Liverpool's streets and corners

Extracts of interest from Old Liverpool Streets and corners

Liverpool Mercury, 1892


June 1790, Liverpool was at the beginning of a stirring election, when Colonel TARLETON, “in the interests of the borough” issued a strong manifesto for the benefit of such voters as desired to frustrate the corporation in certain schemes running counter to their ideas of political manoeuvring. Parliament had been dissolved on the 10th, and now some 3 or 4days afterwards the two late members, Bamber GASCOYNE and Lord PENRHYN, had sent out their circulars inviting the “freemen” to co-operate and by so doing secure the return of these gentlemen to the new House of Commons. Such a victory was to be no mere local, but, a national blessing. GASCOYNE was of the Tory party, he represented the interests of the Corporation. PENRHYN was a Fourth Party, in himself and invited the members of the “Independent” electors. TARLETON stood for the opposition, apparently with little chance of success, now that his two adversaries had come to an understanding that their united strength should be turned against his candidature, which should be denounced, satirised, and made ridiculous by calumny. TARLETON lost heart and withdrew from the contest, his friends, however, were more hopeful and had sent forth an election squib which both amused and stimulated hope. There was a chance of it helping to arouse the enthusiasm of the Whig voters. The prospect was discouraging in the way of English grammar, TARLETON insisted on the expediency of withdrawal. It was then that a friend of his, George CRUMP, Solicitor, seeing that the supply of beer to the voters of the coalition party was stopped, took a fancy that he could not do better than to try what ale could do. A strange scramble at the Exchange end of Dale St was the consequence. Bringing out a strong barrel of beer he knocked out the head of the cask and began to distribute the contents there and then, while haranguing the mob on the dangers of the Tory alliance. Colonel TARLETON, gallant soldier! ought to be supported if they would save the honour of the, “good old town”.

The speech evoked much sympathy and an impromptu address was made to TARLETON who should have their support. Interest was aroused, the party won fresh courage, and when the merchants and tradesmen, called together by the Mayor and bailiffs [to settle the question with as little interruption as possible to the trade of the town] had to break up their meeting in confusion, each side claiming the majority in the show of hands, the result seemed to offer TARLETON’S friends encouragement in anticipating a victory, the consequence was an election extending over 7 days.

The Dale St portion of the trade which the municipal authorities were so anxious to save from interruption, Dale St was at that time as for centuries before, the town’s chief outlet, and a recognised way by Ormskirk and Preston to the north. It was one of the oldest Liverpool streets being mentioned in deeds in Edward 111’s reign, the period in which our streets were first mentioned by name, the same reign that the earliest of the “Inspeximus” charters were granted our borough [1333]. The name recalls a favourite mode with the Plantagenets, they could commit frauds gracefully. They would inspect and confirm former charters, and by charges for the inspection would replenish the King’s exhausted treasury. Dale St is the eastern-arm of the cross forming the original Liverpool of King John, who in 1207 at Winchester gave us our first charter, constituting our town as a borough.

At the time of these elections in 1790 the street was undergoing renovation, for an Act of Parliament had been obtained in 1786 for improving the streets and supplying the town with water. Thus a part of Dale St which was as narrow as Cable St now is was being widened at the busy end near the Town Hall, getting rid of the structures which now encumbered it on the north and west sides, while several west side courts and alleys were being cleared away altogether. The town was growing and traffic increasing rapidly, the population amounted to 41,000, it’s churches risen to 9, its ships reached an aggregate of 446.

Intercourse with the metropolis was becoming considerable, the old coaching method of taking 46 to 48hrs to reach London was getting too slow and PALMER’S mail-coach system had recently been introduced [1785] this traversed the distance in 30hrs, with one guard all the way, fare £3-13s-6d. The docks extended from George’s Basin north to the Queen’s Dock south and Dale St was kept fully alive with a stream of traffic up and down all day. The additional multitude at election time was a serious inconvenience especially at a period when many a voter’s integrity had to be supported by an intelligence swimming in beer. Then again there was the confusion caused by the Hackney coaches rattling about, although introduced so recently in 1772, they had increased in such numbers that it had become necessary to put them under regulations. There was difficulty to in clearing off the barge traffic, several outlets had been made during the previous half-century, the Mersey and Irwell Navigation in 1712, the Weaver Navigation in 1720, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1720, and the Bridgewater in 1772, yet the difficulties in transit were still formidable enough, especially in Dale St.

Its houses must have seemed motely enough at this election time, seeing as in 1766 and years later there was a house in it, a thatched one, the front wall of which was only 6ft high, while on the other hand the CROSSE family had a handsome mansion, [about the site where now are the Municipal buildings] with gardens extended far back. Higher up on the opposite side where the Police Offices now stand, where WYKE’S Court and works. Here electors too much fuddled might pass by mistake under an entrance through an archway leading to a large area flanked by buildings on each side. At the end was a railed off garden with pleasant fields beyond. The buildings consisted of a workshops, a warehouse and a dwelling-house , the latter crowned with an octagonal turret with lights all round and surmounted by a lion rampant. The business carried on was the watch, watch tool and watch movement manufacture, including chains and main-springs. A semi-octagonal protection commanded a view of the whole establishment and the mottoes used on the dials were pointedly suggestive for the workpeople, “Oh time than God more sacred.” “Tine wasted is existence, used is life.” “On time’s uncertain date man’s eternal hours depend.”

This was not the only extensive place of business on Dale St there was a sugar -refining trade at the head of things, in 1667, a Mr SMITH, noted as a great London sugar-baker, had bought a piece of land on the north side of Dale St, between the present Cheapside and Moorfields and commenced refining, in consequence these streets out of Dale St were for generations afterwards the principal seat of the industry, which, in its turn was allied for a long while with the slave trade. Up to 1760 there was no proper road for wheeled carriages into Liverpool, what goods came landwise had to be carried on pack-horses. In 1760 however a turnpike road to Prescot and Warrington was completed and the first stage-coach issuing from Liverpool started from the Golden Fleece in Dale St. In May the first stage-coach to London was advertised, the journey to be made in 2days with 6 passengers, fare £2-10s, and in September of the same year the Dale St, coach was advertised to run every Monday and Thursday at 6am, from Manchester to Liverpool, calling at Warrington and Prescot on the way, the return to be made every Tuesday and Friday. Luggage allowed 14lbs, at 1d per 1b, for excess. Previous to this travel would have been irksome, for it had to be generally done on horseback. That the fair sex is considered is clear from a notice in 1756, that Mr BENEN, has, “two good double-horses” on the road for the “convenience of the ladies”

In the first Liverpool map of 1725, Dale St is shown to have been lined with houses on both sides as far as the present Fontenoy St, and Hackin’s-hey, Moorfields and Cheapside were built up between Dale St and Tithebarn St. Sir Thomas JOHNSON’S new property forms the upper portion of what afterwards became the street called Sir Thomas’s-buildings, the rest is marked, “The Rope-yard.” Much of the space behind the property in Dale St was then open fields on the south side of the Crosse Hall Estate, in the next half-century these were turned into gardens. The street formerly had its windmill too and at the south end near the Old Haymarket, a dozen almhouses used to stand, the inmates of which, no doubt, enjoyed the sight of the pack-horses, strings of which in the middle of the last century, used to issue forth from The Golden Lion and The Fleece in Dale St. Sometimes as many as 60 in a stretch would start out laden with goods for the country, each horse carrying about 3cwt, the return load similar in weight. When the roads were improved these pack-horses were superseded by large 8 horse wagons, the harnesses of which were alive with the jingling of bells. Amongst the principal Dale St Inns in those days were, The Old Angel, The Cross Keys, The Angel and Crown, The Red Lion, The Wool-pack, and The Bull and Punch Bowl. Back to the elections, TARLETON party had now put forth it’s strength, they represented Mr GASCOYNE as soliciting the honour of his friends company, “on Wednesday next at 2,30 on Childwall Heath, to partake of a roasted plump calf” “the company may rely upon it not being too fat, “ was added as if by way of warning. The placard explained that by “friends” Mr GASCOYNE meant “those independent men who would sacrifice even their freedom to oblige the corporation.” It was further stated that he had, “preserved in high perfection a large stock of last years cabbages and, that they may not be hard of digestion. He has ordered them to be seven times parboiled” the latter referring to the PARR family of many votes. The severest cut came last, “Gentlemen will wash their faces on this occasion, and suffer themselves to be examined when they go away. Please observe the knives and forks are chained down.”

Sir J. A. PICTON observed that after the first poll, Bamber GASCOYNE shut himself up in Mr BAKER’S house in Water St, never again appearing on the hustings, he affected indisposition, and refused to encounter the ceremony of chairing. Ale meant disorder when supplied in quantities, and Solicitor CRUMP scored a victory by knocking out the head from that first cask, precursor, no doubt of many. On the third day Lord PENRHYN, seeing how certain Colonel TARLETON was of a large majority, gave way and after expending nearly £30,000 in the contest withdrew, issuing an address as he did so, wherein he wound up in the following curious fashion:-

“To represent the town of Liverpool with the unanimous approbation of the freemen, I should certainly esteem honourable, but, as I have never found myself in that situation, I have only to subscribe myself, your most obedient humble servant.”

This made the return safe for the other two, thus at the close it was found that the numbers stood as follows :- TARLETON, 1269, , GASCOYNE, 888, PENRHYN, 716. Triumphant beer barrels ! ”Wisdom” says Dean SWIFT, “Is a nut which, unless you choose with judgement may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm” Here, no doubt, it cost many a man his senses, and paid him with the dirt of the gutter.

In a picture of Dale St in about 1784 we are helped to the appreciation of the sober state of things, the sailor with large buckles on his shoes, , the lady in blue with towering headdress, the other lady in the steeple crowned hat, with large waving feathers, the gentleman in red coat, purple waistcoat, buckskins and silk stockings, the sedan chair set down in front of the Exchange, the chairmen in long blue frocks, the water cart and the woman with the bucket to serve customers, the coach stand, with three coaches for two horses each, the stage coach, with its four horses, the outside passengers in front, the old basket behind, , and no doubt the din of trumpeting now and then, this was Dale St, 100 yrs ago, when it was the chief street of the, “good old town.” .

In the heart of Liverpool is a young Exchange, in order to reach the Exchange from Shaw’s Brow, we walk down the right hand side of Dale St and return back by the left. We first observe that Dale St sinks a little towards Byrom St, this slope terminated at one time in a del or dale, and hence came the name of the street. At one time there also extended from here onwards towards Byrom St, a brook, which sent its surplus water from the uplands by a course along Whitechapel and Paradise St to the Pool, between this end of Dale St and Manchester St, but little is now left of what constituted the street property at the beginning of the present century. What still remains is fast verging to a vanishing point, it would have disappeared long ago had not the comparatively new Manchester St route given a turn to the main current of traffic, and left the residue of the old roadway derelict. The dismal shops displaying second-hand boots, row after row, and clothes so venerable, many of them, that even a Falstaff would not have set hungry eyes on them, had he discovered such a show on his way through Coventry, these at the end of Fontenoy St, leading into Dale St, tell their own story of the great dismal swamp of poverty just impinging on the old slope of the dell.

Once it was otherwise for Mr SHAW an eminent potter, [after whom Shaw’s Brow was called] dwelt at the east corner of Fontenoy St, and had his manufactory behind his residence. Now dullness seems a native of that district, and recalls the lusty Knights, saying, “I were better to be eaten to death with rust than to be scoured to nothing with perpetual motion.” Fontenoy St was only formed in 1780, and the three streets a little further along, Johnson St, North St and Trueman St had their origin about the same time. The Bull Inn at the corner of Trueman St was built as a private residence about the year 1790, and still bears the characteristics of a staid and gracious dignity. It was built by a distiller John HOUGHTON, whose works were in Trueman St close by. He also erected at his own expense Christ Church in Hunter St in 1797, at a cost of £15,000. Johnson St had its name from two builders whose premises were there, and who set up some works on a quantity land consisting chiefly of open gardens and fields. They made a road through this new neighbourhood and called it “Hatton” after their native village of Hatton near Warrington. The gardens seemed to have completed the name, buildings after buildings were set up and many years later Hatton-garden became very much enlarged, especially after the passing of the Improvement Act in 1854.

Continuing our walk we come to the magistrates offices in Dale St, a considerable portion of these buildings rests upon what was once part of Wykes Court, which the Gaslight Company had purchased about 1820. The old buildings were taken down and gasworks erected, with offices to the front. They presented a neat elevation of brick and stone, and an arched gateway displayed the Liver [bird] and a motto from Horace, “Ex jumo darc lucem.” At the end of 30yrs the company removed their offices to Newington and their works to various spots on the outskirts. The Corporation bought the property and it now forms an important part of the Liverpool Police Force, the premises have a back extension from Hatton-garden to Cheapside, on the Dale St flank of which, during a portion of the last century, several rows of shambles and the “Old White Bear Inn” had their respective positions for a time. The next inlet to Dale St that we come upon is Hockenhall Alley, a street named after a Tranmere family who used to have a property in our town and were connected by marriage with the MOORES. It was the meadows of the latter that gave the name of Moorfields to the street beyond Vernon St, which we next pass, and near which a coach works existed for a long time, NEWBY and VARTY’S Manufactory. A little to the left of Hockenhall-Alley in Dale St there once lived a cobbler whom the Corporation found to be particularly stubborn when they required him to quit his shop for street improvements. He set everybody a defiance, swore like “ancient Pistol” and held to his tenement after all the surrounding property was cleared away. “Threats” says STONEHOUSE, “he laughed at, cajoling he despised, and ridicule went for nothing. The cobbler stuck to his stall, until at length public opinion and the nuisance of his dwelling which stood so obnoxiously in the way of improvements compelled the authorities to turn out this worthy son of Crispin without further ceremony.” For many years after the first advances in the way of widening Dale St had terminated, a tavern called, “The Bull and Punch Bowl” used to project forward far beyond the line of the other buildings, at last however, the privileged member had also to vanish.

Advancing near the Exchange we soon come upon Eberie St and Leathers Lane, a bifurcation of Tempest Hey. It is curious to note that Eberie St was once called William St, and that at a still earlier period it went by the name of Blackberry Lane, owing to the fact that the two corner houses at the Dale St end were occupied one by a Mr BLACK and the other by a Mr BERRY.

After a glance at Hackins-Hey another street opening into Dale St, and which is reserved for special treatment with other heys, we run forward to the Exchange, start back on the other side of the street for the old hollow of the brook. We cross over at the Angel Hotel, an older hostel, the Angel Inn, once existed near this spot, but it disappeared during the improvements carried out in the early period of the present century. Several other taverns once displayed their charms about this part of the neighbourhood, the Golden Lion being one of the oldest and most important, for this was the headquarters of the, blue or Gascoyne party during the many years of political turmoil in which the borough was represented by the General and his brother. It was cleared away 1837-38, to make way for the Royal Bank, after the collapse in 1857 it was bought by Queen Insurance Company for £95,000. The Queen’s Buildings, near this property are on the site of another old hostel, the “George” bought by the Corporation in 1857. The “George” was for a long time the recognised house for the Corporation sales of property, and Sir J. A. PICTON [designer of the Queen’s Buildings subsequently erected here] tells us, respecting these sales, that they took place in the evening, the company were seated in a large room frequently crowded to excess, and previous to the sale and at intervals during its progress, the expectant bidders were, plied with “hot punch and strong liquors, to quicken their perceptions as to the value of the lots for sale.” “The results as might be expected, were occasionally unfortunate, and the scenes enacted somewhat irregular”.

The quaint old tavern which once occupied the site were the Angel Hotel now stands was taken down in about 1840 and was rebuilt in connection with the Bretherton’s Buildings, already erected in 1832, the stately Royal Insurance Buildings near these were built in 1847. Continuing our way we pass John St, and pause at the Temple, there used to be about here an octagonal chapel and burial ground, our grandfathers nicknamed the congregation, “Octagonians.” The chapel was erected in 1763 by some seceders from the meeting houses in Key St and Benn’s-garden, the people would have a liturgy, but their experiment with one was not successful and the chapel was closed in 1776.Then the Rev W. PLUMBE, rector of Aughton, bought it and opened it for Anglican worship, years later it passed into the Corporation’s hands, was taken down and the street carried over part of its site. The new Victoria St cleared off what was left by previous alterations and the building now called The Temple was erected in 1864 by Sir W. BROWN. A barber who, about the close of the first quarter of this century, lived at the corner of Temple Lane, and who would not fall in with the desire for improvements, and would not quit his tenement until after being driven from floor to floor, he was glad to make his escape out of the way of the timber falling above his head.

Continuing forward and passing Sir Thomas’s Buildings [in reality a side street] we reach the ancient quarters of the CROSSE family. Here stood their hall, but this and their many accompaniments have disappeared the last portion having been enclosed amongst the buildings in Preston St and Crosshall St in 1860.The Saracen’s Head Inn occupied a portion of this ground in the first quarter of this century, and from its coaches started forth periodically to almost all parts of the kingdom. “Under the old archway” says a local historian, “many of us who are still alive have ducked our heads to avoid a concussion when outside passengers of the ‘Tally-ho’ the ‘Rob Roy’ or some other of the famous fast coaches of their day.

The George in Dale St was another favourite inn which stood on the site of Rigby‘s-buildings, where the beauty of the barmaids at all times proved a great attraction to the snobs of the time” As “snobs” they possibly anticipated the foolish thought that women were, “natures agreeable blunders.”

When the property between Sir Thomas’s Buildings and Crosshall St was removed the erection of an International Hotel was contemplated, and the sum of £1,000 was paid to the Corporation in 1858 as deposit money, the project fell through and the deposit money was forfeited, and the present beautiful structure the Municipal Offices were erected there instead. Three distinguished old worthies connected with the neighbourhood, are Mr John CROSSE, Mr Thomas JOHNSON and Sir Edward MOORE.

We pass on to where two commodious roadways, Crosshall St and Manchester St enter into Dale St, here in advancing towards the slope from Byrom St side we have come amongst unmistakable signs of decay, there is however continual change for the better, we see proof that pluck, patience and capital are nudging out many intervening old blocks of buildings. It is in these two passages facing us yonder, and leading backwards to venerable homesteads that the “missing link” connecting the princely end of Dale St, with the district about the whilom brook, is chiefly discoverable. It conjoins the present with the distant past when, in the year 1656, a new Cuck Stool or [ducking chair] for refractory wives was set up at the bottom of Dale St, which stool, apparently, had to be brought into frequent service, in the way of moderating scolds, for our annals tell us that in the year 1695 one E. ACCRES was paid 15s for repairing the said article. Such was then the moral attitude of men towards a certain kind of woman!.


The Cross was the master sign in the time of the Crusaders, and King John in 1207 gave Henry FITZWARINE of Lancaster, “the English sea” in exchange for Liverpool seems to have impressed that form upon our port, this would be as much in the interests of religion as of commerce, or of warfare across the Irish Sea. There was Dale St in line with Water St down to the Mersey. High St [or Juggler St] then apparently in line with Castle St, touched the line of Dale St at right angles. A less important old thoroughfare was the one forming the line of Tithebarn and Chapel Streets. High St connected this thoroughfare with Dale St, and out of two of the four Liverpool crosses of pre-reformation times, the High Cross was set up at the Dale St end of High St, and the White Cross stood at the other end. This “Juggler St” with its two crosses, has been almost entirely swept away, and the Exchange now covers its place.

In the last quarter of the 18C the area on which the Exchange now stands, there was a Town Hall, the Exchange was that Town Hall and in front of it the corn market was held. Houses and shops were built close up to it on its west and north sides, and one or two of them touched it. These were subsequently removed and on the site of part of them that additional portion of the Town Hall was erected, in which is the large ballroom. Behind the Town Hall on part of the area of the Exchange Buildings was a small open space with several houses and shops. Some butcher’s shambles of considerable proportions extended to it from the west side of High St, then a continuation of Oldhall St, and containing a number of shops. A smaller range of shambles communicating with the older ones, and extending very near the west side of the Town Hall led by a narrow passage into Water St, the passage being separated from the Town Hall by some of the shops before mentioned. From the west end of the old shambles there was also a short passage which communicated by an abrupt angle to the right, through Pemberton’s Alley into Chapel St, and to the left through Clayton’s Alley into Water St. At the spot where the north entrance of the Exchange-buildings now is, and near the third pillar on the right of the centre iron gate, entering from Chapel St, a portion of the ancient White Cross stood, and close to it was held what went by the name of White Cross Market.

It was from the Town Hall, as the Exchange was then called, that, in the Hanoverian period, the Liverpool fairs were opened with a procession, the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses going forth in their gowns in procession, and with a band of music, up to the middle of Dale St, where they passed round a large stone, whitewashed for the occasion, and thence proceeded to another stone in centre of Castle St, and back to the Exchange, where they dined, the dinners being furnished in “luxurious style” to 2 or 3 hundred of the principal inhabitants. Sir J. A. PICTON had his doubts about this number given by TROUGHTON, as no accommodation for so many existed at that time. The first Town Hall existed before the Reformation and was called St Mary’s Hall, it seems originally to have been a thatched building and was not only used as a town hall, but as a Custom’s house, a lockup for prisoners, a mansion house and a banqueting house. The last mention of it is in 1671, two years later a new one was built, “ a famous town house placed on pillars and arches of hewen stone, and underneath is the publick exchange for the merchants.” This lasted till the middle of the last century, when in 1754, the present Town Hall in its original condition was opened, “ the town for a whole week abandoned itself to festivities, public breakfasts every morning, boat races during the day and balls and concerts every evening/” About 1787 the parasitical buildings were cleared away from the west and north sides, and the north wing added as a mansion house for the Mayor. 8 years later a fire destroyed the whole interior, and two years were occupied restoring it. The present dome and cupola were added about 1802 and the projecting portico and arcade on the south front in 1811.

In April 1801 a project for the erection of a new Exchange was brought publicly forward, the subscription list of £80,000 was filled up in three hours, no individual was allowed to hold more than 10 shares, the place was opened to the public in 1808. In another 50yrs it was found that the new accommodation was insufficient . “The proprietors of the existing Exchange declining to promote a larger scheme, a new company was formed in in 1862 and an Act of Parliament obtained to buy up the old company and to pull down and re-erect the building on a larger scale. The sum paid to the old proprietors under an award was £317,350 and £60,000 was also paid for the site of the old Sessions House to extend the buildings westward. Mr T. M. WYATT obtained the first premium in the competitive designs, and subsequently carried out the building at an expense of £220,000. The style may be called a “Flemish renaissance” this is our beautiful Exchange today.


The roadway from the Town Hall to the Mersey slopes down the bankside of the river, hence its original name Banke St. At a later period it was called Water St and at the lower end of this a couple of centuries ago, there stood two notable buildings, the old Custom House and Sir John de Stanley’s Tower, the latter remained until 1819, the former disappeared much sooner for when the Old Dock was completed in 1720 the office for customs was transferred to other quarters, the old building itself remaining till 1785 when it was removed for warehouses. Besides the visible road from the Exchange to the Tower there was formerly an undergound one, it was rediscovered in excavating the foundations for the first Exchange and was found to go [after running a short distance south] down towards the river. It was considered to have once been a secret passage between the Tower and an old house near the White Cross, a few yards from where Nelson’s Column now stands. In those barbarous times of old, in anticipation of attack by sea or land the valuables of the STANLEY’S would be hurriedly carried along this passage, perhaps the Lord of the Tower had to prepare for the worst in the strange changes of those days of, “battle, murder, and sudden death.”

Prison Weint runs along the west side of the present Tower Buildings and was originally part of the terrace which flanked the Tower walls, up to the edge where the Mersey used to flow. This terrace had been completed and faced with stone as far back as 1572, the Tower then was an ancient structure of red sandstone in the Norman style, it is supposed built in 1252 as the seaside residence of the Derby family, the place of rendezvous for their ships, and the spot where their troops embarked, it figures in our ancient ballad, “Lady Bessie” [1484] where Lord Stanley, promising Elizabeth of York to send her messenger, H. BRERETON, to Henry V11, says :-

I have a good ship of my own

Shall carry Humphrey,

If any man ask -Whose is this ship?

Say it is the Earl of Derby.

Without all doubt at Liverpool

He took shipping upon the sea.

It was from the shore near the foot of Water St that travellers coming from the south and west via Chester were landed at Birkett [Birkenhead]. For a man and horse in Edward 111’s time the fare was 2d, for a footman a farthing, on market days the charge for a man and his wares 1d. The ferry boats belonged to the monks of Birkenhead, one of them had a house in Water St, wherein the unsold grain of the monks were stored, and passenger occasionally cared for in bad weather, this house known as, “Jonathan Hunter’s Hoose” was standing in the 17C just below Drury Lane. One of the last relics of Water St disappeared in 1832, the Talbot Inn, originally the Golden Talbot, long famous as a coaching house, and spanned Lower Castle St, carried over an archway, the site now occupied by the Bank of Liverpool. On the west side of this was the King’s Arms Inn, where 100yrs ago Daniel DALE the landlord, was wont annually to allow his swarthy head-waiter, “Black Matthew” on George 111’s birthday, to sit at the head of a pipe of port, in Mr Dale’s cellar in the afternoon, where he would pledge all corners to the toast “Of the King” until he fell from his seat and was carried to bed. Close by in Drury Lane was a theatre opened in 1759, on the opposite side of Water St, then very narrow, a number of leading merchants used to dwell. Their offices and warehouses adjoined their residences, and the story is told of a distinguished lady, who returning home one day, found the street in commotion opposite her own mansion, all sorts of things seemed to be flying about the air. It was her Ladyship’s monkey who had got into her bedroom and was clearing out through the window whatever light material he could lay his hands upon.

The old Liverpool families who were here included were, CORLESS, FORMBY, BLUNDELL, CASE, LEIGH and TARLETON. One member of the TARLETON’S was Mayor in 1764, and resided on the south side, at the corner of Lower Castle St, now the site of the Manchester and Liverpool Bank. It was here the future Sir Banastre TARLETON was born, to become famous for generalship in the American war, and so figure as Liverpool’s favourite soldier, and her representative in many elections. A political squib of 1806 has him saying :-

My three-fingered hand, I keep constantly showing,

But the once blind electors are all grown to knowing,

Of Roscoe, and freedom they’re constantly crowing.

O! I fear I shall never say Aye or No.

He represented our borough from 1790 to 1812 with the exception of the short ROSCOE interval in 1806, and was a man of many good points.

Prison Weint with its Tower , has a very chequered history sometimes the latter ministered to anarchy instead of peace, it was here in 1424 Thomas STANLEY, mustered 2000 fighting men to go forth in battle against Sefton’s, Sir Richard MOLYNEUX, constable of Liverpool Castle and who had got together from West Derby and its neighbourhood some 1500 men-at-arms. The magistrates aware of the storm and hearing “great rumours of congregations on routes” went with Sir Richard RADCLIFFE, Sheriff of Lancaster and found at the Tower serious disturbances were really in contemplation by these English Montagues and Capulets. Thomas STANLEY was there with his men prepared to sally forth, he was arrested in the king’s name and packed off to Kenilworth, a tedious journey, while Sir Richard was apprehended and sent away to Windsor, the arrangement was productive of peace and honour, for these formidable families intermarried shortly afterwards and during the War of the Roses, both took the same side.

It was at this Tower in 1532, the Earl of Derby maintained 250 Liverpool residents, fed 60 old people twice a day and entertained quests three times a week. In 1581 the Queen’s secretary, WALSINGHAM, addressed Lord Derby as, “the chief person in, and patron of, the poor town of Leverpole” on the question of liberation from a Chester monopoly. Our port at that time subject to this one of customs-dues, his Lordship obtained a withdrawal of the monopoly. Years later in the struggles with Charles 1 and the Commons the Tower became headquarters of the Parliamentary party, and after Prince Rupert had compelled the town to surrender, quite a few of the principal inhabitants were imprisoned there. Reprisals ensued, in 1648 when the Parliamentarians had gained the upper hand again, Colonel BIRCH occupied the Tower and retaliated on Lord Derby for the indignity he recently committed upon him, having him dragged through Manchester at a hay cart’s tail. The Colonel seized his Lordship’s two daughters at Knowsley and kept them in close confinement in the Tower for several months, during which time the two ladies were so poorly supplied with food and raiment that they would have perished from cold and hunger had it not been for the secret attention of friends in the town.

In the year of the Scottish Rebellion 1715, Liverpool was alarmed by the tidings that the Pretender’s army being on their way to our port. Great preparations were made for defence, a third of the avenues were laid under water, an entrenchment was thrown up, 70 pieces of canon mounted. The ships in the Mersey were so stationed so that the rebels could neither plunder the town, nor escape by water. They came near the neighbourhood only, but four of the insurgents were executed at Gallows Mill, in London Rd and others kept prisoner in the Tower. In 1734, James Earl of Derby, being Mayor of Liverpool gave a grand entertainment in the Tower to the Council and principal inhabitants, three years afterwards it passed from the STANLEY’S to the CLATON’S who let it to the Corporation as a jail, Finally in 1775, the Corporation bought it for £1535-10s, and continued to use it as a prison.

One side of the present Tower-Buildings is a street called Tower Garden, this to has its history, here in the last century the inhabitants of the town used to promenade, look about St Nicholas’s Churchyard adjoining and when thirsty go to the tavern in the churchyard and “refresh human nature” As the Tower including its gardens occupied 3700 sq yds, there must have been room for a spacious promenade. Nor could it have been always cheerless in the prison for in the large hall the town assemblies were held, the music was so plainly heard that the prisoners themselves would “jig it as well as the free merry-makers” At a later period however, service was held in this room as a chapel, the inmates were compelled to attend.

One can now see the meaning of the term Prison “Weint”. It is the Scottish “wynd” and we read of strange scenes within the walls along side which “wound” the Weint. For years the utmost disorder took place in that building, and sights of the grossest depravity prevailed. Prisoners of war were sometimes incarcerated here, but from the lax discipline carried out would frequently escape. In 1774, John HOWARD visited the jail, there was no classification of prisoners, debtors mingled with criminals, the place was insufferably dirty, grimy and wretched. There was a large dungeon looking on the street, no infirmary, nor accommodation for the sick. The women debtors were respected a little, they were lodged over the Pilot Office in Water St. There were two large yards, one of which the poultry disported on a great dunghill in the middle. The cells were seven in number apart from the great dungeon. Mr HOWARD made representations about these matters, but the only reforms which followed were whitewashing and cleaning, In 1803 Mr NEILD inspected the Tower prison and found 39 felons, 70 debtors mingled together there, each prisoner’s allowance being 19ozs of bread daily. There was firing allowed by the Corporation, poorer debtors were allowed straw to lie on, beds could only be had from the jailor at 1s per week. The detaining creditors had their responsibilities, they had to pay 4d a day to maintain the debtors. The dirt in some of the passages was 3 to 4inches thick. Spirits and malt liquors were freely circulated. A low typhoid fever was constantly present. The most shameless robbery and extortion prevailed, the strong mastering and tyrannising over the weak, those debtors whose cells were on the Prison Weint side, used to hang out bags or gloves by a string with labels attached, “Pity the poor debtors” and when any money was placed in the bags it was drawn up and spent in drink.

In 1789, Sylvester DOWLING and Patrick BURNS were executed here for a robbery at Mrs GRAHAM’S house at Rose Hill, where at 7am with other rogues they effected an entry and with knives in their hands they threatened the inmates should resistance be offered. Some of the people they tied to their beds, they took many valuable articles including bank notes and bills of exchange, they were captured at Bristol when just about to leave for Dublin. Many of the valuables, including bills to the value of £1,100 were recovered, the two criminals were hung on top of the Tower, to the satisfaction of the crowds in Water St.

The whole building was cleared away in 1819, and the purchasers Messers BAILEY Brothers erected warehouses on the site, but, these had also to disappear and in 1856, when the alignment of Water St was set back the handsome Tower-buildings were erected, the architect being our distinguished local historian Sir J. A. PICTON. There is a tradition that in 432 St Patrick sailed from the banks of the Mersey on his famous mission to Ireland, was it by the way of Banke St he gained the river side, supposing it was from Liverpool he started and was there any sign of the Tower where people sailed for Ireland in those days ? Liverpool is not mentioned in Roman times, nor yet in the days of the Anglo-Saxons, not even in the Norman Domesday book of William the Conqueror. Our rise was noted in the times of the Crusades and this very Banke St or Water St, was one limb of the Cross impressed upon our town by King John, who, despite his failings, holds a foremost place in the making of Liverpool.


We leave Prison Weint for the old church, how did Liverpool look from the river a century ago, according to our local historians the town lay closely along the shore, the port was able to show three floating docks, a dry dock at low water, a good size basin and three graving-docks. On the skyline were clearly visible the church-spires of St Nicholas, St George’s and St Thomas’s, the towers of St Peter’s, St Ann’s and St James, the cupola of St Paul’s the ancient embattled Tower Jail, the Tower Hall, the parish workhouse on Brownlow Hill, the old Custom House on the east side of the Old Dock, and the still older Custom House at the south west corner of the shore end of Water St, and then used as the tide surveyors office. A large number of windmills were to be seen in different parts of the town, three of them on the Stafford St side of London Rd. There were also the conical chimneys of glass and earthenware works and finally a stretch of clear ground on the south side of the tide surveyors office. Another open space was the George’s Parade, a narrow walk 320yds long and bounded on the east side by wooden palisades. A rhymester of the time William COLQUITT says of the latter ;-

Behold the esplanade near St George’s Dock.

Where you may see ships sailing round the Rock,

And Cheshire’s distant sylvan shades and fields,

That for this plenteous market so much yields.

It was at the north end of this parade a small slip and pier lay, on the latter during the French revolutionary war, a battery of guns were placed. In the American war some 20ys previously a battery was on the pier, on the north side of the entrance leading into George’s Basin, many of the canon being brought from St Nicholas churchyard where they had been set up in 1759, at the time a French commander named THUROT was hovering about to be attacked off the Isle of Man, the year following when Captain ELLIOTT took the three ships and the Frenchman himself, who, after fighting with desperate valour, fell, covered with wounds on his own deck.

St Nicholas was regarded as the patron saint of mariners, and his church even 100yrs ago was regarded as a venerable structure. It was the oldest church in Liverpool and seems to have been in course of erection in 1356 when Richard De Aynesargh, Mayor of Liverpool, received royal license to assign a piece of land for funds to secure the performance of divine service daily here. It was considered to be a chapel and until in Liverpool in 1699, was elevated to the rank of an independent parish, was under the parish church of Walton-on-the-Hill. Its churchyard first became noted in history in 1361, owing to the pestilence then raging. The Plague [Black Death] which sweeping through Europe, had devastated London in 1348 and reached our port some 13yrs later, so great was the deaths in Liverpool that the bodies could not be carried to Walton, so permission was obtained from the Bishop of Lichfield to form a cemetery around, “the chapel of Our Lady and St Nicholas.” Henry 1st Duke of Lancaster who died the same year, endowed the chantry of the “High Altar.” But at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, King Henry V111’s commissioners reported that there were 4 chantries existing here namely , those of the High Alter of St Nicholas, of St John and St Katherine. Each of these had priests attached to celebrate mass for the souls of the founders. The chantries were confiscated to the crown. Connected with the chantry of St Katherine, founded by John CROSSE, was the further provision, “to keep a school of grammar, free for all children bearing the name CROSSE, and poor children ” which remarked these commissioners, “is not observed accordingly.” A school house once stood in the churchyard. BLOME saw it in 1673 and called it, “a great piece of antiquity.” It was taken down in about 1720, the children having been removed to a building in School Lane in 1708, as the first site of the Bluecoat Hospital.

The confiscated chantry rents were finally sold and as many old Liverpool names as, SECOME, JOHNSON, MOORE, CROSSE, TARLETON, LURTING, BIXTETH, appear in the list of purchasers, which is certified by John HOCKENHALL, Mayor in 1610. The church tower was furnished with bells in 1628, and in 1684 an organ was provided. Six years later the churchyard was first enclosed with a wall on the cast and south sides, Not till 1746 was the contract for completing the spire made it included a sum for, “chipping the old tower.” Hence came the saying :-

Old church, new steeple.

Poor Liverpool. Proud people.

In 1774 the body of the church was taken down and rebuilt and in 1815 the present tower and lantern were completed, a fine peel of 12 bells having been cast shortly before. Each of these has its own motto and the optimism of the twelfth is remarkable :-

May all that go to the silent tomb

Be crowned with glory in the world to come.

In the churchyard near the Tower Jail, there stood in the last century a white tavern, “Hinde’s” this also was of some antiquity. It is said to have been much frequented by “respectable persons” one reason, no doubt, was that there was a fine marine prospect. Certainly it was favourable for men given to meditations amongst the tombs. Here for instance suggestive lines from one grave stone;-

The world is a bubble and all full of streets.

The grave is the marketplace where all men meets,

If life were merchandise to sell and buy,

The rich would live and the poor would die.

Near the sundial [still there but imperfect] a later stone had a somewhat different version, it began by saying that, “This town’s a corporation of crooked streets.” Chapel St had not length enough for crookedness in the old time as people turned out of it into the churchyard of St Nicholas, but on the 7th April 1648 was “memorandum” that “the third Portmoote Court, which should have been held after Christmas, was deferred and put off by reason of the sickness and infection happening in certain houses in Chapel St, which through the blessing of God and much cost bestowed in the building of cabins and removing the said families forth of the town into the cabins it ceased in 2mths time, with the death of 8 or 9 persons of mean qualities.

Liverpool had not always been so fortunate for besides the Black Death scourge the town was nearly depopulated by a plague in 1540, in 1553 there was a recurrence of the pestilence. In the former of these two visitations St Nicholas churchyard received a share of the victims, but in the second occurrence the bodies were interred in the region of Sawney Pope St. There was a curious order of the Liverpool Council at this time, all persons visited with the pestilence were to depart out of their houses and make their cabins on the heath, and there to tarry from the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady until the feast of St Michael the Archangel. Others were ordered to keep themselves “on the back side of their houses and to keep their doors and windows shut on the street side until such time as they have license from the Mayor to open them.” It was further enjoined that they should keep no fire in their houses except from noon till three in the afternoon, nor should any outsiders, “be of family conversation or dwell with them, upon pain of imprisonment.” Their houses were also to “be cleaned or dight which such as shall be appointed by Mr Mayor for the safeguard of the town.” This was severe, but it saved Liverpool, which seemed to have suffered little by subsequent approaches of pestilence until the year 1651, when about 1 in 10 of the inhabitants were cut off. These were buried in Addison St and great caution again taken by the council, thus our town escaped the deadly plague of 1665 which caused such havoc in London and came so near as Cheshire, St Martin’s fair was “absolutely foreborne and forbidden” by the Council at this time.

Epitaph on Rebecca BROWN’S gravestone in this churchyard a tranquillising inscription:-

Farewell, vain world, I’ve known enough of thee,

And careless am of what thou says of me,

Thy smile I court not, nor thy frown I fear,

My cares are passed, my head lies quiet here.

A member of the Holly and Ivy Club, “In remembrance of Henry NEWSHAM, wine merchant who departed this life, 14th May 1800, aged 65 years, To Holly and Ivy and Friendship, adieu.”

Another more matter of fact, commemorating the unfortunate fate of a Captain of a Welsh coaster :-

In the morning I rose alright,

And pursued my business until night.

Returning to my vessel’s stock.

Death plunged me into the Salthouse Dock.

No doubt other strange rhymes might be traced, but few can be deciphered in full, the custom of laying gravestones flat on the ground has given damp and wear free course in obliterating the records, besides this much of the churchyard has disappeared altogether. The human remains have been transferred to Fazakerley, and the approach to the Landing stage astir with life and commerce, occupy the once solemn place where children bestrode the cannon while their elders mused over, “last things.”


A volume could be filled with the history of St Nicholas Church, since the time when William FITZADAM [or ADAMSON] a prosperous Liverpool burgher in the14C and Mayor in 1378, made his last will and testament, wherein he bequeathed his body to be buried in this chapel, “before the face of the white image of the Virgin, which,” continues he “ is my perpetual place of burial I leave to be distributed in bread on the day of my burial three-quarters of wheat. I leave six pounds of wax to be used about my body. I leave to every priest in the chapel of Liverpool four pence.”

What a change from this to the Commonwealth times, when the church of St Nicholas was Presbyterian, the music tame, and the sermons of wearisome length. There is no place of worship in our city so cosy and warm, looking inside as this church, could it have been so in the days of Solemn League and Covenant, when the Rev John FOGG, “a godly, painful minister, supplied the cure” Under a long sermon at the present time one’s resignation rarely fails of its reward. The yielding cushions, the lull of a distant rumble, the soothing hues of the coloured windows, mellow and glowing, all concur in withdrawing the mind from cares, and alluring it to repose so that even the victim to insomnia might go further and fare worse. John FOGG held his “cure” and pulpit until 1662, then an Anglican ministered. Little is known of FOGG other than that he was one of the evangelists who signed the “harmonious consent” of Lancashire ministers in 1648, he was elected by the Mayor and Common Council and died at Great Budworth in 1670 with the reputation of being a “man of learning and good parts.”

Very different was another man connected with this church, “DENNISON of the Gothic Gateway” He was a churchwarden in 1818 and believed that it was the duty of his parishioners to pay and of officers in his vocation to spend. He erected schools and buildings at his own pleasure with the parish money, had weekly dinners at the Workhouse on Tuesdays, to these his friends were freely invited and entertained at the parish expense. Here are some items of his equivocal generosity, 16doz of port 65s, £70 worth of Vidonia, 15 gals of rum, besides brandies, jellies and lemons, all this in one year. 200 gals of wine were given to the clergy for private use, £1416 was paid for wine, spirits and malt liquor within the year, £32-15s-6d for mourning and scarfs for the parish officers attending the parish doctor’s funeral, £11-0s-6d, for 6 gold laced hats for the constables. A prosecution was the outcome, the case brought before the Quarter-Sessions, DENNISON found himself £2000 out of pocket for his short and enjoyable term of churchwardenship.

An event that carried sorrow into many a home occurred at 10.30 am on February 11th, 1810, when the bells were ringing for service and the people were entering church, the spire of the steeple toppled over and fell on the body of the building. It crushed all before it and wrecked the interior of the building. Some 14 children of the Moorfield’s school were killed and 3 adults, many others were injured. The minister and curate had drawn back to let the little ones go forward, so escaped harm. The ringers had been warned that the belfry and steeple were unsafe, but, “in their perversity they would set the bells going.” lying on the floor these men escaped. The dead children were laid in a row in the churchyard to be identified by their parents, no doubt the blame was really due in great measure to the folly of erecting a spire on a tower not originally intended for one, and which, besides had been probably much shaken when cannon were fired from it at the Siege of Liverpool in Charles 1’s time.

Passing from the church we return to Chapel St, observing on the way that the parasitical buildings which adjoined this now really handsome church were removed in about 1775, and about 1820 the street was widened and all alignment straightened, not a vestige of the old buildings remained. The “Church Stile House” was an old timbered house which used to stand at the north east corner, and in 1682 was the residence of Captain Edward TARLETON the Mayor, other gentlemen of local fame also resided near, in the same street, William POLE, Mayor in 1778, Charles GOORE, Mayor in 1754. We also read of Lawrence SPENCER, Mayor in 1759, William HESKETH, Mayor in 1783, and Dr Thomas HOULSTON, the physician who discovered the mineral spring in St James Quarry. A celebrity who lived on the south side of the churchyard may be mentioned here, because his portrait in stone is on one of the key-stones of Tower-Buildings, just over the spot where his house stood, and along the sides of this building there is nearly a score of other portraits in stone of people of the past, presumably connected with this locality and Chapel St. The person referred to was James BUNNELL, an accountant, noted for his dainty dinners and select acquaintances.

Chapel St in the last century is said to be a medley of medieval remains and modern mansions, with warehouses interspersed. The cattle market was held here and on the site of Rumford Place was the old pig market. Many courts and alleys honeycombed the south side of the street in the direction of High St and Water St, amongst them where Johnson’s-alley, Fewter’s Wynt and Pembertons-alley. Much of this property was cleared away in 1803, Exchange Buildings took its place. Another portion was cleared off for the Sessions House, built in front of Fenwick St and Chapel St. After the assizes were removed to Liverpool, in 1835 the courts were held here. The building was subsequently sold to the New Exchange Company and taken down in 1855, its site being occupied by the west wing of the new structure. Richmond Buildings on the north side and Hargreaves Buildings on the south side were erected in 1861, for Sir William BROWN, from the designs of Sir J. A. PICTON. It was opposite Oldhall St that the White Cross used to stand. It was one of stone, and round the pedestal were five stone steps, they were useful as resting places, as well as having other purposes. The potato market used to be at its throngest there, and the demand for Formby potatoes was considerable. At the close of the 17C the fish market was held at the churchyard side of Chapel St, and thither came the Formby Fishermen’s wives with their fish, some on horses, some on ponies, others on asses, and here to stood stables where the, “Formby Trotters” as these ladies were called could stable their beasts. They are said to have come into town in strings of 16 at a time, but, in the year 1756 the fish stalls were destroyed in disturbances among these Lancashire lasses and their friends, and a few years later the fish market was removed to the top of Redcross St and still later to the Gorse, near the end of Moor St. About where these Formby dames used to congregate near the churchyard is where the drinking fountain in memory of the late William SIMPSON stands. Not far from this spot the Mardyke Fort stood in the olden times. It was an outwork of the soldiery in the Commonwealth period. Higher up the street at the beginning of this century was the Salmon public house, its sign a man standing in a cart, laden with fish, one of which, a salmon, he held up in his right hand. Six lines of rhyme accompanied this picture. The public house was kept by a man named DUGDALE, but, he died soon after setting up this sign. Some what later his widow married a Torbay fisherman named SHAFTER and he changed the sign to that of , “The Fishing Smack” and added the following lines to the previous stanza :-

The cart and salmon has strayed away,

And left the fishing boat to stay,

When boisterous winds do drive you back,

Come in and drink at the, Fishing Smack.

Vessels used to unload and take in cargo at the New Quay at the foot of Chapel St. From this point and extending northward, a sea wall was built in the early part of the last century. The shrewd Sir Edward MOORE, says of this locality in his “Rental” in 1667, “Remember to build a wall along the bankside till you come to the town-field, otherwise in time, I’m afraid the sea will wear away the whole bank.

Remember that if the town prospers you may either build houses or warehouses along this wall.” What would he think now should he revisit the place and see the line of warehouses and other huge structures all along and the new Overhead Railway stretching across the whole locality? What we see now when we stand against the Simpson Memorial Fountain and look around all the splendid possession safely rescued from the Mersey are docks, streets, approaches, and landing-stage, a huge dock estate!


In turning out of Richmond Row into Fox St you do not proceed far before you reach a Salvation Army depot on your right hand side. If you visit in the evening and nothing special is going on inside, you will see loitering and chatting about the door a number of women, young and old, plainly and poorly dressed, with not a bonnet among them, and their loose frizzled hair seems bent on unrestricted freedom. Their talk is not pious, , they are fond of the “hallelujah band” and do a little on the tambourine, and would like to see, “the General”. Your ear catches exclamations, which, though not improper are strongly expressive. As the depot is closed what are they waiting for ? You soon observe that out of the number, three of four are off the footpath and stand half shadowed in the mouth of a low browed, dark archway, forming a passage into a yard. The passage is one of two ways into Richmond Fair and you go along past a malodorous streak of water and through the gloom into the open there. Before getting clear of the archway you see in the dim light, some steps leading up to a gallery, you mount these and look round to find you are in irregular, exposed area of about 1200sq yds, a continuous building fills up every side, a covered gallery goes along from one entrance to the other, there is another on the opposite side. These galleries are overhung by a protecting shelter from the roof. Visiting in the evening the first sight of the place, lit up as it is by a lamp at the centre has a singular effect on you. No such sight was expected. It recalls the hostelry yard in which Don Quixote spent a dutiful night beneath the stars when he had resolved to secure the much desired knighthood. The gloomy colonnades hide so much that you find no difficulty in conjecturing the course of the “hidalgo’s” footsteps. The red brick columns supporting the galleries throw broad shadows along where the well might be supposed to be, and against which stood the little pile of arms when the rash muleteer came and, to his coat, disturbed them.

Should you prefer to visit the place by day avoid the beginning of the week, for then you would not only see scores of tenements, some one room, some two, and a few three, but you would discover much washing finds its way to clothes lines about the yard. Most of the washerwomen of yore have departed, and have made way for the poor and the lonely, here hangs some of their linen in the sun. Here and there, too, a charwoman may be found, industrious but humble, all her leaning, perhaps, barely adequate to the requirement of making out a bill for, “skewering the stars” for “scouring the stairs” Do you want a knocker-up here is the man, his signboard at the back telling what he does, “knocking up at any hour.” Wonderfully quiet in this place during the day. Once in a way you may find a door open, perhaps even hear a child cry, but the dominant impression is one of quietude. The fact is that many of these tenements serve mainly for sleep and an early breakfast, thus, if you take the Bute St way up the back, you still find that the solitude has its charms. It is on Saturday night at the bright public house door in the Richmond Row passage hither, that you have the occasional disturbance, some two or three coarse female blusterers, probably not belonging to the place, raising their drunken yells.

Richmond Fair, first figures in the records of our town as “Richmond Wollen Hall” erected by Thomas and William DOBB in 1787 as a mart for the sale of Yorkshire woollen articles and certain Manchester and Birmingham goods. The rooms opening upon the galleries up yonder had their prototypes in the Chester Rows. They were let out in those early days to dealers, in some instances permanently, in others at the quarterly fairs. For some considerable years the place enjoyed a fair share of prosperity, but, our corporation looked upon the scheme with a jealous eye, and BROOKE gives us a minute of the Common Council, dated, April 2nd, 1788, when it was resolved that the records should be searched and a case stated for council opinion as to the proper mode to be pursued in order to suppress this attempt to hold a market or fair for the purpose of vending different manufacture. Nothing became of this and the fair was allowed to pursue its course.

For many years a number of thriving shops in the cloth and carpet trade were, located on this spot, business at last however began to fall off. As the population thickened in the neighbourhood the individuality of the place gradually became obliterated, until it looked like “a dilapidated caravanserai” Tradesmen departed leaving no successors, and a length, at a stage in the metamorphosis became a sort of “Paddy’s Market” To this period or just after belongs a certain, “Mickie” who practised drawing on the gallery floor with a view to making for himself, “a profession” by crayon sketching on the town flagstones. He used to lie outlining, then colouring, ships and sunsets , hills and skies. Once he drew a picture of a rainbow and neglected to rub it out, a consequence of which was that a certain washerwoman who had taken up residence in the place mistook the rainbow for a step, lifted her right foot too high and stumbled, to the damage of one of her eyes, “the loss of three days work and her beer in the bargain”.

Even “Paddy’s Market” had at last to go, for more auspicious quarters, and the big outdoor clothes boxes, became hencoops and the like. Ultimately the scene changed altogether. The Fair was turned into cottages, suited to the meanest capacity, for those whose wants were few in the way of household accommodation and did not object to the tramp of neighbours along the galleries could dream a portion of their happy life away. At present the inmates domestic responsibilities do not seem excessive, in the evening if you make friends with these people, you will be delighted in listening to their revelations of the past. As you listen a little maiden about 6 or 7 has to be made way for, carrying a jug, she hurries along with remarkable surefootedness to the dazzling lettered door in the lower passage, the entrance to a public house in the street and the landlord has proved accommodating in the saving of a few yards “to meet a want”. The child, so quickly into sight and out of sight, gets a passing word of caution from a grandma, you make a few remarks, and close by observe that some of the girls about might be better employed. At once you are asked why they should have to stay in at night making pickles and preserves, when they can at once get a penny worth at the shop outside. “Aye, and the pots and pans for the making, who’d be after lending us such things ?” urges another. A little “chaffy” talk is made with the rest and potato-chips and fried fish are shown to count for much in the way of “comfort without a pantry.” Nor does the flounces on the brunette’s dress, worn last Sunday, escape comment on the part of Madame Desdemona, who is quickly followed by the laughing dowager forming one of the group and who is “awaiting a domestic appointment” in a “genteel family.” Another dame hints of a time when she had carpets in her house and alludes to the silent man [a neighbour of hers who like her had seen better days] And now as the brunette skips away to buy a “penny dreadful”, and Madam Desdemona straightens her hair, before going to cook the chop her husband [an old pensioner] always has with a special “mug of beer” on pay day, the writer prepares to depart and say a last word about the romantic-looking place, the word “romantic “ intended as a compliment. The much travelled lady objects to the epithet and tells of her discoveries in Africa during the Kaffir war, when her husband, “”the sodger” did some good fighting, then raising her right arm and pointing forward the dame prophesies that this fair will one day become “a kraal” She persists in calling it “an ould concern” and [repeating the word romantic] finishes her oration by saying, “Bedad ye’ll be puttin’ a nightcap on the lamppost next and callin’ the thing illigant!”


Castle St figures prominently in the history of Liverpool, the three sieges in the town during the Cromwellian period, and the sailor’s riot when George 111 was king are especially connected with it.

Arrangements for the defence of our port during the first siege, along the line of Whitechapel and Paradise St [the latter at that time the course of the pool stream] there were batteries erected at intervals in order to command the passage. The ground was low and marshy and covered by the tide at the flood. From the end of Dale St westward to Oldhall St and the river there was a rampart with a ditch. At the crossing of Tithebarn St with Oldhall St there were strong gates. Cannon were mounted at the castle and a battery was erected on the margin of the river. A ship belonging to the Parliamentary party, and commanded by the Earl of Warwick, one day unexpectedly entered the Mersey. The news of this roused the town to a frenzy. The vessel had entered the river without any definite object, but the King was at war with his Commons and these were in the field, indeed, were only to frequently victorious. Liverpool Castle was at the time in the hands of the Royalists, Lord MOLYNEUX had left a garrison there while he went to strengthen the hands of King Charles elsewhere. To Colonel ASSHETON the leader of the Parliamentarian army, busy laying siege to the town, determined to have the castle, the arrival of the warship was a matter for rejoicing. He made a strenuous effort under the new inspiration, gained possession of St Nicholas’s Church, planted ordnance on its tower, and established a line of his forces all along Dale St with a view to dislodge the enemy in Castle St, the 4th limb of St John’s Cross, and resting on the Castle itself. This old fortress had to be taken and as Colonel ASSHETON made his way with his men through Castle St there must have been serious havoc between the Town Hall and the lane to the Pool. At last the Royalists had to retire into the stronghold and offer a parley. In their fright they proposed to surrender on condition that they should be allowed to withdraw with their arms and ammunition to join the Royalist forces in another part of the country. Colonel ASSHETON would not consent to this and stormed the Castle, killing many of the enemy and causing much confusion. Numbers of the Royalist party made their escape from the town, and the garrison finally surrendered, 300 prisoners were captured, 50 killed and ten guns seized. This brought to a close the 1st siege of Liverpool for the town was next garrisoned by the Parliamentary party under Colonel John MOORE’S control, and the Roundheads became conspicuous both in Castle St and the fortress which once stood where St George’s Church now stands, of which William COLQUITT in the last century rhymed :-

Here was an ancient castle fortified,

With guns in embrasures placed on each side,

Where now St George’s Church stands, here the mayor,

And magistrates their praises oft declare.

The other great historical event in Castle St was the Sailor’s riot in 1775, it was the autumn and serious differences existed between the men and their employers owing to a decline in the slave trade and a consequent fall in the sailor’s wages. The outbreak occurred at a time when the town had a poor constabulary force, and when there was not a soldier in the place. It was an exceptional circumstance, so also was the fact that these seamen used not only their cutlasses and other weapons, but also cannon and other firearms.

A London newspaper correspondent writes for the 4th, 5th and 6th September :- “The whole town is in the greatest confusion, there are a great number of Guiney ships that go from this port, but since the present disturbances in America, as soon as they return they are laid up, there being now no sale for slaves. This, together with the arrival of several Greenlandmen, have thrown nearly 3000 sailors out of employ in this port. The merchants on this account have lowered their wages, which occasioned the sailors to rise in great bodies, and they immediately went to all the ships that were ready to sail and unrigged them, this has been practised for four nights successively. Yesterday they all met as a body in Change time, to offer terms to the merchants, but, on being refused they threatened to pull down the Change that night. The magistrates and merchants planted 120 persons armed in the Change, at 9pm the sailors surrounded it, and were fired on from within. There were 2 sailors killed and several wounded, this morning there were 16 holes in one of Miss WILLIAMSON’S shutters, and many of the balls were found in the shop” which was in Castle St “many other shops round the Change shared the same fate. The sailors grew desperate, this morning they have broken open warehouses for powder and musquets . At 1pm they surrounded the Change, all armed, some with musquets, some with cutlasses, together with three cannon, they then hoisted the bloody flag, and began to fire on the Change. How it will end I cannot tell, all the houses are shut up”

In the papers of the following day, “the sailors on Thursday destroyed the houses of Messers JAMES, YATES, SIMMONS and RATCLIFFE, all Guinea merchants.”

A day later, “One of the cannon was fixed in Castle St between the houses of Mr WARREN and Mr CORDEUX, and being pretty large and the street narrow, the houses were so shook by it that there is a scare for the panes of glass in the neighbourhood. From the Change they went to a house of a merchant in Whitechapel, a party forced in and threw all the furniture out of the windows, which those in the street broke to pieces. From thence they proceeded to another merchants, hard by, where they repeated the same, and finding plenty of liquors in the cellar drank till they quite disabled themselves, on which they returned to the Ladies Walk, their place of rendezvous. Yesterday a party of soldiers arrived here and last night, and this morning they have taken up all they could”

Amusingly after a term of imprisonment, the culprits were “pressed” to make up a complete number of fighting heroes on the King’s man-of-war, thus they have made amends by fighting prowess later on under, HOWE, JERVIS, HOOD, COLLINGWOOD, MAITLAND, and perhaps even Lord NELSON himself.

An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1786, to make improvement, making the thoroughfare altogether new. We have nothing now to remind us of the markets that used to be held, or the gathering of merchants in the street in preference to the Exchange or the corn market, neither can we identify the exact locality in the street where lived Widow BRIDGE, a “Lancashire Witch” and her sister Margaret LOY, who, being arraigned confessed she was one, and had been for some 30yrs. Sir Edward MOORE assures us in his Rental, that Margaret LOY affirmed, in connection with the said arraignment that she and the widow were sisters, and that their mother on her death-bed, having nothing left to leave these two adepts in the black art, bequeathed them, “her two spirits” and named them the elder spirit to this widow and the other “to Margaret” [ 1667] “God bless me and mine from all such legacies, Amen”

One would gladly learn the site of another place in the street, “The Millstone Tavern” where according to DERRICK [1760] “For 10d a man may dine at an ordinary, consisting of ten or a dozen dishes.”

The Bank of England occupies the site of the Liverpool Arms Inn, Roscoe’s Bank stood at the north eastern corner of the street, and Heywood’s Bank was in this street before removing to Brunswick St. Miss WILLIAMSON’S family as residents of Liverpool date back to Queen Elizabeth’s reign, their country house in the olden time was about Williamson St and Square, subsequently named after this family. It was Richard WILLIAMSON that, Sir Edward MOORE in his Rental, calls, “ a notorious knave to me and mine.”

In Castle St our first newspaper seems to have been printed, “the Williamson’s Advertiser”, appearing on the 25th May 1756, the Gore’s Advertiser which followed in rivalry appears on the 27th December 1765. John GORE who started it was the originator of Messers MAWDSLEY’S present printing and stationary establishment. Robert WILLIAMSON’S printing house was on the same side near Brunswick St. Towards the south end on the same side, there stood, at the close of the last century, the upholstery business of Matthew GREGSON, the antiquary. Part of the site of the North and South Wales Bank was at the beginning of the present century, occupied by Mr Thomas KAYE, the publisher of the Liverpool Courier. An assistant of his at first was Rev Richard WATSON, the eminent Wesleyan minister. The first “Liverpool Directory” was issued from this street by John GORE in 1766. At the corner of Brunswick St, Mr Thomas BEAN, had for a time the office of the Albion newspaper, and it was also in this street that Mr H. HODGSON, a bookseller, started in 1788, a Liverpool and Lancaster, Weekly Herald., four years later he changed its title to Liver, a year later he gave it up altogether.


“Waste land without inhabitants” is the way Toxteth Park is spoken of towards the close of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. At a later period it was called “The Holy Land” presumably by some pious soul first, or perhaps some humorist who found that after the district had been disparked un 1604, it had become a place of sojourn for certain farmers, mostly Puritans, who have left traces of their biblical predilsotions in names retained in our own time, “the River Jordan” having run by a farm called, “Jericho” while a rock between two branches of the Dingle still bears the name “David’s Throne” and an adjoining cave rejoices in the culinary title of, “Adam’s Buttery”

At what is now the Dingle end of Park Rd the Ancient Chapel was built by, or for, these Puritan settlers, the first chapel of our neighbourhood that can be historically connected with Dissent. These people had not formerly separated from the Anglican Church yet the chapel which occupied the site where the present one stands, seems to have had special immunities. It was built about 1618, and seems never to have been consecrated, and yet its early ministers were ordained by the Bishop of Chester and received the tithes of the district. The first minister was so puritanical that he never wore a surplice there, more singular is the fact that the land was granted by Sir Richard MOLYNEUX of Sefton who was Roman Catholic. In 1611 the people of the park were determined to have a school and sent to the master of the Winwick Grammar School asking him to recommend a teacher. A Mr MATHER was advised to let his son Richard go, his father consented, thus Richard then only 15 year old was the teacher selected. The scholarly, pious, amiable boy came, entered on his duties, and after a time when he became very serious, went to Oxford University to fit himself for the office of pastor. In 1618 the chapel was built Mr MATHER received a “call” from the Toxteth people, and was soon there as minister and schoolmaster. Dr MORTON, Bishop of Chester ordained him. A tablet in the chapel states that Jeremiah HORROX when a boy was one of MATHER’S scholars, it is probable that the mortal remains of this great mathematician and astronomer lie within the present chapel precincts.

In 1629 the Mayor and Corporation of Liverpool petitioned the Bishop of Chester for the institution of monthly, week day services in our city, the petition was complied with and at the Mayor’s request, Mr MATHER preached the April and August sermons. A few years later he was suspended for four months and a year late still again was suspended. It was the time of the Star Chamber cruelties, when the Court of High Commission, aided and abetted by King Charles 1, in his attempted absolution. Disgusted with Anglican intermeddling, MATHER Left in April 1635, taking with him his wife and some young children, their destination America. In the Cromwellian Parliamentary Survey of Livings, [1650] a Mr HIGGINS is named as minister, his salary in tithes £45, augmented by a sum of £10 from the rector of Walton.

There was no Unitarianism at the little chapel in those days, English Unitarianism in the Commonwealth times was restricted to John RIDDLE and a small band of friends, who used to meet secretly for communion together in a corner of old St Paul’s Cathedral. During this period the Toxteth Chapel was Presbyterian. On the ejection of the 2000 on Black Bartholomew’s Day the minister of the Ancient Chapel continued to preach as before, and was in that year [1662] joined by one of the ousted Nonconforming preachers. The place became an acknowledged Presbyterian meeting house, but owing to exceptional circumstances a Congregational form was observed. Among early workers were, Thomas CROMPTON, and Michael BRISCOE [an Independent minister]. Christopher RICHARDSON next comes into notice. His was the saying when complained of for luring away another’s sheep, “Feed them better and they will not stray.” He was a devout worker and besides sharing the duty at the Ancient Chapel, he ministered to the first congregation of Dissenters in Liverpool, a religious body who about this time had built a place of worship in Castle Hey [now Harrington St]. On his death in 1698, aged 89, the ministry of the two chapels became separated, and in 1727, the Castle Hey people moved to a more suitable meeting house in Benn’s Gardens. John KENNION was minister of the Ancient Chapel, Toxteth from 1699 to 1728. Some years later William HARDING held the pastorate from 1737 to 1776. Two years before his death the chapel was rebuilt. The old tombs in the interior show that the original site was retained, but the relics of the older building are few, a stone dated 1650, over one of the lower windows and some old woodwork, as in Mather pew, “D 160 M” Mr HARDING, [previously a Cheshire farmer, and keeping his diary after entering upon the pastorate], was not strictly orthodox and on his death, after 37 yrs of ministration, the congregation chose Hugh ANDERSON who was so “broad” that to reconcile his malcontents, he said, “If his people would only agree about their doctrine and let him know what it was he would gladly preach it !”

The minority, seceded and in 1777 erected the Newington Chapel, Renshaw St, and later still built and occupied Great George St Chapel, they held that their unchanged faith gave them a claim on the Ancient Chapel, and there are traditions of a feud with the Park Unitarians, of some temporary school being barricaded by the one party and besieged by the other, of Dr RAFFLES, minister of the Great George St congregation, driving up with his deacons early in the morning, on one occasion, in hopes of being able to take possession of the place for the strict party, only to find the Rev John YATES, Unitarian minister, already in the pulpit, fully arrayed in gown and bands. He had been brought owing to the sexton’s wariness and the pair had been sitting up all night with locked doors. In the morning there was to be seen for a short time one of Mr RAFFLE’S party, he seemed suspended from a window and about to dart down, but gravitation assisted the Unitarian minister, who, “sat like Patience on a monument” smiling at the antagonist whose retreat became inevitable.

Presbyterianism had long before this time become Arianism, it was now Unitarianism and had to remain so, thus as one walks along the burial ground many familiar names surprise us, HALL, THOM, AVISON, MARTINEAU, RAWDON, YATES, BOULT, HOLT, RATHBONE and Charles BEARD. Inside the tablets are very striking, especially that erected by Dr DOBSON in memory of his daughter, and that on the minister’s right hand the MATHER memorial. Those on the floor are concealed and virtually preserved by carpeting, but on a stone covering a vault in the main aisle there is a small brass which is very precious. It reads thus :-

“Edward ASPINWALL of Tocksteth Park, Esquire, departed this life in March the 29th, A.D, 1686” followed by the verse, 1 Cor, xv. 44, 53, 54. It is considered probable that this is the Ed ASPINWALL with whom Richard MATHER lodged.

A glance at the tablets of YATES, BROWN, COLLIER, KENNION and PRINGLE, and we pass out to notice two at the entrance, WHITEFIELD’S and KENNION’S. We next go up stairs and notice the organ has a room to itself, a boy walks along, mounts a seat, pushes open a small trap door in the ceiling and draws out a rope, which he adjusts and commences tugging at. It rings a very small bell, and the boy keeps tugging away till the organist begins the voluntary. The bell is now no longer heard, but the boy continues to ring, even if he cannot hear the bell. There is a tradition that Oliver CROMWELL presented the congregation with that bell, and the boy’s spirited tugs would lead one to fancy he was anxious to maintain his connection with the Commonwealth. The bell has a date on it of 1751. Looking round the little chapel there are large roomy pews, suggestive of the time when hoops were worn, there is a clock on the gallery, facing the pastor, there is no schoolroom now so the young people meet in the chapel for their class work, they are encouraged to take active membership of “The Guild of Brave Endeavour” in which the following “aspiration” is set before the young folk,:-

“We who are members of the Guild of Brave Endeavour, acknowledge it as our duty, and will strive as far as we are able, to be truthful, unselfish, cheerful, hopeful and helpful, to use our influence always for the right, and never to fear to show our colours. To this end we will use our voice and our influence against intemperance, the use of vulgar and profane language, affectation in dress and manner, disrespect of the old, ill-treatment of the young and unfortunate and cruelty to animals. We desire to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and help one another in this way to be brave and true.”

We leave the pastor and historian of the Ancient Chapel, Rev V. D. DAVIS, there we pause to look at the tombstone of Richard Vaughan YATES, the Liverpool worthy who gave Prince’s Park, “for the enjoyment of the people.” We past through the gate of perhaps the most remarkable place in our city.


Rev Canon POSTANCE so far back as 1855 saw the need for human pitifulness, to try organisation against wretchedness and vice, a year later, when ordained for the ministry, he felt he was brought nearer the field wherein a life battle against those evils might be entered upon with success. He began to try conclusions with poverty and the anti-social tendencies of our slum life, and was soon busy with that fearful of city problems, the rescuing and socialising of the gutter children and helpless waifs of our port. Liverpool has believed in him and whoever cares to visit one or another of the institutions flourishing under his care, whoever gets among the 1120 children, and notices how happy these youngsters have settled in the affirmative question, “Is life worth living?” Here is a reformer who has successfully adapted, means to ends, and has demonstrated through long years that the age of heroism and chivalry is not a thing of the past, for there is evidence around of moral conquests over sin and stupidity, which really astounds by its very magnitude, when duly considered in connection with the many years during which chaos here has been transformed into order.

Holy Trinity Church, Parliament St, is a tolerably fair reflex of the mind of Canon PONSTANCE, it was erected in 1858, and although externally unpretentious, has one of the handsomest interiors among our Liverpool churches. Valuable stained glass windows, gifts mostly, meet your eyes at every turn. The columns are short but massive, the reredos is one of exceptional beauty, and the Stolterfoht window is an exquisite work of art. You have the “dim cathedral light” and a spirit of tranquillity and confidence pervades the place.

You pass the robing-room of the choristers and you note beneath the long rows of vestments, continuous lines of chests serving as seats, perforated here and there and you wonder what they are intended for. A key is applied and a section of the extended seat is raised, you see at once the priest in connection with this church has not only the “cure of souls” but the clothing of bodies. Here are bonnets, shawls, gowns, frocks and, indeed the main necessities for “rigging out” the destitute. “Feed the hungry and clothe the naked” is no mere figure of speech with Canon POSTANCE, the priest has quietly solved the problem here, in ministering to both the body and soul as a temporal unity.

Going up Nile St, here is the Holy Trinity Industrial Girl’s School, the building is spacious, good looking without and orderly within. Here you find 80 girls domesticated, they are being trained in habits of cleanliness and usefulness, their dormitories, classrooms, playground, refectory, and bathroom, true to the proverbial phrase, “as clean as a new pin.” Pure air and pure water have true course there, and it is interesting to notice that in the large lavatory every girl has her own bag for comb and brush and her own peg for her own towel.

“Good morning Sir!” say the youngsters as the Canon enters the place, “Good morning children!” is the response, and things continue their course. There are various side doors indicative of little needs, a dolls room for instance, a medicine room, a linen room and the like. In the linen room is a ladder to a door in the ceiling, in the case of fire the little ones could be rescued from danger by this private way. “Experienced teachers” replies the Canon, in reply to an inquiry about the sexes. Years ago a friend of his had argued for the inclusion of boys and girls in the same home, it would be more home-like. You now learn the advantages of having the boys at Grafton St, a good way from this, here in Nile St the girls will grow up workful and wise, and will go out to service in the world, their minds healthy and their hopes undimmed, the horizon of their daydreams far wider than they would have been. Their playtime meanwhile is one of joyous sport and noise, life is very real to them.

In Grafton St we notice near the church, Canon POSTANCE’S parish schools. The building is high and large, a well filled structure with many teachers and scholars. You notice its museum cases of scientific articles, you see numerous pictures and maps on the walls, all the appliances are there which hold these schools in line with our board schools, and here besides is the provision of food for the destitute, indeed, from the poor mothers at their meetings for needlework, down to the ragged starvelings of the courts and slums, and there are many, the needs of the stomach are catered for where in this direction is not otherwise possible. The priest touches life at many points here and makes adults as well as children, feel at home with a many sided man, who has found sorrow in our city to serious a responsibility, and who has devoted his time to feeding the many shivering on the brink of starvation.

We look at a still greater achievement, Canon POSTANCE’S, Grafton St, Holy Trinity Industrial Schools, a huge hive of boys in training. Here is a making of man, a moral victory ever in process, which should brighten the spirits of our philanthropists. Here the ideal kept is that the boys are at home, they take its freedom to a wide extent. There is discipline but there is also play, sometimes very boisterous. What has been said of the girls at Nile St can be said of the boys in a general way, but here there is in addition a technical school of some magnitude, boys are taught trades in virtue of which they can go out in the world, not as their fathers did before them, but as artisans and trained assistants, dextrous and intelligent. Here you see 2 dozen shoemaker boys turning out shoes for the community, and strong shapely shoes they are., 2 dozen young tailors are making clothes, and a dozen young printers are setting up type and doing printing for the public. A dozen young bakers bake the bread of these industrials both male and female, and there are 2 dozen young folk turning out shirts and stockings. Canon POSTANCE now calls upon his friends for special help, £500 will enable him to complete this crowning work of his life, and including a new playground in connection therewith. At Nile St there are 80 girls, at Grafton St, 200 boys all clothed and fed, at Beaufort St, schools, some 365 get their dinners, at the National schools no fewer than 475 boys, girls and infants are getting a sound education, some idea will be gained from these figures of the civilising work going on under the eye of one reformer.

You can find a house now used for educational and religious purposes that once was a public house of dangerous character, that in the back way of approach was a long narrow passage that even a policeman dared not go at night. There is a healthy school playground on another spot where dwellings once stood from which fever was never absent, and out of which it spread into schools to make victims. There is another appropriate spot where 22 houses once stood for the vilest of purposes, and into which 72 degraded creatures lured their victims. What a hallowing of earth there is for the transformation brought about by this social reformer. His motto, “To spend and be spent”, Liverpool has faith in him, among friends here and elsewhere he has raised, £65,000 during the last 30yrs, you can look at the stupendous, solid work he has effected by means of the money, which, large as it looks, could in many a case in our city be spared by one individual. It is understood at the end of next August, Canon POSTANCE will retire from his onerous labours into the calm and privacy befitting his age, and that his son Rev Charles Groves POSTANCE will succeed him in the work.


Less than 100 yrs ago Rose Place was the furthest limit of our town in a north easterly direction, many travellers took advantage of the old road by way of Bevington Bush to get easily into our midst. A curious relic of early house property still remains in the latter lane. The thoroughfare opened out by the construction of Scotland Rd between Byrom St and Kirkdale. The outlying district was very attractive, its prospect delightful, and the situation healthy, many fine houses were soon erected in the neighbourhood of Bevington Hill, and pleasant fields and gardens gladdened the eye. A large Wesleyan chapel was erected in this new suburban retreat. Between that time and the present change has followed change rapidly, owing chiefly to the necessity of dwellings for the labouring class, parallel with the ever extending docks and manufactories, the district whose street names are, ADDISON, CHAUCER, BEN, JONSON, MILTON, POPE, GAY and DRYDEN, suggesting poetry and nightingales underwent a complete metamorphosis. The Wesleyan chapel nearly a quarter of a century back was sold. The district had not only become overcrowded but the people themselves had made way for the lower class. Warehouses and property of a more questionable character continued to be set up, under the shadow of these a large class of casual labourers were constrained to take sadly to heart that “sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” Poverty won the upper hand, public houses multiplied and increased by what they fed upon. It was no longer easy to imagine how it could have been possible only a short time before, for Liverpool people bent on a holiday to take a “country jaunt” and after eating Kitty ECCLESTON’S famous meat pies at the “Mile House” opposite Virgil St, to end their explorations at Summer Seat [near what is now Summer St] where there was an uninterrupted view of the river, the sea and the Cheshire coast.

Never even then, however, was a more genial and happier face to be seen than that of Rev Father Patrick O’DONOVAN, the centre of his field of work the old Wesleyan Chapel, now for over 20yrs, St Bridget’s Church, from this centre an influence has radiated in all directions, the beneficial effects unmistakably evident on all sides. An example of adaptability when “needs must” is visible in the modifications of the Wesleyan reliquary into a Roman Catholic sanctuary. Should you take your way up the dirty, humiliating path up the church side to the sacristy, you will see how the patient priest has had one via dolorosa to tread for many years, it leads to a small vestry unfit altogether for its purpose. Passing from this into the church your eye immediately catches sight of the old Wesleyan organ, part of the original purchase. The instrument has done its daily piping ever since and the organist has done his best to establish a claim to the power of producing “linked sweetness long drawn out.” The old fashioned straight backed pews are still here, so, too is the gloom creating gallery To a person appreciating the ornate ritual of the Roman Catholic church, a priest’s hampered ministrations here must be felt to be disheartening, this forms but a small part of Father O’DONOVAN’S troubles, the havoc of sin outside is the great source of sorrow.

There are 44 public houses in the district, the average weekly takings of each of these places is £20, you have a waste of £880 going on with all its attendant immorality, its degradation, vice, shame and contamination, a small minded man could not fight this evil even for a month. Father O’DONOVAN has fought the fight bravely for nearly a quarter of a century, he has made headway from the first and has continued to realise agonising contrasts from day to day, without “bating one jot of hope” and often has it fallen to his lot to be called to perform the last offices to the dying drink-victim, mad with delirium tremens, the sacred offering to be rejected, and a last gasp to be a call for whisky!

The proposed new church for which there is to be a Venetian bazaar at St George’s Hall, on the 17th and following days of this month, will provide a great addition of power for Father O’DONOVAN for influencing opinion in regard to this crying shame, a host of drinking temptations in St Bridget’s district. Close by are the Paul St Baths now in Father NUGENT’S care, and undergoing a transformation into a substantial structure at St Saviour’s Refuge. Other victories have been won in the neighbourhood, some dilapidated property on the left will be removed when the commodious church has to be made way for. Turning round the corner into Limekiln Lane we proceed to Father O’DONOVAN’S greatest achievement, St Bridget school where some 800 children receive their education. The structure is a new building, built in 1878 and has all the conveniences of our best board schools. You go successively from the infants to the girls, thence to the boys of the upper school, along the top storey. A head master with assistants, two lady sisters, with several damsels spectacled and otherwise forming the teaching staff.

Entering the infants school you observe that order is here brought out of chaos, you see from the clothing that scores of these chubby-faced little ones would be “gutter children” but for this place. As the reverend father passes along with his bland nods and smiles, a child here and there holds out its hand, the priest responds with a gentle pat on the palm, here to one, there to another, it goes like a transfer of sympathy to set blessings flying about. We are amid society’s wreckage here, wreckage saved and taken care of, and amused too, looking around there are numerous pictures, the toys, the jumbo elephant, many knick-knacks childhood knows the value of, all so many blessings in the way of healthy impressions where curses might have otherwise left their traces.

You go next to the girl’s school with its hundreds of radiant faces, its maps and pictures, its museum of useful things needful to be understood, amongst them a valuable set of mineral specimens, the private gift of a friend. It is music time, and tonic sol-fa practise is going on. It is no common treat to hear those silvery voices sing, Warner’s glee of “To the Woods” it is “the leading of law with love well tempered” and you next go up to the boy’s school by a flight of stairs. Here again you are struck with humanising work going on in connection to the three R’s and other teaching. You observe the fine geometrical models and as Father O’DONOVAN speaks to different boys you marvel at the memory for names possessed by this 19C, Abbot Sampson, the man who is firm in his purpose of seeing that the little waifs of humanity shall some day be able to say, “I had a childhood.”

Turning from the place we pass by way of the old lane Bevington Bush and glance at the ancient, forsaken ruin on the left in it, drawing a mental picture of the contrast between that worthless structure and the neat looking, “Loggerheads” Inn of the same age, still standing prettily in the sunshine at the part of Richmond Row which faces Fox St. We pass up Rose Place and Rose Hill, called after Joshua ROSE, the gentleman who is credited with giving the poets names to the streets mentioned earlier. Meadow St running out of Rose Place is said to be named after a Mr W.MEADOWS who once dwelt in it and had six wives in succession, he was 75 when he married the last of these, and a certain Liverpool man with a shrew of a wife, being told of this exclaimed in a spirit of resignation, “What an extraordinary run of luck some men have!” Turning out of Rose Place into Fox St you observe the “Loggerheads” at the south end of the street, after the business of the inn had at one time begun to fall off, the house was turned into a private dwelling and Mr NICHOLSON, Mayor of Liverpool in 1813 resided in it. Here along with his own young people, once lived Miss Felicia BROWNE, afterwards to become Mrs HEMANA, here to during her girlhood she wrote many of her poems. At a later period Mr NICHOLSON left the house, again it became a tavern and of such it remains.


No part of Liverpool has undergone greater changes since the time of the Commonwealth than about Paradise St. In Cromwell’s day a stream, “The Brook” passed along it from the Pool, and at the time of the defence of Liverpool against Prince Rupert the water course formed a useful auxiliary to the batteries, the mud wall, and the fortifications. The stream swept along to the top of Dale St at Shaw’s Brow, and a boat for ferrying purposes, at high water and during rain floods was kept at the Pool House. So recently in 1870 the remains of a quay wall and piling, as of a wharf or landing place, were discovered at the coroner of Paradise St, when foundations were being dug out for shops. At an earlier time the orchard of Liverpool Castle came up near this part, Lord MOLYNEUX shortly afterwards cut a way through this, and at a later date we have that roadway variously named, as it underwent different changes, Lord Lane, Molyneux Lane, and finally Lord St. The Brook at low water left much mud visible, hence an early name for the Paradise St course was “The Common Shore” At high water the stream was navigable, and at one time a project was under consideration for deepening it for the accommodation of shipping, instead, however, the Old Dock was constructed, the stream filled up and transformed into Paradise St. This was done late in the 17th C, and very little property existed east of the Brook before the tine of “levelling up”, but there was one tolerably large mansion there, erected by Mr DANSIE in 1680, it was the first house built on that side and Ralph EARLE, Mayor in 1769, and Peter BAKER, Mayor in 1795, and Dr Joseph BRANDRETH at different times occupied it. The building disappeared in our own time to make room for the buildings of WILMER and SMITH, School Lane. Little was set up on the other side during the early years on account of the boggy nature of the land between the new street and South John St. The dip downwards across the marsh is still visible in Cable St and the parallel streets.

The drive along the filled up stream became an attractive one for business men. Among the residents in Paradise St in past generations were, N. ASHTON, [high sheriff in 1770] Thomas MOSS, father of John MOSS the banker. Towards the end of the last century there was at No 19, the bank of SMITH, CALDWELL and Co and the Mr SMITH of this firm was mayor in 1789. Unfortunately the French Revolution was then beginning to make its power felt in many ways, and one of these ended in a commercial panic, under which the above bank went down. At the south end of the street stood the offices of CROPPER BENSON and Co, consignees of an important fleet of American liners, years before steam had made its power felt upon the waves. Not quite far down the street was The Star and Garter Hotel, and siding up towards school Lane was the Unitarian Chapel opened in 1791, which for many years of religious use was sold, and finally became the Colosseum Theatre, the congregation having in 1849 removed to their beautiful new edifice in Hope St. It was while the Rev James MARTINEAU ministered here that EMERSON came over to England and visited Rev MARTINEAU at is house and afterwards went to hear him preach at the chapel, “He is a sincere sensible good man” wrote EMERSON but added that he thought the man was superior to his books and preaching [1847] After this EMERSON came back again to Liverpool, he tells of his visit to Mrs POULET, at Seaforth House, where he was lodged in Canning‘s chamber to sleep, and how he paid a visit to Mr RATHBONE at Greenbank.

On the same side of Paradise St stood the shop of the blind poet, Edward RUSHTON, at the time the Unitarian Chapel was opened. Here from 1790 to the day of his death in 1814 he was to be seen at any moment. He was a man of genius, patriotism, philanthropy, wide sympathy and geniality which won for him a place in the band of remarkable Liverpool men who shine like a diamond in sand through our local history of a century ago. It was in his paradise shop that Edward RUSHTON, blind as he was with one eye, and retinal damage to the other , penned two letters with a view of creating local interest to the blind, the letters were circulated and attracted the attention of Mr CHRISTIE, some suggestions followed, a third letter was circulated by the blind poet, the final result was that the Rev H. DANNETT, curate of St John’s, took up the matter and the Blind Asylum was the consequence.

It was while living here that Edward RUSHTON had to learn by bitter experience the commercial significance of being a “marked man” in an age of extreme political tension, before coming to reside here he had been editor of the Liverpool Herald and had exposed the evils of the press-gang system, he brought his paper into danger and had to resign its control. Now again in this Paradise St shop he speaks out plainly and circulates his songs, to be again “a marked man” His business falls off for a time and almost ceases. Two of his friends perceive the danger and send him golden help by Dr SHEPHERD, the help is declined, the danger deepens, help is offered by Liverpool worthies, but no, Edward RUSHTON can labour and wait. He continues to educate his children, to insist upon integrity and to sing his songs, these songs, the very titles of some of them speak volumes, “Chatterton” “Burns” “Mulligan” are among them, the latter he calls a bard from the Mersey.

RUSHTON published his own collection of songs in 1805, and a few moths later after 30yrs of blindness underwent an operation, by which his sight was partially restored, and he could walk the streets without a guide. In 1811 his wife died and in 1814 he followed, born in 1756, he was now 58 yrs of age, and had long suffered from the gout, despite his general abstinence from all fermented liquors. In 1782 he wrote “The Dismembered Empire” in which he rejoiced that America had resisted our claims and in 1787 he published his “West India Eclogues”, his chief production and denunciatory of slavery.


Pembroke Place is one of those lines of approach by which, about a century ago Liverpool began its invasion of the neighbourhood, stretching out from Cheetham’s Brow, [now Edgehill] across the district of Wavertree Park. Only a few scattered villas dotted the Edge Lane roadway in those days, one amongst them being a mansion opposite Marmaduke St, belonging to Mr Ottiwell WOOD. Among the larger old mansions in Pembroke Place itself is the one built by Mr W. COMER at the corner of Anson St, the Post-office now occupies a portion of it. The structure in its days of trees and garden [on which the latter St Silas Church now stands], must have presented a commanding appearance, the same may be said of St Silas itself, “black but comely” With the exception of the Globe Furnishing Company’s “sky-scraper” nearly opposite, nothing else of note strikes the eye till we reach the magnificence of beneficence and envy of the civilised world, our Royal Infirmary, with its 1000 windows and 300 beds, its chapel, its large theatre and administration blocks, its medicinal baths , splendid mortuary, concert hall, and last but not least its adjoining, Ashton St training school for nurses.

On the opposite side of the road and down to Messers MYERS the fields of Mr DAULBY extended at the beginning of this century. From the Crown St end of Pembroke Place the Mosslake fields were entered upon some two centuries ago. These fields were well known to skaters, who could take their first run up Mosslake Brook, which, coursing along the present Crown St line found its way to London Rd. Our forefathers used to burn the peat dug out from the above fields, part of the ancient turbaries of Liverpool, and reaching from the upland here right away to Parliament fields. At one time this turbary belonged to the keen-witted Sir Edward MOORE.

At present the chapel on the Crown St fringe is the one spot of the locality that most invites our attention. Pembroke Chapel was built in 1839, and owes its origin to liberal thought, its first congregation was the open communion party of the older Byrom St, Baptist meeting, where a rupture had taken place between the two sections of the congregation about the year 1836, soon after the appointment of Rev C. M. BIRRELL to the pastorate there. Up to this time close communion had been the rule, but with the new teacher came a catholic spirit, the trouble was in the question “Shall those only who have been “immersed” on a “profession of faith” sit down at the table, or shall the restriction of brotherhood be loosened on this particular. The party of the old doctrinal strictness held the legal right to retain possession and uphold the close communion, thus the dissidents resolved to split off. They built Pembroke Chapel and owing partly to the ministrations of the broad-minded Mr BIRRELL, hither came such men as John CROPPER, who was subsequently a deacon in his congregation. Change has followed change since those days, and two and a half years ago a revival set in, which is now showing the need for a larger place of worship, a steady increase in attendance having continued since the settlement there of Rev C. F. AKED whose resolve to encourage Christian endeavour and communicate ideas, has led to a highly successful method, doctrinal, devotional Sunday morning services and historical and biographical lectures in the evening, varied occasionally by a discourse on some important topic of the day.

Last Sabbath evening the subject advertised for consideration was “Annie BESANT”, the whirr of the electric bell at the main entrance told, before the service had begun, that there was no more room and that the doors had better be closed. The use of the electric bell in itself evidence of the success attending the work of Mr AKED and his fellow-labourers here. When a minister chooses his own hymns there is often much to be read between the lines, and such seemed to be the case here when the sympathies of some 1300 people were secured by their being led to join the singing of Dr NEWMAN’S, “Lead kindly light” had the good old Cardinal been alive and at the Oratory, his heart would have been stirred at the huge gathering in a Baptist chapel, singing that Anglican hymn of his, in connection with the Sabbath discourse on a woman who was a “heretical Theosophist” yet who was shown to have in her the makings of the noblest type of Christianity, could these only be brought fully into play.

Mr AKED has the look and gait of the student is tall and somewhat thin. And dangerous Mr AKED has proved himself to be towards ignorance, superstition, cant, pharisaic, monopolies and vested interests in vice, and the practices that tend to arrest progress in society at large. He sketches the character of Mrs BESANT, his discourse indicative of careful preparation, but delivered without a line of manuscript, there is a fullness of frank reading and the audience is taken into the preacher’s confidence. Now and then an emphasis is given to a telling sentence by a movement which shows that an old fashioned pulpit would be a jail to this man with his occasional outbursts of eulogy or indignation. You note that as he proceeds questions of heredity and environment are not shirked. The religious nature of Annie, the girl is shown, you are told the terrible doubts that crept in his mind of the clergyman’s young wife when hour after hour she gazed helplessly on her suffering babe, convulsed by agonies it certainly had not brought upon itself. These doubts were stated, the difficulties connected with the problem of evil and pain distinctly admitted, but the good is always acknowledged which is the present dispensation, is seen to be affected generally through that nobler life and wiser knowledge in the furtherance, of which, at present, both pain and evil seem to bend in favour of social good. Mrs BESANT’S stupendous blunder in going to such a man as Dr PUSEY to resolve her doubts when scepticism had come full flood upon her, the doctor’s short-sightedness in supposing that his own reverence for the authority of the Church was a sufficient argument and answer for a lady of Mrs BESANT’S mental calibre, the inquirers decision in favour of Agnosticism, her determination to work on a Secularist journal, her iconoclastic lecturing, all this was gone into at considerable length BRADLAUGH matters frankly faced. The result was a verdict that Mrs BESANT’S transparent honesty and purity of life must in simple justice be admitted as above suspicion.

Then came the preachers volte face, the surprise of the evening, It was a contrast between Christianity and Secularism, and was sparkling with antitheses, you could see the listeners had much difficulty at times, to restrain their feelings from bursting out in loud applause. For a while Mrs BESANT seemed forgotten, it was the Freethought party Mr AKED had before him, the men, who, as freethinkers had refused Mrs BESANT the freedom of pursuing her Theosophical studies in her midst. In a calm, frank, direct manner Mr AKED proceeded to re-state certain fundamentals of his faith, a masterly simplicity of exposition characterising his remarks, although one could not help feeling at times that he was gliding perilously near thin ice and the Baptist union. In discussing inspiration Dr CLIFFORD was quoted and supported, those eager for authority had there an unimpeachable one, and the Freethinkers were lightened of an objection. The Atonement was discussed, and the word itself analysed in its connection with loving rescue work. Then came the subject of the incarnation, it was explained in a way which Queen Elizabeth’s learned preacher, the “judicious” HOOKER, had he been present would have endorsed right willingly, for the coronal principle of the “Ecclesiastical Polity” was shown to be in line with the institutions of Dr CLIFFORD. It was now evident that the discourse was a well arranged unity, and people came away from this “feast of reason and how of soul” satisfied that they had been listening to a man who had his home in Christian affirmations and his heart warm for social uplifting, which should carry with it the whole man, , clothed and fed and in his right mind.

C. M.

Liverpool Streets

Copyright 2002 / To date