Other Early Residents and Houses
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill @ allertonOak  
 
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill home page
allertonOak home page
Allerton Lodge c. 1820
The later Allerton Priory
Allerton Lodge and Allerton Priory
The plot of land of 55 acres (22 ha) upon which the Allerton Priory estate (off Allerton Road) once stood was in the possession of William Roscoe of Allerton Hall at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1806 he sold it to Liverpool merchant John Moss, who in turn sold it to Dr. Peter Crompton of Eton House in 1812. Soon after, it was bought by another Liverpool Merchant, William Calton Rutson, who also acquired the Allerton Tower estate and built the original house called Allerton Lodge. He died in 1817 and the estate passed to his son.
The house and estate were sold to Theodore Woolman Rathbone (1798-1863), son of William Rathbone IV, in 1832. He sold part of the land in the 1840s to Sir Hardman Earle and this became the Allerton Tower estate. It was probably Rathbone who renamed the house Allerton Priory. He was a cotton broker, director of the London and Birmingham Railway and Borough and County Magistrate.
Following Rathbone's death, John Grant Morris (1811-1897), a colliery owner and, for a time, Mayor of Liverpool, acquired the estate and demolished the house. He built the present Allerton Priory, an extraordinary and vast Gothic pile completed in 1871, to a design of Alfred Waterhouse, who was perhaps most famous in Liverpool for the University's Victoria Building. It is situated in a beautiful and secluded woodland setting entered by a pretty lodge on Allerton Road via a long, romantically landscaped, sunken, wooded drive with imported rocks. It is now part of an exclusive apartment and housing development.
The later Allerton Priory
 
Allerton Priory Lodge
Hillpit House (The Forty Pits)
Hillpit House (Beech Farm, Oakwood and The Forty Pits)
Hillpit House was originally a cottage on Allerton Road situated by what became the entrance to Calderstones Park. It is one of Liverpool's oldest houses, dating from 1650 but extensively reconstructed in 1933. It is shown on both the Yates and Perry map of 1768 and Sherriff's map of 1823.
The house was once at the northern extremity of a large site containing numerous flooded marl pits (one of which survives) in a wooded area known as The Forty Pits that became a local beauty spot. The area corresponds to that currently bounded by Glendyke Road almost as far as Fawley Road, across the rear of Verdala Towers and back along Allerton Road. Marl is a clay or mud rich in calcium and magnesium carbonates that was used as a fertilizer. It is also said that white clay from the pits was used to make china at the old Liverpool Herculaneum Pottery.
In the census returns the house is listed under the name of the adjacent Beech Farm until 1911, when it became Oakwood. It went through a series of owners from 1861 to 1911. In 1861 it was the home of widow Jean McLean (1789-1872), whose son, America merchant William Henry McLean (1821-1877), took over after her death. After his death, the house was bought by shipowner Frederick W. Leyland (1856-1934), while in 1891 and 1901 it was the home of cotton broker Edward Kewley (1852-1914). By 1911, solicitor James Heald (1860-1921) was living there.
The present lych gate was constructed from oak beams from the original property, presumably at the time of the renovation of the house in 1933, when it adopted its present name: The Forty Pits. The marl pit site survived essentially intact until the early 1970s, when it was redeveloped for housing in the face of a good deal of local opposition.
Heath Cottage
Heath Cottage
17th century Heath Cottage (Mather Avenue) appears on the Yates and Perry map of 1768, but is only identified as such on Sherriff's map of 1823. It took its name from Garston Heath, upon which it once stood.
 
Oak Farm
Oak Farm (Springwood Avenue) dates from the 17th century. It appears named as such on Sherriff's map of 1823. For a long time it stood in a poor state of repair, but was restored and extended in 2003-5.
Oak Farm
Hill House (Fletcher's Farm)
Hill House (Fletcher's Farm)
The keystone above the front door of Hill House (off Menlove Avenue), a handsome sandstone cottage with outbuildings, says 'JHF 1740'. The house, presumably a farmhouse, appears under that name on the Yates and Perry map of 1768. In 1815 Jacob Fletcher had the nearby mansion called Allerton built, which probably accounts for the change of name to Fletcher's Farm but not the initials on the keystone. Was this a later addition? By the time of the 1850 Ordnance Survey it was recorded under the new name. By the 1970s it is shown as Beechcroft, a name that appears on the current OS map, but it is still widely known as Fletcher's Farm.
Keystone at Hill House
Allerton in its heyday
The ruins of Allerton today
Allerton and Jacob Fletcher
The house known simply as Allerton (off Allerton Road) was built for Jacob Fletcher (1791-1863), son of a successful privateer, in 1815. It was designed by Thomas Harrison, whose other work in Liverpool includes the tower of St. Nicholas's Church and the Lyceum. After Jacob's death, the house was taken over by Alfred Fletcher (1842-1919), a cotton broker and director of the London and North Western Railway, who was still living there in 1911. The grounds were converted into Allerton Municipal Golf Course in 1921. The house remained the home of the Fletcher family until 1944, when it was gutted by fire. The shell of the ground floor with its colonnade is all that remains of it. The neoclassical lodge on Allerton Road survives, along with the imposing gatepiers.
Allerton Lodge
Calderstone House
Calderstone, Joseph Need Walker and Charles McIver
Originally a farmhouse stood on this site (now in Calderstones Park), identified on Sherriff's map of 1823 as Grove House, land owned by Thomas Martin, a Liverpool merchant. Lead shot manufacturer Joseph Need Walker (1791-1865) acquired the estate in 1825 through debt settlement and demolished the old house. In its place the Georgian mansion Calderstone was completed in 1828. The horse grave behind the house dates from his time.
The house and estate were acquired by Charles McIver (1813-1885) in 1875. He was a Liverpool shipping magnate, who had joined Samuel Cunard in establishing the British and North American Royal Steam Packet Company, later known as the Cunard Line. His son Charles (1851-1926) subsequently took over the estate. The house and estate were sold to Liverpool Corporation in 1902 and became Calderstones Park. The house has been altered over the years and for a long time was used as council offices. In 2014 the Reader Organisation purchased a 125 year lease from Liverpool City Council for the house and outbuildings to undertake restoration work and develop an international reading, heritage and cultural centre. It recently secured a 1.99 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to this end, which will include restoration of the mansion and the Calderstones.
Calderstone Coach House
Horse Grave
Beechley
Beechley
Beechley (Harthill Road) was built sometime before 1835. In the 1870s and 1880s it was the home of Peter Bancroft (1809-1897), a drysalter, that is, a merchant in materials such as salt, glue, varnish, dyes and colourings. Sometime before 1891 it was sold to Russian-born commission merchant Philip Jacob Blessig (1822-1902), who lived there until his death. It was then taken over by Emily M. Stewart Brown (1840-1915), a lady of independent means. The house itself is now a care home; the extensive stable blocks survive and are used as a riding school for the disabled.
Grove House (Dovedale Towers) and the Kurtz Family
Grove House (Penny Lane) was in existence before 1836, probably the rear part of the present building. It may have been built for merchant John Frankland (b.1801), who was living there in 1841. It was the home of Andrew George Kurtz (1824-1890), an alkali manufacturer and art collector, and his cousin Julia Turner from about 1860 until his death. He extended it in 1870-1 to include the present frontage with the tower, which was originally even higher. While this work was going on, he recorded in his diary that '[the tower looked] quite out of proportion and the marble columns [...] appear unnecessary and pretentious [...]. I feel rather sorry that I have had it altered [...]'. It still looks bizarre.
Andrew George was the son of German chemist Andrew Kurtz, who studied in Paris and became a friend of the famous physicist and chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac. He came to have several chemical factories in Liverpool concerned with dyestuffs and took over the Sutton Alkali Works in St. Helens in 1842. When he died in 1846, Andrew George, who was studying law, reluctantly took over, but his main interests were in painting and contemporary art collection. He was also involved in Liverpool's music life, especially the Philharmonic Society. He died at his summer residence in Penmaenmawr and he and Julia were buried in Conwy.
In the early years of the 20th century, the house was a 'Home for Incurable Children' called Children's Rest. It became St. Barnabas's church hall from the 1910s until it was sold in 1965, when it adopted its present name of Dovedale Towers. It is now a pub.
Dovedale Towers
Bark Hill
Bark Hill
Bark Hill, on Barkhill Road, has been subsumed into the I.M. Marsh Campus of Liverpool John Moores University. A house of this name, not the surviving one, appears on Sherriff's Map of 1823. The central part of the present house, fronted by a Doric pillared porch with two windows each side, is c.1830. It was extended to the left c.1850 and to the right later in the 19th century. In 1851 it was owned by cotton broker James Howell (b.1803) and in 1861 by another cotton broker John L. Newall (b.1827). From the later 1860s it was the home of Charles Langton (1824-1900), director of the Union Marine & General Insurance Co. Ltd. After his death, his wife Jessie lived on at Bark Hill until her death in 1917.
Holmefield
Holmefield, on Holmefield Road, now also part of the I.M. Marsh Campus, dates from about the same time as Bark Hill. It is another stuccoed villa, this time with an Ionic portico. In 1851 it was the home of William F. Robinson (b.1801), a gentleman of private means, and in 1861 of Samuel Job (1804-1866), a Newfoundland merchant. By 1871 it had been acquired by Sir Thomas Bland Royden (1831-1917), who lived there until the 1880s. He became head of Thomas Royden & Sons, shipbuilders and owners. He was Mayor of Liverpool in 1878-9 and a conservative MP from 1885 to 1892. He became Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire in 1903 and was created 1st Baronet Royden in 1905. He eventually moved to Frankby Hall, built by his father in 1847 and part of the extensive Royden Estate in Wirral. The baronetcy survives in the 5th Baronet Sir Christopher John Royden (b.1937), who lives in Gloucestershire.
Kelton
Kelton
Kelton (Woodlands Road), built in the early 19th century, originated as a stuccoed villa. It was greatly extended to the south-east in about 1865 with a towering, yellow brick, Gothic house, probably under the auspices John Wrigley Macrae (1815-1878), a cotton broker who was living there in 1871. It became, presumably on Macrae's death, the home of Joshua Synge (1828-1908), a hide and leather factor, who was living there in 1881 and until his death.
The house then became a home for unmarried mothers run by the Roman Catholic Church. It is listed in the 1911 census as a convent and 'home for penitents and children'. At that time there were 53 mothers aged 16 to 47 and 35 children up to the age of 4 living there. All of the mothers are listed as 'assistants in the laundry attached to the home'.
Kelton Lodge
The inmates would not have lacked the opportunity to do penance for their perceived sins. While we do not know the specific details of Kelton, the homes for unmarried mothers once run by many of the Roman Catholic religious orders have a poor reputation. Many provided mothers with shelter in exchange for near slave labour, cruel treatment and enforced adoption of the babies. It is as well to remember that, despite the fabulous wealth and abundance of philanthropic attitudes that existed round about, grinding poverty and deprivation were right on the doorstep.   A chapel was added in 1925 with some noteworthy stained glass. It appears that the convent closed in the early 1980s and it became a care home. It is currently derelict but there are plans to convert the building into apartments. The attractive yellow brick lodge, however, is well preserved.
 
Acknowledgements and Further Reading
Census returns, available from several genealogical websites for a subscription fee, provide further information about the families. The National Archives have more on the Kurtz family, and, of course, for the architecture, see Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West (The Buildings of England, Pevsner Architectural Guides), Richard Pollard & Nikolaus Pevsner, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006.
This is a non-commercial website that is intended entirely for research and educational purposes. If I have unintentionally breached copyright with any images, I hope that the copyright owner will tolerate my usage in the present context, otherwise I will remove the material. Modern colour photographs are by the author.