’s name as it appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Stochestede’ – Old English for Stockaded Place. It appears there were two ‘Park Gates’, these were located at the Park’s north and south extremities, one by where St James Church now stands, being the boundary of Upper Parliament Street and the other was likely to have been at Otterspool.

John Eyes, surveyed June 1765
A snippet from a survey by John Eyes in 1765, the Park Gate is shown on the right next to Thomas Turner’s land – his was the first part of the park to be developed soon after.
Just above the gate is where St. James’s church would be built in 1774–75 by Cuthbert Bisbrown, his name appears on plot No. 4 showing he had recently purchased Edmund Odgen’s land.  Thanks to @Waite99D for the map.

Two hunting lodges were erected – Lower Lodge at Otterspool (demolished to make way for the now closed Otterspool railway station) and Higher Lodge that still stands (much altered) on the corner of Sefton Park Road and Windermere Terrace.

The two royal parks, Croxteth and Toxteth, together with Simons Wood, were granted to Sir Richard Molyneux by the office of the Chief Forester of the Wapentake of West Derby, by King Henry VI, in 1446. The park stayed in the family of the Earls of Sefton.

Toxteth was disparked c. 1590 and farming began. These early settlers were of Puritan faith, predominantly from the Ormskirk area like the Aspinwall family. In 1611 these Puritan farmers and watchmakers erected a school near to a stream that led to The Dingle. By 1611 a chapel was built, for many years known as The Ancient chapel of Toxteth.

By 1771 the Earl of Sefton obtained an an Act of Parliament to develop the farm of Thomas Turner and the builder Cuthbert Brisbrown was commissioned to lay out the area that was named Harrington. The first land to be developed was the farm of Thomas Turner (see John Eyes plan above). Brisbrown also built, and probably designed, St. James’ Church (1774–75). Brisbrown faced financial difficulties because American War of Independence and was bankrupt in 1777.

Industry too had moved to the park with shipbuilding on the shore and copper works – later the Herculaneum Pottery works. Although part of the park had become densely populated with insanitary court housing, most of the park remained rural.

Wealthy merchants chose Toxteth Park as the ideal location to build their mansions – moving away from the increasingly overcrowded town. Farm land was sold off to accommodate these villas, being just a couple of miles from the town and with splendid views of the Mersey and Cheshire shore. Two of the sites picked for development were St. Michael’s in the Hamlet and Lark Lane.

Lark Lane in the early 19th century

An advertisement in 1813 shows that Lark Lane predates the creation of St. Michael’s Hamlet, this small cluster of houses was built by John Cragg around 1815 after he had erected St. Michael’ Church in 1813 (consecrated in 1815). Cragg owned an iron foundry and the church and pioneered the use of cast-iron in the construction of the church and the hamlet of houses. This led to St. Michael’s being known locally as the Cast Iron Church and the nearby Cast Iron Shore (or Cazzy).

Lark Lane Liverpool Mercury 22 October 1813
A piece of land, situate in Lark-Lane, Toxteth park, in front of the said Lane 15 yards, and running in depth backwards 62 yards, or thereabouts, having a wall 62 yards long, and about 10 feet high : the land is well stocked with Fruit Trees, and is Land of Inheritance.
Liverpool Mercury 22 October 1813, British Newspaper Archive.

4 houses Liverpool Mercury 20 September 1816
A sale of 4 messuages in the possession of Henry Burgess, Bolton and others.
Liverpool Mercury 20 September 1816, British Newspaper Archive.

Earliest recorded resident

John Fisher, before 1814, Shipbuilder

The Will of John Fisher of Lark Lane was proven in 1814, he is the earliest known resident I could find. Fisher was a shipwright and was part of a shipbuilding family that started with Roger Fisher. In a book Roger published in 1763, entitled ‘Heart of Oak, The British Bullwark’,  he writes that he could count 30 years of experience. Roger became a Freeman of Liverpool in 1737. His son John (almost certainly the father of the Lark Lane shipbuilder) joined the enterprise and himself became a Freeman in 1765. John Senior built 7 ships for the Royal Navy including the 50-gun HMS Grampus, launched at their shipyard in 1782.

John Fisher will Lark Lane 1814
John Fisher, Shipbuilder of Lark Lane, 1814.

grampus_echo_copyright_1A model of HMS Grampus bulit by John’s father of the smae name:

Fishers yard 1765 and 1803Eye’s plan of 1765 showing the shipyard of Roger Fisher and Horwood’s plan of 1803 showing the greatly enlarged ‘Mr. Fisher’s Yard’, 12 years after the death of John Fisher Senior. This is likely to have been the yard of John Fisher of Lark Lane.

The family continued to build ships in Liverpool until 1830 when the partnership of Richard Ormandy as ‘Jonathan and Roger Fisher & Co’. (Jonathan Fisher, John Fisher, Roger Fisher and Richard Ormandy) was dissolved.

John Newton, before 1827, Slave Merchant

No, not the slaving preacher of Amazing Grace fame, this John Newton died in Lark Lane in 1827. His Will states ‘Of Colony of Demerary, At Present Lark Lane, Toxteth Park, Walton on the Hill, Cheshire & Lancashire, England‘. Lancashire Archives

Like his namesake, Newton was also involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. He was co-owner of two plantations with a total of 206 enslaved people. The first plantation in Vrees-en-Hoop in British-Guiana was with Joseph Beete of Clifton, this had 116 enslaved persons. The executor of his Will, William Wilkinson was awarded compensation (awarded to slave-owners slaves after abolition) for Met en Meerzorg in British Guiana. Met en Meerzorg had 90 enslaved people. Newton had purchased this from Beete.

In 1827, the suit of Joseph Beete v Henry Fisher Bidgood was heard in London arising from the agreement in 1821 between Joseph Beete and John Newton under which Beete sold to John Newton Beete’s moiety in Met-en-Meerzorg for £25,000 (£16,000 net of notes in the hands of Newton). Henry Fisher Bidgood had previously been known as Henry Fisher Sloane, co-signee with John Newton of the contract. It is not clear from the summary of the case whether this brought Newton to 100% ownership or not. Newton was said to have died before the action was brought.

You can read the case here:
Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench

The mortgagee of both Vrees-en-Hoop and Met-en-Meerzorg was John Gladstone (father of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone) who put in a counterclaim and was compensated £22,443 19s 11d and £21,0112s 7d for them respectively. These were just two of the slave plantations Gladstone was involved in. Read the full list here:

Joseph Ward, before 1832, Slave Merchant

The Preston Chronicle of 1 September 1832 recorded the death of Joseph Ward:

On the 16th ult., at his residence, in Lark-lane, near Liverpool, aged 68 years, Joseph Ward, Esq., late of Demerara.

Ward was also an owner of a planation in British-Guiana, his was listed as 546. This plantation had 361 enslaved people.

St. Michael’s School

James Sherriff drew two maps of the area, the first in 1816 and an other updated version  in 1823. Lark Lane is shown in isolation on the first but the second has another street leading off it, this was School Lane where St. Michael’s Ladies School was situated.

Lark lane james sheriffTwo maps by James Sherriff, 1816 top and 1823 below it.
By 1823 School Lane has appeared.

This small school was opened in 1819 by Mrs and Miss Satterthwaite who lived at the Old Hall on the corner of Aigburth Road and St Michael’s Road. Judging by its name, the school was opened to cater for the occupants of the newly built hamlet of the same name.

Liverpool Mercury 17 December 1819 opening of Lark Lane School
Mrs and Miss Satterthwaite open St. Michael’s School.
Liverpool Mercury, December 1819.

In 1822 Lucy Hannah Satterthwaite, (born 6th July, 1800) married William Hesketh, the vicar of St. Michael’s church. In 1824 Lucy was running a Ladies Boarding School at St Michael’s Old Hall (Her mother Ann and Sister Alice ran another school at Upper Stanhope Street).

Tithe Award 1845 School Red no 280The Tithe award schedule of 1845 shows the occupants of Lark Lane,
number 280 is St Michael’s School.

school listed on Tithe as plot 280Plot 280 is shown in the schedule as Trustees of St. Michael’s School, occupied by Thomas Scarratt and Ann Walker. As well as the school the plot comprised of two houses and yards.

In 1858 William Hesketh died and School Lane was renamed Hesketh Street.

Christ Church School occupied the same spot before 1882. The Christ Church Institute was on the opposite side of the road, now Maranto’s Restaurant.

As the footprint of the Christ Church School is the same as St. Michael’s from 1819, it is likely that is the same building, built in the reign of George III – over 200 years old!

1892-19141892-1914 map. NLS Side by side

1954 OS map over the tithe map1954 OS map over the tithe map, courtesy of @Waite99D

The old school in 1970. Image: Liverpool Record Office

Christ Church SchoolsSt. Michael’s School, later Christ Church School. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

Lark-LaneLark Lane in 1893, a glimpse of the institute and later Maranto’s can be seen on the right. Image: Streets of

Hesketh Street, off Lark Lane, 1969. Originally School Lane, it was renamed in 1858 when William Hesketh died .

hesketh streetHesketh Street. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

Thanks to Dave at for his assistance with researching School Lane. His ancestor George Fitton and family lived there and are shown on the 1851 census.


Jonathan Bennison’s map from 1835 shows the name of three occupants of the lane. Apart from one dwelling, only the south side of Lark Lane is occupied, three names are shown; Joseph Gibbon, Thomas Richardson Gorst and Mrs (Leah) Quirk. The Earl of Sefton still holds much of the neighbouring land but Charles Tayleur (of Parkfield is shown to the left.

Benninson 1835Bennison’s map of 1835, Liverpool Record Office.

Joseph Gibbons and Robert Livingston

Joseph Gibbons ( 1786 – 1842) was a corn merchant. He was also an overseer to the Parish of Liverpool and been elected Chairman of the Liverpool Vestry in 1828. He used his skills in the marketplace to save money for the ratepayers and to be able to supply ‘good and wholesome’ food for the workhouse. The house he leased in Lark Lane was owned by Robert Livingston. The house is now the site of the NHS Livingston Drive Family Health Centre (formerly the Joseph Gibbons Centre). He died in 1842 and was buried by J. C. Prince at St. Michael in the Hamlet Churchyard.

Hadassah Grove (see below) was laid out on land that was purchased from the executors of Gibbons’ estate.

It is our painful duty to announce the death of tbe above gentleman, who expired at his house, Lark-Lane, Toxleth-park, on Saturday last, in the 57th year of his age. Mr. Gibbons was corn-merchant, and through all his lifetime, was esteemed for his unblemished reputation and benevolent disposition. For many years he has filled office of honorary overseer the parish of Liverpool; and, by his excellent management and untiring industry, saved thousands of pounds to the ratepayers, and, at the same time, by his skill and experience in the market, been enabled provide for the inmates of the workhouse good and wholesome food, for which this establishment is so celebrated. Mr. Gibbons took deep interest in the paupers in the workhouse, and devoted much his time and attention in providing for their wants and comforts; and in him these poor persons have to deplore the a kind and zealous friend, the public at large of useful and honest man.


Gibbons Liv Mail Tuesday 18 jan 1842Liverpool Mail, Tuesday 18 January 1842, British Newspaper Archive

Robert Livingston, who owned the land in the 1830s and 1840s, is also shown as owning a Cricket Club on the Tithe plan of 1845.

Lark Lane cricket club Tithe MapTithe plan of 1845, the areas shaded show the plots owned by Robert Livingston –
288 was occupied by Thomas Wilkinson and 289 is a cricket club (the club house has been coloured red.

Robert Livingston was in a business partnership with Daniel Backhouse Syers, John Elliot and Thomas Taylor named ‘Syers, Livingston & Company’. The company traded with Calcutta.

The ownership of the land and passed to Joseph Gibbons Livingston (possibly Roberts younger brother). He middle name suggests that Joseph Gibbons relationship with his landlord had been an amicable). Gibbons became Mayor of Liverpool in 1870-71. Gibbons was one of the oldest councillors in his time. It appears that Livingston never lived on the lane, his residence being Mayfield House in Wavertree. When plans for Sefton Park were laid out the Corporation purchased Livingston’s land to make an impressive approach that bypassed Lark Lane. Gibbons was paid approximately £12,000. This was FOUR TIMES the rate of land purchased from the Earl of Sefton for the park. An article in the Liverpool Mercury in September 1892 looked into corruption in the council, ‘Our Joe‘ as the article calls him ‘was not on the finance committee, and therefor he could not be charged with the anomaly of selling it to himself: but it is somewhat a remarkable fact how these members of the Finance Committee take care not to let the Corporation take advantage of them’. The charge of a councillor called ‘Our Joe’ making a profit from land development in south Liverpool sounds familiar.

Thomas Richardson Gorst

Although Bennison’s map lists J. R. Gorst it is likely to be Thomas Richardson Gorst (1789 – 1835). Gorst was born to a baker Samuel and his wife Nancy who lived in James Street. The family moved to Crooked lane in 1792. Baking was a family business with his namesake being born to another baker William and Hanna Gorst of Clare Street in 1832.

Thomas R Gorst Esq Liverpool Mercury 08 May 1835Advertisement showing the sale of ‘Modern & genteel household Furniture’ belonging to the late Thomas R, Gorst Esq.
Liverpool Mercury 08 May 1835, British Newspaper Archive.

Hadassah Grove

One of my favourite streets in Liverpool, a stroll down this hidden lane gives us a glimpse of Toxteth Park in the 1840s. Although small it boasts no less than 9 properties that are listed by English Heritage.

hadassah grove signPhotograph: Glen Huntley 2020

hadassah 1Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

hadassah 4Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

Although a private road, that’s never stopped me from exploring it – as the photograph below from 1986 demonstrates (although seconds later the home owner came out and told us off).

John and Sean on Jims TV200 Hadassah Grove 1986
My friend John and my brother Sean posing on my old Lambretta in Hadassah Grove in 1986. Photograph: Glen Huntley

Hadassah Grove was laid out in the 1840s by John W. Williams and named after his wife Sophia Hadassah Williams.

Liverpool Mercury 27 October 1848

1848 and ‘several commodious houses’ built by J. W. Williams are for sale in Hadassah Grove.

John husband of Sophia Hadassah Williams 1851The 1851 census showing Hadassah Grove. John Williams who laid out the street is shown, his wife Sofia Hadassah had died two years previously.

Liverpool Mercury 30 March 1849 Sophia HadassahThe Liverpool Mercury of 30th March 1849 shows that Sophia Hadassah Williams aged died aged just 37.

A plaque has been erected to mark the family’s home:-

John Wilson Williams
lived here from 1844 to 1857
at what was originally number 11,
and is currently number 17 Hadassah Grove.

John Wilson Williams, Timber Merchant,
conceived and created Hadassah Grove in the 1840s
on farm land that he purchased from the executors of
the estate of John Gibbons (died 1842), Corn Merchant.

John Wilson Williams married
Sophia Hadassah Williams (1810-1849)
née Diggles in 1831 and
subsequently named this road after her.

plaquePhotograph: Glen Huntley 2020

hadassah 2APhotograph: Glen Huntley 2020

You can view a map showing the listed buildings here:

Prince’s View, Aigburth View and Forge Cottages

Princes view and Aigburth View are shown on the maps from the 1840s. They were possibly named as Prince’s View faced Prince’s Park that had opened in 1842 and Aigburth View faced Aigburth (Toxteth Park ended at Aigburth Vale). The earliest record I could find is 1855 where a Bake House is advertised in Prince’s View, Lark Lane belonging to Mr Holt ‘The only one within near a mile’. Prince’s and Aigburth View probably heralded the second stage of occupation of the lane where accommodation for tradespeople had been erected, rather than just merchant’s villas.

princes view Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 29 November 1855 copyLiverpool Daily Post – Thursday 29 November 1855

overlayTwo maps from the 1840s, Prince’s View is shown, Aigburth View is to the right of it.

There are several sad, sometime horrific, stories related to Prince’s View. In 1868 John Irvine who lived there was arrested for the manslaughter of William Graham. Graham, who also lived in the area was walking with a girl past Irvine as he stood on the corner of Lark Lane and Aigburth Road. When Irvine made a remark to them a fight broke out. After being hit twice by Irvine, Graham was found lying insensible in Hesketh Street. He died the following day.

prince's view Liverpool Mercury - Monday 23 November 1868 copyLiverpool Mercury – Monday 23 November 1868. BNA

In 1885 William Fiddler, the 5 year old son of a wheelwright of 18 Prince’s View, died after having suffering stomach pains. It was Christmas Day and William had enjoyed a party given at the Christ Church School. He had returned complaining of an aching stomach. His mother gave him medicine and put him to bed. She suspected he had eaten too much bun loaf. The inquest, held at the Masonic Pub (now the Lodge) came to the conclusion it was overeating. One of the jury stated that ‘If censure could be put on any one it should be on the people who, through ignorance and mistaken kindness, gave these treats, and stuffed the children up to their mouths with dirty rubbish’.

princes view Liverpool Mercury - Thursday 31 December 1885Liverpool Mercury – Thursday 31 December 1885. BNA

Samuel Oakes, just six months old in 1887, was asleep with his parents who had been awakened by screaming. Samuel was found in a fit, the baby died before the doctor arrived. The verdict was death by convulsions.

princes view Liverpool Mercury - Monday 24 October 1887 copyLiverpool Mercury – Monday 24 October 1887. BNA.

In 1892 Margaret Cunningham, aged 14, was looking after her grandmother at 3 Prince’s View when her clothes accidentally caught fire. Margaret ran into the street where a woman named Eliza Lake ran over to some pieces of carpet to try and put the flames ou. The clothes were nearly burnt off poor Margaret and her body was badly scorched. She died on the way to Southern Hospital in the horse ambulance.

Prince's view Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 12 March 1892 copyLiverpool Mercury – Saturday 12 March 1892. BNA.

Aigburth View Princes viewOn this map from 1890/91 Prince’s View and Aigburth View are both marked. Together with a Smithy and Forge Cottages next door.

Forge Cottages probably dates from the mids 1860s or early 1870s . Before 1877 George Garnett was a blacksmith at the forge.

You can read more about Forge Cottages on this Yo! Liverpool forum from 2009:

Forge Cottages
Forge Cottages, the gabled building in the middle is the Smithy (or forge) including the double gates and yard. Image LRO via

forge cottages car parkAlthough still listed on Google Street View as Forge Cottages, the street is now an entrance to a car park for Maranto’s and Estaban. Photograph: Glen Huntley 2020

1872: Sefton Park brings a new life to the lane

Planned since the 1850s, Sefton park was opened in 1872, 30 years after Prince’s Park – Liverpool’s first public park. This would change the lane forever, prior to the park being laid out the lane had been a quite street with a mix of shops, trades and private houses and the countryside that surrounded was private land. Now with the park open Lark Lane became one of the main routes to access it. With hosts of visitors now passing through The Albert Hotel opened its doors just a year later, the Masonic followed soon after.

The building of most of the working class, terraced, housing in the surrounding area was constructed in the early 1880s so the area was still semi-rural and lacked facilities when the park opened. One such much-needed institution was a mortuary. From the newspaper record of William Fiddler, we can see that his inquest was held at the Masonic Hotel. Together with the Albert Hotel many instances of these being used as a mortuary and a place to hold inquests occurred. You can read more here: The Albert Pub used as a mortuary

Downloadable 1845 Tithe Map and Occupants

Lark Lane - Tithe Schedules map & listIf your ancestors lived on Lark Lane in the 1840s their name may appear in the Tithe Schedule of 1845. This covers the whole of Toxteth Park and is listed alphabetically by the owners (not the occupant’s) name. I have found all of the Lark Lane residents and  transcribed them in numerical order. You can download a pdf by clicking the link here: Lark Lane – 1845 Schedules map and list of occupants


rg-book-cover-1907In 1907 a printer on Aigburth Road named Robert Griffiths self-published a book entitled ‘The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth’. This wonderful book forms the basis for a lot of the posts on this site that be accessed here: Lists of past posts

Copying information on this site
My intention for the research on this website has always been to encourage the sharing the information. I always give full credit to any information and images I use.

In turn, If you wish to copy any information please feel free to do so – but please credit the site and if possible provide a link.

Robert Griffiths’ Toxteth Park: The Aigburth Toll Gate


Another property that Robert Griffiths’ mentions in his 1907 history of Toxteth Park is a Toll Gate and Bar at Aigburth Vale. This gate has been referred to before on this site, but it has such an interesting history to merit its own page. It was erected at the beginning of the 19th century to fund a new road from Aigburth to Toxteth Park but was later the place where trams terminated and turned around for the return journey.

Typical of Griffiths’ wandering style of writing, the information he gives of the gate is scattered across several chapters. Here Griffiths links it with the house the ‘Three Sixes’ (the original building was supposedly erected in 1666, at the entrance to Fulwood Park):

In the old tables of cab fares you will see “to the Three Sixes” as a kind of boundary limit. The road used to slope very sharply down to the present tramway siding. On this spot there used to be


The Hill was known as Bunnell’s Brow, and the only persons exempt from paying toll were the occupier of the Three Sixes and the Backhouse family, who lived In a house even older then the Three Sixes exactly at the south top of St. Michael’s Road.
Tipping’s Farm was situated on the present road, on the land of Sefton Park, South Side, and an unsavoury brook ran through the farm, where now the Sefton Park Lake is. On the dip of Bunnell’s Brow (where now where a clump of evergreens stands), was a forge, much needed, owing to the constant accidents on the Hill to carts and horses and a much frequented little public house.

The proprietor of the last-named put over the door, ‘The Three 6’s’.
Public opinion ‘(in the shape of mud thrown at the sign and jeers at the ‘Three Six Shillings’ as it was contemptuously called) compelled the proprietor to remove this.

Being situated at Aigburth Vale, the toll gate was on the southern border of the ancient hunting park of Toxteth and where it met Aigburth (‘Ackeberth’, the place of many oaks). For centuries Toxteth Park was owned by the Earl of Sefton, Aigburth on the other hand was owned by the Tarleton family who (apart from a spell when it left the family through marriage to the Harringtons), had presided over it since the 16th century from their seat at Aigburth Hall – located on Aigburth Hall Avenue and demolished about 1840.

Until the end of the 18th century no direct road existed to enable direct passage from Garston to the town of Liverpool, instead a longer route had to be taken via Mossley Hill. By the 1770s John Tarleton had regained his ancestral land and soon after purchased a strip of land on the border of Aigburth and Toxteth park from the Earl of Sefton. This made the construction of a new road possible (along the route of St Marys Road to Aigburth Road). The cost of building this road was to be met by revenue gained at the toll gate.

1769 MAP OF MOSSLEY AND AIGBURTHOn this map from the 1760s the road from Aigburth Vale leads not to Garston but directly to the entrance of Aigburth Hall – the ancient seat of the Tarleton family.
The C-shaped building is Aigburth Grange, this dated from the 13th century and was granted to the monks of Stanlawe. The granary of this building still exists in the form of Aigburth Hall Nurseries.
Aigburth Road can be seen on the map under its original name of Park lane. Although supposedly built in 1666, the Three Sixes is shown as ‘New House’.

The toll gate was erected in 1806. This was a through a partnership of Thomas Tarleton and Edward Falkner. (Falkner of Fairfield married Thomas’ sister Bridgett and gave his name to Falkner Square). The Earl of Sefton reserved the right to take down the gate at their decease, or after a period of ten years, but the gate remained there until 1847, much to the anger of residents, farmers and tradesmen.

The Aigburth toll bar was not the first gate in this vicinity. Originally, Toxteth Park was surrounded by a high wall (its very name from the Doomsday book – ‘Stochestede’ meant the Stockaded or enclosed place). At least two gates where set within the wall – a southern gate close to the toll gate at Aigburth Vale and a northern gate which was located close to where St. James Church would later be built. The latter was at the point where the park met the town of Liverpool.

Bunnell’s Brow

Griffiths mentions a feature called Bunnell’s Brow that was close to the toll gate ‘On the dip of Bunnell’s Brow (where now where a clump of evergreens stands), was a forge, much needed, owing to the constant accidents on the Hill to carts and horses and a much frequented little public house’. He adds that this was named after William Bunnell who together with owned/leased the Brow, also the Three Sixes and the land that was later to become Fulwood Park from the Earl of Sefton:

is as follows :-
Lord Sefton leased to Thomas Balmer the White House Farm, and, in 1781, further leased the fields on which Fulwood Park is now laid out. In addition to the names of the fields given in Mr. Stewart-Brown’s letter, we have five closes of land mentioned in a deed of 1781.


The Little Hey, The Further Meadow, The Rushey Hey,* and the Pinfold.” In 1803, these leases passed into the’ hands of William Bunnell, who, in 1808, obtained from the
Earl the freehold of this land, together with that of the White House. In 1833 William Bunnell died, leaving as his executors Thomas and William Birkett. These gentlemen, in 1839, sold the White House to James Birkett, and the fields in question to William and Alexander Smith. In 1840 the two latter gentlemen drew up articles of agreement which contain restrictive clauses, and which were afterwards signed by the various purchasers of the different allotments. Some of these restrictions are rather curious: for instance, none of the houses erected on this land are to cost less than £1,500, and are to be built of stone, or brick, cemented or stuccoed, and must not be higher than two storeys.

toll bar bennisonA detail from Jonathan Bennison’s map of 1835, I have coloured the toll bar red. The dark area to the right is what is now Otterspool Park.

943893a891e78c4e5b8305f3af9bc8ffBy 1847 the toll gate was taken down and converted into shops, here it is at the turn of the century. From left to right is the Post Office, Jones & Son (saddlers and harness makers), Hawley (Dispensing chemists) and G. F. Pickles (fruiterer and greengrocer).

1840s Bunnels BrowA map from the mid-1800s, in the centre can be seen Aigburth Post office – this is the site of the toll gate in the dip of Aigburth Vale.
I have highlighted in red (Thomas) Tipping’s farm, the public house and the forge that Griffiths mentions. White House Farm can be seen at the top, this was owned by Bunnell up until his death in 1833. This is now within Sefton Park which was opened in 1872. Also of note is the Three Sixes and just a couple of villas built on the new development of Fulwood Park.

1760s Bunnels BrowThe above map from the 1760s shows the same area before the toll gate was erected. Further Twindle Brow and Nearer Twindle Brow can be seen, together with Little Brow and Further Brow – making up the Bunnell’s Brow mentioned by Griffiths. Interestingly, the Three Sixes is again called ‘New House’. No properties can be seen in the area that would become Fulwood Park from around 1840.

1840s Bunnels Brow overlayedAn overlay of the 1840s and Google Street view to show the locations today. The properties of Bunnell’s Brow were situated at the entrance to Sefton park overlooking the lake.
White House Farm was demolished to make way for Sefton Park. It was situated opposite what was to become Aigburth People’s Hall, seen below on the right, the farm would be somewhere beyond the daffodils.

White house farm

The Three SixesThe entrance to Fulwood Park, on the right is the ‘Three Sixes’ so called as it is said the original was erected in 1666, this was later demolished and the present house erected. Usually completely obscured by trees, this is the first time I have seen it unobstructed.

IMG_20191205_150031783The original Three Sixes (1666) Aigburth Road, sketch by Miss Mary Birkett.
Image: Copyright of The Athenaeum.

The ‘much frequented’ public house on Bunnell’s Brow that Griffiths mentions was ran by William Johnson in the 1840s and Edward Moore from Lincolnshire in 1865 – as can be seen from the license application below. He is still there in the census of 1871.

Edward Moore Bullens Brow

A killer chased by police on horseback to the Aigburth Turnpike

In 1837 a man on horseback, suspected of trampling a man to death on Berry Street, was pursued by police riders as far as the Aigburth turnpike, at which point the police had to abandon the chase as their horses were exhausted (a distance of 3.5 miles), allowing the man to escape capture.

Soon after, a curious letter appeared in the Liverpool Mail. George Green Jnr of Aigburth (probably of High Pasture, Mossley Hill) wrote to the paper to attempt to clear his name after being accused of being the man seen being chased by police. So far I have not been able to discover if the real culprit was ever found or indeed if Green really was guilty, but his alibi of dining with a friend does seem a little convenient, as does his comment ‘my horse was sent home earlier in the day’.

Chase to the Aigburth Turnpike Liverpool Mail - Tuesday 28 November 1837
Liverpool Mail, 28th November 1837. British Newspaper archive.

End of the road for the toll gate

Paying a toll every time you passed from Toxteth to Aigburth had been unpopular since it’s inception, even more so to the tradesmen who depended on the road for transporting goods. By the 1830s, the legality of the toll gate was being questioned, resulting in demands for it it being taken down.

This cutting below from 1834 tells of a gentleman who asked the keeper by what authority the tolls where collected, when answered “by the authority of the gentlemen of Aigburth” the traveller refused to pay and instructed his servant to drive through, and did so many times afterwards. Even when the gate was padlocked he had his servant break the lock. ‘Albion’ who is writing the piece says ‘If this toll is not sanctioned by the law, we cannot see why the poor farmers in the neighbourhood should be taxed by the gentry of Aigburth ; and we hope steps will be taken to put the matter upon a proper footing”.

Toll Liverpool Mercury - Friday 21 March 1834
Liverpool Mercury, Friday 21st March 1834. British Newspaper Archive

The ratepayers of Toxteth Park had to pay for the upkeep of a road that was outside of their township and yet they still had to pay the toll. Their grievance was aired in 1845 at a meeting of the ratepayers of Toxteth Park:

A meeting of the ratepayers of Toxteth-park was held yesterday at the Public Office, Park-road, to take into consideration certain matters relative to the toll-bar at Aigburth. Mr. M. Gregson, chairman of the commissioners for the better paving and sewerage of the township was called on to preside. The meeting was rather numerously attended, a great number of the most respectable tradesmen and other inhabitants being sent. The notice calling the meeting having been read. the chairman made a few observations touching the business they had met to consider. He stated that it had long been : a grievance to the rate-payers of Toxteth-park, that they were obliged to repair the Agburth-road, between Aigburth and Liverpool, and that the gentlemen on this and the south side of the gate should bear no part of the expense.

…there was every reason to believe, so far, from the opion given that the trustees of the Aigburth toll bar had no right to keep the gate their, and where liable to an action for collecting tolls.

After years of legal wrangling, including some shenanigans by John Moss of Otterspool, the gate was finally taken down on 1st March 1847.

1806 Aigburth Toll started Liverpool Mail - Saturday 10 January 1846
Liverpool Mail, 10th January 1846. British Newspaper Archive.

After the toll gate

After the tolls were abolished in 1847, the building was converted into shops and two of these survived, although much altered, until the end of the 20th century.

Image from 1899 (source unknown) showing the remainder of the building where it turns into Aigburth Vale where a reversing triangle was situate to allow the trams to turn around. (Thanks to Ross Walsh)

turning triangle 1908A map from 1908 showing the shops on the site of the toll gate and the turning triangle of the tram line on Aigburth Vale.

Bishops courtThe site today, a reminder of the old tram turning triangle exists in the shape of this crossing island.


d563b2c7747bbcfc4238acc8882b13b5Postcards from the turn of the century – the old toll gate had long been converted into shops which extend to the corner and into the road of Aigburth Vale.

D8xMeqDXsAAx4OV.jpg_largeThe rounded building on the corner of Aigburth Vale was demolished to make way for A. E. Vaughn & Co., a wine and spirit merchants. Image: @angelcakepics

37f021f70df73f4818f572d23198f51aThis 1980s view of Aigburth Vale that will be familiar to many. Two of the single storey toll gate shops survived until the end of the 20th century, notice the chimneys above the Pet Store and compare to the image above, the shopfronts have changed but the structures survived until the late 1990s. Image: @angelcakepics

82c1960s, ’15 Atlantean L645 on route 82C at Aigburth Vale’ from

28292391416_48152bcea8_bEntitled ‘Aigburth Vale, 1920s and 2016′ from Keith Jones’ this montage is from the excellent series of photographs ‘Liverpool then and now’, a perfect illustration of how the site changed over a century.

If I remember correctly, the roof of the building on the corner of Aigburth Vale had collapsed after repairs had taken place, causing it to be demolished. Since about 2002 the site has been occupied by Bishops Court.

Link to the African slave trade

John Tarleton who re-purchased the Aigburth estate, and his son Thomas who erected the Toll Gate, were slave traders and in partnership with Daniel Backhouse in the firm Tarleton’s and Backhouse. This is why the owners of Old Hall where exempt from paying the toll as that house was the residence of Daniel Backhouse. Read more about the Tarletons, Backhouse, Old Hall and slavery links to Aigburth here.

old hall 2Old Hall, home of Daniel Backhouse. This was situated on the corner of Aigburth Road and St Michaels Road. Image: Liverpool Record Office


Further reading:

Tarleton & Backhouse slaving voyages:
The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History By James A. Rawley, Stephen D. Behrendt

Stanlawe Grange – Home of the Tarleton family:
Stanlawe Grange. – Monastic Lands by Mike Royden

Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire paper on Stanlawe Grange:

My thanks to Ross Walsh and @Waite99D for their assistance in this post and @angelcakepics for several of the old photographs.










An 18th century barn dance at Jericho Strawberry Gardens

Jericho, close to Otterspool, is believed to have acquired its biblical name from the Puritan settlers who arrived to populate Toxteth Park in the early 1600s. On summer evenings in the mid 18th century, Jericho Strawberry Farm would be the scene for a wonderful musical party using improvised musical instruments.

“it was a favorite summer evening’s amusement to drive out to Jericho, to eat strawberries in the highest possible perfection, and to dance in a barn floored for the purpose”

rg2.jpgJericho Farm, now demolished, from Robert Griffiths’ 1907 book

In the 18th century ‘Jericho’ was owned by the Park family, this area included a farm, erected in the early 17th century that stood until the 1960s.

Henry Park, a noted surgeon, was born in Water Street in 1745, his father was an apothecary (pharmacist) and had died when when Henry was young. As his father had left no will this created a financial burden on the family, John Hussey explains:

“in the days when women were disenfranchised in every conceivable way, her husband’s estate which lay more in land than in money, devolved to his eldest son, Edward, who was no more than three years old, leaving Mrs Park (née Lyon) with a vastly reduced income and five children to care for – Mary aged 12 was the eldest and Henry who was the youngest had not yet reached his first birthday”.

The  ‘Memoir of the Late Henry Park, Esq., surgeon, of Liverpool’ (written in 1840) has a charming description of Jericho in 1766, then known locally as ‘Jericho Strawberry Gardens’ this had come into possession of Mary Park, Henry’s sister and was rented to a family called Woodwood.

On summer evenings the barn would be the location of musical celebrations, led by Abel on violin, a disabled member of Woodwood family. He was accompanied by his family, but instead of musical instruments, the band used farm and household utensils including a tea-tray beaten with a spoon, a wooden salt box and an improvised string instrument made from a watering can. The description of which sounds remarkably like the Skiffle, a revival of which in the 1950s was popularised in this country by Lonnie Donnegan, and would become a major inspiration for many British beat groups of the 1960s including The Beatles:-

In the partition of property above mentioned, the parcel of ground, near Liverpool, (afterwards well known in that town as the Jericho Strawberry Gardens,) which had been held for above 200 years, by a three-life lease, under the house of Molyneux. It was endeared to her, more than to the others, by a longer train of recollections, from the time when, being held by her beloved father as an occasional summer retreat, it had been the holiday home of her happy childhood…

This spot, lying close to the water side, where the Mersey expands so as to have somewhat the appearance of a lake, and being enriched by much fine timber, which has since been felled, possessed uncommon beauty.

It was rented, during the whole of Mrs. M. Park’s tenure, by a family named Woodward, who cultivated part of it with strawberries; and, during the earlier dinner hours and more unsophisticated habits that prevailed in Liverpool thirty or forty years ago, it was a favorite summer evening’s amusement to drive out to Jericho, to eat strawberries in the highest possible perfection, and to dance in a barn floored for the purpose, to a band of instruments such as nowhere else ever attempted to produce music.

The formation of this band had been the ingenious device of this affectionate family circle, for the comfort of one of its members, to whom music was the only solace under occasional morbid depression. The invalid himself, whose name was Abel, played the violin, not indeed with much execution, but with a correctness and truth of expression which gave pleasure even to critical ears. The pathos with which he played simple airs might indeed be deepened to the feelings of those who observed the sweetness of his pensive countenance, and the deferential gentleness of manner to his mother and sisters, which expressed his grateful sense of the watchful care that soothed and cheered his most painful hours. Abel, of course, led the band. His accompaniments were thus:-

First, a large watering can, with strings fixed from the top of the handle to the end of the spout, was played with the bow of a violincello, by the oldest sister. The next sister performed on a wooden salt-box, on the lid of which she beat time with a wooden pestle, occasionally opening it, and, after accompanying a bar or two by a rumbling sound in the inside, shut down the lid again in the exact beat of time, and renewed the strokes on the lid. The next sister beat time with a pewter spoon on a japan tea-tray, suspended from the ceiling. The next rattled, in the manner of castanets, a pair of wooden spoons, lightly held between the fingers of each hand. Next came the mother, a picture of serene old age, surveying the happy group with conscious pride, and bearing her part in the performance, by striking a laundress’ triangular iron stand with an iron skewer. The man-servant completed the band, producing lively sounds from the tongs and poker. It may be difficult to believe that any thing but harsh discord could result from the combination of materials so uncouth, yet such was by no means the effect produced.

Among the frequent hearers of the Jericho band were certain musical professors, who, however they might be attracted by the picturesque beauty and moral interest of the scene, would certainly not have visited it twice, had they felt their ears offended.

The Country DanceThe Country Dance (about 1760–1762) by Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin
(French, 1724 – 1780)

At a later date Lord Sefton, who owned Toxteth Park, began to sell reversions of the leases for the land but Mary Park decided not to purchase and the farm reverted back to the Lord. Jericho was close to the Otterspool Water Mill (owned by Thomas Moss Tate in the 1770s and taken over by John Moss), it was also next to Lower Lodge, one of the two supposed hunting lodges erected at the time of King John.

A special thank you goes to Dave Joy and Janet Dalton for their kind permission to use the two wonderful images below from when the farm was ran by the Hogg family. I feel a special connection to these images because as a child in the 1970s I worked for the Hogg family in their Alwyn Street dairy, pulling a milk cart around the streets of Aigburth.
You can read more more about the Hogg family, Jericho Farm and Dave’s book ‘Liverpool Cowkeepers’ here.

J. Hogg & Sons at Jericho Farm by John Pride, 1939. © Janet Dalton 2018

James Leslie (Les) Hogg at Jericho Farm © Janet Dalton 2018

Today, Jericho Lane is still largely fields, although the grass of the old football fields on the other side of the lane from where the farm stood has been replaced with artificial grass pitches. 20th century houses and Fulwood Medical Centre are on the spot of the farm buildings.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 14.33.57From Google Street View, part housing on the site today on Jericho Lane that leads from Aigburth Vale to Otterspool and the Mersey. One of the houses has a decorative plaque depicting two otters.

An 18th century Fusion Festival?

The prospect of spending a hot summer’s evening spent on the banks of the Mersey, listening to a rowdy music and dancing is still maintained to a degree with the Fusion Festival, the 2018 concert site in Otterspool being just a hundred yards or so from where their counterparts did the same over 250 years ago.

I’m sure that  ‘strawberries of the highest perfection’ would be as welcome today as they were in 1766.

…but bring your wellies

As the Promenade didn’t exist back then, the modern site of the festival, much closer to the river, would have been on the shore – making wellies even more of an essential festival fashion item!

1760s jerhicoA section of a plan of Toxteth Park in the 1760s at the time of the musical parties at Jericho Strawberry Farm. Jericho and the Lower Lodge can be seen in red.

0_JS1294533232018 Fusion Festival at Otterspool. Liverpool Echo

Further reading:

Mike Royden’s History Pages is an incredible resource for fans of Liverpool history, here Mike tells the story of Otterspool:

Dave Joy, author ofLiverpool Cowkeepers‘ has a website with a page about Jericho Farm with superb illustrations and photographs submitted by Janet Dalton from when the farm was owned by the Hogg family:
Dave’s book is available here: Liverpool Cowkeepers by Dave Joy

History of Skiffle Music:

Henry Park Surgeon:  ‘Memoir of the Late Henry Park, Esq., surgeon, of Liverpool’



Robert Griffiths’ Toxteth Park: A possible Roman road leading from Grassendale to Otterspool

Further to my posts about Robert Griffiths’ 1907 book on the history of Toxteth Park, in the first chapter dealing with the ancient history of the wider area, Griffiths mentions a Roman road that had been unearthed in 1855.

The pavement was found just 300 yards from St. Mary’s Church, Grassendale, 7 feet below the modern road level. Further evidence of early occupation was discovered in 1863 when Roman coins were unearthed in Otterspool. A possible further section of the road was found when the Cheshire Lines railway (Now the Merseyrail Hunts Cross to Southport line) was being constructed. Evidence of Roman occupation in the area is extremely scarce, Griffiths describes the exciting finds as:


Evidences of the Roman occupation have also been brought to light in the district. In 1855, in excavating for sewers, some three hundred yards east of St. Mary’s Church, Grassendale, “a Roman pavement was discovered about seven feet below the present surface, and evidently running in a south-easterly direction towards Garston or Hale. The pavement was formed of large and small boulder stones closely joined together and laid flat, and was perfectly level and without any rise in the centre. The surfaces of many of the stones were worn smooth by traffic.” *

A year of two previously another portion of the same road was found at the depth of five feet near Otterspool, similarly paved.

About the commencement of the year 1863 a gardener in the employ of Oliver Holden, Esq., upon his mansion bordering the creek at Otterspool, turned up with a spade a number of brass Roman coins dating from the year A.p. 268 to A.D. 324. These came into the possession of Mr. Henry Eckroyd Smith, and are fully described by him in his pamphlet Nota. of the Arch. and Nat. Hist. of the Mersey Dist. Towards the end of the same year some navvies employed in the construction of the Cheshire Lines Railway from Liverpool to Manchester via Garston, also unearthed near the riverside of this old creek a number of similar coins.

* Builder’, Oct. 9th, 1858.

St_Marys_Grassendale_201704-2St Mary’s Church, 5 St Marys Road, Grassendale. The church was erected in 1853, just five years before the Roman road was discovered nearby. Wikipedia

300 yards east of st marysA diagram to show the area (approximately) 300 yards east of St Mary’s Church. The Circle indicates the distance from the church.
The map used is the OS 25 inch 1841-1852 (Revised 1905)
National Library of Scotland

same area todayApproximately the same area in 2019. Somewhere towards perimeter of the circle and close to the pale green tinted area could still be the remains of the Roman road!

I was able to locate the article in the 1858 edition of ‘The Builder’ that Griffiths mentions. Of the possibility of the two sections of Roman road being part of the same route it says:

The present Aigburth-road was made about twenty-five to thirty years ago; but the former road, which was nothing more than a field track, seems to to have followed nearly the path of the Roman road.

The Builder October 9th 1858The Builder. October 9th 1858

The author is Edward Walker Cox, a broker and local historian. The story of the Roman road next to St Mary’s church must of been of special interest to Cox as he lived nearby in Grassendale Park (he had moved to Fulwood Park by 1871).

Cox wrote 19 papers for the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire from 1889 to 1899. These included a conjectural reconstruction of Liverpool Castle in 1892 and the only surviving drawing of the Lower Lodge of Otterspool, one of the two supposed ancient hunting lodges of King John and birthplace of astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks. You can read about the Lower Lodge here.

The article Griffiths mentions that details the coin finds at Otterspool is available to read in the archives of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire; Notabilia of the archaeology and natural history of the Mersey district during three years, 1863-4-5, Compiled by Henry Ecroyd Smith and read on 3rd May 1866.






Was Penny Lane really named after the slave merchant James Penny?

Update: 19 June 2020

It’s official! Penny Lane was not named after the Slave merchant James Penny.

I am very pleased to announce that the International Slavery Museum has now issued a statement that includes the result of their new research on Penny Lane’s links to slavery. The review came about from increased pressure due to the evidence presented here. The museum has said they will remove the exhibit that features a Penny Lane street sign.

As the statement is too long to reproduce in full here I will just show the part directly relating to Penny Lane, but I encourage everyone to read the full statement as it is an important message on their work, their values, their future aims and also details of their Black Lives Matters resource area on their website:

Over the past week, there has continued to be much public debate about the origins of Penny Lane. As an organisation which prides itself on learning and participation, we encourage debate around our collections to bring attention to the bigger issues in society. As part of this, we want to focus our commitment and action on working together towards ending racial inequality and social injustice.

We are also open to change. As historians and storytellers, we believe we have a duty as a museum to review, reflect on and respond to new information when it becomes available. History is not static. Our understanding of the past evolves and changes as more people engage with public history by sharing research to build inclusive narratives.

This response to change is very important in reference to Penny Lane being included in an interactive display of street names within the International Slavery Museum. The display was installed when the museum opened in 2007. We believe that the idea Penny Lane was named after Liverpool-based slave trader James Penny was in the wider public domain during the time of the original Transatlantic Slavery Gallery, opened in 1994 within Merseyside Maritime Museum, well before the conception of the International Slavery Museum.

Alongside my colleague Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum and our team of curators, we had already begun to undertake a review into all the street names on display in the museum – of which Penny Lane is one – taking into account the new sources of information available to us since the museum opened. This was in response to Liverpool City Council’s commitment, earlier this year, to introduce plaques and to give an honest account of places connected to the slave trade throughout the city.

Following recent conversations and the public debate, we have decided to expedite this review. After speaking with Liverpool slavery historian Laurence Westgaph, Tony Tibbles, our Emeritus Keeper of Slavery History (also former Director of Merseyside Maritime Museum) and historian and blogger Glen Huntley, we have concluded that the comprehensive research available to us now demonstrates that there is no historical evidence linking Penny Lane to James Penny. We are therefore extending our original review and setting up a participative project to renew our interactive display.

As part of this review, we will work with historians and meet with young people from a Liverpool school (virtually at the current time) so that they are involved in the debate and can discuss how we change our museum display. We need space to develop this project in a collaborative way so that it is meaningful for everyone involved. Following these discussions, we anticipate that our first action will be to replace the Penny Lane street sign with another.

Janet Dugdale
Executive Director of Museums & Participation
, 19 June 2020

I am delighted that the museum has co-operated and responded to the research in such a positive manner. Together with the other contributors to the research I look forward to working on a the display at the museum that will replace the street sign.

I am pleased that Tony Tibbles and Laurence Westgaph were able to review the evidence on behalf of the museum. You can read that evidence yourself further down this page in the original post. It is gratifying that they reached the same conclusion as the research presented on this website in 2018.

That street sign display had led many to believe the link between Penny Lane and James Penny, it has been reproduced by the world’s media for years. An ex-employee of the museum had claimed publicly that he started Penny Lane’s ‘probable’ association to the Slave trade, and since admitted he didn’t research it prior, this announcement by the museum will hopefully end the debate about Penny Lane once and for all.

An understandable but very unfortunate error
The claim originated from just an assumption based on the name Penny alone. This was an understandable but very unfortunate error. Liverpool has many streets that were named after the owner of the land, often these were slave merchants. James Penny had no links to Penny lane, instead all his properties were in town and his birthplace of Arrad, Ulverston.

Until today, that exhibit was the single link between James Penny and one of the most famous streets in world. That link is now broken, Penny Lane has been freed from it’s connection to a shameful part of British history.

A statement by Tony Tibbles, Emeritus Keeper of Slavery History

Since 9th June 2020 when the museum had announced that they would be reviewing the evidence of the claim, I have been assisting the museum in that endeavor.

All sides wanted this review be as unbiased as possible, because of this I contacted Tony Tibbles, (Emeritus Keeper of Slavery History at the museum) and asked him if he look at the evidence on this website and give his academic opinion, he has very kindly agreed to do so and has asked me to share his findings:

I welcome this important new research on Penny Lane and the former slave captain and merchant James Penny. This is far more comprehensive than anything previously undertaken. I agree that this research shows that there is no historical evidence to support the suggestion that Penny Lane was named after James Penny. I am pleased that the International Slavery Museum will be able to amend its displays to take account of this important research.
Tony Tibbles, Emeritus Keeper of Slavery History

As well as his connections to the museum, Tony Tibbles is a leading expert on Transatlatic Slavery. His most recent book to date Liverpool and the Slave Trade (2018), is a must-read for anyone interested in Liverpool’s shameful role in the Slave trade.

The research presented here was carried by a very small group of non-academic historians, it is gratifying to have Tony Tibbles acknowledge our work and agree that there never was any historical evidence.


Black Lives Matter and Penny Lane
This post was originally intended as just a local history discussion – that all changed on 7th June 2020 when the statue of the slave merchant Edward Colston in Bristol was toppled as part of the Black Lives Matter protests. Soon after, calls were made to rename Penny Lane. This website then became the centre of the debate about Penny Lane because it was the only place that presented the known facts. It has been shared countless times on social media and discussed in the world’s press, it had been read over 50,000 times before the announcement.

The Penny Lane slavery debate has been a distraction to the real issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests and to the good work done by the museum. The only positive outcome is that thousands of people have now decided to educate themselves on Britain’s shameful role in Slavery and it’s now being debated like never before. When Lockdown is over I highly recommend a visit to this excellent museum, details can be found here or follow them on Twitter – @SlaveryMuseum

The Mayor announces that he will not rename Penny Lane

On 12 June 2020, Mayor Anderson announced that the council would not be renaming Penny Lane, he had previously encouraged everyone to read the research I had presented here several times.

A summary of our research

The post below is long, it needed to be to research a claim that had been taken as fact across the world. Even Beatles fan sites repeated it! As the story developed and new findings surfaced I updated the site. The updates can be found after the original post.

The claim first surfaced in 2006 when a Liverpool Councillor had proposed to change the names of streets with links to slavery (yes we have been debating our legacy of the slave trade in Liverpool for that long). The then-press officer of the museum happened to mention to journalists that Penny Lane was probably one of those streets. The press picked it up, the news went worldwide.

Until recently, the James Penny myth went almost unchallenged. A small group of people with a passion for their city’s history had doubted the claim since it first gained international press coverage in 2006. I set about collating the evidence and researched it further myself, – it took years.In 2018 I posted the findings together with a review of how the press had reported it, although I was unbiased in my view, it became pretty clear that the claim was totally unfounded.

The research shows that James Penny had no links to the area around Penny Lane and it wasn’t named after him. We could find no instance of the link before 2006. In 1876 an academic paper looked into the origin of place names including Penny Lane – James Penny is not mentioned, instead it gives the etymology as an ancient form of Penketh. Penny Lane had nearby fields named Penketh and since the 17th century a house called Penketh Hall stood not far away.

There are over 30 other Penny Lanes in Britain, it’s quite a common name. There is over 300 streets in Britain that contain the name Penny – Halfpenny Close is close to where I live in Garston, Liverpool. The usual origins are related to being the lanes being unimportant – a penny lease for example.

Penny Lane was just a muddy pathway joining Wavertree and Toxteth Park – even 100 years after Penny’s death in 1799. It was not an important thoroughfare and definitely not a place named in relation to a prominent Liverpool merchant. In 1896 a letter to the Liverpool Mercury entitled ‘Typhoid Dissemination’ described as a ‘horrible miry road(Liverpool Mercury, Tuesday 7 January 1896, BNA). It should be noted that by 1896 the schemes to build the modern and sanitary terraced houses had been underway for 20 years, and had already covered great areas of south Liverpool.

For many years, since the start of the 19th century, the lane was only occupied by the house that still stands (although much altered) and now known as the Dovedale Towers public house. It was built years after James Penny died by a brass founder named Thomas Webster.

Rather than being laid out in the late 18th century, it is possible that Penny Lane pre-dated the Norman Conquest and was part of the hunting grounds of Toxteth Park that is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Like Smithdown Road it connects to, it could be one of the oldest streets in the whole of Liverpool.

After the initial post, more evidence was found by contributors to debunk the myth. This included a confession by the then press officer that stated he had undertaken no research whatsoever before he mentioned it to the press.

We then proved that Penny Lane was there years before James Penny was in Liverpool. A previously unpublished map from 1754 shows the lane when Penny was still only a child in Ulverston.

We may never prove the real origin of Penny Lane and is not important to the James Penny story.

Before 1967 Penny Lane was still just like any other English street, the Beatles changed that forever. The whole point of the song is celebrating the ordinary, almost banal. Penny Lane was always an everyday street ‘beneath a blue suburban sky’ but because of the Beatles it now has an extraordinary history – James Penny is not part of it.

A memorial to The Liverpool Enslaved – Please donate

Laurence Westgaph has set up a fund to raise funds to erect a memorial to the slaves who lived, died and were buried in Liverpool. The scheme has been a great success so far but more is needed, you can donate here The Liverpool Enslaved.
Laurence uses Liverpool’s monuments, buildings and street signs to educate people on the history of Liverpool and Slavery. I highly recommend one of his tours, find out more here @andslavery


Thank you to the International Slavery Museum and Tony Tibbles. Thanks also to Stephen Guy for his assistance.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this research in particular Darren White @Waite99D, Richard MacDonald @TourGuideLiverp, Christopher T. George @CThompsonGeorge, you will find credits to their hard work throughout this post. I would also like to thank Kev at Yo! Liverpool and all the original members on his forum as it was a discussion on there that launched the debate back in 2006. Follow Yo! Liverpool on Twitter: YOLiverpool

I would also like to show my appreciation to everyone who shared this post on social media, and politely referred anyone repeating the story to the facts.

Finally, thanks to my family for their support, especially Nola and Alex, they have had to put up with me talking about Penny Lane for years.

Was Penny Lane really named after the slave merchant James Penny?

Ever since 1967 when the Beatles released the song Penny Lane, this everyday suburban street has been associated with the ‘Fab Four’. Fans from around the world visit the place, being dropped off at the corner by the Magical Mystery Tour bus to pose by the street sign, for many years, painted onto the wall to prevent removal by fans wanting a keepsake.

For some years now the lane has also become known for a darker period of Liverpool’s history. An internet search of ‘Penny Lane’ will in no time instruct you that it was named after James Penny, a Liverpool slave merchant, but was it really?

h_00179009Bill Carrington holds Penny Lane Street Sign in Liverpool made famous by The Beatles March 1967 New Penny Lane zone to bring thousands of Beatles tourists to Liverpool

Credence to the story is given by nature of the websites propagating the story, including The Guardian, the BBC, the New York Times and our very own International Slavery Museum. The latter have on display a replica Penny Lane street sign included in an exhibit on Liverpool streets named after people involved in the slave trade. The display at the slavery museum gives international tourists the unique opportunity to see the same street sign in two completely different locations and contexts on the same day!

10616571284_117c6d2667_bExhibit of Liverpool Street names with links to the slave trade, including Penny Lane at the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool. Image

Not just online, the legend has made it into print in newspapers and books many times. In 2008 a ‘Time Team’ TV documentary special about Liverpool’s first dock saw Liverpool historian Ray Costello standing outside The Cavern telling Tony Robinson of the cellar’s links to slavery, in a double Beatles’ expose he then told the Penny Lane story as fact:

“One of the most famous streets I can think of is probably the famous Penny Lane, Penny Lane was called after James Penny, a slave ship captain who was one of the delegates who went down to the Houses of Parliament to speak in favour of the slave trade”

But, is there any truth in it? Is there ANY evidence to prove that the street was named after James Penny?

The short answer is no, none whatsoever, for the long answer, please keep reading.

Origin of the story

The first time I had heard of the James Penny link to the lane was in 2006 when Liverpool Councillor, Barbara Mace, promoted a controversial scheme to rename all the streets in Liverpool that were called after people involved with the slave trade, these included Tarleton Street, Manestys Lane, Clarence Street, Rodney Street and Exchange Flags. It was only when she was informed by someone that the city’s most famous street, Penny Lane, would also have to be renamed because of a supposed link to James Penny that the scheme was scrapped.

A forum on the excellent Liverpool history website, Yo! Liverpool, followed the story at the time and provides the basis for the reporting on the story here:

Cllr Mace, who works in the Foundation for Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University, says her proposal is aimed at marking the bicentenary in 2007, Liverpool’s 800th birthday year, of the abolition of the slave trade.

The Woolton councillor has told colleagues: “I want the city council to resolve that all streets, squares and public places named after those involved in promoting or profiteering from the slave trade be renamed.

Her plan was welcomed by Labour leader Cllr Joe Anderson, who says Exchange Flags could be re-named Independent Square.

Her plans were praised in some quarters; Gloria Hyatt, founder member of the Afro-Carribean-led Merseyside Campaign Against Racial Terrorism welcomed the idea:

“I think we should change the street names and replace them with names that celebrate successful black people.

Liverpool Daily Post, via Yo! Liverpool Slavery Streets

Alternatively, there were many who opposed the idea, Dr Emlyn Williams, chairman of the Rodney Street Association, said

I’m totally opposed to this because it’s a form of whitewashing history.

The proposal hit a major obstacle when someone suggested that Penny Lane was named after a slave merchant, and therefor the city would lose a major tourist location:

However, it appears the city’s leaders were unaware that such a decision would mean losing one of its most famous and most photographed streets. Penny Lane is thought to have been named after 18th century slave ship owner James Penny, who made his fortune in the industry.

Originally, Cllr Mace called for “all streets, squares and public places named after those who were involved in promoting or profiteering from the slave trade” to be renamed.

But the councillor today distanced herself from the original proposals, which could have seen Penny Lane scrapped. She said: “I wasn’t aware that Penny Lane was named after someone involved in the slave trade. However, I am not suggesting that all streets in the city associated with slavery should be renamed. If that was the case I think most of the city would be affected.

Eric Lynch, who for many years has given tours on the Liverpool Slavery History Trail said in 2006:

“Penny Lane is thought to have been named after James Penny, one of the slave ship owners.

People may be surprised but I completely disagree with the idea that any street names should be changed. If you change the names then it is like it never happened, there is no proof and people will forget. You cannot and should not change history, however disagreeable it is.”

The BBC reported on the 11th July 2006 that the scheme was dropped, Council leader Warren Bradley explained why:

“While we are committed to commemorating those who played an important role in the abolition of slavery, we have decided that renaming historic streets is not the best way forward.”

Yo! Liverpool and their many members, have an incredible knowledge of Liverpool’s history, and it is a credit to them that they were quick to question whether their was any truth in story about James Penny. ‘Taffy’ on the forum stated:

I’ve never actually seen any evidence that this street was named after James Penny. Like Smithdown Rd & Mossley Hill Rd, Penny Lane is a very ancient highway whose name is likely to reflect its antiquity. I have to say I’d be surprised if this story about its naming were true but I’m happy to be corrected if someone has a source”

Christopher George then posed the question:

Could we find out if James Penny had any connection to the area around Penny Lane? Possibly he owned property in the area. If he didn’t and it is determined that he didn’t have a connection with the area, I would agree that it might be unlikely that Penny Lane is named after him.

He then listed all the known addresses for James Penny – all of which were in the town centre and none in the Toxteth Park/Wavertree area, where the lane is located. He also pointed out the only link to Toxteth is that Penny was buried at St. James church.

The Yo! Liverpool forum members also found that the lane was indeed ancient and probably predated the time of James Penny. Christopher George made the observation that near to the top of the lane there used to be an old house called ‘Penketh Hall’ and this may have been the origin of the name. ‘Dazza’ provided a map from 1765 that had appeared in Robert Griffiths’ history or Toxteth Park (1907) that shown what was to become Penny Lane. “Marky’ found that the earliest mention is the 1841 where it is recorded as Pennis (Pennies) Lane.

You can read the full debate here: Slavery Streets

Since finding the old Yo! Liverpool debate, I had set myself the task to look into the story further and collect as much evidence as possible to see if I could, once and for all, prove or disprove the story. Almost five years later I hope I can put it to rest.

Who was James Penny?

james-penny-f70b19af-f9a2-416a-bf47-0b8c6d61507-resize-750Portrait of James Penny by Thomas Hargreaves

James Penny was not just a merchant who earned his money from human trafficking, he fearlessly fought for the right to continue the trade in Parliament when abolitionists were trying to outlaw it. The slave trade was important to Liverpool’s commerce and Penny was set on ensuring it continued.
Penny was born in 1741 in Arrad, near Ulverston, his father was also James. James Penny came to Liverpool sometime around 1764 and in 1768 he married Ann Cooper in St. Nicholas Church in the Old Churchyard. Several merchants involved with the slave trade who were from Ulverston would move to Liverpool around the same time including John Bolton, Moses Benson and Joseph Threlfall.
His first slaving venture was The Jupiter in 1764 carrying 250 enslaved Africans from Sierra Leone to Jamaica. The ‘middle passage’, being the 2nd leg of the triangular route of Liverpool – Africa – West Indies was horrific, not only would many slaves die but also the sailors transporting them. Others voyages included:
1768 & 1770 The Cavendish – Sierra Leone to Jamaica
1775-1776 Wilbraham – Carrying 530 slaves (27 died together with 7 seaman)
1776 – 1777 Wilbraham – Carrying 539 slaves (24 died together with 4 seaman)
1777 – 1778 Nicholson – Carrying 560 slaves (31 died together with 3 seaman)
1781 -1782 Carolina – Carrying 571 slaves (26 died together with 1 seaman)
1783 Count du Nord Angola to South Carolina
1785 Mamookata – Carrying 209 slaves ( 1 died together with 3 seaman)
Penny was active in the trade until the American Revolutionary War, returning to it after the war was over in partnerships with other merchants.
(Penny was a) man of considerable stature in the town, highly regarded by his fellow merchants, his forthright views on the slave trade must have brought him to their notice as a likely delegate”. This refers to his having been chosen as one of the five delegates sent to represent the interests of Liverpool before a Committee of the Privy Council in 1788. In the years 1787 to 1789 there was an active parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. There was much public feeling in general in favour of abolition but for Liverpool.
F.E. Sanderson ‘The Liverpool Delegates and Sir William Dolben’s Bill’.
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire
James Penny was one of five delegates sent to London in 1788 to represent Liverpool’s interests against the abolitionists before a Privy Council Committee.
In 1792 he was presented with a silver epergne for speaking in favour of the slave trade to a parliamentary committee. He continued to be committed to the slave trade even when other merchants were moving away from it. With his eldest son, James, he was elected to the African Company of Merchants trading in Liverpool in July 1793. He died in 1799. James Penny
The silver plate epergne presented to James Penny for speaking out in favour of the slave trade. Liverpool Echo
The Penny family certainly had a novel way of keeping their money in the family. Penny’s eldest daughter Ann married James Penny Machell of Penny Bridge, he was the son of John Penny Machell who had added Penny to his name on his marriage to Isabel Penny, the daughter of James Penny Esq. of Penny Bridge (probably the slave merchant’s father).

James Penny Machell Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain

On the death of James Penny, James Penny Machell inherited the silver epergne. James Penny’s company, James Penny & Co. was taken over by his son James. A partnership in a ropery business with John Penny Machell was dissolved on the death of James Penny Jnr in 1820.

Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware's Whitehaven Advertiser 25 September 1820Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 25 September 1820. British Newspaper Archive

More about James Penny here:

How streets were given names

Historically, streets usually received their names from several sources; an ancient name as in the case of Smithdown Road (Smethedum from the Doomsday book), a natural feature like ‘Dingle Lane’, named after a historic event, and most commonly, named after the owner of the land or the name of his house. Looking at 18th century maps of Liverpool, you can see many names that still survive in the form of street names, marking plots of land owned by merchants.

A Plan of the Town and Township of Liverpool, from an actual survey taken in the year 1785 by C. EyesJohn Eyes’ plan of Liverpool 1785 showing many names of landowners that are recognisable as street names today including Bold, Hardman, Parr, Blackburn, Seel and Rodney.

If Penny Lane was indeed named after James Penny we would expect to see his name on plans of Wavertree/Toxteth Park at the time he lived there, no such evidence exists.

The last reason a street gets a name is when it is named after a famous person. If Penny was to receive this honour why not pick a prominent street in the town, close to the docks or the Exchange – not an insignificant lane with only two dwellings on it?

Known addresses for James Penny

I have searched genealogy websites many times for the surname Penny (together with variants) from 1760 to 1820, there are no records for the name in Wavertree or Toxteth Park – but there is ONE record for Childwall (Wavertree was in the parish of Childwall), although this proved to have no connection to James Penny, it also predates Penny’s arrival in Liverpool by at least 12 years:
Mary Penny
Baptism 10th May 1752, Childwall
Father’s name John Penny
Mother’s name Esther Halewood
From the baptism record we can see that she was born into the Halewood Poorhouse and was a bastard child of John Penny and therefor nothing to do with the family of James Penny:
10 May 1752 All Saints, Childwall, Lancs.
Mary Halewood – Daughter of John Penny & Esther Halewood
Born: 20 Feb 1752
Abode: Halewood Poorhouse
Notes: a bastard child, who saith shee was procreated by John Penny
Esther Halewood would go on to marry Thomas Travise on 09 Feb 1759 in Childwall.
The nearest a person named Penny had lived to Penny Lane, was a Mrs Penny who lived in Edge Hill in 1820.
Mrs Penny Edge Hill Liverpool Mercury 04 October 1816Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 25 September 1820
If the Penny family had any links to Wavertree or Toxteth you would expect this to be represented in the birth, marriage and death records but the Baptism records of the children of James Penny and Ann Cooper show that they all took place in the town:
Baptism locations of the children of James and Ann Penny

, 13 November 1772, Saint Peter’s Church, Church Street
Benjamin, 3rd July 1775, Saint Peter’s Church, Church Street
Ann, 21 February 1777, Saint Peter’s Church, Church Street,
Mary Margaret, 7th August 1783, Saint George’ Church Castle Street,
Margaret, 20 September 1785, St. George’s Church, Castle Street
Jane, 8 Jan 1787, St. George’s Church, Castle Street
Elizabeth, 14 November 1788, St. George’s Church, Castle Street
Margaret, 21 February 1790, St. George’s Church, Castle Street
The addresses of the churches that the baptisms took place in match with Penny’s known home addresses, all in the town centre:

Known home addresses of James Penny

1772 Capt. Penny, Church Street (Gore’s Directory)
1773 Capt. Penny, Church Street (Gore’s Directory)
1774 Captain Penny, 18 Church Street (Gore’s Directory it says ‘Old Church Yard’ which I believe is a mistake and he had lived at 18 Church street from before 1772 to after 1781)
1777 Capt. James Penny, 18 Church Street (Gore’s Directory)
1781 James Penny, merchant,18 Church Street (Gore’s Directory)
1787 James Penny, merchant, Ranelagh Street (Gore’s Directory)
1790 James Penny, merchant, Hope Street, Martindale Hill (Gore’s Directory)
1796 James Penny, merchant, 2 Hope Street, Mount Pleasant Street (Gore’s Directory) (His son James, merchant, is also listed at this last address).
So how about business addresses? Surely if he lived in Penny Lane we would expect to see a business or farm located there? Again no. After the death of his son James in 1820, a series of business premises were put up for sale belonging to James Penny & Co. These included:
A warehouse, Cooperage and two cottages on the east side of Fleet Street
A dwelling house in Renshaw Street
A warehouse in Arrad Street
There is no mention of any land or property anywhere outside of the town.

Burial location of James Penny

The only piece of evidence that brings Penny remotely close to Toxteth Park is his burial at St. James Church which still stands and is just within the old Toxteth Park boundary.

Toxteth Park was roughly box-shaped with St. James at the bottom left, Penny Lane on the other hand is the the further most point away from the church, in the top right of the box. In fact the only property on Penny Lane for many years was in the Wavertree half of the lane and not Toxteth Park at all.
Toxteth Park St james and penny lane
The Toxteth Park tithe plan of the 1840s, St James Church is show on the left, Penny Lane on the right, showing that the two locations were located at opposing  boundaries.
Penny was buried on 26th August 1799. Also buried in the church is Moses Benson, another Ulverston slave merchant. The registers of this church feature many African and Caribbean born people.

JAMES PENNY BURIAL 26TH AUGUST 1799 ST JAMESBurial record for James Penny at St. James Church Toxteth Park, 26th August 1799


Penny’s mother outlived him, she died in 1806, aged 87, at the family home in Arrad near Ulverston.

James Pennys mother death Lancaster Gazette 29 November 1806Death of James Penny’s mother, Lancaster Gazette 29 November 1806.
British Newspaper Archive

Penny Lane, the early years

Historically Penny lane’s border was split between two areas, with the southern half being within Toxteth Park and the northern half in Wavertree, the latter being in the parish of Childwall. Because of this, historical references to the lane can be found in all three place names.

The lane appears to be historically linked with the Greenbank estate, allowing a direct route to Wavertree. The earliest maps show Greenbank as ‘St, Anslow’, I believe, as no saint is recorded by that name, and that Ansow is a surname, the ‘St.’ refers to an abbreviated Christian name, Stuart or Stephen and therefor shows the owner of the house at that time.

Greenbank was the home of the Rathbone family, famous in Liverpool for their philanthropy and public service. The first of family that lived their was William Rathbone IV. He was an opponent of slavery and was a founding member of the Liverpool branch of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

William Rathbone IV (10 June 1757 – 11 February 1809) was a member of the noted Rathbone family of Liverpool, England. He was the son of William Rathbone III and Rachel Rutter, and was a Liverpool ship-owner and merchant, involved in the organisation of American trade with Liverpool.

Originally a member of the Society of Friends, he felt compelled to write a Narrative of Events in Ireland among the Quakers in 1786 in protest against religious intolerance in the Society, for which he was disowned from the Society in 1805. He would never join another religious body, though he occasionally worshipped with local Unitarian congregations.

A committed opponent to slavery, Rathbone was a founding member of the Liverpool Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (perhaps another name for the Liverpool branch of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in 1788, a society originating in London the year before.

Being within Toxteth Park, Greenbank had been the property of the Earl of Sefton. William Rathbone leased the estate in 1788 from William Reid and finally purchased it in 1809. William Reid had a porcelain works at Brownlow Hill but had become bankrupt in 1761. In the late 1990s, the site of his pottery business was excavated and thousands of pieces of pot were excavated. Analysis of these led to important discoveries about early porcelain. You can read more about William Reid here: The Liverpool Porcelain of William Reid: A Catalogue of Porcelain and Excavated Shards

What the Rathone records omit is that in 1768, prior to William Rathbone living there, Peter Holme was living at Greenbank, the clipping below shows that he had grown a 25.5 inch long cucumber, grown from a seed bought in Turkey. It weighed upwards of 30 lb.

Peter Holmes Greenbank 1768

Growing giant cucumbers was not however Peter Holmes’ source of income, that came from investment in Slave trading voyages. The online resource of UCL (Legacies of British Slave Ownership) has this information on him:

Peter Holme, son of William Holme, a grocer, born 1730/1 and died 1779, had investments in 50 slave trading voyages between 1750 and 1777. Mr. Peter Holme, Merchant, Liverpool, was a subscriber to two volumes of poetry in 1759. 24/06/1766: Articles of Partnership between the following Liverpool Merchants: William Davenport, Peter Holme, Thomas Hodgson, Ralph Earle, Thomas Earle, William Earle, John Copeland. For carrying on trade of selling beads, arrangoes, etc. Possibly this was an antecedent of Peter Holme’s later partnership with William Atherton. Will of Peter Holme merchant of Childwall, proved 22/05/1780. The will, made in 1749, is five lines long and left everything to his sister Elizabeth Holme. Peter Holme

Toxteth Park - Tithe Map more contrastA section of the Tithe map from 1846/47 of Toxteth Park showing the Greenbank estate.
The lane running up to the top right hand corner is Penny Lane, but like most streets on the map it is not named. The north half of the lane is not shown as it is in Wavertree. The lozenge feature, next to plot 144 is a pond and is remarkably still there.
Thanks to @Waite99D

Wavertree - Tithe Map 1846A segment of the Wavertree Tithe map showing the north half of the lane at a different orientation.  The houses shown are Grove House and Grove Cottage. Originally the residence of the Webster family, by 1846 it was in the hands of his Trustees and occupied by William Anthony who is also on a sales listing from 1846. The lane is shown simply as ‘From Toxteth Park’.
Thanks to @Waite99D

The census of 1841 lists Penny Lane but the enumerator may have made a mistake and had written Pennis (Pennies) Lane (See update Sat 4th July 2020). John Whittingham is at Grove Cottage and John Frankland is at Grove House.

1841 Pennis Lane1841 census showing Pennis (Pennies Lane)

The earliest mention in the British Newspaper Archive of the lane by name is in 1846. It is an advertisement for Grove House to be let. At that time it was occupied by William Anthony Esq. Here it is called Penny’s Lane. It is also referred to as Penny’s lane in an advertisement for a property in July 1858, this may imply that it was named after a person called Penny but no evidence has been found to support this other than the advertisements. No-one called Penny has been found with links to the area. It also has to be noted that in 1859 an article was published that called it Perry’s Lane (see further down this page).

earliest-penny-lane-1846-liverpool-mercury.jpg1846, British Newspaper Archive

Grove House, is still standing although much altered, and is now Dovedale Towers. Both Grove House and it neighbouring cottage appear on early maps of Toxteth Park from the 18th century and these remained in isolation for at least 70 years until the 1840s.

The Yates and Perry map of 1768 clearly shows the lane, indicating that both the lane and its two dwelling where already there before Penny moved to Liverpool.

yates and perry map liverpool 1768Yates and Perry’s map of 1768, Penny Lane (not named) can be seen leading up from Greenbank with two properties on it in the position of Grove House and Grove Cottage.

Sometime before 1840, two other properties appeared at the bottom of the lane, these were part of the Rathbone’s Greenbank estate. Fern Lodge and Oakfield can be seen on the map below, Oakfield still stands and possibly part of Fern Lodge. These buildings became part of the Lourdes Hospital site, now Spire. Oakfield is a beautiful building but hidden behind a fence and dense trees.

Oakfield, originally part of the Greenbank estate. This house was built in the early 1800s and was later to become home to Eleanor Rathbone. This beautiful house is completely hidden from view at the bottom of Penny Lane, it is part of the hospital complex of Spire Healthcare.

mid 1800s penny lane1840s map, amended in the 1860s to include the railway. Other than the properties linked to the Greenbank, Fern Lodge and Oakfield, Grove House and Grove Cottage are the only buildings.

1909By 1909 the area is resembling the modern day lane. The two houses have become Grove House (Home for Incurable Children) and Grove Mount Convalescent Home.

It was not until the start of the 20th century that the lane was developed further.

Dovedale towersGrove House today, much altered and for many years known as Dovedale Towers
Image: Google Street View.

In 1896 a letter appeared in local press entitled ‘Typhoid Dissemination’ that shows even by that time, the lane was far from developed, or sanitary:

Persons wishing for practical knowledge on this subject are advised to go to Penny-lane, enter it from Greenbank, keeping to the right hand side of the road by the old fence, at the end of which the olfactory senses will tell of the neighbourhood of their desires. Look down the bridge embankment, as the writer unfortunately did on Tuesday last, expecting to see some putrefying animal matter, instead of which he saw a miry farm road, soaked by the water of an obstructing drain or ditch, abutting upon the embankment ; on the other side of the road a hedge terminated by a gate, through which is continued the horrible miry road to a small, dirty-looking hovel. Whether the aroma, reeking with typhoid, comes from that building, road, ditch, or all the three combined, is for the local sanitary authorities, in the interests of public health, to satisfy themselves, and if possible, apply a remedy.

1896 Typhoid Penny LaneJanuary 1896. British Newspaper Archive

The James Penny saga in 2006 was not the first time Penny Lane was threatened with a name change, in 1859 there was a failed attempt to rename several lanes as roads including Perry Lane (sic), Smithdown Lane, Greenbank Lane and Ullet Lane. It is interesting as it gives an insight into the designation of a lane, being “generally understood to mean a narrow street or alley, and not an important thoroughfare’:

Rename Penny laneA failed bid to rename Penny Lane as Penny Road, 1859. British Newspaper Archive

Thomas Webster

It is possible that the Webster family had built Grove house in the late 18th century. In 1814 Thomas Webster is living at Grove Cottage and placed an advertisement for Grove House to be let. Although it is only 15 years after the death of James Penny, it is merely named as ‘The lane leading from Wavertree to Greenbank’.

In fact, up until it’s first appearance by name in the 1841 census – 42 years after James Penny’s death – Penny Lane is always listed as just a connecting route to two areas, such as Wavertree to Toxteth.

1814 T Webster House Penny not mentioned
1814, just 15 years after the death of James Penny, a newspaper advertisement for the letting of Grove house appeared, at this time it is merely called ‘the lane leading from Wavertree to Greenbank. British Newspaper Archive

The following year, Webster had three ducks stolen from Grove House by a market trader called Catherine Evans. She was sentenced to seven years transportation by ‘The Wavertree Association’ as a demonstration that they would ‘take this opportunity of assuring the public that it is their determination to prosecute all offenders’.

Webster ducks stolen 1815 Liverpool MercuryLiverpool Mercury 10th June 1815. British Newspaper Archive

The house of Thomas Webster was robbed in 1817, again the name of the name is not mentioned.

Webster wavertree robbed 1817
1817 British Newspaper Archive

Thomas Webster was a Brass Founder with premises in King Street under the name of Webster and Forshaw. The building was converted from a mansion once owned by the Trafford Family. There are records of the Webster family of Childwall going back to the 1600s. On Christmas day 1776 a Thomas Webster of Huyton married Mary Hickson of Childwall.

In 1828 Webster & Forshaw made a chair made of solid brass weighing 148lbs. It was a commission for Sir John Tobin to be given as a gift to Duke Ephraim, King of Old Calabar.
Sir John Tobin was a slave-merchant, palm oil merchant and Mayor of Liverpool 1819-1820. He gave the chair in recognition of the post-abolition palm oil trade with Africa. Tobin was one one the largest importers of palm oil in Liverpool.

WEbster & Forshaw brass chair Lancaster Gazette 23 September 1826Lancaster Gazette 23 September 1826. British Newspaper Archive

Screen Shot 2012-02-17 at 17.11.33King Duke of Calabar in Full Dress (1895). Could this be the brass chair Webster made for a previous King in 1826?

Webster died at Grove House in January 1832. His house is described simply as being “by Greenbank”.

Death of Thomas Webster 20 jan 1832

In 1819 Joseph Gunnery, a solicitor, was living at Grove House. Gunnery married Webster’s eldest daughter Helen on the 29th March of that year.

1819-helen-wenster-marriage-to-j-gunnery.jpg28th March 1819. Grove House is only listed as being in Mossley Vale, near Liverpool

Andrew George Kurtz

andrew_kurtzAndrew George Kurtz (1825 – 1890)

By 1861 Grove House was in the occupation of Andrew George Kurtz (1825 – 1890). Kurtz was a chemical manufacture who owned the Sutton Alkali works in Saint Helens, which he had inherited from his German-born father. Kurtz took over reluctantly – having to turn his back on legal career to do so. He shared Grove house with his cousin Julia Turner. He had a large gallery of paintings and regularly opened his house to the public.

…he was also a talented amateur painter and an exceptionally able pianist. He was a major patron of the British painters of the classical revival, particularly Frederic Leighton, and assembled a famous collection of autograph musical scores and letters. His taste in music and art was distinctly conservative reflecting, possibly, his provincial life, but this may have encouraged his adherence to advanced classicism.

It was Kurtz who remodelled Grove house around 1871 to what see today as ‘Dovedale Towers’, he extending it and adding the strange looking tower at the front of the building. Kurtz regretted adding the tower and was to write in his diary that it looked;

…quite out of proportion and the marble columns outside the upper storey appear unnecessary and pretentious… I feel rather sorry that I have had it altered…
but everything (Hermann) takes in hand has a look of being overdone
Liverpool and the Southwest, Richard Pollard, Nikolaus Pevsner, Joseph Sharples

You can read more about Kurtz here:

So why was it really called Penny Lane?

In England alone there are over 30 Penny Lanes and well over 300 streets or lanes that contain the word Penny. Just off from the street next to where I live is a halfpenny Close. It is by no means an unusual name for a street. Usually it seems to have been a nickname for an unimportant street or path (worth a penny). There are also some that originate from a penny-lease. An example of this can be seen below from this clipping from a street in Bristol, ‘Pennys Leaze’ Lane also known by the rather alarming ‘Pickpocket Lane’:

Bristol mirror example of Penny Leaze

I am weary of offering alternative speculation on the origin of the name after the damage created by the slave story, but apart from the likely reason, as a name for an insignificant pathway, there are a couple of other theories that may be of interest.

‘Pennies’ a nickname for a group of land plots called Penkeths
As mentioned earlier, Christopher George, on the Yo! Liverpool forum discussion put forward an idea that the name may have had something to do with a nearby house called Penketh Hall (that used to stand to the right of where the Brookhouse is now).

Christopher’s theory is very plausible – Penketh Hall was named after a series of small, ancient plots of land called Penkeths. The name of Penketh originates from two Celtic words: ‘pen’ meaning end, edge or top and ‘coed’ meaning ‘wood’ – ‘The edge of the wood’. This makes perfect sense as this area is on the northern boundary of King John’s hunting ground, Toxteth Park this name could date back to the 13th century. The park was disaforrested in 1604, during the Commonwealth (1649 to 1660), Oliver Cromwell had given permission for inhabitants to cut down cart away all the timer they required.

On the 1765 map of Toxteth Park, these areas can be seen as Penketh Hill, Little Penketh Rough and Great Penketh Rough. It is plausible that this group of farm plots could have gained the local nickname of ‘The Pennies’ and the lane close by “Pennies Lane”.

As these plots cut through by what would later be called Greenbank Road, it would be more likely that the nickname would be be attributed to that, but Penny Lane is very close by so the argument is solid. It is interesting to note that when Penketh Hall was first built, no other property lay between that and Penny Lane.

Penketh Hall, demolished in 1906, was an early 17th century building. The first mention of the property is in 1615 when it appears in the West Derby Court Rolls when the property is being being surrendered to Edward Aspinwall, one of the early settlers of Toxteth Park who also owned the Lower Lodge in Otterspool:

Court Heading:
Halmote Court of West Derby held on 18th December 1615

m11, 13.   Haughton to Aspinall

Robert Burry and Ralph Gryffithe, customary tenants, give evidence that Richard Haughton, gent., out of court on 11th September last surrendered to Edward Aspinall of Toxteth Park, gent., the capital messuage called Penkethe Hall in Wavertree, 30 acres, for 3 years, paying Richard Haughton and his present wife, or Dorothy and Francis, his daughters, £16 a year. Admitted.

Penketh Hall N side of Smithdown Road F Beattie Built about 1650 demolished 1909Penketh Hall by F. Beattie. Painted in 1900. The description says ‘Built about 1650 demolished in 1906’, Liverpool Record Office.

penketh hall map
1840s map showing Penketh Hall and the original Brook House.

Named after a house on the lane called Penebrine

I found another possible origin of the name in a Will relating to the family of the surgeon Henry Park. The Will shows that John Parke owned a property called Penebrine . This had a ‘Paſsnips Croft’ – Parsnips Croft, note the 18th century ‘long s’.

On the 1765 map of Toxteth Park there is only one Parsnips Croft and is located at the bottom of what would be later called Penny Lane, close to St. Anslow – the original name for the Greenbank estate.

Penebrine possibly originated from the Welsh Pen y Bryn meaning ‘top of the hill’. It is possible that Penny’s Lane came from the lane that ‘Penybryn’ was situated on.


Marriner, aged and infirme, dated 21 Nov: 1715.

Unto loving wife Ellen Parke household goods it personal estate and house &c tent, in Toxteth Park called Penebrine with the Passnips Croft (Parsnips) and house thereunto belonging for life while unmarried, remainder to three sons John, Edward & James Parke equally. To wife 50 s p.a. out of tents, in Darby and that called Rough Parke. To five grandchildren £3 each viz : Nathaniel, John & Jane Woolfall sons & daur: of John Woolfall and Elizabeth & Kllinor daurs: of Thos: Rigby of Liverpool. Rest of my tents, in Darby & Rough Parke to my sons A: daurs: Nathaniel, Thomas, Anne, Mary it Elizabeth equally. Wife Ellen it son Thomas, Thomas Rideing it James Chadwick, both of Liverpool, Executors. In witness whereof (&c) . . . having first surrendered into the hands of the Lord & Lady of the Mannor of Westderby my mes- suage in West Derby heretofore in the possession of Robert Sussmith and now in my possession. Witnesses. JOHN SEACOME, John WAINWRIGHT, PETERS. Admon: Chester 3 May 1716 to Ellen Park, widow, it James Chadwick, power res. to Thomas Parke & Thomas Rideing.


1765 Penny Lane Passnips CroftToxteth Park in 1765. The only area in the park known as Parsnips Croft is on the fields next to Penny Lane. The nearby *St. Anlslow would later become Greenbank, the home of the Rathbones. As it is a map of Toxteth Park, the property Penebrine does not appear as it would be just north of The Sixteen Acre in Wavertree, where Grove House would be built. (*St. is probably an abbreviated Stephen or Stuart rather ‘Saint’ as it appears there is no Saint called Anslow recorded. It is more likely that it is the owner of the house or land at that time).

Update: Named after an 18th century name for loamy soil – ‘Penny’
Below is an entry for the word Penny from a farming dictionary dating from 1777, kindly sent to me by Darren at .

PENNY – earth, a term used by the farmers for a hard, loamy, or sandy earth, with a large quantity of sea shells intermixed in it : some of which being round and flat, and in some measure resembling pieces of money, have occasioned the earth’s being called by this name.

Penny - earth 1777The complete Farmer, or, a general Dictionary of Husbandry, 1777 Google Books

This is a very interesting discovery as the area around Penny Lane in the 18th century had several ‘Marl pits’, these were dug to collect Marl, a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and silt to be used as a fertiliser. The map below shows sites of Marl Pits and likely old disused pits that have become filled with water. The largest group of these pits in the vicinity is next to Passnips Croft or ‘Penebrine’.

1765 Penny Lane showing Marl Hey and pitsThe area around Penny Lane in 1765 with Marl Pits and likely disused Marl Pits indicated by red dots. The largest group of these old pits, now filled with water, is right next to Penny Lane in Passnips Croft or ‘Penebrine’

Shown below is an area in Allerton known as ‘Forty Pits’, after the old Marl Pits on the site that became filled with water. The shapes of the pits are very similar to to those on Penny Lane.

forty pits allerton

A map generated to show soil types shows that Penny Lane is between two areas that are high in loam. Red indicates ‘Naturally wet very acid sandy and loamy soils’

Penny Lane soil type

Could it be that the name Penny Lane originated from a description of the land it spanned?


The reason this research has taken so long is that I have realised that it is often quite easy to prove someone lived in, or had links to, a property, but proving they didn’t is altogether more difficult. The first can be proved with one clipping, census or BMD record, the latter needs every possible source of information available, to be found and eliminated.

From the earliest maps of Toxteth Park we have seen that the lane was in existence before Penny arrived in Liverpool. A holding called Penebrine, with its Parsnips Croft, had occupied the site since before 1715, 60 years before James Penny set foot in Liverpool.

We have seen that just 15 years after Penny’s death the lane appears to have no official name and the Penny family had no links to the lane whatsoever, even though his son was still in Liverpool at the time.

It’s also important to note that the respected Liverpool historian, Steve Horton, in his 2002 book ‘Street Names of Liverpool’, does not include the link to James Penny with the lane.

I think that I have shown that there is no link to be found to connect the lane to James Penny. It is most unfortunate that this will do little or nothing to stop the myth or to repair what has been printed before. A story about a street NOT being named after a slave merchant is not a headline grabber after all.

The question is why the story spread so quickly and is so widespread? It’s not hard to find links to the slave trade in Liverpool merchant families, (a pin and an old map may do the trick) and it is true that there are a lot of street names that remember these families or places relating to the trade such as Goree, so why invent one?

The answer may lie in a famous speech made by George Frederick Cooke (17 April 1756 in London – 26 September 1812 in New York City). Cooke was an actor who was well known for his drunken antics. One night when appearing in Liverpool, he was heckled for his poor performance and his response to the unimpressed audience is recalled in a memoir of his life:

On occasion of some offense which he conceived against the people of Liverpool, he uttered this eloquent burst of invective. “It is a place accursed of heaven, and abhorrent to nature”— their wealth is the price of human misery; and there is not a brick in their houses that is not cemented with human blood”
Memoirs of the Life of George Frederick Cooke

The quotation appears in British newspaper from the early 1830s, often embellished with even more gory details such as blood mortar and ‘human blood’ being replaced with the blood of an ‘African’, ‘Negro’ (or much more offensive). Since then it appears that a history of the slave trade in Liverpool is not complete without including it (including this one).

The speech reflects the outrage of people coming to terms with an inhuman trade earlier generations had profited from.

Although it has been questioned if Cooke actually made this speech*, it is of little consequence, as it’s quite possibly the most often quoted phrase about Liverpool in history, an internet search of the term “cemented by the blood” will demonstrate this. The speech has also been attributed to Bristol and by different orators.

That Liverpool owed much of its growth and wealth to the slave trade is not in question, neither is the fact that many merchants built their villas and warehouses with money earned by slavery linked ventures. But maybe, Cookes’ line of ‘not a brick’ has been taken a little too literally by some? Perhaps someone was too quick to assume a link to the slave trade to every street in Liverpool?

*Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 12

A Liverpool street that does have a connection to James Penny

If you seek a Liverpool street with a credible reason of being named in connection with James Penny, you’ll find it running behind the Everyman theatre in Hope Street.

Penny’s book-keeper, Samuel Knipe had business premises for James Penny & Co. in Arrad Street – Arrad being the birth place of James Penny.

I doubt the New York Times will be interested but maybe the International Slavery Museum could swap their Penny Lane sign for this one?

arrad streetArrad Street from Google Street view
I’d like to thank Yo! Liverpool for the information from their website and the work done by their members that formed the basis of this post.

Update: The origin of the James Penny story

Shortly after posting this piece, I was contacted via the comments section by ‘tourguideliverpool’ who kindly referred me to a blog post on the Maritime Museum’s Website. Written in 2008, the page by Stephen Guy tells how he was responsible for the story reaching the media:

I confess to helping to raise awareness about the sinister origins of perhaps Liverpool’s best-known thoroughfare. Penny Lane – immortalised by The Beatles’ song – is probably named after notorious slave trader James Penny.

In 2006 there was a move – later withdrawn – to rename Liverpool streets named after people linked to the slave trade. I happened to mention to the local media that Penny Lane was one of them and the story went around the world.

Like other byways named after people, Penny or his family either owned land in the area or had strong associations with it.

I would be very pleased to see any evidence that the Penny family ‘either owned land in the area or had strong associations with it’ or indeed of the Lane’s ‘sinister origins’.

I would of course be glad to post that evidence here.

You can read full Maritime Museum blog post here:

Update January 2020: The story resurfaces

On the 10th January 2020, ITV ran a story about Liverpool Council’s plans to erect signs in Liverpool streets that bear the names of slave merchants and abolitionists:-

Liverpool City Council want to give more “honest” account of City’s link to slave trade Liverpool could introduce plaques on buildings related to the slave trade in a new effort to give an honest account of the city’s past.

Much of Liverpool’s 18th Century wealth came from the slave trade and the City Council have said that is reflected in street names and building designs.

Mayor Joe Anderson is calling for new signs to explain their relevance to traders and abolitionists.

The Council have also said that they want there to be plaques explaining the true history of notable merchants from Liverpool’s past in the city’s Town Hall.

They have also called on the Highways Department to identify new streets which can be named after Liverpool-based abolitionists and BAME figures in order to celebrate the city’s rich history of fighting for justice for diversity.
ITV Report 10th January

A feature in the Liverpool Echo on 13th January said:

The council motion, by mayor Joe Anderson, does not call for the changing of any road names, something some campaigners have called for in the past.
Liverpool Echo

Unfortunately the media coverage of this scheme has brought the Penny Lane association back into the spotlight, ITV ran the story with this photo:

itv report

The Mail of 10th January went as far as implying Penny Lane was the main reason for the scheme:-

mail 11 jan

BBC North West Tonight had a Penny Lane street sign centre screen when it reported the story:

CC North West Tonight

The scheme

This new idea seems to be a much better idea that renaming streets (and in the process erasing the visible history that belongs to them). After all, street names are often the the primary source for research.

The scheme was championed by Laurence Westgaph, a Liverpool historian specialising in the history of Liverpool’s Black community and in particular the city’s role in transatlantic slavery. On 15th January the motion was passed after a speech by Laurence.

It is interesting that as an historian with many years experience in this field Laurence said recently of the association of Penny Lane with slavery:

I researched James Penny in 2006 for a booklet I wrote on the subject of Liverpool streetnames associated with slavery. I found no evidence connecting him with the area so didn’t include Penny Lane.

Sadly to my knowledge Laurence has never published his research into Penny Lane, but you can read his excellent street name publication on the link below, the booklet is available as a free download: Read the signs

If you are interested in finding out more about Liverpool’s involvement in the slave trade, Laurence Westgaph gives regular walking tours of the city that are highly recommended. To find out more about his tours and for fascinating, but sometimes harrowing, insights into Liverpool’s slavery role visit his facebook site Liverpool and Slavery or you can follow him on Twitter @andslavery

A Twitter campaign to challenge the story

In response to the the myth resurfacing, Richard Macdonald, who kindly commented on this post in October 2018, used his Twitter page to champion the cause for truth about Penny Lane and has worked tirelessly to inform anyone repeating the story that the story has absolutely no truth in it (or indeed research). You can catch up with this debate here @TourGuideLiverp.

So far the International Slavery Museum has not responded, even though it was one of their employees that started the story.

In the words of Richard we should ‘Reclaim Penny Lane!’

So if not Penny Lane, where did James Penny really live?

Darren at has often kindly lent his assistance with my research for previous posts. He has an incredible knowledge of Liverpool’s history and an uncanny ability to locate historic sites through old maps and images from archives (many never seen before). I am indebted to him for his help in tracking down James Penny’s real addresses in Liverpool.

As mentioned in this post, we know Penny was at 18 Church Street for most of the 1770s and from at least 1790 until his death in 1799 he was at 2 Hope Street, a home that was left to his son, also James. Hope Street is important as it is recorded in Penny’s 13 page will as his dwelling house (not a commercial property). As you can see from the 1803 map below this was in a semi-rural location so Penny would not have required a second ‘country residence’ in the area of what would become Penny Lane.

As street numbers change dramatically throughout history it is extremely difficult to prove where these houses were located over 230 years ago. Luckily with painstaking research Darren was able to locate the exact site of the Church Street home and one property belonging to the Penny family in Hope Street, (it is possible the Hope Street home still exists but there may have also been another property belonging to Penny so research is ongoing).

You can read the full story and the ongoing research involved here 18 Church Street  (now Marks & Spencer) and  2 Hope Street (now 26 Hope Street) but in brief, here are the locations today:

Church Street

EOMvcv2X4AAgIjnHorwood’s map of 1803 showing number 18 Church Street. Image:

Church streetThe location of Penny’s house today is right in the middle of M&S, indicated by the orange tone. Image:

Hope Street (Research is ongoing, look out for updates soon)

hope street horwood 1803Horwood’s map of 1803 showing an almost rural Hope Street with very few houses, one is shown as belonging to Mr Penny. James died in 1799 so this is his son who inherited it on the death of his father. Image

hope street houseNow 26 Hope Street. It is possible that the house marked ‘Mr Penny’ still survives, although much altered. In 1853 this became the Catholic Institute founded by Father Nugent.

hope street house mask
Quite possibly the original house shown on Horwood’s map, a storey has been added and the door and windows have been changed. The rear of the house matches the outline of Horwood’s map of 1803.

It is a shame that the same level of research was not taken before it was suggested that Penny Lane was linked to James Penny!

I will update this post as soon as more evidence is found regarding Hope Street.

I am all for the city’s links to slavery to be on display, indeed several of my own posts refer to it, I also give the names of several Liverpool slave merchants and their past house locations. But, it is vital that the information presented is factual.

As I think I have proven, there is no link to James Penny and Penny Lane other than he shares its name (alongside another 300 streets in England).

I will continue to update the post as this story develops.
My thanks to Richard MacDonald @TourGuideLiverp and Darren White .

Update 12 June 2020:

The original research is still here, you can still find it below but here is an update with key events that have happened recently.

Since the rightful toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, Penny Lane and it’s supposed links to the slave merchant James Penny has become a bigger news story that ever. There has been repeated calls for Liverpool Council to rename the lane. Last night, 11th June 2020, every street sign on Penny Lane was vandalised.

The truth is that there is no evidence to support this claim. I researched it for several years and found nothing to link Penny to the Lane. Furthermore, I know of no historian that has ever found any proof. Mayor Joe Anderson has recently stated they won’t be renaming Penny Lane due to lack of evidence. The International Slavery Museum that first made the claim is now investigating it and have said they may take down the street sign that appears in their exhibit as they did not research it thoroughly when they first made the claim.

The origin of the claim

The claim was started by a press officer of the International Slavery Museum in 2006. This was in response to a motion proposed by the council to rename all streets with a slavery connection. In around 2014/15 he ‘confessed’ the origin of the story on the museum’s own website.

Although the assumption is understandable – with so many of the cities streets owing their name to the slave merchants who owned the land – it is pretty clear that little or no research was carried out. Instead the only link is the word ‘Penny’. The emphasis is mine:

I confess to helping to raise awareness about the sinister origins of perhaps Liverpool’s best-known thoroughfare. Penny Lane – immortalised by The Beatles’ song – is probably named after notorious slave trader James Penny.

In 2006 there was a move – later withdrawn – to rename Liverpool streets named after people linked to the slave trade. I happened to mention to the local media that Penny Lane was one of them and the story went around the world.

Like other byways named after people, Penny or his family either owned land in the area or had strong associations with it.

On the contrary, you will see from the research below that, in fact, James Penny had no links to the area around Penny Lane.

I am now in contact with the author and I have have asked for the evidence he used before making the claim to the press.  I will gladly share it the moment I receive a reply.

After pressure, the museum agrees to look into the claim

Even before the renewed calls to rename Penny Lane, the museum had been repeatedly contacted by myself by email and several others via Twitter. Richard MacDonald, @TourGuideLiverp, had also been researching the James Penny claim for many years and one of the contributors to the Yo! Liverpool forum that questioned it the day the press claimed it. Richard wrote to the Museum to question the claim in 2013 and received this reply:

EaTVOzRXgAA_dhyThe museum’s reply to Richard MacDonald in 2013,

Until the 9th June 2020 the museum had not acknowledged that their claim had no historic basis. Thankfully it now looks like they are looking into it, the following from their Twitter account @SlaveryMuseum:
9th june 1
Here is the text from the museum’s Tweets, again the emphasis is mine:
Hello all, we realise that there is some debate about whether Penny Lane was named after James Penny and we openly talk about this to visitors. We are actively carrying out research on this, and will re-evaluate the display (and change if required)
The research carried out in 2007 wasn’t conclusive but we have not removed it as we are a place of debate and discussion (including the dynamics of developing a museum) – and we hope to have these within the space once we can safely reopen.
…Also please do share any information or evidence on this if you have. We can all learn from each other, and think it’s important we do that.
The respected Liverpool historian, and author and teacher of over 30 years @MikeRoyden, replied to the museum with this very fair point:
Thanks for replying- I put the link (this post) on your Twitter feed two years ago and again this morning, but you are still after conclusive evidence. If it still isn’t enough, what conclusive evidence did you use in the first place to exhibit the street name?
This is a great start and a welcome move by the museum. The museum have asked myself to help in their research. We also have the amazing online community of highly knowledgeable historians that Liverpool has to assist. I would also encourage ANY historian to look into it themselves.
Britain is now challenging how we remember a shameful period in its history. In one act the protestors in Bristol inspired British people to educate themselves on history of our sickening role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Liverpool has done more than most in acknowleging the role it played, the International Slavery Museum is a big part of that. Locally, historians like Laurence Westgaph @andslavery have been working tirelessly for years to educate and address the ignorance and false information regarding Liverpool and Slavery, often facing a backlash in the process. Still, much more needs to be done.
The names of institutions, statues and street names are the most visible legacies of the trade, we have to make sure their true history is told and as Liverpool Council says ‘give an honest account’. That must also include correcting assumptions made in the past.

The Liverpool Enslaved

Laurence Westgaph has set up a fund to raise funds to erect a memorial to the slaves who lived, died and were buried in Liverpool. In just 4 days the figure reached over £21,000. More is needed, you can donate here The Liverpool Enslaved.
Finally, a big thank to to everyone that has shared this post and to the people that have helped contribute. A special thank you goes to @tourguideliverp for finding the origin of the claim and working relentlessly on Twitter to point anyone who mentions the Penny claim to go to this site and make their own mind up. I am indebted to @Waite99d for finding the real homes of James Penny, one still survives, although much altered (see bottom of this post).

Update 12 June 2020 17:05:

A letter from the press officer at the International Slavery museum who first made the claim that Penny Lane was named after James Penny in 2006 – he left the museum around 2014.

I am delighted and very grateful to have received this reply. I had emailed him yesterday requesting to see the research he carried out before making the claim. He has very kindly agreed to allow me to share it here which I think you’ll agree is very generous of him. I have also forwarded it to the museum:

Dear Glen,

I was interested to read your e-mail.
I agree there is no concrete evidence that Penny Lane is named after James Penny.
The theory that it was “probably named after James Penny” or his family arose following a discussion at Merseyside Maritime Museum about Liverpool street names and their origins. 
I think it is likely that the lane was named after James Penny. He was a leading citizen in the port and he may have had associations with what is now the Penny Lane area. It is too much of a coincidence for there not to be a possible link. 
However, neither I or anyone else has ever claimed to have documentary evidence to back this up. 
It is a theory, a talking point rather than an academic pronouncement. Perhaps in my blog I should have said “may” rather than “probably”. What a difference a word can make!
I would be delighted if you or anyone else can prove that Penny Lane has nothing to do with James Penny i.e. a reference from before his time. 
I believe that the earliest reference anyone can find is to Pennies or Penny’s Lane from about the 1840s. Of course this is after James Penny’s era. 
I hope this has helped to clarify matters.
Feel free to quote me on your blog.


Street signs defaced on Penny Lane due to its supposed links to James Penny, a slave merchant. Nothing links Penny to the Lane other than his surname. Image: bbcmerseyside

Update: 14th June 2020

We can now prove conclusively that the story of Penny Lane being named after James Penny the slave merchant has no basis in fact.

We can also prove that when the story was started in 2006 by the press officer of the International Slavery Museum, no research at all was undertaken.

The only thing that links the lane to the slave merchant is the word ‘Penny’.
That’s it, that’s the only counter argument.

It’s a long post, it needed to be in order to dispel a popular myth, unfortunately started by a respected and otherwise superb museum. A story that proved so popular with the international press that it has been repeated ever since.

Mayor Joe Anderson has said he won’t be renaming the lane because of the evidence against the claim. The museum has said it will take down the Penny Lane street sign if there is no evidence to support their claim – but the only thing that could have proven a link to Penny would have been the research the press officer made in 2006, we can prove that no research was carried out.

On the 12th June 2020 David Olusoga said he also has never seen evidence to link James Penny with the lane. The acclaimed historian researches and presents TV’s ‘A house through time’, the first of which featured a Liverpool house.  He is a Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and an expert on the Slave Trade and Black British history. He told a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared that in his research on slavery he ‘hadn’t come across a link with the iconic Penny Lane’.

I encourage anyone who is still repeating the myth to find the evidence themselves. Good luck!

On social media, anyone who still believes it often says ‘Prove it wasn’t’ so here are facts in a nutshell:

Penny Lane was not named after James Penny. There I’ve said it!
The claim that Penny Lane was ‘probably’ named after the Slave Merchant was made in 2006 by the then press officer of the museum. The museum features a Penny Lane street sign in an exhibit. He has now admitted that before he announced it to the press with no evidence and he had undertook no research.

A snippet form the originator of the story here, full letter below,

…The theory that it was “probably named after James Penny” or his family arose following a discussion at Merseyside Maritime Museum about Liverpool street names and their origins. 
….However, neither I or anyone else has ever claimed to have documentary evidence to back this up. 
…It is a theory, a talking point rather than an academic pronouncement. Perhaps in my blog I should have said “may” rather than “probably”. What a difference a word can make!

The museum has faced increased pressure to remove the exhibit and thankfully on 9th June 2020 they agreed to review the exhibit and may take it down if no evidence is found. There is or never was any evidence, it was based merely on assumption. There is however a huge amount of evidence to show that it had nothing to do with him.
Please read the lengthy research on this site.

I am assisting the museum in their research.

Liverpool’s streets have streets named after slave merchants, but not Penny Lane.
Many streets in Liverpool have names linked to merchants who became wealthy from the Transatlantic Slave Trade. When these merchants owned land and streets were built on the site, the street would be named after the owner of the land. A few examples of streets bearing the names of slave merchants include Tarleton Street, Parr Street and Bold Street. Streets were not named in honour of these people, they just owned the land. Penny never owned any land in the area of Penny Lane.
You can read more about street with slavery links here in a 2006 publication by Laurence Westgaph called Read the signs.

Before the museum made the claim in 2006, NO-ONE had had ever made the association before.
Below is a paper from 1876 that explores the origin of the name Penny Lane. No mention of James Penny is made, instead it is linked to the ancient name of Penketh.

Penny Penketh

Proceedings of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, Volume 65, page 171. Google Books.
Thanks to Edgar Wright @wreadon for sharing this paper recently in the comments section. I had forgotten it was first mentioned in 2010 here by Richard, now on Twitter as @TourGuideLiverp.
The significance that it does not mention James Penny had been overlooked. If the lane was named after him it would have certainly been mentioned here.

The Penketh – Penny theory may not be correct as the author makes some errors elsewhere, but the important thing is that he does not include James Penny in the possible origins of the name. (Read this post for further information about the Penketh theory).

Fact 4:
The real origin of the name.
This is open for debate. It’s probably ancient and dates from before the Norman Conquest of 1066. It was a muddy country lane through countryside well into the 19th century. One possibility show in above is that it came from the name ‘Penketh’ which means ‘Edge of the forest’, the area was at the edge of the Royal hunting grounds of Toxteth Park – a forest until the late 16th century. The real origin is not crucial but several theories are provided on this site.

Fact 5:
Named after a Penny Toll?
For balance, I have recently seen online that the lane got its name from a penny toll, Mayor Joe Anderson has also said this. I know of no toll roads that were in the Penny Lane area. If anyone has any any evidence I would love to see it. There a was a toll gate at the border of Toxteth Park and Aigburth, this was situated at Aigburth Vale. Although this was quite close, it is too far to be associated with the lane. Read here. I have also heard it said that James Penny’s name was spelt Penney, I have not seen evidence of this myself.

Fact 6:

A Liverpool street that was really named after Penny and his real homes
Arrad Street off Hope Street was named after Penny’s birthplace. His son (also James and also a slave merchant) built houses on Hope Street and Arrad Street runs behind them.
Penny’s bookeeper lived on Arrad Street.
Thanks to @Waite99d we now know where James Penny’s house really were in Liverpool. One still survives although much altered. See the updates on the bottom of this post.
Fact 7:
Museums, galleries or places of learning of any kind should research their exhibits before they display them.
The Penny Lane slavery debate has been a distraction to the real issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests. The only positive outcome is that thousands of people have now decided to educate themselves on Britain’s shameful role in it and it is being debated like never before. When Lockdown is over I highly recommend a visit to this excellent museum, details can be found here or follow them on Twitter – @SlaveryMuseum

Update: 16th June 2020

No, it wasn’t and here’s even more proof.

NEW: A recently discovered map (266 years old) shows Penny Lane existed years before Penny came to Liverpool.

This 1754 plan below was found and published for the first time (in 266 years) on Twitter by @Waite99D It shows that Penny Lane was in existence 14 years before James Penny came to Liverpool from Ulverston in 1768.

At the time of this map James Penny was only 13 years old!

This new find shows Penny Lane wasn’t owned or leased by him, he didn’t name it. Penny Lane was rural track in the ancient hunting grounds of Toxteth Park, it was already there possibly hundreds of years before he came here.

Toxteth Park 1754

A snippet of a plan that has never been seen published before. It has lay hidden away in an archive until discovered recently by Liverpool Fragments @Waite99D.
It shows Penny Lane (right) in 1754, James Penny arrived in Liverpool from Ulverston circa 1768 – 14 YEARS AFTER THIS PLAN.
Like others, Penny lane is not named on this plan of Lord Sefton’s rural estate, but it proves that it was not Penny who laid out the lane, he never lived there, he didn’t lease it.

Compare the 1754 plan of Toxteth Park to this section of the 1785 plan of Liverpool below:


1785, in just this area alone, the names of the land owners are clearly shown, whole parts of what is now the city centre of Liverpool is still semi-rural but growing at an outstanding rate due to the wealth brought in from the Slave Trade.
Most of these land owners are slave merchants and have streets names after them; Bold, Blackburn, Cunliffe, Colquitt, Gildart, Hardman, Leece, Parr, Rodney and Seel. (I’ve probably missed a few but you get the point)
These are just some of Liverpool’s streets that REALLY owe their names to the landowners who became rich from the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Map from this excellent resource of old maps of Liverpool

A quick summary

A story invented by a museum employee – a confession
This website proves that the link was invented by a well-meaning press officer at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum in 2006. The ex-press-officer has kindly supplied me with a confession that it was based on pure conjecture alone. This can be read further down this page. Bogus origins for Liverpool street names are quite common so it is an understandable but unfortunate mistake.

The James Penny link was made to journalists in response to a proposal to rename streets that were ‘named after’ Slave merchants back in 2006.  This was 7 years before #BlackLivesMatter was founded. It’s not a new claim that has arisen since the toppling of the Colston statue – calls for Liverpool to acknowledge it’s role in slavery has a long history, led primarily by from political activists and historians from Liverpool’s Black community (see bottom of this update). Recently the Penny Lane street signs were defaced as part of the #BLM protests, these were cleaned by local people the same day.
The Penny Lane myth has only served as a distraction to the real debate.

The museum has agreed to remove their Penny Lane exhibit if no evidence is found
After seeing the evidence presented here, the museum thankfully said they would would review the evidence. If none was found to support their claim they promised they would remove the Penny Lane street sign from their exhibition – see here.

The Mayor backs this site
Mayor Joe Anderson has repeatedly encouraged everyone to read the findings on this website.

Still no evidence to back it up
Since the museum said it would look into it, and the world’s press repeating it over and over, Zero evidence has been found to support the museum’s claim, yet new evidence to prove it was wasn’t named after James Penny is still being discovered. Not by guesswork but by searching every possible archive to get to the truth, and checking it before we publish.

I’d like to address some issues brought up recently on Social Media:

“Liverpool is trying to cover up it’s history to protect tourism”

In fact Liverpool has done much more than most to acknowledge it’s role in the Slave Trade. It’s had a slavery exhibition since the 1990s and the International Slavery Museum since 2007 (although The Guardian appear to be oblivious to this). In 1999 the city of Liverpool made a public apology, Liverpool Black historians have also staged guided tours of the real ‘Slavery streets’ for decades. In 2018 Eric Scott Lynch was honoured as a ‘Citizen of Liverpool’ by the Mayor of Liverpool for many years of educating people of Liverpool’s links with Slavery with his guided tours.

We can still do more of course. Since 2006 Liverpool has discussed renaming streets. Before the Covid-19 pandemic the Council had promised to erect information plaques on the statues, buildings and street signs linked to the trade, after the Lockdown this will go ahead. Penny Lane will not be included.

Historian and ‘Liverpool and Slavery’ expert Laurence Westgaph has led tours for years and are highly recommended. He has also started an amazing fundraiser for a memorial to The Liverpool Enslaved. You can help address how we remember Britain’s (and more specifically Liverpool’s) shameful role in slavery – by erecting a new public monument, here.

“This research is by amateurs, what do the experts think?”

Two historians, who are experts in Liverpool and its involvement in the slave trade, have since said that they have seen no evidence to link James Penny to Penny Lane
David Olusoga and Laurence Westgaph have both said they have seen no evidence to link James Penny to Penny Lane (see post for links). Laurence wrote a booklet about Liverpool streets named after Slave merchants in 2006 (Penny Lane isn’t in it).

As yet no academic has supported the Penny Lane story.

If you are an academic historian I would welcome your professional opinion. Whatever it is I will publish it here. 

Update: 4th July 2020

I am indebted to Mike Chitty who has looked into the theory that the name Pennis Lane that appeared in the 1841 census may have been correct and not a spelling mistake as I assumed.

Mike’s findings also provides more evidence that the name Penny derives from a link to the Welsh word ‘Pen’ meaning ‘top’, ‘head’ or ‘Edge’. As we have seen Penny Lane was bordered on the north by a range of fields called Penkeths (and a house called Penketh Hall) and also by a farm on the south called Pen y Bryn.

Mike’s comment from 14 June 2020:

You suggest that ‘Pennis Lane’ – the street name written in the 1841 Census record for Grove Cottage and Grove House – was a spelling mistake by the enumerator. But maybe Pennis Lane was the original name – derived from the Welsh word ‘pen’ for head or end – indicating that this was the boundary of Toxteth Park? (Just as Edge Lane was ‘on the edge’ of West Derby township). Then in 1846, when Grove House was advertised To Be Let, someone decided they didn’t like the word Pennis, so replaced it by the more ‘acceptable’ Penny’s. And when the Ordnance Survey came along in 1848, they didn’t much care for apostrophes, so standardised the name as Penny Lane?

Incidentally, I’ve just come across another Pennis Lane. In the Chester Chronicle, 12 Oct 1804: “Mr WILLIAM BUTTER of Pennis-lane, near Northwich”. The London Gazette, 8 Apr 1831, mentions: “Mr James Butter, Pennyslane, near Northwich, Cheshire”. The road is still there today – called Penny’s Lane. And 19th century OS maps – e.g. the six-inch Cheshire Sheet XXXIV at – indicate that it had an administrative boundary running alongside.


Mike then emailed me some further evidence:

After submitting my original comment to the blog, I examined the Tithe Maps
covering Penny’s Lane near Northwich. It was historically situated in the
Township of Rudheath. I attach an extract from one of them – for the “Part
of the Lordship of Rudheath in the Parish of Davenham” – which confirms that
Penny’s Lane was the boundary between that area and the adjacent (to the
north) part of Rudheath: i.e. the “Part … in the Parish of Great
I also attach copies of the two press cuttings I referred to (1804 and
1831), along with the OS six-inch maps (1882 and 1899 editions) covering
this Penny’s Lane. The name ‘Butters’ Farm’ on the 1899 map is confirmation,
I think, that it was the ‘Pennis Lane’ where William Butter lived in 1804.

All five above images are courtesy of Mike Chitty.

Robert Griffiths’ Toxteth Park: Elm House, Chapelville and Cooper’s Folly

The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth has occupied the corner of Park Road since 1618. It is a remarkable survivor but somewhat of a lonely figure, surrounded by modern buildings. The Turner Home is one of its few neighbours that were built before the 20th century. But facing Aigburth Road, on the corner of Park Road and Ullet Lane there used to be a group very interesting properties, these comprised of Elm House, Chapelville and confusingly another later property The Elms – nicknamed ‘Cooper’s Folly’ by Robert Griffiths in 1907.

In the late 18th to mid 19th centuries, The Chapel was the cornerstone of a small community of wealthy merchants and clergymen. The Dingle then was a place were slave owners and abolitionists lived cheek by jowl, a community where ideas of liberty and human rights where championed, writers and poets gathered, and where scientific thought flourished – from the discovery of Hay Fever to early railway pioneers.

All three properties appear on the Tithe Map of Toxteth Park in 1847 but Elm House can be seen on the Yates and Perry’s map of 1768. The house could have been a lot older as nearby an old property called Rimmer’s Cottage that stood on ‘Farm Field’ was built around 1688 (now demolished). At the back of the three properties, at High Park, was the home of clock makers Thurstan Lassell and his son William.

Elm House 1768Yates and Perry’s map of 1768 showing Elm House (shown red) opposite Dr. Kennion’s house. Park Chapel is shown as well as Rimmer’s that was built around 1688. The stream leading down to the beauty spot of Knot’s Hole gave the ‘Dingle’ its name.

Elms aerial view 1859
A small detail taken from an aerial drawing of Liverpool in 1859.
Full zoomable map here: Library of Congress – thanks to Liverpool Fragments @Waite99D for the link. Although the drawing isn’t 100% accurate (not surprising as it covers most of Liverpool and was drawn from a tethered balloon), it is the only picture I can find that shows Chapelville.

1859 segmentThe selected area of the 1859 illustration of Liverpool.
Library of Congress – thanks to Liverpool Fragments @Waite99D

A Google Earth image of the site today, the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth can be seen in the middle of the picture, situated on the corner of Park Road. On the opposite corner is the old Gaumont Cinema building (built in 1937 – now just used as a mobile phone mast). In the foreground is the Turner Memorial Home (built 1884). To the left is Dingle Lane and to the right is Ullet Road turning down to Aigburth Road.
 Elms House 1860sThe houses in the mid 1800s, where Park Road meets Aigburth Road via Ullet Road.
The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, Chapelville, Elm House and The Elms or ‘Cooper’s Folly’.

Elms 1928A map from 1928 showing the tram shed that was built on the site of Chapelville

Chapelville was demolished to make way for a Tram terminus for Liverpool Corporation Tramways in the 1890s. The first electric tram left from there on the 16th November 1898, according to by 1901 the trams had carried a staggering 101 million passengers.

Elm House was demolished in the early 20th century when an extension to the Tram Terminus was required. Robert Griffiths wrote in 1907 that the owner, May Williston, (who had lived there since 1848) had often been asked to sell her house to the Corporation and to brewers but she had always refused. May died a year after Griffiths’ book was published, and with her death went any chance of saving this old house for posterity.

In turn, the Tram Sheds were demolished in 1993 (See Philip Mayer’s Flickr page). Apart from the Ancient Chapel the area is now covered with modern houses, although several older properties have survived in the The Elms street.

Another house, in the Gothic style, also called Elm House stood on the opposite corner of the street The Elms was built in the first half of the 19th century and survived for over a century, being demolished in the early 1960s.

In 1907, when Robert Griffiths wrote his history of Toxteth Park, Elm House and Cooper’s Folly were still standing, Chapelville had already been demolished to make way for a tram-shed, and by the mid 20th century, Cooper’s Folly would meet the same fate,

Making research even trickier is another property close by that was called Elms Cottage. So to avoid confusion from here I will refer to later property called The Elms as ‘Coopers Folly’. 

Elm House

Roscoe's house RG 1907Elm House, said to be one of the homes of William Roscoe, from Robert Griffiths’ book.

Elm House stood on Ullet Lane (now Ullet Road), facing Aigburth Road. The house and later the street next to it called ‘The Elms’ were named after the six ancient elm trees in the garden of the house. Here is how Griffith’s described Elm House in 1907:

The old stucco-fronted house, next to the tramsheds where Roscoe is said to have once resided, was up to recently in the possession of Mrs. Williston, who lived here since 1848. It was formerly occupied by
the commander of the district. General Gascoigne sat as M.P. for Liverpool for many years, being first elected in 1796; was defeated by Roscoe, 1806, and in 1812 was one of the three candidates in the memorable seven days’ polling which resulted in a victory for
The General’s stables, together with the old house called “Chapelville” were pulled down to make room for the present tram-sheds. The Corporation, and representatives of several brewing and other firms have endeavoured to induce Mrs. Williston to sell them the property, but the old lady remains true to a pledge given to her dying mother, and refuses to part with the old house for any consideration. In the garden of this old building may still be seen the remains of the six ancient elm trees which gave the name to “The Elms,” the street running through to Peel Street. This house was known originally as “Elm House.” On the lawn is the dry bed of an ornamental fish pond.

William Roscoe

800px-Martin_Archer_Shee_-_William_Roscoe_-_Google_Art_ProjectWilliam Roscoe portrayed by Martin Archer Shee, 1815-1817

Griffiths tells us William Roscoe is said to have lived at Elm House. Roscoe was an historian, abolitionist, art collector, M.P., lawyer, banker, botanist and writer. He wrote a poem about the area called ‘The Dingle’ in 1790 so this would have been the time that he lived there.

It seems Griffiths wasn’t completely convinced this was Roscoe’s house but it does seem a likely candidate. Roscoe was a prominent Unitarian so what better a place to live than right next to the Unitarian chapel of Toxteth? Elms House was also just over the road from ‘Ellerslie’, the home of James Currie, Roscoe’s close friend and a fellow abolitionist who co-authored ‘The African” with Roscoe. The house was also very near the homes of the Yates and Cropper families.

The biography of Roscoe below mentions that his house was in ‘the immediate vicinity of a small but beautiful dingle, leading to the shores of the Mersey’. Elm House, standing right opposite to the entrance to The Dingle does seem a very likely candidate for Roscoe’s house:

“Mr. Roscoe had been entirely confined to the town of Liverpool; but, in the course of the year 1790, he removed to a house pleasantly situated at Toxteth Park, about two miles from Liverpool. The principal attraction of this residence was the immediate vicinity of a small but beautiful dingle, leading to the shores of the Mersey, and presenting many delightful prospects of the river, and the country beyond. The distance from Liverpool was not such as to prevent Mr. Roscoe either from attending to his professional engagements with punctuality, or from enjoying the society of the friends to whom he was attached, some of whose residences were, indeed, brought nearer to him by the change. It was the beauty of “the Dingle” that suggested to his mind the following little poem, certainly one of the most pleasing productions of his pen”…

The occasional meetings which took place in an evening at the houses of Mr. Roscoe and his friends, assumed so agreeable a character, that it was determined to give them a more permanent form ; “The literary Society” was consequently founded. Among the members of this friendly association were Dr. Currie, the Rev. W. Sheperd, The Rev. John Yates, Professor Smyth, Mr Rathbone, Dr Rutter, and Mr Roscoe. Their meetings where held every fortnight, at their respective houses.
The life and times of William Roscoe by Henry Roscoe 1833

Dingle mapElm House, a likely contender for the home of Roscoe, when he wrote ‘The Dingle”. The house is shown in red “in the immediate vicinity of a small but beautiful dingle, leading to the shores of the Mersey.  The Dingle, shown by a pink line, is the path of the lost stream and winds down to Knott’s Hole at the Mersey. This map is from the mid 1800s when the area was far more densely populated but shows the houses of the Cropper, Yates and Currie families – Ellerslie House being the home of Roscoe’s friend James Currie.

32113 HSLC 1935 vol 87
The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth in 1850, before the Turner Memorial Home was built, with a clear view of the Mersey beyond, a gate opposite the chapel leads to the Dingle beyond.
Image: The Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire:

Roscoe’s poem “The Dingle” lamented the old stream that once ran though the Dingle to the Mersey and told the story of a mythical water nymph or Naiad, who’s urn was the source of the stream. A statue of this water nymph was erected at the Dingle, (the whereabouts of the statue today is not known, the last location was the Turner Home at the time of Griffiths).

Stranger! that with careless feet
Wanderest near this green retreat,
Where through gently bending slopes
Soft; the distant prospect opes;

Where the fern, in fringed pride,
Decks the lonely valley’s side;
Where the whitethroat chirps his song,
Flitting as thou tread’st along:

Know, where now thy footsteps pass
O’er the bending tufts of grass,
Bright gleaming through the encircling wood,
Once a Naiad roll’d her flood…

Ere yon neighbouring spires arose,
That the upland prospect close,
Or ere along the startled shore
Echoed loud the cannon’s roar;

Once the maid, in summer’s heat,
Careless left her cool retreat,
And by sultry suns opprest,
Laid her wearied limbs to rest;
Forgetful of her daily toil,
To trace each humid tract of soil,
From dews and bounteous showers to bring
The limpid treasures of her spring.

naiad of the dingle cover

dingle poem
Illustrated plates from ‘The dingle’, a poem by William Roscoe and illustrated by
Sophia Tennyson D’Eyncourt, 1860.
Sophia knew The Dingle well as she was the daughter of John Ashton Yates and was born at Dingle Head. She married Louis Charles Tennyson-D’Eyncourt a relative of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The first plate shows an accurate drawing of the statue ‘The lady of the Dingle’ that stood at the Dingle, sadly now lost.

The second plate shows an illustration of Dingle Point as can be seen from this postcard below held in the Liverpool Record Office, via Ken Roberts

Full Dingle poem can be found here: Google Books



dingleglenc1900Dingle Glen with the brook and visitors. c.1900 LRO
From ‘The Dingle’ Glen, in old photographs’ by Dazza on Yo! Liverpool

Summer House at Dingle Glen, LRO
From ‘The Dingle’ Glen, in old photographs’ by Dazza on Yo! Liverpool

General Gascoygne

According to Griffiths, Elm house was occupied by General Gascoyne after William Roscoe. Apart from Griffiths, I cannot find any proof of General Gascoyne living at The Dingle, but his father Bamber Gascoyne Senior married Mary Green of Childwall, and from 1848 the house was owned by Anne Green, wife of George Green of  ‘High Pastures’ in Mossley Hill. It is possible then that these two families were related and had come to Gascoyne through them.

Griffiths mentions the General’s stables being pulled down to make way for the tram sheds:

Elm Cottage 18431843 – A stable, coach house and shippon for two cows behind the chapel.
British Newspaper Archive

General_Isaac_GascoyneGeneral Isaac Gascoyne (1770–1841) by James Lonsdale (1777–1839). Wikipedia

The addresses I could find for General Gascoyne are listed as Roby Hall which was built by John Williamson (his daughter Mary married Isaac Gascoyne in 1794) and another address, 71 South Audley Street in Westminster, London where he died in 1841. It is very possible though that he had lived at the house as the area then was a beauty spot and a popular location  for a country retreat.

Issac Gascoyne was born in Barking, Sussex in 1763, the son of Bamber Gascoyne (ancestor of the University Challenge presenter) and Mary Green. As well as being a British Army General he was a Tory MP for Liverpool from 1796 to 1831. On entering politics he had succeeded his brother, Bamber Gascoyne, as a member of parliament for Liverpool.

As Member for Liverpool Gascoyne, with his colleague (Banestre) Tarleton, set his face against bids to abolish the slave trade during the sessions of 1798 and 1799. Other Liverpool business also occupied him: the defence of the port against the enemy, 23 May 1798; the public grant-in-aid of £500,000 to the distressed merchant community, 30 Sept., 2 Oct.1799, and his constituents’ objections to the corn bill report, 7 Mar. 1800, and to the Combination Act of 1799, which placed workmen ‘a great deal too much at the mercy of the masters’: he undertook its repeal and helped bring in a less objectionable measure in July 1800.

Assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval

In 1812 Spencer Perceval, the British Prime Minister, was assassinated by John Bellingham. After shooting Perceval, Bellingham was recognized by Isaac Gascoyne and his friend and fellow MP Sir Banastre Tarleton. Gascoyne managed to restrained the assassin.

Bellingham was born in Huntingdonshire but had been a broker in Liverpool with an office in Duke Street. In 1804 Bellingham been falsely imprisoned for debt in Russia, The British embassy would not help him and when he was released he returned to England. He asked the compensation from the British government but it was refused. This grievance led to the assassination.

Gascoyne had recognised Bellingham because he was Liverpool merchant who asked the General to present a petition to the House of Commons but as the case was not supported by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gascoyne refused to help.

An early Library in Toxteth Park

Elms reading rooms 1847 Poplar Grove?

In 1847 an article appeared advertising the ‘Elms Reading Room’, as their were three nearby properties with similar names it is difficult to be sure which house it refers to but as it states that the building is only small, it cannot be the huge Gothic residence known as The Elms (Cooper’s Folly) and is more likely to be Elm House. The innovative idea of a library possibly inspired by James Rollins, a gardener to James Cropper, who in 1827 had sent a letter to the Liverpool Mercury stating the need for a circulating library in Toxteth Park that would:

“consist of works which treat on horticulture, agriculture, &c. It is intended to be chiefly for the use of the humbler class of society…. I have mentioned the subject to my employers, who have generously promised their support, by subscriptions and a donation of some books; and I trust their example will not be overlooked by our well-meaning neighbours.’

James Cropper of the nearby Dingle Bank was a merchant, philanthropist and abolitionist. The article pleading for a circulating library appears below a letter entitled “Negro Slavery” by none other than James Cropper. This was a rebuttle of a letter by ‘Vindex’, a pseudonym of Alexander MacDonnell, a “vigorous propagandist for the slave-owning sugar planters in the West Indies”. MacDonnell was secretary to the Committee of Inhabitants of Demerara in 1827 and then appointed secretary to the pro-slavery Committee of West India Merchants.

The first census of 1841 show the house as listed as Elm Cottage and is occupied by Henry Musgrove,  a Cotton Merchant, he leased the house from John Wood Thomas (more about him later).

1841-joseph-harris-census.jpg1841 census for Elm Cottage showing Henry Musgrove.

May Williston

From 1848 Elms House was occupied by the Green family. Ann Green, a widow, and two of her children Thomas and May. Anne had another son, George, who died at sea in 1860 when he was a passenger onboard the ship ‘Robert Kelly’ that sank on its way to New York. Seven months after the 1851 census was taken May Green would marry John Sylvester Williston, this May Williston is who Robert Griffiths refers to and proves that her family had owned the house since 1848.

1851-chapel-villa-elms-house.jpg1851 census for Elm Cottage, now Elm House, owned by Anne Green mother to May Williston who was 19 at the time. ‘Chapel Villa’ is also shown.

May was the only daughter of George Green, a wealthy merchant who had a mansion in Mossley Hill called High Pastures. This stood near to Mossley Hall, otherwise known as Carnatic Hall. The family has two graves in Toxteth Park Cemetary.

John Sylvester Williston (1818-1891) was a Sail Maker and Ship’s Chandler from Maryland, USA. He was one of 12 children from Rev. Ralph Williston, born 1775 in West Springfield, a Methodist minister and then became a Lutheran minister. John’s company, called Williston and Whitney, was situated in Greenock Street in the 1840s and Waterloo in the 1860s, in the 1870s whilst trading as Williston and Braithwaite, he became bankrupt.

John and May had two children Ralph and Myriam Sylvia. In 1894 Myriam married an American, Charles Armstrong Field, of  the ‘Vermont Marble Co.’: “at San Francisco he introduced the use of New England marble in the Orient, and those countries whose shores are washed by the Pacific Ocean”.

May’s Mother Ann died on the 30th December 1862 and her father died in 1891, aged 73, and was buried in St. James Cemetery. The announcement in the newspaper got his age wrong by 21 years.

Dearh of J S Williston aged 94 1891
British Newspaper Archive.

May died in 1908 and the house was put up for sale in 1910. Her years of battling with the tram corporation to prevent them building on the property was over and the fate of this old house was sealed, the tram shed extension was opened in 1938.

roscoe house and Elms Village LiverpoolElm House as painted by Fred Beattie in 1910. Next door can be seen the Tram Shed that was built on the site of Chapelville in 1898. Elm House is up for sale here and would later be demolished to make way for an extension to the Tram Shed that was built in 1938. The road sign for The Elms can be seen on the right.
Village Liverpool by Kay Parrott · Bluecoat Press.


Chapelville was built sometime before 1830 as in that year an announcement was printed on the death of ‘Mr. John Wood Thomas, formerly of Gainsboro’ who died of spasmodic cholera at Chapelville. Cholera had arrived from Asia to Britain in 1831 via Russia and Germany, and the first case in Liverpool was 1832. 5,000 victims were infected and over 1,000 killed.

In the summer of 1832, a series of cholera riots occurred in various towns and cities throughout Britain, frequently directed against the authorities, doctors, or both. Liverpool experienced more riots than elsewhere. Between 29 May and 10 June 1832, eight major street riots occurred, with several other minor disturbances. cholera riots of 1832

John Wood Thomas

John Wood Thomas born in Gainsborough in 1779, he was the son of a carpenter and became a wealthy timber merchant and importer. He had married Rebecca Chamberlain Rasor in 1806, Rebecca was born 1786 in Billingborough, Lincolnshire. After John died Rebecca must have returned to her place of birth as she died at Billingborough in 1838.

He moved to Liverpool around 1815 and had offices at Dukes Place and he had a counting house in Wapping. He appears in a list the Report of the State of the Blue Coat Hospital in 1831.

It is probable that John Wood Thomas had erected Chapelville before 1830 but it looks like he owned most of the properties around the chapel. After his death the land around Chapelville was put up for sale, along with an impressive property portfolio that included houses in the occupations of William Smith Esq., Mr Thomas Orford, William Rotherham Esq., Mr T.S. Ashburner, Mr Stavert, Mr Kearnsley, Mr Cox, and Mr. Musgrove and various plots of land unoccupied. The last name mentioned is Henry Musgove of Elm House.

John Wood ThomasBritish Newspaper Archive

Chapelville comprised of two properties as there are often two wealthy families living there at the same time. From at least 1838 Joseph Harris lived there, his daughter Sophia Sarah married Rev. T. H. Steel the Assistant Master of Harrow for 39 years, In 1840 Chapelville was occupied by James Baird Esq.

Quintin Fleming

On the 1851 census, Chapelville is home to two families, the first is the family of Edwin C. Healey, a Tea Dealer from Holme, Nottinghamshire. The other is the family of Quintin Fleming, a Timber Broker from Ireland.

Fleming had been a partner with Edward Chaloner, they had branched out from importing timber into publishing a book on the commercial properties of exotic species of wood. In 1850 they published a book called ‘The Mahogany Tree: Its Botanical Characters, Qualities and Uses’.  This became the standard reference for the timber industry.

In the British Newspaper archive there are several accounts of dogs straying from Chapelville between 1869 and 1870. ‘Prince’ seems to have been a particularly unlucky name as a large Mastiff by that name strayed in January and it’s namesake, a small Terried also went missing in December the same year.

jan 1869 ChapelvilleDec 1869 Strayed from ChapelvilleSep 1871 strayed from Chapelville


The Elms; Cooper’s Folly

1e22961826e80f528aba0f8ece2e9790Tram turning onto Aigburth Road 1951. Cooper’s Folly can be seen in the Background.
Image from Pinterest.

Elms House Tram
An earlier photograph showing Cooper’s Folly behind the tram on the right and the garden of Elms House on the left.

With its eccentric Gothic Revival architecture, this property is easy to spot on old photographs. It was built sometime before 1830.  In 1907 Robert Griffiths wrote that it was nicknamed ‘Cooper’s Folly’:

The building now known by that name, at the other corner of “The Elms,” was probably built about 1840. It is said that when this house was first built it was known as
on account of the first painting being bright crimson, and, perhaps, because of its peculiar construction, which would be something strange at that time, and
which lends to it a rather picturesque appearance.
This house was afterwards purchased by Mr. Maples, the wine merchant and christened by him” Elm House.”

I have been unable to find the Mr. Cooper who was responsible for the flamboyant bright crimson paint, this this clipping below could possibly be him, an ironmonger that owned property bounding The Elms street:

Cooper Ironmonger The Elms 1845 A Mr. Cooper, Ironmonger who owned a property close to The Elms in 1845.
British Newspaper Archive.

The wine merchant Griffiths mentions is William Maples. On the 1851 he is living at 14 The Elms. Born around 1794 he was a wine merchant from Spalding, Lincolnshire. On the 1852 Electoral Register he is living at number 2. In October of the same year, tragedy struck when Maples’ ten year old son Alfred was crushed to death when he fell into the machinery of Whites Mill in Falkner Street – the crown wheel he had fallen onto had turned three times.

Alfred Maples Liverpool Mail 02 October 1852Liverpool Mail 2nd October 1852. British Newspaper Archive

William Maples 1851The 1851 census showing William Maples, Wine Merchant. He has 7 children and 3 servants living at the house, His 9 year son Alfred would die the following year in an horrific accident.


Elm House Parkfield motors
Cooper’s Folly can be seen behind the Toxteth Congregational Church and the Tram Shed extension that was built on the original Elm House can be seen on the left corner.
Judging by the Triumph Herald (from 1959 onwards) and the style of the buses I would guess this is from the mid 1960s and must be pre-1964 when the road was widened.  Possibly part of a group of photographs taken by surveyors in that year.
From an excellent Youtube video by Tom Brown: Liverpool Memories. Aigburth Road, Dingle to Garston

Further reading:
For a history of Liverpool’s first electric tramway and an incredible selection of old photographs of the Dingle, I highly recommend ‘A Tram Ride To Dingle Paperback by Philip Mayer, The Bluecoat Press, 1996. Now out of print but available to buy online including:

The Dingle’ Glen, in old photographs by Dazza on Yo! Liverpool












Toxteth Park at War

A Symbol of victory
The Symbol of Victory – an end to the blackout. 7th September 1944 – Liverpool Echo

This post is to honour the men and women of Toxteth Park, Liverpool who had served in the two world wars by reproducing their photographs that had appeared in the press at the time. It also shows some clippings that include photographs of civilians affected by either war.

When I was researching my family’s history, I had searched in vain for photographs in the British Newspaper Archive and for family members that had served in both wars in the Army and the Merchant Navy, and in several cases had been killed in action. As they had died young it was the only opportunity to see what they had looked like, especially as they were from poor backgrounds so less likely to have had family portraits taken. I wished that there was a photographic resource for local genealogists, so now in 2018, the anniversary of the end of the First World War, I thought I would compile as many photographic newspaper clippings, from both world wars, of people who had lived in the Toxteth Park area.

As you can imagine, even in just within the Toxteth Park area, there are many of these stories that appeared in the papers, and hundreds of thousands that had no photograph with them. Because of this I will limit the clippings chosen to only those that were accompanied by a photograph. I would have like to cover the whole of Liverpool but the task would have been too great.

Some of the clippings show missing persons so it is possible that they survived and returned at a later date or had become prisoners of war, so where possible, I will try and find out more about the people shown using

If you are related to anyone featured here and can provide any more information, or would simply like to get in touch to acknowledge your relative and leave a message, please leave a comment.

If you are considering researching your Liverpool ancestors, look out for my forthcoming post “Who do you think you are La?” that will include tips on searching the archives that that are of particular interest to this city.

I will continue to update this post as I find new clippings, so I can imagine that this archive will grow considerably in time.

All of the images are courtesy of and The British Newspaper Archive.

The First World War

A family of naval men Liverpool Echo 26 September 1914Petty Officer Leoplod Toms (R.N.R), a survivor of the cruiser H.M.S Aboukir – sunk by U-9, 22 September 1914
One of six naval sons of Edward “Ned” Toms, late C.G.I. Royal Navy and chief instructor R.N.A.V., H.M.S Eagle. The father lived at 44 Moses Street, Dingle. A photo of the father, 50 years earlier, is shown. Liverpool Echo 26th September 1914


Echo 4 Dec 1914Able Bodied Seaman, Robert Stanley Gale of 87 Park Hill Road, Dingle.
Killed on H.M.S. Bulwark. Liverpool Echo, 4th December 1914.
“Following the outbreak of the First World War, Bulwark, along with the rest of the squadron, was attached to the Channel Fleet, conducting patrols in the English Channel. On 26 November 1914, while anchored near Sheerness, she was destroyed by a large internal explosion with the loss of 736 men. There were only 14 survivors of the explosion and of these 2 died later in hospital. The explosion was likely to have been caused by the overheating of cordite charges that had been placed adjacent to a boiler room bulkhead”. Wikipedia


Echo 1 Dec 1914Company Sergeant-Major Robert Kerr, 2nd Company Gordon Highlanders.
Lived in Dove Street, Lodge Lane, was killed in action on October 28 1914.
He had also fought in the Boer War.
Liverpool Echo, 1st December 1914.



Liverpool Echo 21 May 1915Second-Lieutenant Thomas McClelland of 7th Battalion King’s Liverpool.
Parents resided at St Anne’s Mount, Aigburth and went to Greenbank school, clifton College and Trinity College, Oxford. He was interested in athletics, playing football and cricket. He joined up at the outbreak of the war.
Killed in action on 15th-16th May 1915, aged 22.


Liverpool Echo 17 May 1915Rifleman Henry Schonewald, 6th Battalion, Kings (Liverpool Regiment).
Henry was well known in the Dingle district and had two brothers serving with the Colours. He was killed on 5th May 1915 near Hill 60. On the 1911 census he is living in Rathbone Street. His brother Frederick Charles was killed in 1916 (see listing)


Echo 21 June 1915Private James Denny, 5th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
He lived at 8 Thornton Place, Dingle. He died on 17th May 1915.


1915Second Lieutenant R. A. Lloyd, 4th Battalion Kings (Liverpool Regiment).
Killed in action at just 20 years of age in 1915.  He was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Walter E. Lloyd of Linden-House, Aigburth Drive. His two bothers had recently been wounded in action.


Liverpool Echo 26 April 1915 bPrivate Joseph Murray, Liverpool Scottish.
He lived at 2 Cockburn Street, Dingle and had been a clerk for the Houston Line. He was killed in action on the 1st April 1915 in Belgium. Liverpool Echo 26 April 1915.


Liverpool Echo 26 April 1915Corporal John Faulker, ‘A’ Company, 1st Cheshire Regiment.
A neighbour of Private Joseph Murray (above) he also lived in Cockburn Street (number 23). He was killed on 5th March 1915 when their position was shelled. He had completed 18 years of service in the army and had fought in the Boer War in South Africa from 1900 to 1902. He had earned both the Queen’s medal and the King’s medal. According to his service record on he was awarded medal clasps for Orange Free State, Johannesburg, Transvaal and Cape Colony. Liverpool Echo 26 April 1915.


Liverpool Echo 24 May 1915Rifleman W. H. Owen, 6th Battalion, Kings (Liverpool Regiment).
He was the youngest son and had lived at 83 Moses Street, Dingle.
He died in the hospital in Boulogne after wounds he received in action at Ypres.
Liverpool Echo 24 May 1915


Liverpool Echo 22 September 1915Driver Frederick Hugh Joynson, Royal Garrison Artillery.
He died of wounds received on 7th August 1915 at the Dardenelles.
He lived at 12 Victoria Terrace, Aigburth and was a Tram Conductor before the war.
His younger brother was serving with the Black Watch in France.


Liverpool Echo 14 August 1915Private Frank Dutton, 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment.
He was a prominent gymnast in the Florence Institute and lived with his parents at 31 David Street, Dingle. He was killed in action on 6th July 1915.


Liverpool Echo 17 November 1915 87 Ampthill Road LiverpoolSecond-Lieutenant Lawrence Olsen Humphreys, Kings (Liverpool Regiment).
He lived at 87 Ampthill Road and was killed in action in November 1915.



Liverpool Echo 21 March 1916 aPrivate Leslie Price, 18th Service Battalion, (2nd “Pals”) Kings (Liverpool Regiment).
He was the only son of Mr and Mrs John Price of 3 Ashbourne Road. Killed by a sniper in March 1916.


Liverpool Echo 21 March 1916 bPrivate James Callaghan, Royal Engineers.
He lived at 43 Tague Street, Lodge Lane and died in France in March 1916.


Liverpool Echo 07 April 1916Sergeant W. J. Currie, 59th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.
Awarded the D.C.M. (Distinguished Conduct Medal) for a courageous act of rescue. Together with another man, he had succeeded in rescuing from a farm which was being heavily shelled seven wounded men – after one man had been killed and another wounded in a previous attempt. His family home was 56 Clevedon Street, Dingle. According to his name was William Johnson Currie and he was born in Ireland. He was married and lived at 76 Cambrdge Road, Seaforth.
Liverpool Echo 07 April 1916


Liverpool Echo 10 August 1916 aPrivate Frank Goodwin, Liverpool “Pals”
A Daily Post employee, he had lived at 1 Hendel Street, Lodge Lane and was killed in action on 30th July 1916.


Liverpool Echo 10 August 1916 bPrivate Thomas Wadman, Liverpool “Pals”.
He had lived at 2 Bessbrook Road, and had lied about his age to join up.
He died from wounds July/August 1916.


Liverpool Echo 12 August 1916Private James McLaughlen, 17th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
He was Canadian where he was employed by the C.P.R Company. He came to Liverpool on holiday and lived at 47 Dovey Street, He then joined the “Pals” in February 1915. He was killed in action around August 1916.


Liverpool Echo 18 October 1916 bPrivate (Joseph) Stanley Munday, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
His mother who lived at 30 Nicander Road was seeking information about her missing and wounded son, in the Liverpool Echo 18th October 1916. Sadly, according to his service record, he had died on the 30th July 1916.


Liverpool Echo 18 October 1916Lance Corporal J. T. Moore.
He had lived 39 Arthur Street, Dingle and was educated at St. Charles Aigburth Road. Before the war was employed at the Garston Tannery. He was killed by shell fire on September 17th the previous year.


Liverpool Echo 02 December 1916Private Frederick Charles Schonewald,
9th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria’s Rifles).

Frederick was killed in action on 1st Oct 1916, his older brother Henry was killed in May 1915 (listed earlier). He lived at 22 Peel street and had been employed by the Orchestrelle Company in London. His name appears on St. James Church memorial. stjamesmemorial


Liverpool Echo 27 January 1917Lieutenant Richard Reynolds Rathbone, 6th King’s Liverpool Rifles.
He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action. Although wounded, he  led a successful raid against the enemy’s trenches with great courage and ability. Later he rescued several wounded men under heavy fire.
He was the son of Hugh Rathbone of Oakwood, Aigburth and the grandson of William Rathbone of Greenbank, Sefton Park.


Echo 21 March 1917Private William Geoffrey Francis, 4th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
He had lived at 15 Jackson Street, off Mill Street.
In the 1901 census he was living at  88 Fair View Place, Toxteth Park. He was killed in action 25th February 1917.


Liverpool Echo 01 May 1917Private Jack Hankin, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
He had lived at 23 Allington Street and was employed by Cunard before the war.
He was killed in action on 9th April 1917.


Echo 18 April 1917Private Joseph Keating, 2/1st Bucks Battalion, Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
He had lived at 57 Menzies Street and was a Shop Assistant at a Grocers in the 1911 census and an old boy of the Florence Institute.
He was killed in action on the 2nd April 1917.


Echo 20 Oct 1917Rifleman Henry Edwards, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
Before the war he worked for the Belfast Steamship Company and had lived at 85 Windsor Street, Dingle. He was killed in action on 31st July 1917.


Liverpool Echo 26 October 1917Lance Corporal Herbert Turton, Australian Division.
He had lived at 10 Ampthill Road and was educated at St. Michael’s Hamlet school.
He died of wounds on 30th September 1917.



february 1918Second Lieutenant Stanley Henry Parry Boughey, 1st/4th Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers award the Victoria Cross.
Born 9th April 1896 at 3 Danube Street, Toxteth Park

On the 1st December 1917, 2nd Lt Stanley Boughey, Royal Scots Fusiliers, was injured in action at El Burff near Ramleh in Palestine. His company had been attacked and penned in by German Stormtroopers (newly arrived troops, fighting with the Ottoman army). Taken back to the nearest casualty clearing station, he nevertheless later died of his wounds on December 4th. He had single-handedly captured about 30 of the enemy but, in the moment of surrender, when the action was conceivably over, he had been shot in the head.

For his actions, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, which his mother received at Buckingham Palace on 2nd March 1918 and was present to lay a wreath at the Blackpool cenotaph memorial on its opening day, 10th November 1923, and upon which her son’s name was inscribed. She was wearing his VC during the ceremony”.

Although he lived in Blackpool and his mother was from Cheshire, Stanley was born on 9th April 1896 at 3 Danube Street, Toxteth Park (as Stanley Henry Parry Cornes).

In 2017 a commemorative paving stone was unveiled in his honour at Princes Park.


Echo 12 april 1918Signaller William James Geddes, 10th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
Before the war he was employed by the White Star Line and lived at Grosvenor Hotel, 104 Lodge Lane, where his father was the licensed victualler. He was killed in action on the 15th March 1918.


Liverpool Echo 15 June 1918Corporal Leonard Osmand Cottam, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
Awarded the Military Medal for meritorious service during 1918.
He was the son of William Frederick Cottam and had lived at 77 Ampthill Road and was living at 222 Aigburth Road on the 1911 census, where he was an assistant in his fathers “boot making and dealer” shop.


Echo 10 Oct 1918 bRifleman Archibald Ernest Breckenridge,
1st/6th Battalion,
King’s (Liverpool Regiment).

He had lived at 8 Yanwath Street and was formely emolyed by Messrs. Longmore Bros. Cotton Broker. He had been reported as missing then confirmed as being killed on 30th November 1917. He is buried at Cambrai Memorial, Louverval.


Echo 10 Oct 1918Lance Corporal Joseph Hume, King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
He had lived at 99 Cawdor Street, Princes Park, the only son of Joseph and Louisa Hume and had been an “Apprentice Upholsterer” on the 1911 census.
He was killed in action around October 1918.


Liverpool Echo 01 October 1918Lance Corporal Robert George Lawson, 1st Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment.
In the Liverpool Echo on 1st October 1918 it was reported he had been missing in France since the 12th April. His mother who lived at 17 Homer Street, Dingle. Sadly it was later discovered he was killed at Mons on that date. According to his service record on he had previously been wounded in 1915 by a shot wound to the neck.


13 sep 1918Private Joseph Crowley, 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment.
On 13th September 1918 it was reported that he had been killed in action on 20th September 1917 after previously been reported as missing. His parents lived at 29 Arthur Street, Dingle. According to his service record on he was enlisted in the Kings (Liverpool Regiment) and was transferred to the Welsh Regiment on 18th June 1917.

Liverpool Echo 30 August 1917The Docker V.C.
Private William Ratcliffe, 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment.
William was born at 38 Newhall Street, and he was baptised at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Toxteth. On his homecoming after winning the V.C., Brindley Street was gaily decorated with the flags of the Allies, streamers and coloured ribbons. He had a tour of the South End in a decorated car with crowds lining the streets.
Liverpool Echo 30 August 1917.

“Ratcliffe worked on the Liverpool docks briefly after leaving school, then joined the British Army at the age of 17 and served in South Africa during the Second Boer War and in India. He initially served with the South Lancashire Regiment, 3rd Battalion and later transferred to the Durham Light Infantry. By 1914 he had left the army and was back working as a docker in Liverpool. When war was declared he quickly re-joined, enlisting with the South Lancashire Regiment in August 1914. He won the Military Medal and Victoria Cross at the Battle of Messines (1917).

In 1929 Victoria Cross winners were invited, by the Prince of Wales, to attend a dinner at the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords. Ratcliffe was reluctant to attend due to lack of funds. After a newspaper story was published about him, the people of Liverpool raised money to kit him out in a new suit suitable for the occasion. He worked on the Liverpool Docks until an industrial accident forced him into early retirement in the 1940s. In 1956 he attended the Centennial of the institution of the Victoria Cross in London’s Hyde Park, where the living holders were reviewed by Queen Elizabeth II. On this occasion the Victoria Cross Association paid for a new suit and accommodation.

On 14 June 1917 at Messines, Belgium, after an enemy trench had been captured, Private Ratcliffe located an enemy machine-gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, and single-handed, on his own initiative, immediately rushed the machine-gun position and bayoneted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line. Private Ratcliffe had displayed similar gallantry and resource on previous occasions”.


Liverpool Echo 23 December 1918Private Alfred Brown. 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers.
He lived at 39 Jacob Street, Dingle and was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery on the field. On the census of 1911 he is living with his parents and 5 siblings and a niece, his father was a boiler maker from Manchester.


Liverpool Echo 14 December 1918Gunner William Hendrick Keral Kuypers, Royal Field Artillery.
He had lived at 60 Selboune Street, Princes Park and had a prisoner or war since 4th May 1917, in December 1918 his father was seeking information about him.
He had died on the 6th September 1918. Liverpool Echo 14th December 1918


The Second World War


Teese 1939Mr and Mrs E. C. Teese of Upper Essex Street, Dingle had seven sons in the service,
From left to right the sons are: Arthur, aged 21, Army; Joseph, 25, Navy; George, 27, R.A.F.; Robert, 32 Army; Herbert, 34 Army; Ernest, 36 Army; Albert, 39 Army and John, had served in the army in WW1 and was ready to serve again.


Echo Nov 16 1939Albert Williams – From America to Join the R.A.F.
Williams had lived in Ruby Street Dingle and was a pupil at Mathew Arnold School, he had moved to America to study and returned to Britain in 1939, working as a galley boy on a ship, intent on joining the R.A.F.


Evening Express 2 Dec 1939Able Seaman John James Moore, H.M.S Rawalpindi.
John had lived in Wellesley Road, Dingle. He was reported missing after the sinking of H.M.S. Rawalpindi that had been sunk in action against the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. On 23rd November 1939 he had been killed along with another 237 men. Thirty-seven men were rescued by the German ships, a further 11 were picked up by HMS Chitral.

amc_hms_rawalpindiH.M.S. Rawalpindi. image:


Echo 1 Dec 1939Seaman Gunner John Thomas Horan, R.N.V.R.
Horan had lived at  Teilo Street, Dingle, he was a widower with two boys and had been going to sea for seventeen years. Also serving on H.M.S. Rawalpindi, he had been killed on 23rd November 1939. Also mentioned are Ralph Stanway from Keble Street, Kensington and Cyrus J. Stanistreet of 108 Hurlingham Road, Walton.

Crew members on Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were eligible for the High Seas Fleet Badge for participating in the sinking of Rawalpindi.



Thomas Jones, H.M.S. Glowworm.
Jones had lived at 25 Toxteth Street, Dingle.
“On 8th April 1940 The British destroyer HMS Glowworm, alone and outgunned took on the German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Von Hipper and her destroyer escorts. In spite of the heavy odds against her she managed to score hits on her mighty opponent and in a last act of defiance she rammed the Cruiser before she sank. Out of a total crew of 149, only 31 survived”.
Also shown is Gunner Andrew Worthy, H.M.S Hardy,
who had lived at 42 Heath Street.

Glowworm_deploying_smokeA photograph of Glowworm taken from Admiral Hipper, 8 April 1940. Glowworm is making smoke. Image:


Liverpool Evening Express 23 April 1940Liverpool’s Naval Heroes:
In the Liverpool Evening Express on 23rd April 1940 these four men were honoured; Ellis Quilliam of Adelaide Street Everton together with Dingle men Thomas Carruthers of Bessemer Street, Dingle, H.M.S Eclipse, James Kehoe, H,M.S. Rodney and his father William, both of Wellington Road. William had won the D.C.M in WW1.


Graf Spee 1940Richard Victor Devine, H.M.S Exeter.
He lived at Bran Street, Dingle and served on the famous H.M.S Exexter that fought the Graf Spee. He has a street named after him in Ajax, Ontario, Canada called Devineridge Avenue, these streets were to commemorate the Battle of River Plate, the text below is from:

“Richard Victor Devine was born in Dingle, U.K. (close to Liverpool) to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Devine in 1912. At the age of fifteen he joined the Royal Navy and began a lengthy career. His first ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth was involved in the Spanish War and also in the Palestine/Israel conflict in the 1930s.

Richard joined HMS Exeter the year that World War Two was declared with Germany. He assisted the Chilean earthquake survivors in Concepcion and was involved in the famous Battle of the River Plate on December 13, 1939. During the Battle, HMS Exeter suffered the majority of damage and lost 61 men in total. Richard was saved from flying shrapnel by a penny that he had in his pocket during the encounter with the Graf Spee. He later gave this penny to his brother Wally to bring him good luck.

After leaving HMS Exeter in early 1940 Richard and several more of the Exeter crew joined a new ship, HMS Kenya. They had quite a difficult time as they were involved in the Malta and Russian convoys as well as being in the Crete skirmish.

Both Richard and his brother, Wally survived the war. Richard emigrated to Australia and had a family. In 1963 at a relatively young age, he died and was buried at sea”.

Also mentioned on the clipping is Ernest Murphy of Dunluce Street, Walton. In December 1940 his parents’ home was bombed and his mother recovered a photograph of him from the ruins.

1930_00_00_exeter_aHMS Exeter at the Gladstone Dock, Liverpool.  Image from

Liverpool Echo 12 March 1940Liverpool Echo 12 March 1940


Liverpool Evening Express 25 April 1940Toxteth Five Serving sons, The Roberts family of Penrith Street, Toxteth Park.
Liverpool Evening Express 25 April 1940


Echo 10 June 1940Sergeant Bernard Rapier, R.A.F.
He had lived at 175 Harrowby Street, Princes Park and joined the R.A.F before the war in 1937. He was killed in action 6th June 1940 (Battle of Britain).


Evening Express 20 June 1940Driver, Walter Spelman, R.A.S.C and Thomas Spelman, R.E.M.E.
Two brothers of 43 Barclay Street, Dingle were serving in different outfits one in the Royal Army Service Corps the other in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Both were sent to Cairo on leave after serving on the Italian front and managed to meet up. Both were old boys of St. Cleopas School on Mill Street.
Liverpool Evening Express 20 June 1940


Echo 7 July 1940Gunner Hugh Hudson. Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
and L/Bdr John Welsh, Royal Artillery.
Hugh Hudson had lived at 9 Gosford Street, Dingle and in July 1940 was reported as being taken as a prisoner of war. John Welsh of 157 Wolfe Street, Liverpool 8 was reported missing, believed to be a prisoner of war. Also mentioned is Gunner Patrick William Griffiths, R.A. of 33 Elizabeth Street (by Pembroke Place).
Liverpool Echo 7th July 1940.


Evening Express 15 July 1940Gunner Charles Henry, Royal Artillery and
Corporal John George Edge, Royal Corps Signals.
Charles Henry had lived in South Hill Road, Dingle and was killed in action July 1940.
John Edge had lived with his wife and two children at 45a Upper Pitt Street and was reported missing in July 1940.


Express 23 Sep 1940Patricia Allen, aged 12 of Aigburth Road.
Patricia was killed, along with 81 other child evacuees, when their ship was torpedoed  on 17th September 1940. She had already survived one sinking of a previous evacuee ship. Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Cummings (14) of Kingfield Road, Walton was the only child from the Liverpool area to survive.

Patrica was onboard the ship, City of Benares. This was an ‘Children’s Overseas Reception Board’ evacuee ship, to facilitate the evacuation of children from Britain to the relative safety of the British dominions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These countries had promised help and hundreds of households in each had offered to open their doors to take in British children. On 17th September, the City of Benares was torpedoed and sunk by U-48, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Bleichrodt.The Germans claimed it was a legitimate target.

“Of the 406 people on board the City of Benares, just 148 survived. Only 13 of 90 CORB children survived, and 6 of the 10 non CORB children. 81 children did not survive the disaster. This included Michael Brooker and Patricia Allan, who had survived the sinking of the Volendam, another CORB ship. Of 10 Children from the Liverpool area, only one, Beth Cummings, survived”.

City_of_BenaresCity of Benares. Image from


1941Second Lieutenant George Weightman, Gloucestershire Regiment.
He had lived in Avonmore Avenue, Mossley Hill and had been a teacher at  Wellington Road Council School, Toxteth. He was a keen athlete and had been a member of mossley Hill Athletics Club and played for ‘Casuals F.C’. He was killed in action at Cassel, Belgium on 29th May 1940:

5th Battalion were being attacked in their positions at the same time, and at Ledringhem on 27th May one of their two-pounder anti-tank guns accounted for five enemy tanks and four armoured cars. However, their position was in danger of being overrun, and the battalion was ordered back to defend the perimeter of the village and hang on for another twenty-four hours. Two runners arrived from Brigade H.Q. on the evening of the 28th with orders to commence the withdrawal, but the fighting was so intense that any kind of orderly withdrawal would have been impossible. The decision was made to wait for a more opportune moment.

2nd Battalion did not receive the order to withdraw until the afternoon of the 29th May by which time Cassel was under very heavy attack and the Gloucesters in imminent danger of being surrounded. For both battalions, the fighting withdrawal to Dunkirk was to be fraught with danger, and to end rather differently for each one. 5th Battalion’s War Diary records the night withdrawal made in the early hours of the 29th, through the burnt out remains of their transport:-

“. . . The Battalion crawled out of the village in fairly good order, but as the carrier field (through which the start was made) was fully illuminated by a burning windmill in one corner it was difficult to understand how the Battalion were not seen escaping. A number of men took the wrong turn. . . . By now much of the rest of the village was also lit up by fires as incendiary bullets had been fired. Progress was slow. It was dark and difficult to decide the way and pick up the stragglers. . . .”

By the time 5th Battalion reached the beaches of Dunkirk on 30th May, they had lost from a third to half their strength, the survivors being shipped back to England”.


Liverpool Evening Express 05 October 1940

Bus gunned by nazisHarry O. Smith, Corporation Bus Driver.
Mr. Smith of Ritson Street, Toxteth Park was driving his bus in October 1940, when a three engined bomber (a mistake, to my knowledge there were no three engined bombers in 1940) machine gunned the bus carrying female factory workers to their homes. His prompt action saved the passengers from injury. This incident is likely to have been the same as this account of a bus being attacked in Speke:

“During 1940 there were many reports of German planes coming over low in daylight. My Mother claims one flew right over our house whilst she was putting the washing out. My father said one had machine-gunned a bus carrying workers in Speke. Granny, grandmother on mother’s side, was visiting us when the air-raid sirens started sounding as she got off the bus. An ARP warden sent her into the public air-raid shelter at the Woodend/Hillfoot cross-roads. She said she saw the Luftwaffe plane clearly, as a fighter plane from Speke attacked it. These were not fanciful events, despite Germany having ceased day-light raids. The planes would have been Junkers 88s, used by the Germans as reconnaissance. One has to admire the pilots bravery – and foolhardiness. On 8th October 1940 a Czech fighter pilot Flight Lieutenant Denys Gillam took off in his Hawker Hurricane from Speke and was immediately confronted by a Junkers 88 passing across him. He shot the Junkers down while his undercarriage was still retracting. The shoot down is thought to be the fastest air-to-air combat “kill” in the Battle of Britain and possibly of all time. The Ju88 crashed near Eastham docks”. From:


Liverpool Evening Express 20 December 1940Colour Sergeant Major David Driscoll, Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps.
David Driscoll lived at Caryl Gardens, in December 1940 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery at the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk where he had carried a wounded man to safety.


Liverpool Evening Express 24 December 1940Ship’s Fireman Anthony Tucker.
In the Liverpool Evening Express on Christmas Eve December 1940, it was reported that Mr. Anthony Tucker of Dingle Mount was one of the heroes of the Liverpool Blitz by remaining at his post on the roof of a cinema during a raid and extinguished two incendiary bombs and saving the cinema goers inside the building, even though he had been injured by falling shell fragments. The organist kept the audience in high spirits by playing throughout.
An American seaman in the cinema said “Liverpool people sure can take it!”


Echo 22 Feb 1941Patrol Officer A. McWilliam Ross, Auxiliary Fire Service
He fought a fire and dammed with sand, a stream of blazing liquid which poured from the building, confining the fire to its source of origin – he lived at 14 Cockburn Street, Dingle. Also mentioned are War Reserve Constable T. A. Davies of Warncliffe Road East, Old Swan, who supported wreckage on his shoulders, back and head for over an hour while other officers freed people and Section Officer R. F. Carson, A.F.S. of 40 Canning Street who made a dangerous climb the girders of an elevator of a dockside building to direct the hoses onto a fire.


Evening Express 1941The Arands – A Dingle Serving Family
In March 1941 it was reported that Mr and Mrs Mathew Arands of 28 Moses Street, Dingle had three sons and two son-in-laws serving in H.M. Forces:
Mathew Arands (27) Welsh Regiment; John Arands (25) R.A.; Thomas Arands (18) Border Regiment; Thomas Linnet, Loyal Regiment, and Harry Heaney, R.A.
Liverpool Evening Express 28th March 1941.


Liverpool Evening Express 03 April 1941 b
Dingle Six Serving Sons; the Unwin family.
The sons of Mrs and Mrs James Unwin of 4 Bruce Street, Dingle. Their father James had served four years with Kings (Liverpool Regiment) in WW1.
Liverpool Evening Express 3rd April 1941.


Liverpool Evening Express 03 April 1941Sergeant Patrick McGuiness, Royal Artillery.
Sergreant McGuiness rescued a young service man who had fallen into a lock at an army camp, he then went back into the water to rescue another but was drowned. Both men that had fallen into the lock survived. Patrick lived at Caryl Gardens, Dingle.


Evening Express Aug 30 1941Sergeant Air Gunner Ernest Frederick Mathews, R.A.F.
He had lived at 353 Grafton Street, Dingle and an old boy of Mathew Arnold. He had been reported missing in March 1941 but on 30th August was reported as killed on active service. Liverpool Evening Express 30th August 1941.


Liverpool Echo 06 August 1941Trooper Thomas Bailey, Royal Tank Regiment.
In April 1941 Trooper Bailey had been reported “missing, believed killed in action”. In December the family, who lived at 64 Shelley Street, Toxteth, received the news that he was “located and serving with his unit”.

Sadly this was not the case, Thomas Bailey’s neice Carolyn Newstead supplied the following information: ‘Uncle Tom died in Greece in 1941 age 21 and is buried in the Phaleron cemetery in Piraeus. There was conflicting news about his going missing with correspondence from the War office to my dad’s family .
He was only interred in 1983/ 4 when he was found’.



Dingle POW Evening Express 1942Dingle Men in Prisoner of War Camp.
Corporal Charles McCloud, Royal Engineers (fourth from left back row) lived at 297 Upper Mann Street, Dingle and was a prisoner of war at Stalag 111D (located in Berlin), he had sent this photograph to his wife and it included two of his Dingle mates. They are Sgt. William Charlton, R.E. of Park Street and Corporal Joseph Highton, R.E. of Windsor Street. All were reported missing in the Middle-East in June 1941 (seven months before).


18 Feb 1942The Bromley family from Dingle: seven sons and one daughter in service
In February 1942 this story was printed of the eight serving children of Mr and Mrs John Bromley of 90 Upper Essex Street, Dingle. They were; John William, Merchant Navy; George, Home Guard and firewatcher; William, Royal Engineers; Arthur R.A.F.; Ruth Tram Conductress; Leonard Hilary, Merchant Navy; Robert Stanley, Royal Artillery; and Ronald, Royal Navy. Mr Bromley, the father, was on Government work.
See another story involving this family listed under 1943.


Liverpool Evening Express 15 April 1942Gunner John McCarten.
In the Liverpool Evening Express on 15th April 1942, this photograph was printed showing a group of Liverpool lads serving in Malta. John McCarten sent it to his mother at 19 Fernie Street, Toxteth.


Liverpool Evening Express 30 July 1942Private Albert G. Doran, Irish Fusiliers.
In the Liverpool Evening Express on 30th July 1942, this photograph was printed that Albert Doran had sent from the prisoner of war camp he was detained in. He lived at 4 Newton Street, Dingle.


Echo July 24 1942E. W. Jennings, Royal Army Service Corps.
His family home was 5c Dingle House, Parkhill Road, Liverpool 8. He was a prisoner of war in 1942 and had sent home a photograph of himself (first on the left) and a number of his fellow prisoners.


Evening Express 8 June 1942Cabin-Boy William Aitken, Merchant Navy.
He had lived at 5 Haylock Street, Dingle and a former pupil at Wellington Road School and the Florence Institute. At the age of 16 William had a brother John who was a Gunner in the Royal Navy and two brothers, Ralph and Sydney who were gunners in the Royal Artillery. He had joined the Merchant navy and switched from coastal trade vessels to the ocean-bound “big ships”. He was missing after his ship sank.

According to William Aitken was killed while serving on the ship S.S. Empire Steel which was torpedoed by U-123 on 24th Mar 1942. He was the son of Ralph and Elizabeth Aitken, of Liverpool. His brother John Aitken (mentioned above) also died on service on H.M.S. Victory in 1945.


1942Ordinary Seaman George Broomfield, Merchant Navy.
Aged 19, he lived in Mill Street, Dingle. In January 1942, during a gale at an Irish Port, he had been a passenger on a ship and had dived into the sea to rescue a soldier that had fallen overboard. He had supported the man until a boat came to their assistance. Broomfield himself had been rescued recently when his own ship had been damaged by enemy action. His bravery was recognised by the Royal Humane Society.


Echo 8 Aug 1942Gunner Harry Ockleshaw, Anti Aircraft Battery.
Harry had been missing since Tobruk had fallen, but in August 1842, his family received this photograph of him (far left), lining up for the “Grub Stakes”. He lived at 54 Blythswood Street, Liverpool 17.


Nov 14 1942Second Cook John Louttit, Merchant Navy.
John lived with his wife at 393 Beaufort Street and his parents lived at 8 Carlton Hill, Dingle. He had been taken prisoner of war and sent his wife this photograph. He is centre back row of the photograph.



1943Captain. Mary Thomson, Doctor R.A.M.C.
Dr. Thomson’s family lived at 52 Ashfield Road, Aigburth Vale and she was educated at Aigburth Vale High School.  She gave up a lucrative practice to earn less than £1 a day looking after the A.T.S. at a large training centre in Palestine. She was described as “the only woman doctor in the Middle East”.


Echo 2 april 1943Driver J. R. Macadam, Royal Army Service Corps.
He was a prisoner of war after being captured at Dunkirk. He is third from the left, top row. He lived at 17 Bessbrook Road, Aigburth and had four brothers serving in the forces. Liverpool Echo 2nd April 1943.

Liverpool Echo - Friday 21 May 1943Private H. J. Cleverley
Lived at 53 Twiss Street, Dingle and attended St. Paul’s school. He was a prisoner of war in Japanese hands, missing after Singapore in February 1942. He survived the war and died in 1948.
Liverpool Echo 21st May 1943.
Thanks to David Cleverley, his son, who told me about his father in the comments section.


Evening Express 15 June 1943Private Thomas Ugalde of 49 Wellington Road, Dingle.
In June 1943, Thomas had sent this photograph of his prison of war camp football team. He is standing on the extreme right. Liverpool Evening Express 15th June 1943.


Liverpool Evening Express 29 June 1943Private H. Quine, Tank Recovery Unit.
Whilst serving in North Africa, Private Quine was a gunner in a convoy chasing fleeing Axis troops, the convoy was attacked be a ME110. Quine succeeded in destroying the enemy aircraft. He lived in Toxteth Street. Liverpool Evening Express 29th June 1943.


Express 0 july 1943Petty Officer Daniel Hall awarded D.S.M. (Distinguished Service Medal).
Petty Officer Hall (top right) was awarded the D.S.M. at Buckingham Palace in July 1943.
he lived in Belgrave Road. Also pictured are William Abram of Ormskirk, James Norman McMery of Stanley, Robert Lloyd and R. E. Summerton, both of of Knotty Ash.


Express 31 August 1943John William Bromley, Merchant Navy and Ronald Bromley, Royal Navy.
In a letter to his mother, who lived in Upper Essex Street, Dingle, John told her that he was sitting in a saloon in New Orleans one day when he was confronted by a young man who introduced himself as his younger brother Ronald. John had seen photographs of his brother “it nearly made me faint to see him standing there”. This is the same family who had the article in February 1942 telling the story of 7 brothers and 1 sister – all serving.
Liverpool Express 31st August 1943.


Liverpool Evening Express 30 August 1943Gunner David Morris, Anti-Aircraft Unit, Malta.
David Morris of 29 Corn Street, Dingle sent this photograph from Malta to his fiance, Janet Redshaw, who lived at 351 Mill Street, Dingle.
Liverpool Evening Express 30th August 1943


Evening Express Sep 16 1943Corporal Albert James Cowan, Royal Engineers and Sergeant Henry F. Roza, R.A.F.
Corporal Cowan lived at 2 Goring Street, Dingle and was reported missing at sea. Sergeant Roza lived at 92 Wordsworth Street, Lodge Lane and was reported missing on active service. Also mentioned is Driver Fred McVeigh, Royal Artillery who lived at 11 Ruth Street, Everton, who was reported killed in action in Sicily.
Evening Express 16th September 1943.


Evening Express 18 Nov 1943 bPrivate F. Radcliffe, Commando.
He was the youngest son and had lived at 9 Lorton Street, Liverpool 8. He attended Chatsworth Street School and had a brother in a P.O.W. camp in Germany.

Frederick Radcliffe was in 2 Commando, Kings Regiment (Liverpool), he died fighting in Operation Avalanche – the allied invasion of Italy. He is buried at the Cassino Memorial. More here:

Also mentioned are Private Lewis Chare of Flintshire (prisoner of war) and private James Massey of Flint (reported missing)


Evening Express 18 Nov 1943Sergeant-Navigator Henry McCauley R.A.F.
Henry lived at 34 Pickwick Street, Dingle and was an old boy of Toxteth Technical School. He was reported missing in November 1943, he was 24. Also mentioned are Private Thomas Mercer of Walton and Gunner Richard Rimmer of Bootle.



1944Fusilier John Bisham
John Bisham of 291 Rutter Street, Dingle (standing with arms folded)
Served in the Far East with other Liverpool lads; J. Nesbitt of Boundary Street, Donald McCarten of Fernie Street, Toxteth, W. Robson of Huyton and H. Smith of Buckingham Street (off Great Homer Street).


Echo 24 May 1944
Sergeant G. I. Parry, Anti-Aircraft Battery, Dover.
Sergeant Parry lived in Netherton Street, Dingle and is pictured with other gunners pinning on a Swastika on a captured Luftwaffe jacket to celebrate shooing down an enemy plane in. Liverpool Echo 24th May 1944


Liverpool Evening Express 18 May 1944Merchant Navy Fireman Edward Andrews.
Edward lived in Clive Street, Toxteth and had already received the British Empire Medal for bravery at sea when his ship was torpedoed. Even though there was serious flooding he was the first to offer to go below deck, he remained in the engine room, maintaining steam, attending to the boilers and encouraging his men. In May 1944 he was awarded the Lloyds Medal for the same action. He was an old boy of St. Vincent de Paul R.C. school. Liverpool Evening Express 18 May 1944


Evening Express Aug 14 1944R. Akrigg of Longville Street, Dingle.
Pictured bottom right, relaxing in the sunshine during an off duty period aboard one of H.M. ships at sea in August 1944. Also featured are E. Rugen of West Derby, J. Jones of Birkenhead, E.R.A. Scott of Wavertree, N. Jones of Walton, C.A. Ross of West Derby, A.B. Marshall of Bootle, A. Lane of Bootle, J. J. Dodd of Wallasey and G. Logan of Fazakerley.


Evening Express 17 aug 1944 Wireless Operator, Flight Sergeant Norman Dixon, R.A.F.
In August 1944 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for continuing to work as a wireless operator after his machine had sustained severe damage. He lived in Isaac Street, Dingle and was an old boy of Upper Park Street Council School and was a clerk at Speke before volunteering for R.A.F. at 18.


2 august 1944Jean Clegg, aged 7, Fund Raiser of Longville Street, Dingle.
Jean worked in her parents shop and donated any pennies she was given to the Red Cross Penny-a-Week Fund, her collection had amounted so far to 6s. 6d. She had also given concerts, as part of a dancing troupe, to raise money. She attended Wellington Road Council School. 2nd August 1944.


Express 15 nov 1944Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer) Ernest E. Diaper, R.A.F.
Ernest was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in November 1944.
He lived at 15 Wendover Avenue, Aigburth and was an old boy of St. Michael’s in the Hamlet School.



Express 7 may 1945Corporal Larry Power, R.A.S.C. and Private Jim Power R.A.S.C.
These two brothers met for the first time in five years in Italy.
Larry lived in Mozart Street, Lodge Lane and Jim lived in Priory Grove Everton.



Echo 15 Feb 1945Stoker First-Class Edward Thomas Fox, Royal Navy.
In February 1945 Edward was awarded the British empire Medal (Military Division) for outstanding courage during Naval service. As a child he had attended Beaufort Street School in Dingle (winning the Ball Trophy) and later moved to 55 Royton Road in Waterloo.He had seen action in the Mediterranean and the D-Day landings


Liverpool Evening Express 21 May 1945Billy Jones and Irene Heron of Lavrock Bank Road Dingle.
Billy, aged 11 had lost his father and an uncle in the armed forces, he still had seven uncles serving in various sections of the forces. He raised money for the Red Cross by collecting “Ship” half-pennies from friends and relations. His 10 year old cousin, Irene, had also done much valuable work. Liverpool Evening Express 21st May 1945.


Liverpool Evening Express 18 July 1945Dingle Helpers: Alan Barrett, aged 4, of 73 Jacob Street.
Alan, together with his brother Jimmy and his 7 year old sister Vera, had also collected “Ship” half-pennies for the Red Cross. They were pupils of Mathew Arnold School and had 3 uncles serving in H.M. Forces, their father also served 3 years in the Royal Navy.


1945Captain Keith  Robert Martin Kinnier, Merchant Navy.
Captain Kinnier lived at Alexandria Hose, Alexandria Drive, Aigburth. Even though his ship, the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company’s “Tornus” was torpedoed and set on fire, it fought off the submarine in a gun battle and his ship eventually reached Karachi. He received the O.B.E.
Also mentioned are Second Officer Thomas Hart (M.B.E) of Birkenhead and Captain William Jones Francis of Anglesey (M.B.E.)


Liverpool Echo 01 September 1945Leading Aircraftman, Ernest Gregson, R.A.F.
Ernest was from Aigburth and had been a commercial artist before the war.
Pictured here repainting “City of Liverpool” onto an aircraft at Camden, near Sydney, before a “Bomb Japan” mission.


Liverpool Echo 24 October 1945Marine Fireman, William Swinchin.
In 1942 Mr. swinchin had been onboard the steamship S.S. Etrib when it was torpedoed. The second officer and an A>B> seaman were lost but the crew of about 40 survived. Swinchin swam in the dark for 1 1/2 hours then found a raft and climbed aboard. The raft had enough supplies for 20 men, which was fortunate for him as he was to spend 75 days adrift, although for the last 3 weeks he had had no food – just water. He was picked up by the German submarine U-214 that was under the charge of Commander Gunter Reeder. He was nursed back to health during the next 6 weeks before they returned to land. In this time Swinchin considered Commander Reeder to be a true friend. In October 1942 he was made a prisoner of war until May 1945. He then became a Marine Fireman onboard the S. S. Kana.
William lived at 51c Dingle Mount and his father was Italian.

Shown below is William’s CR10 card from 1918 – 27 years earlier. CR10 cards were identification cards issued between 1918-1941 that had a photograph attached these are available to view, with a subscription, from

TNA_MSEA_BT350_24_94_249492William Swinchin’s CR10 Merchant Navy Identification card from 1918
Courtesy of


Liverpool Echo 07 August 1945Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima – Sir James Chadwick.
Sir James Chadwick discovered the neutron – leading to the development of the atomic bomb. The first was dropped on Hiroshima the day before this article, the second was dropped on Nagasaki two days after it was printed, in the Liverpool Echo on 7th August 1945.

“It may be said at once that what has happened is the direct result of the discovery of the neutron by Sir James Chadwick – who was knighted in January – just before he became Professor of Physics at Liverpool University”.

“Sir James Chadwick (1891-1974) was an English physicist and winner of the 1935 Nobel Prize in Physics. Chadwick is best known for his discovery of the neutron in 1932. A neutron is a particle with no electric charge that, along with positively charged protons, makes up an atom’s nucleus. Bombarding elements with neutrons can succeed in penetrating and splitting nuclei, generating an enormous amount of energy. In this way, Chadwick’s findings were pivotal to the discovery of nuclear fission, and ultimately the development of the atomic bomb”.

He lived at Otterspool Bank, Aigburth Vale (the house was situated between Irwell Lane and Elmswood Road).



I would like to thank Ross Walsh for his assistance and encouragement in making this post.

All of the images are courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive. Further research was aided by










































Toxteth Park: St. Michael’s Hamlet. Part 1

“There are many corners of Liverpool where beauty lingers for those who look for it.”

St. Michael’s in the Hamlet, ‘A Liverpool Beauty spot’, Liverpool Evening Express 1944.

If you are unacquainted with south-Liverpool you’d never guess that just a few minutes walk from the busy dual carriageway of Aigburth Road lies a charming old ‘hamlet’, nestled around a church designed by two of Britain’s most noted architects.

St. Michael’s church was built in 1815, the church and surrounding hamlet of white-washed, old buildings used cast-iron in their construction and decoration. Known locally as “The Cast Iron Church”, this led to the nearby stretch of coast to be named locally as “The Cast Iron Shore’ or “The Cazzie” for short.

Over 200 years later, the vision of the developer is still clear with the original houses being built with the same Gothic details to compliment the church. Even though there has been several stages of house building since its creation, like these on Southwood Road shown below, the charm and character of the area has not diminished.

Spring blossom St MichaelsSpring, my favourite time to visit St Michaels Hamlet with the blossom in bloom on Southwood Road, viewed here from Bryanston Road.

A Sonnet to St. Michael’s written in 1864

St. Michael’s Hamlet has a magic quality, something I felt in my childhood when it was our playground, Robert Griffiths referred to this in 1907 when he wrote his history of Toxteth Park, and a poet, calling himself ‘Moschus’, captured it in this sonnet he penned in 1864:

Here is a nook for poesy and quite,
Villa’d and laned ‘neath faery tutelage –
Slopes of pied green, orchards of swart-gold fruitage,
Trees of antiquity, and hamadryad.
Many the glistening May morn here I spent,
Pasturing on beauty in impressionable boyhood.
The diamond-blazing panes in Phoebus’ eye
Eddied in changeful splendours as I went,
While Michael’s cocks clang’d morn-smit ecstacy.
Here Romanesque-browned lovers plight their faith
‘Neath the golden moon, the mild symposiarch.
‘Mid May’s pied carnival or June’s tanned swathe,
Feeding their thoughts on the spirit of flowers rath,
Swung from their censers in the sacred dark.


If there was ever a phrase that sums up my thoughts about Liverpool, it would be this caption for a photograph of St. Michael’s in the Hamlet that I chose to open this post, “There are many corners of Liverpool where beauty lingers for those who look for it”. It was written during WWII on March 3rd 1944, three months before D-Day, the major turning point of the war. So much of the city had been devastated by enemy bombing that a scene of a sleepy English hamlet must have given hope that all was not lost.

1944 St Michaels

Listed buildings in a designated conservation area

St. Michael’s Hamlet was designated as a Conservation Area on 12th December 1968. St. Michael’s Church is a Grade 1 Listed building and many of the houses are Grade 2 Listed.

Listed buildings St MicahelsThe Listed buildings of St. Michael’s Hamlet.
For a map with active links to more information about the individual houses, or any area in Britain, go here: and type the postcode L17 7BD.

For the existence of the church and its hamlet, we are indebted to John Cragg, a wealthy Iron founder “with a penchant for church building”, his Mersey Iron-Foundry was situated in Tithebarn Street.

Cragg was keen to develop the use of cast-iron in churches and to this end recruited the architects Joseph Michael Gandy and Thomas Rickman. Rickman had started as an amateur architect, born in Maidehead he moved to Liverpool and was an accountant in the Insurance firm of Thomas and John Ashton Case.

Their first completed cast-iron church was St Georges church in Everton in 1813. They were to build two others; St. Michael’s in Toxteth Park and finally St. Phillip’s in Hardman Street (now demolished). *see December 2017 update at the bottom of this post.

St Georges Church Everton 1831 Liverpool picturebook
St. George’s Church Everton in 1831:

stgchurchSt. George’s Church Everton today


St. Phillip’s Church on Hardman Street (1816-1882)


A cast-iron window frame designed by Thomas Rickman. “Part of a window from St Mary’s Church, Birkenhead (near Liverpool), built as part of a scheme to establish Birkenhead as a bathing resort”. Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017.

Cragg’s dream of a Gothic hamlet was so successful that, in the 1880s, when the surrounding area witnessed an influx of thousands of newcomers in the new terraced housing, the new residents assumed that the 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, writing over 110 years ago, mentions the fantastic histories that had been attributed to the area even then;

“Here is sufficient material for the romantic mind to weave a history of the district. Many such histories have, from time to time, arisen, and which, if not exactly authentic, have at least proved of surpassing interest”.

Here is how Robert Griffiths described the area in 1907:

“For over a generation a strange mixture of legend and mystery has been woven around the little hamlet of St. Michael’s. This is accounted for by the existence in the fields half-way between St. Michael’s and Otterspool of a subterranean cave, with an underground passage leading thereto. Numerous subterranean “tunnels” a mediaeval-looking ruined castle. on the high banks of what was once a stream through fields, and a group of antique-looking buildings with an ecclesiastical appearance bearing the distinctively monastical titles, ” The Hermitage,” “The Friars,” “The Nunneries,” “The Cloisters,” and “The Abbotsfield” were grouped around the Church of St. Michael’s-in-the-Hamlet.

(Griffiths later explains that ‘Castle’ referred to was a 19th century folly built by Mr. Sothern of ‘The Priory’ and the ‘subterranean tunnel’ was an ice house built on the banks of the stream running through Dickenson’s Dingle).

Researching the history of these houses can be a little confusing because the names have changed over the years. For instance, It is sometimes said that Cragg built five houses including his own, Hollybank, there were in fact six, Abbotsfield on Southwood Road being the other.  I have yet to find any evidence that the house know as Glebelands was ever called The Friary (if anyone has any proof I would be very pleased to include it here) but another house named The Friars was close by.

The first phase of houses built by Cragg can be seen on Bennison’s map of 1835, coloured below to show their locations:

St Michaels Bennison map coloured


St Michaels Church

Hollybank (John Craggs House on St Michaels Road)
The Friary/Glebelands (the original Vicarage next to the church)
The Nunnery/Carfax (corner of St Michaels Road and St Michaels Church Road)
The Hermitage (St Michaels Church Road)
The Cloisters (St Michaels Road)
Abbotsfield (22 Southwood Road. This became Norwegian Sailors’ Church, now a private house again.

Also visible on the map are the second stage of houses including The Beach, Dudley House, St. Michael’s Mount, The Priory and The Friars. Cragg’s name appears twice on the map; next to Holly Bank and also The Cloisters, the second appearance is to indicate he owned the land. The Friars is shown to be the property of Cyrus Morrall, a member of the Select Vestry with John Cragg. (representing and managing the concerns of the parish)

plan of the priory frontA plan from the sale of The Priory Estate (drawn at a rotation of almost 90° clockwise). John Fletcher, of St. Michael’s Mount, owns the land to the west and John Cragg owns the land to the north and to the east. Lot 2 is a property called Dudley House and next to it was The Friars, as it is not shown as part of this estate it is probable that The Friars was owned by Cragg.

Dickenson’s Dingle

Prior to Cragg developing the area, St. Michael’s was known as ‘Dickenson’s Dingle‘. This rural Dingle had one of four streams of Toxteth Park running through it. The stream entered entered the Mersey by the nearby shore, which at that time had fisheries close by.

The stream of Dickenson’s Dingle, long since dried up, still ran at the time of Bennison’s map. It made its way beneath St. Michael’s Road via a culvert, it then re-emerged near to Holly Bank (what is now Neilson Road), the path of the dried-up stream can still be traced in the grounds of the house today, Robert Griffiths mentions an earthen causeway next to Hollybank that led to the church and this can also be seen on the map as a dotted curved line.


Dickensons Dingle 1820St. Michael’s Church as seen from Dickenson’s Dingle, from Robert Griffiths’ book.

Date of the houses

Although it is often written that the houses were constructed at the same time of the church, the maps of James Sherriff would suggest that building of the houses started between 1816 and 1823:


Prince's Park Appraisal final illustrated version with cover

James Sherriff’s map of 1816; I have coloured the church for indentification. No houses are shown.

Sheriff 1823 Map hamlet houses indicated

James Sherriff’s map of 1823; again coloured and now showing 3 houses and St. Michael’s Road has been laid out. As it is not a very accurate map it would be difficult to identify the individual houses. Original map:


Stream Tithe Award 1845

A section of the 1845 Tithe Award Map. St. Michael’s Church Road, then called Church Lane, ends just after the house known as Glebelands. St. Michael’s Church Road was simply Church Lane and finished just after the Vicarage “Glebelands”. Also of interest is the small road to the left of the church above the number 405, this was Backhouse Road, named after the family that lived in the Old Hall on the corner. Later this would be much extended to the west and become Bryanston Road.

It is doubtful that Thomas Rickman designed the houses as his diaries state that he disapproved of the Gothic villas for their incorrect styling (here). Cragg had submitting a design for St. George’s church without Rickman knowing, which led to them winning the contact, so it entirely possible that he continued to appropriate designs in his house-building ventures.

A description of St. Michael’s in 1855

Below is an extract from a 1855 report about the health of Toxteth Park which gives us an insight into the area, 40 years after the church was built. It shows how many houses existed at that time, that there were no sewers, just open drains filling up a pond or directly onto the shore, and that the cemetery was so full that the ground level was considerably raised.

Five gentlemen who were residents, who stated that:

“the Hamlet contains a church, 22 houses, and eight cottages ; that there is no main sewer, merely surface drainage into a brook and into a pond ; that there is a small brick drain down the lane on the north side of the hamlet, which discharges above high-water mark ; that the houses on the south-west also drain upon the shore, which is very offensive ; that the water is supplied from wells and from the Liverpool waterworks ; that the hamlet is lighted with gas during the winter months; and that in addition to the county police, there is a private watchman, supported by the inhabitants ; that the road from Aigburth-road to the church gates (St. Michael’s Road) is maintained by the commissioners, the rest kept in repair by the owners, who are, however, rated by the commissioners ; that the church was consecrated in 1815 ; that the south side of its cemetery is completely covered with tombs, and the north side so full that its level is considerably raised.”

1855 no sewers

St. Michael’s may have looked posh but with no drains it would have smelt the same as the poorer houses half a mile down the road. 1855 British Newspaper Archive.

St. Michael’s Church

St Michaels 1817 Mathew Gregson

Robert Griffiths said of the church:


‘was built in 1815, for a chapel of ease in connection with St. Mary’s, Walton, from designs by Thomas Rickman. Mr. Cragg, of the old “Mersey” Iron Foundry, Tithebarn Street, was concerned in its construction. This gentleman was a friend of Pugin, the architect, who, in the beginning of the last century, published several works advocating the Gothic style of architecture and the use of iron in the construction of churches. Much of the detail of this beautiful building is of iron cast at Mr. Cragg’s foundry.
“The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth”, 1907

The first church to be completed by Cragg, Gandy and Rickman was St Georges in Everton, although designs for St. Michael’s church had started before St. George’s. An article from the Liverpool Mercury on 28th October 1814 described the St. George’s church as:

“built in the Gothic style, and we can only add, that it is considered as one of the handsomest structures of its kind in the kingdom, and does credit to the contractor, John Cragg, Esq, of the Mersey Iron-Foundry.”

John Cragg Liverpool Mercury 28 October 1814Liverpool Mercury on 28th October 1814. British Newspaper Archive


John Cragg had purchased the land for St. Michael’s from Charles Molyneux, 3rd Earl of Sefton. The artist and architect Joseph Michael Gandy had produced designs for St. Michael’s as early as 1809, and when Cragg met Rickman in 1812, he asked him to make new drawings. Work was started before St. Georges Church was completed and Cragg personally funded the building at a cost of £7,865 and recruited the same architects to design it. The difficulty of attributing the design of the churches can be seen in this excerpt describing St. George’s Everton from ‘The buildings of England: Lancashire: Liverpool and the Southwest’ by Richard Pollard and Nikolaus Pevsner:

“It is impossible to disentangle Craggs, Gandy’s and Rickman’s contributions.
Some cast-iron elements shown in Gandy’s drawings are very close to the executed building, but these could have been designed by Cragg before Gandy’s involvement. Certainly Cragg had already cast some components before Rickman appeared on the scene”.

The designs J. M. Gandy drew for St. Michael’s Church in 1810 are held at the V&A Museum. A selection of these are shown below, some familiar whilst others are radically different:


Architectural drawings by Joseph Michael Gandy. “Sheets of plans, elevations and sections for St Michael’s Church, Toxteth, Liverpool (1810)”
All images Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017.

Pickersgill, Henry William, 1782-1875; Joseph Michael GandyJoseph Michael Gandy by Henry William Pickersgill
Born in 1771, Gandy was the “English artist, visionary architect and architectural theorist, most noted for his imaginative paintings depicting Sir John Soane‘s architectural designs”. He died in a private asylum in Plympton in 1843.


St. Michael’s church was consecrated on Wednesday 21st June 1815 in the reign of George III, (four years before the birth of Queen Victoria). The Battle of Waterloo had been fought just three days before so the service was one of Thanksgiving for the victory.

30th june 1815The consecration of St. Michael’s Church on the 30th June 1815. British Newspaper Archive

The first baptism was on the 25 Jun 1815 and gives the name of the first Minister James Hamer B. D., the child who was christened was William Cope, son of Alice and William Cope, William was an engraver at the nearby Herculaneum Pottery works. The church would witness many births, marriages and deaths of Pottery workers, a stone tablet commemorating the deaths of seven Herculaneum workers was erected in 1824. William Hesketh was the Assistant Minister. Hesketh (1790-1858) would go on to baptise, marry and bury many of Toxteth Park’s residents, and do great work for the community, raising money the the poor, the victims of the Irish Famine and starting a school. In 1822 Hesketh married Lucy Hannah Satterthwaite who ran a Ladies School at St. Michaels Old Hall, James Hamer was the Minister at Hesketh’s wedding service.

4426107_00445Marriage record of William Hesketh and Lucy Hannah Satterthwaite in 1822.

In 1826 a memorial tablet commemorating the Toxteth born astronomer Jeremiah Horrox was erected inside the church. Horrox was born in the Lower Lodge at Otterspool, you can read more here.

In memory of Jeremiah Horrox one of the greatest astronomers this Kingdom ever produced. Born in Toxteth Park in 1619. Died 1641 aged 22. His observations were made at Hoole 8 miles from Preston where he predicted, and was the first person who saw, the transit of Venus over the sun.
This memorial was erected by M Holden, astronomer, AD 1826.
Franceys & Spence fecit, L’pool.

FPL-Historic-Building-and-Conservation-Architecture-St-Micheals-in-the-Hamlet-5The interior of the church showing the extensive use of cast-iron

A timeline of the use of cast-iron in buildings

A paper for the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire from 1957 by R. Dickinson Ph.D., F.R.I.C, entitled “James Nasmyth and the Liverpool Iron Trade” provides an excellent timeline of the use of iron in buildings:

“Cragg also played a part in the introduction of iron as a building material. The eighteenth-century spinning and weaving mills were constructed with timber floors; these absorbed oil from the machinery and were a serious fire hazard. The replacement of timber by iron and masonry was a logical step towards the construction of fire-proof buildings.

The earliest known example in England of the use of iron as a structural material was in St. Anne’s Church, Liverpool, built 1770-72, where cast iron columns support the galleries, but the first iron-framed building was a mill built at Derby in 1792-93. About 1790, John Wilkinson, that believer in iron who kept a selection of cast-iron coffins at his home as presents for his friends, assisted his workers in building their Wesleyan Chapel at Bilston, Staffordshire, by casting at his Bradley Works iron columns, window frames and pulpit.

The combination of these structural and decorative trends was appropriately accomplished in Liverpool where, in the period 1813 to 1816, Thomas Rickman and John Cragg built three churches almost entirely of iron”.
HSLC, James Nasmyth and the Liverpool Iron Trade by R. Dickinson

By the late 1860s the church had fallen into disrepair and faced demolition. A restoration was organised of the churchwardens, Colonel Thomas Wilson. Wilson recruited the  Scottish architects William James Audsley and George Ashdown Audsley.

A more recent renovation in 2011, with the aid of a grant aid from English Heritage, commissioned the Finlason Partnership for a major phase of repairs to the top of the Tower, images of the complex work involved can be seen here:


Cragg’s houses

Google earthThe white houses of St. Michael’s in the Hamlet surround the Church. Aigburth Park is front left and St. Michael’s School is on the right.

HollybankJohn Cragg's house

Hollybank is traditionally known as the home of John Cragg, although the only records I have found of Cragg’s address is St. James’ Mount (the Liverpool ‘Anglican’ Cathedral was built where his house stood). Cragg is listed as living at St. James’ Mount in electoral lists of 1806 and 1825, and census records of 1841 and 1851. Cragg also died at the Mount and was buried at the cemetery his house overlooked. Being a wealthy man it is possible he had two homes, with St. Michael’s Hamlet being his country residence.

john craggs houseThe house today, the archway has been filled-in and a doorway and window added.

Robert Griffiths wrote in 1907:

“Holly Bank, St. Michael’s Road, Mr. Cragg built for his own residence. The front portion of the building was the stables, where the major portion of St. Michael’s congregation, who in those days came long distances, stabled their horses. The animals were led round through the side gate to the back, where they reached the stables by an earthen causeway. Iron also entered largely into the composition of the house, the staircase and windows being of this material. The title deeds of the property, which we have been permitted to inspect through the courtesy of Mr. T. Brown, state that the land on which the present hamlet stands originally belonged to the Earl of Sefton. About 1803 it was put up for public auction, and was then described as:

“All that piece of land known as Dickenson’s Dingle, reaching from Park Lane, the High Road which runs from the ancient Park Chapel to Garston, down to the River.”

In the 1850s, Holly Bank was the home to Laurence Richardson Baily, an Average Adjuster and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1886.

Baily was director of the Great Northern Railway, of the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway, and of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. He was chairman of British Continental African Company and of Reliance Marine Insurance Company, and a government nominee on the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. He was president of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and was a J.P. for Liverpool. He later lived at Allerton Hall. (Wikipedia)

1855 HollybankAlthough not mentioned by name, this advertisement from 1855 is for Hollybank.

The first mention by name of Hollybank in the newspapers I could find is 1868 when it is occupied by Joseph Robinson Esq. Robinson was born in Preston and started the brewery “Robinsons and Prestons Brewery Co Ltd” situated on the corner of Nelson Street and St. James Street.

Robinson owned 45 public houses, leading him to face fierce criticism in the press, like this public letter to him, printed in 1870:

“Do you doubt the allegation? Then go any evening to one of your 45 houses, and see for yourself the horrible work achieved there… Gaze upon that scene of sin and sorrow, of wreck and ruin, and try whether you can come to the conclusion that you are doing right in facilitating the headlong rush to death and doom of those hapless creatures…

Who are these customers? Here is one. He bears the honoured name of father and husband, but is now tottering to his ignominious end ; and while his last coppers are dropping into your till, a home, with all its claims and responsibilities, is supperless and desolate, its silence broken with the cry of children asking for bread, and the sobs of a broken-hearted wife muttering her maledictions upon the public house, which has emptied the purse…

Here is another. She is a mother with a babe in her arms. Follow her home, and watch her, as, overcome with stupor, she smothers her infant and contributes to another sacrifice on the altar of drunkeness.

Here is one more – a ragged and miserable sot, without home or friends. Follow him to the river side, a maddened inebriate, and see him plunge into its tide to extinguish his now inebriated existence.”

Robinson was also a Liberal MP representing the Scotland Ward, who in 1863 was the victim of a Tory smear campaign that led to a court case for libel.

In 1862 Robinson took Thomas Wood “A primitive Methodist Preacher” to court for obtaining employment as a gardener with false references, he was sentenced to a £20 fine and 20 days hard labour in Kirkdale Gaol. Robinson died in 1871 and was buried in St. Michael’s churchyard.

On the 1911 census, Holly Bank was occupied by Charles Richard Krell, a Liverpool born Cotton Merchant and Broker and his brother George Casper, an Insurance Clerk. They were sons of Karl Christian Wilhelm Krell, born 1840 in Württemberg, Germany to Karl Wilhelm Krell and Adeleide Lechler.

Krell 1911 census1911 census showing the Krell brothers living at Holly Bank.

The Krell family’s grave is at Toxteth Park Cemetery:

Three white stone tiers with a cross. In loving memory of Charles Christian William KRELL born October 5th 1840, died August 23rd 1905 also of his wife Julie KRELL, born November 11th 1851, died September 19th 1931 Also of Charles Richard KRELL, born December 3rd 1876, died February 10th 1937. And in memory of George Caspar KRELL, born May 27th 1879,  died November 24th 1944.

In 1961 the house became a Folk music club, set up by Jacqueline McDonald and Bridget Mary O’Donnell, better known as Jacqui and Bridie:

“Early in 1961, Bridie placed an advert in the Liverpool ECHO to advertise their new club. “No-one understood what it was though,” laughs Jacqui. “The first person to knock on the door was a man who had no idea what folk music was but he’d brought along his collection of stamps.”

Eventually, some singers turned up and the club did well, quickly swelling its ranks from 20 to over 100. “They were all in our little living room,” she chuckles. “Thankfully, there was no health and safety legislation back then.”

The club soon outgrew its little house. “One night we had 110 people and we realised we needed bigger premises,” explains Jacqui. “We looked around for venues and finally settle on the domestic mission in Mill Street.”

It was unlicensed premises – as many venues were in those days – and the pair made coffee for the interval and served up home-made Scouse”.

hold back the dawnJacqui and Bridie’s ‘Hold back the dawn’ released in 1965, photographed on the steps of Holly Bank?

See also: Jacqui & Bridies Folk Club

js66701527.jpgA summer house named ‘Camelia house’ in the grounds of Holly Bank, as seen from the roof of St Michael’s Church. Photo: Liverpool Echo


Originally the Vicarage for St. Michael’s Church, this house is now called Glebelands but often referred to in histories of the area as The Friary – although I can’t find any historical document or map that records it by that name. Another property called ‘The Friars’, mentioned earlier was further towards the shore, after the Cloisters and close to Dudley House and The Priory. Because of this is is very difficult to be sure that any early records relate to this house.

In 1901 Glebelands was occupied by Thomas Moore a Commercial Cashier. In 1911 by Richard Henry Meister, (a Prussian Cotton Merchant who had a son killed in battle in 1894),

The name Glebelands is derived from ‘Glebe’ “an area of land within an ecclesiastical parish used to support a parish priest”

TW10StMichaelsHamletGlebelands, St. Michael’s Church Road. Photograph

In 1917 a couple of advertisements appeared from the owner of Glebelands, one for the sale of Mountain Cottages in Foxdale on the Isle of Man for £85 and £45, the other for the sale of ‘bargain’ motorcycles at £6, £7, £3 and £2. An indication of how times have changed is that the cheapest cottage is just over 6 times the price of the most expensive motorcycle.

Mountain cottages 1917

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 21.04.151917 British Newspaper Archive

A photograph from a 1944 newspaper feature on the church shows the right part of the house painted in a mock-tudor style.

1944 St Michael's1944, British Newspaper Archive

The Nunnery / Carfax


In 1871 it was the house of George Henry Brown, a Cotton Broker, but the house is not listed by name. In 1881 the house appears on the Census simply as ‘Brown House” and It is not until 1891 that the first appearance of the name “The Nunnery” is shown on the census.

The house then came into the possession of his nephew, Alexander Theodore Brown and it is likely that Alexander, a barrister, was responsible for renaming the house as Carfax because in 1945 a newspaper article uses that name as his residence – it was reported that left a gross estate of £32,927. 1/16th of the amount was left to the University of Liverpool.

Interestingly the article refers to it being on Carfax Street, but this may be because of the meaning of the word Carfax; “A carfax or carrefour is a place where (usually four) roads or streets meet, from French carrefurcs, from Latin quadrifurcus, “four forks.” The roads in question being St. Michael’s Road, St. Michael’s Church Road and Alpass Road.

1945 CarfaxLiverpool Evening Express 28th June 1945. British Newspaper Archive


The Hermitage


The Hermitage in 2017

Colonel Thomas Wilson lived at the Hermitage from the 1860s to the 1880s.
He was an Oil Merchant but also a churchwarden to St. Michael’s Church. In the late 1860s when the church was in a dilapidated state and risked demolition, it was this man who organised the restoration of the church.

In 1891 The Hermitage was the residence of Arthur Benson Rathbone (1853-1915), a Cotton Merchant and part of the prominent Rathbone family. Described by his brother George as “the best-dressed Unitarian in Chapel”. His parents were William Benson Rathbone and Hannah Sophia Greg (see The Cloisters below for other members of this family). Arthur married Emma Catherine Forget, daughter of Charles J. Forget and Louisa Bourgeois. Arthur was a Major 4th Lancashire Artillery Volunteer Corps. The family later moved to Formby. See here for more information on this family

In 1901 The Hermitage was home to Domingo De Larrinaga, a Ship Owner. “a successful Basque shipping family in Liverpool. From the 1860s the Larrinaga Steamship Company made regular journeys to the Philippines, stopping off in the great trading ports of Hong Kong and Singapore. The Larrinaga’s bought silks, lacquer boxes and Chinese-style furniture for their grand Liverpool homes”. Liverpool Museums

Domingo de Larrinaga provided the organ for St. Charles Church on Aigburth Road “which was blessed and used for the first time on 23rd September 1900” St Charles Church history

Grave_of_Minnie_&_Domingo_de_LarrinagaThe grave of Minnie & Domingo de Larrinaga in Allerton Cemetery: Wikipedia

This property was purchased by Sisters of Notre Dame and is now part of the Aigburth Park Student Halls of Liverpool Hope University.

The Cloisters

The Cloisters is mentioned from 1848 as being the residence of John Orred and his family. John was born on 28th June 1810 in Rodney Street, the son of George and Frances. He followed his father’s occupation as a solicitor who had an office at No. 4 Exchange Alley. In 1855 he is recorded as living at ‘Mayfield’, Aigburth. Mayfield Road, by Grassendale, was named after the house, it still has several beautiful old houses surviving.  John Orred married Catharina Mary Willink, daughter of Daniel Willink, Esq., consul of his Majesty the King the Netherlands, merchant and owner of ‘La bonne Intention’ slave plantation in British Guiana.

For a brief period in the 1860s, Eustace Greg lived there, he was the son of William Rathbone Greg, owner of Quarry Bank Mill,  and grandson of Hannah Lightbody. Eustace’s wife, Emily Rathbone Greg, edited the “Reynolds-Rathbone Diaries and Letters: 1753-1839″

In 1870s/80s George Jevons lived at the Cloisters, Born in 1818, his parents were Rev. William Jevons and Fanny (Worthington), he was an Iron and Tin merchant and manufacturer with the firm Biddulph, Wood, and Jevons.

George was the uncle of William Stanley Jevons (1835–1882) – economist and philosopher. W. S. Jevon’s brother Tom, and his cousin William Edgar also lived at St. Michael’s Hamlet. Whilst staying at his cousin’s house, William Stanley was to have a revelation:

28th March 1866.

“I cannot forget or omit to record this day last week. I was

sleeping as usual for the night at St. Michael’s Hamlet. As I awoke in the morning, the

sun was shining brightly into my room. There was a consciousness on my mind that I

was the discoverer of the true logic of the future. For a few minutes I felt a delight

such as one can seldom hope to feel. But it would not last long—I remembered only

too soon how unworthy and weak an instrument I was for accomplishing so great a

work, and how hardly could I expect to do it.”

W. S. Jevons was a grandson of William Roscoe. In 1864, after staying at St. Michael’s Hamlet he visited Allerton Hall, Roscoe’s home from 1779 to 1816:

“23d May 1864.—Yesterday I walked with Tom and Will Jevons from St. Michael’s

Hamlet to Allerton and the neighbourhood. We walked in the fields near the Hall, and in every way it was an hour of pleasant feeling to me. I could not but reflect upon

those from whom I come. I could not but feel the hope that I may do my duty and use

my powers as well, and I was filled with the beauty and cheerfulness of the scene

around. …

“I have not however been at all inactive as will be seen. Last Saturday, Lucy agreed to go with me to the South Shore as a walk; we went by the omnibus to the Iron Church & then walked as Lucy wished to the shore below the Dingle.  There she made two small sketches, while I collected plants, in which however I was not so successful as I expected. I got the Plantago Maritima, Aster Tripolium’ & others”.


William Stanley Jevons (1 September 1835 – 13 August 1882). English economist and logician. wikipedia

A kiss under the Mistletoe ends up in court

In 1877, Margaret Brisbowne, a servant to George Jevons at The Cloisters, was walking to the house at 10:00pm on Christmas Eve when she was assaulted by John Taylor, a 17 year old. Taylor had jumped out on her as she was walking through the Hamlet and “sprang out from a recess in a wall, seized her by the arms, pulled her about in an improper manner, and kissed her”. Miss Brisbrowne went to the Cloisters and told Mr. Jevons’ gardener who accompanied her to complain to the youth’s parents. Taylor’s excuse was that he had a piece of mistletoe in his hand, the judge wasn’t convinced and fined him 40 shillings with the alternative of a month’s imprisonment.

1877 falkirk Herald mistletoe

Sisters of Notre Dame

In 1884 the house was purchased by the Sisters of Notre Dame, a Catholic institute founded to provide education to the poor. In 1855 the Sisters had started a Teacher Training College for Catholic women at Mount Pleasant and needed another location. As well as The Cloisters, the Sisters also purchased two other properties in the Hamlet, The Friary and The Hermitage. These properties now being part of ‘Aigburth Park’ a residential complex of Liverpool Hope University.


The entrance to Aigburth Park Student Village. Image: Liverpool Hope University

The photograph and text below is from a 1920 book on the life of Sister Mary of St. Philip (1825 – 1904), who was instrumental in purchasing the houses:

The Cloisters

“It chanced one day that, as she and Sister Mary of St. Philip were scanning the daily paper for the report of the proceedings of the City Council, their eyes were arrested by an advertisement of a property for sale, designated by a name of happy omen : “The Cloisters, in St. Michael’s Hamlet.” It was a dwelling-house with pleasure grounds, kitchen-garden and paddock, and gardener’s cottage, situated very near the Dingle, and affording a fine view of the Mersey and the Cheshire coast…

In January 1884, the students visited The Cloisters for the first time, and even in
midwinter its quiet loveliness enchanted them. Sister Mary of St. Philip wrote: “ Shut in from the outer world by beech and sycamore trees and a girdle of evergreens, the spot looked as calm and secluded as Tennyson’s island valley of Avilion.” When old students recall The Cloisters, one day in the year will stand out in sharper, clearer outline than any other. In May came the Feast of St. Philip. Then, indeed, his namesake showed in her children’s midst as queen and mother, when they gathered round her on the greensward at The Cloisters, to read her an address in prose or verse, to sing their ringing chorus helped by the blackbirds and thrushes, and then, per chance, to play before her, amid the rhododendrons and may blossom, some graceful masque or pastoral fantasy—scenes from As You Like It, or their charming dramatic arrangement of The Princess. After tea in the meadow came the famous Dumb Charades, in which Sister Mary of St. Philip took her spirited part; and then, as the shadows of the great beeches lengthened across the lawn, she gathered them round the image of Our Lady beneath the verandah to say the Rosary, and sing St. Philip’s hymn by way of farewell.

All through the exceptionally beautiful summer of 1884 The Cloisters was a never-failing source of delight and of healthful recreation. Tennis was played on the lawn, and games
of all kinds in the meadow. Science and sewing classes were held there, and in June the Inspectors sat under the trees hearing the reading and recitation of the students.’

Many years later an adjacent property bearing the equally felicitous name of The Friary was purchased by the Sisters, and is now used as a hostel for University students”.
Sister Mary of St. Philip (Frances Mary Lescher) 1825-1904

1883 advert for cloisters that Nuns sawThe advertisement the Nuns had seen for The Cloisters in 1883.
British Newspaper Archive


In the 1870s, Abbotfield was the residence of David Lloyd Davies, a timber merchant.

In the 1880s it was home to Richard M. Carey an American Merchant and in the 1890s, William M. Belcher a Cotton Merchant.

Stanley Samuel Gilbert Cohen lived at Abbotsfield before 1911 as he appears on the census of that year, prior to there he had lived in his parents house nearby called ‘The Priory’. He was the son of Alderman Louis Cohen, the head of Lewis’ department store. Stanley served in the British Army in the Boer War (1st Volunteer Battalion, the King’s Regiment) and was a Major in the First World War (5th Battalion King’s Own) Regiment where he was wounded twice and suffered a gas attack. He had two brothers who also fought in the war; Lieut. George Hubert Cohens died fighting near La Bassée on May 17th 1915 and Major Benn Jack Brunel Cohen, was wounded at the Third Battle of Ypres, and both legs were amputated above the knee. He used an electric wheelchair for most of his life afterwards. In 1917 Stanley Cohen had an Aberdeen Terrier named “Ypres” after the battle.

1917 Cohen abbotsfield

Cohen’s dog, Ypres, goes missing from Abbotsfield in 1917. British Newspaper Archive.

Cohen was a major contributor to the Great Ormond Street For Sick Children. In 1945 he had left over £1.2 million in his will with £2,000 going to Great Ormond Street alone.

1945 Col stanley Cohen Abbotsfield

In 1948 Abbotsfield was purchased by a religious organisation called the Norwegian Church Abroad. In 1916 they had purchased a house in Great George Square with a view to establishing a permanent establishment in the city, this was opened in 1920. As this church was too small for their needs, Abbotsfield was purchased and opened on 25 June 1950. Although not as close to the docks as Great George Square, the location in St Michael’s Hamlet had its benefits “Especially the large garden was popular, as the seafarers were used for recreation, play and not least sports competitions”. This house was known locally as ‘The Norwegian Fisherman’s Church’.

This church was a valuable part of the community of St. Michael’s Hamlet for many years, it is now a private house.

Norwegian Sailors Church

Norwegian Sailors Church 1

Norwegian Sailors Church 3

Norwegian Sailors Church 2Images of the Norwegian Sailor’s Church, the bird decoration is the Church’s symbol. Images from:

John Cragg

Other than having a foundry on Tithebarn Street and his church building activities, very little is known about John Cragg’s life, Wikipedia states he was born in Warrington in 1767 (this has been taken from the 1851 census but it is incorrect).

As Cragg never married there are not many records to help find him, apart from the 1841 and 1851 census’ where he is living at St James Mount, Liverpool. As several men by the same name who were born in the same period it was difficult to know for sure I had the right one. But, after months of searching, I found this record from 1854 in the British Newspaper Archive:

John Yeoman, Esq., Sutton-on-the-Derwent, to Frances, daughter of Mr. Joshua Cragg, of Macclesfield, and niece to the late John Cragg, Esq., of the Mount, In this town.

As I knew it was the correct address for John Cragg, I could be sure that Joshua was his brother and Frances was his niece. This small family notice allowed me to piece his family together.

On Frances’ marriage record in 1854, Joshua is a ‘Currier’ (specialist in the leather processing industry) and his wife is Mary Mather. In the 1841 census they are living with their daughter Sarah at Bridge Street Okell’s Buildings, Prestbury, Cheshire.

Joshua’s and John’s father (also called Joshua) was a wealthy Yeoman farmer and owned several properties. Their mother was Hanna. So, prehaps for the first time, here is a short biography of John Cragg.

John Cragg, Iron Man

John Cragg was born on Christmas Eve 1775 and had a twin brother, Allen (sometimes spelt Alan). They were baptised on the 2nd February 1776 at Mottram St. Andrew. John had four more brothers and three sisters.

John Cragg Birth Dec 24 1775

The birth and baptism records of John Cragg and his twin brother Allen. (I have cropped the image to fit better on screen.

His other brothers were Joshua (1770), Thomas (1773), two sons called Ralph (one born in 1781 died aged 4 months) and his sisters were Hanna (Knight) (1778), Mary (Whitelegg) Ellen (1785 died aged 4 years).

On 20th January 1776, just a month after the birth of the twins, their father, Joshua, took out a lease on Carrington Hall, it is likely then that John would have spent his early life, from at the hall.

Joshua Cragg of Mottram [St] Andrew yeoman

Property: a capital messuage or mansion house in Carrington called Carrington Hall, now in the possession of Josiah Collier as undertenant, and fields or parcels of land thereto belonging, part of Carrington demesne, called the Hemp Croft, the Hall Croft, the Pasture Gossoms, the Meadow Gossoms, the Dunge Croft, the Mare Hey, the Clappers, the Intack, the Bank Croft, the Nans Croft, the Old Damm, the Lower Damm Field, the Big Damm Field, the Little Damm Field, the Middle Damm Field, the Higher and Lower School Fields, the Great and Little Moss Fields, the Moss Lane, the Great and Little Booth Heys, the Long Hilly, the Short Hilly, the Coney Greave, the Great and Little Wheat Eyes, the Hoarding, the Deep Carr, the Oultons, the Over Hill, the Shaw Wood, and the Winstanley (134 a. 2 r. 12 p.), and all outhouses, barns, shippons, yards, orchards and gardens; also all tithes due from the premises; except the wagon house and chamber above the workshop, closes called the Rough Field, the Ecclesmere and the Trealey, and half of Carrington Tithe Barn.
Term: 11 years.

This lease was renewed several times, in 1800 Joshua Cragg took another lease of the Hall, which he assigned to his son (and John’s twin) Allen Cragg in 1808, upon Allen Cragg’s execution of a joint bond for payment of the rent due to the Earl of Stamford. Allen Cragg held the lease until at least 1817.

Carrington is a village and civil parish, historically a part of Cheshire, now in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester.

Death of John’s father

Joshua Cragg Senior died on 30th August 1818 and was buried at Saint George Churchyard in Carrington with his wife Hannah and the two children that died in infancy, Ralph and Ellen:

“Sacred to the memory of Joshua Cragg who departed this life August 30th 1818 aged 85 years. Hannah the wife of Joshua Cragg who departed this life December 26th 1805 aged 54 years. Why do we mourn departed friends or shake it at death’s alarms, Tis but the voice that Jesus sends, to call us to his arms. Are we not tending upwards too, as fast as time can move, nor should we wish the hours more slow, to keep us from our love. Also 27th July 1781 Ralph their son aged 4 months.
31st December 1785 Ellen their daughter aged 3 years”.

Joshua cragg grave

The grave of John’s parents, Joshua and Hanna Cragg.
Photograph courtesy of Jim Hunt.

Also buried in the same graveyard is John Cragg’s twin brother Allen, alongside his wife:

“In memory of Allen Cragg who departed this life August 5th 1828 aged 52 years. Also Martha Cragg who departed this life November 1st 1827 aged 49 year”.

Allen Cragg GraveThe grave of Allen Cragg, John’s twin brother. Photograph courtesy of Jim Hunt.
Thanks to Jim Hunt at for both grave records

The Will of Joshua Cragg from 1818 show that he left his sons and daughters, including John, £100 each and a share of his estate. Joshua inherited a desk and bookcase from Carrington Hall together with Joshua’s ‘wearing apparel’. By the time of his father’s Will, John Cragg was already so wealthy as a Foundry-owner and landowner that he could personally fund the building of churches and houses.

Joshua Last name Cragg Yeoman Residence Carrington Probate year 1818The Will of Joshua Cragg from 1818. Image from

John Cragg’s move to Liverpool

John is shown on an Election List for 1806 as living at St James’ Mount. His foundry, (although not named as such) appears on a map of 1794 when Cragg would have been 29 years of age. As mentioned earlier, Cragg was said to have lived at Hollybank in St. Michael’s but from 1806 to his death, the only address recorded is St James’ Mount, also known as St. James’ Walk.

The location of St. James’ Mount was on the hill overlooking St. James’ Cemetery. The houses were demolished in 1904 to make way for the Liverpool ‘Anglican’ Cathedral. The cemetery below the mount had originally been a quarry but the stone was exhausted by 1825, in 1827 the Oratory was built (and still stands today) and in 1829 the cemetery opened.


This photograph from about 1902 shows a crowded cemetery. Top right is the Oratory and the ministers house on St. James Mount can be seen to the left.
Image courtesy of


St. James’ Mount on the right, the site of the Liverpool ‘Anglican’ Cathedral
Image courtesy of

ministershouse_medThe Minister’s House shown during the construction of the cathedral.
Image courtesy of

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 23.39.55The Gardener’s Lodge at St. James Cemetery as seen from Upper Parliament street, a surviving building that was erected in 1826.

For a full history of St. James’ Cemetery, and a list of over 14,000 burials, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to this site:

Shown below are the 1841 and 1851 census records, the only two that show John Cragg. Census records, taken every ten years, are only available from 1841 and he died in 1854. As often happens in census records, in the 1851 Census his place of birth is incorrect; Warrington is shown instead of Prestbury or Macclesfield (nearly 25 miles away).

In the 1841 census, Cragg has the unusual address of “The Cemetery”, it’s still his address today because in 1854 he was buried there.

Cragg 1841

Cragg 1851

1841 and 1851 census records.

Cragg did not break his links to his home village of Prestbury, as he presented the Rev. Robert Laurence Townsend of Prestbury as Minister for St. Phillip’s on Hardman Street.

As mentioned earlier, Cragg was a member of the Select Vestry, being a Churchwarden with Moses Benson (son of Moses Benson, the Liverpool Slave Trader). The article below is too long to include in full but the opening paragraph shows Cragg objecting to £16,000 being paid to the ‘Casual Poor’ and he was supported by Benson.

1821 cragg Annual Vestry

Cragg’s Foundry and property portfolio

Cragg’s foundry was located on the corner of Tithebarn Street and Cheapside. It was built on the site of the old ‘Tithe Barn’ that had stood since the time of Henry VIII and that gave the street its name (more about that later).

As well as the foundry and property at St. Michael’s Hamlet, Cragg also owned three warehouses – one at the Goree Piazzas and two in Tithebarn Street. He also owned a Smith’s Shop and eight dwelling houses on the south side Tithebarn Street. (the houses were occupied by R. Wrigley and Son, E. Bower, E. Parkinson, T.Butler, Elizabeth Hill, M. Mead, J. Joynson, Samuel Bayley and Andrew Smith).

1836 map Dave Woods1836 map showing the Mersey Foundry. Map from this excellent resource by Dave Wood: Dave Wood’s maps on Liverpool 1207

Mercury 1847 Cragg and Whitelegg

Liverpool Mercury 1847 showing Cragg’s warehouses on the south side of Tithebarn Street, Edward Whitelegg is also mentioned – Cragg’s brother-in-law through his sister Mary. British Newspaper Archive.

Liverpool Mail 13 December 1851 Craggs warehouse

Liverpool Mail 1851 showing Cragg’s Warehouse on Tithebarn Street.
British Newspaper Archive

An advertisement appeared in the Liverpool Mercury in 1843 when Cragg was selling the foundry, this was just for the remaining stock after a previous sale but it gives us an idea of the machinery at the foundry:

The REMAINING STOCK and UTENSILS IN TRADE of the MERSEY IRON FOUNDRY, comprising a 6-HORSE HAND GEER STEAM-ENGINE with Boiler, &c. ; a POWERFUL BORING MILL, a SUGAR MILL, several TURNING LATHES , a small SCREWING MACHINE, a LARGE and EXCELLENT WOOD CRANE, with Chain, Blocks and Pulleys ; several SMALLER WOOD and CAST IRON ditto, of different powers ; a great variety of CASTING BOXES, SMITHY TOOLS in ANVILS, SWAGE BLOCKS, VICES, BELLOWS, &c. Large and Small Furnace Ladels, Sugar Pan Patterns in sizes, a large quantity of casting boxes for pots and pans, 3 ship cabooshes, several valuable Architectural Castings of Arches, Pillars, Rails, &c. a quantity of Welsh Kettles, Rice-pans, a large Garden Roller, Cast and Wrought Scrap-iron, &c.

From the advertisement we can also an insight into Cragg’s manufacturing process of the cast-iron components for churches, including the iron patterns for his three churches.

A VERY EXTENSIVE ASSORTMENT of WOOD and IRON PATTERNS and MODELS for GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE, consisting of Arches of different dimensions, WINDOW FRAMES and SASHES, Panels, &c. ; Bannisters, Rails, amongst which will be found the patterns for those Gothic Structures, ST. MICHAEL’S CHURCH, Toxteth-park, ST. PHILLIP’S, Hardman Street, Liverpool, and ST. GEORGE’S, Everton with others suited for domestic building, together with a variety of Articles useful to the Trade.

Liverpool Mail 23 September 1843 Sale of Foundry stock

Sugar Pans for plantations in the West Indies

Cragg initially made his money from exporting ship Cabooses (kitchens), pots and pans and ‘Sugar Pans’.  The sugar pans were for the West Indies plantations, these were mentioned by the Scottish engineer, James Nasmyth, in his autobiography in 1881:

“Among the other well known men to whom I was introduced at Liverpool was John Cragg, a most intelligent and enterprising iron founder. He was an extensive manufacturer of the large sugar-boiling pans used in the West Indies.

Sugar had become the main crop of the West Indies plantations, the slave trade in the British Empire was abolished with the Slave Trade Act of 1807, but it was with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 that the institution was gradually abolished. Cragg’s foundry would have been of the many industries that made fortunes supplying the trade.


Examples of sugar boiling pans in the West Indies, the conical moulds on the left are to make sugar-loaves. Picture: South Ayrshire History

James Nasmyth also mentions Cragg’s church building:

“He had also given his attention to the introduction of iron into buildings of different sorts. Being a man of artistic taste he had even introduced cast-iron into Gothic architecture. In order to exhibit, in an impressive form, the uses of his favourite metal, he erected at his own cost a very elegant church in the northern part of Liverpool. Cast-iron was introduced, not only in the material parts of the structure, but into the Gothic columns and Gothic tracery of the windows, as well as into the lofty and elegant spire. Iron was also employed in the external ornamental details, where delicate yet effective decoration was desirable…”

Cragg offered Nasmyth a chance to be his successor at the foundry:

My introduction to Mr. Cragg led to an acquaintance, and then to a friendship. When the ice was broken which was very soon he told me that he was desirous of retiring from the more active part of his business. Whether he liked my looks or not I do not know; but,quite unexpectedly, he made me a very tempting offer to enter his works as his successor. He had already amassed a fortune, and I might do the same. I could only thank him most sincerely for his kindness. But, on carefully thinking the matter over, I declined the proposal”.
James Nasmyth, Engineer. An Autobiography 1881

It seems not everyone was fully appreciative of Cragg and Rickman’s work, James Allanson Picton, in his 1875 book “Memorials of Liverpool”, wrote of Rickman&#