Tuesday, 10 July 2018

St. Anthony's, Scotland Road

St. Anthony's from the outside. The Throstles Nest Hotel is in the background.
St. Anthony's Church on Scotland Road is yet another historical and architectural gem of Liverpool. Built in 1833, the Catholic church was designed by architect John Broadbent to replace an earlier church founded in 1806 by French émigré Reverend Jean Baptiste Antoinet Gerardot, who left France due to the Revolution. The church is a celebration of space; it has no pillars to support the elegant Gothic building as the weight is taken by the oval design of the crypt underneath the Church. There was a strong Irish community that settled in the Scotland Road area during the nineteenth century, the Church still serving the community.

The central passage of the crypt revealing the oval design.

The large open interior of the Church, a celebration of space.

One of the many passages that intersect the central passageway. These contained the burials.

One of the many memorial stones that cover the burial compartments, dated 1857:
'Weep not for me my parents dear, I am not dead but sleeping here, My and you know my grave you see, Prepare yourselves to follow me.'

A statuette of the infant Christ.

Scotland Road has changed beyond recognition over the past few decades. There is a row of shops nearby to the Church that look like they are due for demolition. This boarded up Shoe Repairers gives us a glimpse of the once bustling community of the area; the local shops, the pubs and the terraced houses with cobbled streets....

One of the many pubs now closed along Scotland Road; The Parrot. A nineteenth century pub that was part of the once bustling social scene of a now seemingly long-gone era. Just on the opposite side of Scotland Road to the pub was Skirving Street, now more famous for the poisoners of the nineteenth century.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2018

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Liverpool Cricket Club

Liverpool Cricket Club is another hidden historical gem of Liverpool; an oasis of green nestled in the suburbs off Aigburth Road and Riversdale. The Victorian Gothic style Club Building was built in 1881, but the club itself has an older history that stretches back to 1807. The Club had many celebrated wealthy Liverpool merchants as members during the Victorian era, one of which, has a more darker past and became more famous in death than he was in life. James Maybrick, wealthy cotton merchant, resided in Riversdale Road in a house called Battlecrease, and when he died in May 1889 after a short illness, his American born wife Florence was arrested on suspicion of his murder.

The inquest took place at Garston Reading Rooms and Florence was held for a time at the Police Station on Lark Lane (read about that here in an earlier blog post). The trial itself attracted international attention, with Florence accused of poisoning her husband with arsenic, and though she was convicted of the murder of James and initially sentenced to death, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, being released in 1904. The way in which the trial was conducted by the judge became an issue of debate, causing historians and the public alike to question the fairness of the trial. Florence wrote a book entitled My Fifteen Lost Years and died penniless in the US in 1941. In the early 1990s, a diary emerged that claimed that James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper, though tests prove inconclusive and historians tend to dismiss the claims. The Cricket Club still has Maybrick's entry in the membership book, they give tours and a Ripper group regularly meets there to discuss the claims.

One of the rooms in the Club building.

Battlecrease - Maybrick's house in Riversdale Road.

The door of Battlecrease.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2018

Monday, 2 July 2018


Childwall Abbey Hotel
The village of Childwall is another hidden historical gem on the outskirts of Liverpool; a Church dating from the fourteenth century, a Gothic hotel, a long lost mansion and even a long lost well (known as the Monks bath), that was situated about 200 yards down the slope from the hotel. 

The Hall was once the home of the Gascoyne family, the building being demolished in the 1940s. It was replaced by the community college. Bamber Gascoyne the elder (1725–1791) had married the daughter of Isaac Green, acquiring the Hall. His son, Bamber Gascoyne the younger (1758–1824) had a daughter Frances, who married the 2nd Maquess of Salisbury in 1821. The family rarely stayed at the hall afterwards and the hall was rented out to a number of prominent families. The Duke of Wellington stayed there when he opened the Liverpool-Manchester railway in 1830.

The Parish Church has a fourteenth century external wall, though there are older fragments, most notably the stones that once belonged to a Saxon style cross, now embedded into the porch wall, which may indicate that Childwall was a place of worship before the Norman period.

Examples of the Saxon style stone.

The Lepers' Squint. According to tradition, people who suffered from leprosy were treated as unclean and not allowed in the Church, so had to view the sacrament from this window. 

Late Saxon/early Norman Coffin lid.

Medieval stonemasons mark.

Fishbone style stonemasons mark above the entrance to the Church.

Hatchments on the interior wall of the Church, usually carried before a coffin at a funeral. the one on the left is of the Gascoigne Family, Bamber Gascoyne being the owner of Childwall Hall in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century. Hatchments can also be seen in the church at Hale.

The Parish Church at Childwall.

The grave of John O'kill in the churchyard, dated 1792.

A worn grave stone revealing a coat of arms and indicating that the person was of the Liverpool Merchants. Mid eighteenth century.

For further information on the history of Childwall visit:

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2018

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