Friday, 22 June 2018

Sandfield Tower, Liverpool

Sandfield Tower is one of the most impressive lost buildings of Liverpool, despite its present sorry state. It is perhaps one of the most recognisable historical houses, seen from Queens Drive in the Stoneycroft area, and just opposite Moscow Drive. A mixture of Gothic architecture with hints of Baroque, and with an undeniable almost quirky local Liverpool style. Built with local sandstone, the derelict house dominates the landscape with its silent presence.

It was built in 1851, one of the first residents was Joseph Edwards, a South American merchant. The house then had a number of residents; from 1880-1881 a certain Miss Alice Houghton lived there, from 1882-1890 a William Kinsman resided there, and from 1891-1900 a Mr Ralph Lyon Broadbent  lived in the house. The building then became converted for the Church of Christ the Scientist, though a fire in the building in the 1980s saw a rapid decline and dereliction. The house is now an empty shell.

Around the time Sandfield Tower was built, a number of similar villas were constructed in a similar style in the outskirts of Liverpool, one such house being Allerton Tower, built in 1849, designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes who had also designed St. George's Hall in Liverpool.

The area around Sandfield Tower is full of historic gems; Victorian houses with grand names tucked away from view, the art-deco shops on Queens Drive and the Russian named 'streets', not to mention the lost local industries such as the sandstone quarries, a reminder of which being Quarry Road.
St. Ives - the gateway to a house on South Drive

A Victorian house now made into apartments in the Sandfield Park area off Queens Drive

Victorian post box set in the sandstone wall on the corner of Kremlin Drive and Queens Drive

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2018

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Some date stones, house names and historical architectural features from Liverpool

I love just wandering around Liverpool with a camera, you can guarantee you'll stumble onto some historical building tucked away down a back alley or the corner of a street. As I say to my students, when you're walking around the city - always take time to look up at the buildings as you'll find all kinds of architectural treasures. One day last week I was all over the place, from the south end to the north end, so here are a few photos of hidden historical delights and archaic architectural features from Liverpool.

From the corner of Walton Breck and Valley Road

Turkey - from the corner of the Sandon, Anfield. The Sandon has had much alterations over the years and it's hard to determine the date of these decorative segments on the outside walls. They correspond to the decoration around the doorway.

Fish - from the corner of the Sandon, Anfield.

Houlding's Bar established 1888, the Sandon, Anfield - The connection with Everton football club and John Houlding is still celebrated here.

Granby Street Board school, a rather imposing Victorian building built in 1880, probably partly designed to put the fear of God into the local kids and still used for educational purposes, being part of the Liverpool Adult Learning Service. The date stone proudly sits underneath a Liver Bird.

Built in 1875, this entrance to the tramways and omnibus depot on Beaumont Street still survives as the entrance to a car repairs.

Close-up of the date stone.

'Torrisholme' - In the later Victorian period, in the wake of the opening of Sefton Park in 1872, land around the park was sold for development to fund the layout of the park. The mansions that appeared facing the park became the height of architectural Victorian home aesthetic, housing Liverpool's professional classes. The gothic splendour of these mansions can still be seen, the elegant sandstone gateposts of the houses featuring typically English names that conjure up images of Victorian quaintness.

'Lynewood' Aigburth Drive, Sefton Park.

'Villa Maria' Alexandra Drive.

Villa Maria itself in all its Gothic splendour. By the 1960s some of the houses were rented out and fell into disrepair. One of my favourite stories about one of the mansions off Sefton Park was that in the early 1980s, one was used for parties and during one particular party, The Las turned up and did a gig in the house.

A gatepost showing elaborate 'leaf' decoration in an entrance way to a house on Alexander Drive.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2018

Friday, 29 September 2017

Historical Graffiti

I've done a number of blogs about historical graffiti; old carvings of letters and dates in stone, some professionally carved giving the date of a building, others just etched as graffiti, but all valuable in a sense. Here are some recent photos of messages from the past set in stone.

A date stone on the perimeter wall of All Saints Church at Daresbury, Cheshire. Though there was a medieval chapel at the site, the church itself was largely rebuilt from 1870-1872.

Another date stone in the same wall. 

A reference number for the particular stone perhaps? It can be found in the perimeter wall of St. Mary's at Walton, Liverpool.

'John' found in the old Grammar School at St. Mary's at Walton.

'A' found on a sandstone entrence gatepost of the old Winwick Hospital, Winwick, Cheshire.

'1794' date of the Capel Y Drindod at Beaumaris, Anglesey, North-Wales.

The school house, 1902. Beaumaris.

1614, old Court House, Beaumaris.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

St Seiriols Well, Penmon, Anglesey

Tucked away on the south-east corner on the island of Anglesey, North-Wales, is the ruined monastery of Penmon. The church, dating back to the twelth century, is still open and houses a number of ancient Celtic crosses. Nearby is the holy well of St. Seiriol, a place of pilgrimage that is filled with ancient atmosphere and is named after the sixth century saint who resided there in a small cell. The well was thought to have healing properties and people still leave offerings today; the inside of the small single stone eighteenth century building that houses the holy well is filled with names and prayers, holy graffiti dating back years, some of the writing etched over older writing. Crevices in the walls act as places to leave offering; flowers, herbs, berries with candles flickering in the draughty stone building. Other offering are placed in nooks and crannies; string necklaces and written prayers on note paper. And of course there are pennies thrown into the well itself, resting at the bottom of the crystal clear water.

Names and prayers etched into the walls of the chamber.

An offering of an owl has been placed in a corner of the chamber.

Two candles flicker surrounded by an offering of berries.

Roses have been left in one of the crevices.

One of the Celtic Crosses dating from 900-1000 AD.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Monday, 4 September 2017

St. Mary's Church, Walton, Liverpool

There has been a place of worship on the site of St. Mary's Church probably for over a 1000 years; the circular perimeter wall around the church suggests a pre-conquest religious site, akin to some early medieval Welsh churches, and indeed the name Walton suggests a Romano-British settlement. There is also a Saxon cross shaft that can still be seen in the church that has been dated to the tenth century and a church on the site was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. This church was rebuilt in 1326, and was subsequently added to during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the church we see today was, apart from the tower, rebuilt between 1947 and 1953, after being destroyed by bombing in 1941.

The church site has many other historical features; the Grammar School is situated nearby and, according to the information supplied by the school, has a foundation date of the late 1400s, though the building itself was only erected in 1615. The school closed in 1871 and a famous Welsh name associated with both the church and the school during the eighteenth century was the poet Goronwy Owen, who was Curate in the 1750s. There is also a Norman font, old gravestones that reveal old local names such as James Musker, and Nicholas Gregson - a bricklayer from Liverpool. A Pierre Melly drinking fountain can be found in the church yard wall, now sadly vandalised and out of use. The church and Grammar School combine to create a true hidden historical gem of Liverpool, and you can still feel the village-like atmosphere set within a historical oasis, a feeling that can be extended when sat in the beer garden of the Black Horse next door.

The weathered sandstone base of a cross outside the church. 

The Norman Font. Modern repairs can be seen after it sustained damage from the bombing in 1941.

The Saxon cross shaft.

The Grammar School building.

The tower of St. Mary's Church.

The pitted sandstone of the church yard wall.

The Melly drinking fountain showing date.

Bedford Road opposite the church stretched down to the docks.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Some remains of the old Winwick Hospital

The imposing Victorian asylum hospital at Winwick disappeared around twenty years ago, though there are still mental health services situated on the old Winwick Hall site. A walk around the surrounding park land still reveals haunting evidence of life in the hospital, here are a few photos that supply a glimpse of the past.

A date stone of 1901 that is incorporated into a central green space within the housing development on what was the site of the old hospital.

A carved 'A' in a sandstone gatepost of one of the old entrances of the hospital. I was told some inmates of the hospital used to carve their names into the surrounding sandstone walls of the vast hospital.

The gateway to the hospital graveyard.

Over 2000 burials took place in the graveyard, only a few memorials are visible.

Two of the old pavilions that were situated in the grounds of the old hospital.


All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017