To the South
Old Roads and Villages of Liverpool @ allertonOak  
 
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Introduction: Exploring the Yates and Perry Map of 1768
Because of the barrier presented by the River Mersey, routes out of Liverpool to the south were less developed in the 18th century than in other directions. This remained an attractive rural area, several sites the object of popular excursions from the city, with one or two seats of the aristocracy or the otherwise very vealthy. Park Lane, Smithdown Lane and Wavertree Lane began with purpose but petered out in a tangle of little lanes. The townships in this area at that time were Toxteth, Wavertree, Much Woolton (Woolton), Little Woolton (Gateacre), Garston and Allerton.
In the text below, individual italicised words refer to entries on the map. Indented whole paragraphs in italic are quotations from original sources, as follows:
ROL   Recollections of Old Liverpool by a Nonagenarian, Anon., 1863.
TDE   A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 1848.
JTE   A Journal of Travels in England, Holland and Scotland, Benjamin Silliman, 1820.
In the key to the map below, the modern names of the roads are given in brackets unless the original name still stands.
1   Park Lane (Park Lane, St. James's Street, St. James's Place, Park Place, Park Road, Aigburth Road)
2   Great George Street
3   Parliament Street
4   Dingle Lane
5   Aigburth Vale
6   Jericho Lane
7   Bark Lane (Barkhilll Road)
8   Aigburth Road
9   Grassendale Road
10   Garston Old Road
11   Duke Street
12   Berry Street
13   Renshaw Street
14   Mount Pleasant
15   Brownlow Hill
16   Smithdown Lane (partly Smithdown Road)
17   Lodge Lane
18   Owlet Road (Ullet Road)
19   Green Bank Lane (Greenbank Road)
20   Penny Lane
21   Green Bank (Greenbank Lane)
22   Mossley Vale Road (North Mossley Hill Road)
23   Outacre Lane (Mossley Hill Road, Netherton Road, Cooper Avenue South, South Mossley Hill Road)
24   Long Lane
25   Rose Lane (partly Elmswood Road)
26   Allerton Road (partly Woolton Road)
27   Greenhill Road (partly Harthill Road)
28   Spence's Lane (Calderstones Road)
29   Allerton Lane (Calderstones Road)
30   Green Lane
31   Beech Lane
32   Folly Vale Lane (Vale Road)
33   Heath Lane (Heath Road)
34   Woolton Road
35   Quarry Lane (Quarry Street)
36   Childwall Abbey Road (partly Dunbabin Road)
37   Wavertree Lane (Wavertree Road, Picton Road, High Street)
38   Rake Lane (Durning Road)
39   Mill Lane
40   Church Lane (Church Road)
41   Cow Lane (Fir Lane, Prince Alfred Road))
42   Lance Lane
43   Heathfield Road
44   Kettle Nook (Thingwall Road)
45   Moss Pit Lane (Childwall Road)
46   Limekiln Lane (Queens Drive)
47   Priory Lane (Childwall Priory Road)
48   Score Lane
49   Gateacre Lane (Woolton Road)
50   Well Lane
51   New Lane (Cuckoo Lane)
52   Gateacre Brow
53   Childwall Lane (Grange Lane)
54   Halewood Lane (Halewood Road)
55   Mackits Lane (Macket's Lane)
56   Belle Vale Road
57   Acrefield Lane (Acrefield Road)
58   Out Lane
59   Sandy lane
60   School Lane
Park Road Windmill and St. James's Church
 
Liverpool from Toxteth Park in the early 1800s
 
Knott's Hole in the 19th century
 
Waterfall on the Osklesbrok (River Jordan)
Toxteth and Aigburth
One of the main roads out of town to the south was Park Lane. This originally started on the left bank of the Pool of Liverpool, where there was a ferry crossing, and led across the rising ground of what was once (until 1604) the royal hunting domain of Toxteth Park and on to Aigburth. It was met by Great George Street, and Parliament Street coming up from the south shore. In 1771 it was intended to develop the northern end of Toxteth as a new town to be called Harrington. A street plan was laid out but only St. James's church (completed 1775) was built.
Park Lane was crossed by a stream about a third of the way along. Just on the inland side of the road was Mather's Dam, which created a small pond. On the other side were a further dam and pond with two windmills. The stream entered the Mersey near the bottom end of Parliament Steet, where there was to be a brewery (later Cain's) in 1858. Here there was a further dam, Jackson's Dam, with a tidal water-mill and a much larger reservoir.
Further along Park Lane was the celebrated Park Coffee House, then a dog leg in the road (never to be ironed out), where Dingle Lane went off towards the river. Only Rimmer's and Dr. Kenion's houses are marked on the map, but the area was soon to become a highly desirable one for villas, being located above the local beauty spot known as Knott's Hole. Park Chapel was located here. It survives as the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, one of Liverpool's half dozen oldest buildings, originally dating from sometime between 1604 and 1618 and extensively rebuilt in 1774.
  No place in the suburbs of Liverpool has advanced so rapidly within the last few years, as this township. So recently as 1770 it was entirely composed of farms: about one-third is now covered with buildings and formed into streets, while another third is occupied with ornamental grounds, and studded with the villas and mansions of Liverpool merchants; the remaining third is chiefly pasture land, and the whole is remarkable for the purity of its air. [...] [TDE]
A little further on, a dip in the road led across Dickenson's Dingle, another stream flowing into the Mersey at another beauty spot. On the left bank, St. Michael's Hamlet was to be founded in the early 19th century, with its ground-breaking cast iron framed houses and church, St. Michael's (1826).
At Aigburth Vale, the road of that name went off to Mossley Hill. In the direction of the river, Jericho Lane led to Jericho (a farm) and the Lower Lodge, which had become a puritan community. The lodge was originally one of the Toxteth Park hunting lodges and was the birthplace in 1618 of Jeremiah Horrox, the famous mathematician and astronomer. It was demolished in 1863 and Otterspool Station was built on the site. Another stream ran down past here. It was originally called the Osklesbrok, but was renamed the River Jordan by the puritans. It was yet another beauty spot, and came out at a large tidal inlet known as the Otters Pool, now a grassy hollow among trees behind the riverside embankment. This was a historic location that may already have been in use as a fishery in Roman times.
Park Lane continued to Stanlawe Grange, outbuildings to Aighburgh Hall (Aigburth Hall) at the time of the map, and ended there. Aigburth Hall was the ancestral seat of the Tarleton family but had been demolished by the 1840s. Stanlawe Grange, dating from the late 13th century and much modified, was the property of the abbot and monks of Stanlawe Abbey and is Liverpool's oldest building. The site of the hall was built over by Aigburth Hall Avenue. The map shows a tree lined avenue leading to the road that became Aigburth Road. The Old Hall would have been at the lower end of Bark Lane. The original line of Park Lane from Aigburth Vale seems to have been lost.
On the right off Aigburth Road was the road that became Grassendale Road, where there were already some properties. The main road did a dog leg into Garston further along at Garston Old Road.
The South Shore in 1797
 
Park Chapel (the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth)
 
Dickenson's Dingle and St. Michael's Church in 1820
 
Stanlawe Grange
St James's Cemetery in the early 19th century
 
Green Bank c.1815
 
Hillpit House (The Forty Pits)
 
Heath Cottage
 
Allerton Hall in the late 18th century
 
Allerton Hall by 1812
Toxteth, Mossley Hill and Allerton
Other roads just outside Liverpool to the south were, or became, Duke Street (after the Duke of Cumberland), Berry Street (after dock engineer Henry Berry), Renshaw Street (after John and Edward Renshaw, ropery owners), Mount Pleasant and Brownlow Hill (after property owner Lawrence Brownlow). Duke Street lead to the old quarry that became St. James's Cemetery. Note that the bend in Mount Pleasant, still an obvious feature, was to avoid the large and impassable marsh known as the Moss Lake. By the time of the map, it had been partially dammed to make a reservoir to provide water for Liverpool and traversed by Brownlow Hill. Mount Pleasant was the birthplace in 1753 of lawyer, MP and scholar William Roscoe. He founded Liverpool Botanic Gardens at Moss Lake fields in 1803 to house his famous plant collection. Other roads in the area have been lost under the grid pattern of the early 19th century development.
  Brownlow Hill was so called after Mr. Lawrence Brownlow, a gentleman who held much property thereabout. Brownlow Hill was a very pleasant walk. There were gardens on it, as, also, on Mount Pleasant, then called Martindale's Hill, of which our friend Mr. Roscoe has sung so sweetly. Martindale's Hill was quite a country walk when I was a little boy. There was also a pleasant walk over the Moss Lake Fields to Edge Hill. Where the Eye and Ear Infirmary stands there was a stile and a foot-path to the Moss Lake Brook; across it was a wooden foot bridge. The path afterwards diverged to Smithdown Lane. [ROL]
Smithdown Lane (from the Domesday settlement Esmedune meaning smooth slope) led off through Wavertree to Mossley Hill. Lodge Lane branched off to the Upper Lodge, another of the original Toxteth Park hunting lodges, now the site of one of the Sefton Park lodges. Also joining here was Owlet Road. Smithdown Lane and Owlet Road crossed the Lower Brook, one of the tribuaries of the Osklesbrok. Further along Smithdown Lane was a crossing of the Upper Brook, another tributary. This flowed into the grounds of Green Bank, a house built sometime in the early 1700s and leased from the Earl of Sefton in 1788 by William Rathbone, ship owner, merchant and founder member of the Liverpool Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Green Bank was accessed from Smithdown Lane by Green Bank Lane, Penny Lane and Green Bank. The road continuing to the mansion called Mosley Hill was Mossley Vale Road. Mosley Hill featured a long avenue of trees going right down the western slope and later gave its name to the parish of Mossley Hill; it burnt down in 1891. Mossley Vale Road continued over the crossroads at the top of the hill to Outacre Lane and Long Lane. The former crossed Solomon's Brook, named after local resident Dr. Samuel Solomon, who made a fortune from the 1790s onward selling a tonic called the Cordial Balm of Gilead. Towards Mossley Hill was a local beauty spot called Solomon's Vaults, named after his mausoleum there. The other road at the crossroads was Rose Lane, connecting Aigburth Vale to Allerton Road and passing Cob Hall (probably the building later known as Roseville Farm).
Allerton Road went past Hillpit House (now The Forty Pits), one of Liverpool's oldest houses, dating from 1650 but extensively reconstructed in 1933. 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 that became a local beauty spot. Allerton Road was crossed by Greenhill Road, which began at the junction of Spence's Lane and Allerton Lane. Where All Hallows church now stands was a house curiously named Dry Soil. At the outer end of Allerton Lane was the area's (and possibly Lancashire's) oldest human artefact: the Calder Stones, once part of a burial mound, in turn part of a much larger neolithic site, most of which is now lost. At the time of the map, the Calder Stones site had been partially destroyed. In 1845 the stones were later arranged in a circle in the belief then current that they were the remains of a Druidical stone circle. They now reside in Calderstones Park.
  Allerton [...] township comprises 1531 acres, and consists partly of a luxuriant vale, and partly of gently rising hills, which command fine views of the river Mersey at its widest part, with portions of Cheshire and North Wales. The air is salubrious, and the scenery adorned with wood; the soil is of various quality, in some parts sandy, and in others a stiff clay. Allerton Hall was until 1816 the residence of William Roscoe. [...] There is a quarry of red sandstone. [TDE]
Some of the roads shown on the map in this area are confusing to interpret, but I'll have a go. The continuation of Allerton Lane/Beech Lane was Folly Vale Lane, though this did not get much further, terminating at the house called Dowse, which gave its name to Dowsefield Lane. Folly Vale Lane was named after Hunt's Folly, some form of monument connected with the hunting that once took place in this area. Beech Lane led back to a road from near the end of Smithdown Lane that was only a footpath by 1850, with Dodlow Hall (Dudlow Hall) to the north. Further out, Hill House of 1740 later became Fletcher's Farm. Connecting Allerton Road to Greenhill Road over Garston Heath was Heath Lane. This went by Heath Cottage, which still stands.
Allerton Road turned left into Woolton village at the junction with Woolton Road. Near here was Allerton Hall, at the time of the map complete with its tree-lined avenues. The longest avenue was the approach from Liverpool and the entrance to it was marked by an obelisk that still stands. This was probably the seat of the Manor of Allerton from mediaeval times. It passed through various hands until purchased by William Roscoe (see above) and James Clegg in 1795. It became Roscoe's residence and he made substantial changes to the structure up to 1812. It is largely in this form that it still stands.
  Our road to Allerton Hall was through a most delightful country. The river Mersey was on our right, and the fields sloped with gentle declivity to its banks. The county of Cheshire was extensively in view over the river, and beyond that, Wales with its rude mountains. Allerton-Hall is a stone building which has an air of grandeur; it stands at a considerable distance from the road, in the midst of beautiful grounds, and appears every way fitted to be the residence of its present distinguished possessor. [i.e. Roscoe]. [JTE]
The road that sweeps across Childwall Heath from Woolton village to Childwall Abbey Road began as Quarry Lane, but by 1850 most of the rest of it had either disappeared or was footpath, finally emerging onto Childwall Abbey Road. The route seems to have been partly recovered today as Aldbourne Avenue and part of Childwall Park Avenue.
The birthplace of William Roscoe in Mount Pleasant
 
Solomon's Vaults c.1910
 
The Calder Stones in 1825
 
The Calderstones today
 
Hill House (Fletcher's Farm)
 
The Obelisk
Wavertree Hall in the early 19th century
 
White Cottage
 
The Coffee House
 
Holy Trinity Church
 
Tower Cottage, All Saints Church and Childwall Abbey c.1810
 
Childwall Abbey
 
Gateacre Chapel
 
Woolton Hall
Wavertree, Childwall, Gateacre and Woolton
The other main road out of Liverpool to the south was Wavertree Lane. This connected to Edge Lane via Rake Lane. A little further out on the left was Wavertree Hall, the grounds of which by 1836 housed the Liverpool Botanic Gardens; they had had to be relocated because of pollution. Bridge House marked a bridge over the Lower Brook and the road led on to Wavertree village.
In the 1700s, Wavertree was still a country village with only about 50 houses. However, by the end of the century, rich merchants already had their eye on the area as a place to build their villas away from the increasingly polluted atmosphere of Liverpool.
  [Wavertree's] proximity to Liverpool, and the salubrity of the air, have made it the residence of numerous wealthy families, and the land is fast increasing in value. The high grounds on the east form a fine shelter to the lower parts. [TDE]
Wavertree village still boasts some structures dating from before the 19th century. The oldest is the Monk's Well on Mill Lane, dated, probably quite accurately, 1414. It lies on the site of a spring where pure water once bubbled out from the sandstone of Olive Mount. White Cottage, which looks 17th century, is probably the oldest house in Wavertree. Mill Cottages, near Church Lane, date from 1730. In this area stood Wavertree Windmill and several sandstone quarries (the Old and New Dells). The Coffee House is Wavertree's oldest surviving pub, already listed in 1777 and a popular venue for day excursions from Liverpool. Wavertree lock-up, sometimes known as the Round House, was built on Wavertree Green in 1796 for the overnight accommodation of drunks and other prisoners. Holy Trinity church dates from 1794 and marks the arrival of rich merchants' properties in the area at this time.
Other roads around Wavertree village were Cow Lane, Lance Lane (after insurance broker and merchant Thomas Lance) and Heathfield Road. Back roads towards Childwall were Kettle Nook and Moss Pit Lane, joined by Limekiln Lane. These roads seem to have enclosed some kind of park in an earlier time. Also in this area were Priory Lane (after the farmhouse called Childwall Priory) and Score Lane (an old word for pasture). The main road to Childwall village was Childwall Abbey Road, while Gateacre Lane headed across Childwall Heath to Gateacre (also known as Little Woolton).
Childwall had been around for many centuries. It was the centre of a large and ancient parish predating Liverpool and covering the townships of Childwall, Wavertree, Much Woolton (Woolton), Little Woolton (Gateacre), Garston, Allerton, Speke, Hale and Halewood.
The name Childwall denotes the field of the well and the eponymous well (known as the Monks' Bath) can be seen on the map just to the north of the church; a stream flowed from it into Childwall Brook. The road running alongside the field in which it was located was Well Lane, which led to Childwall House.
  The roads from Liverpool [to Childwall] are deep and sandy; consequently rather unpleasant; but the views are rather extensive, particularly from a summerhouse on Childwall Hill [shown on the map, at the highest point near the present Woolton reservoir], about three miles distant, where you have a prospect of fifteen counties and a good view of the sea. In the skirts of this hill are several small villages with gentlemen's seats scattered about, well covered and for the most part delightfully situated. [Childwall, Samuel Derrick, 1760]
The focal point of the village was (and remains) All Saints church, parts of which are Norman and Saxon and much of the rest mediaeval. Next to it could be found the Bloody Acre, named after a Civil War skirmish of 1640, and the building known since the 19th century, when it was an inn, as Childwall Abbey. The origins of Childwall Abbey have been much disputed - it is most likely a renovated chapel. The grounds of Childwall Hall stood opposite. The original, possibly 17th century, hall, seat of heirs of the Ireland family, was demolished in 1780 and rebuilt. Under one Bamber Gascoyne in the early 19th century it became a mock mediaeval fantasy until its final demolition in 1949.
  The views from the neighbourhood of the church [...] are extensive and particularly fine. On the west are seen with more distant eminences, Aughton Hills, near Ormskirk, traversing a line of country to the north-east. The prospect from Prescot to Farnworth terminates on the south-east with a distant view of the ruins of Halton Castle - now fast mouldering away - a range of hills beyond, and Norton Priory. [...] A large portion of the Mersey water forms one of the features of this scene, and gives great interest to a landscape that extends nearly fifteen miles. [Fragments, Matthew Gregson, 1817]
  Childwall Hall [...] is in the castellated style, after a design by Nash; the park and grounds are in beautiful taste, and the scenery forms a panorama almost unrivalled in beauty and extent. [TDE]
On Gateacre Lane the original two-storied Eton House, which became Bishop Eton, had been built in 1776 as a boarding school for boys. It was to be acquired in 1797 by Dr. Peter Crompton, whose name survives in Crompton's Lane. Near Gateacre village, New Lane came in from Childwall and the road dropped down Gateacre Brow to the main crossroads. Here Gateacre Chapel (still standing) had been built in 1700 for the local English Presbyterian congregation.
Gateacre village is historic, though the name itself seems to date only from the 17th century. The crossroads would have been an ancient stop-off point and there was probably at least one inn going back over the centuries. The road from Childwall to Hunts Cross (Childwall Lane/Halewood Lane/Mackits Lane) was part of the old packhorse trail from West Derby to Hale, which predates Liverpool itself.
  [Gateacre] is beautifully situated in a well-wooded vale, and is adorned with several gentlemen's residences. In the village is a Unitarian place of worship [...] which has an endowment of 20 acres of land, with a house for the minister. [TDE]
Off Childwall Lane were a house and farm called Gossty (Gorsey) Cop and beyond that Cockshead Farm. The fourth road from the crossroads was Belle Vale Road.
Gateacre Lane continued in Woolton village as Acrefield Lane, where it was met by Out Lane. Woolton grew up around the important sandstone quarrying activity there. Here was, and remains, Woolton Hall. It was built for the Molyneux family, as was Croxteth Hall, in 1704 by an unknown architect, though extensively modified later in the century.
  The chapelry [of Woolton ...] is beautifully situated amidst hill and dale; the air is salubrious, and mansions of the wealthy abound. [...] The views are extensive from the higher grounds, including the course of the Mersey, the Cheshire hills, and the mountains of Wales. A large stone-quarry is wrought. [TDE]
Leading out of Woolton were Sandy Lane and School Lane, the latter taking its name from the Old School House of 1610 that still stands there.
The Monk's Well c.1810
 
Mill Cottages
 
Wavertree Lock-Up
 
The Bloody Acre
 
Childwall Hall c.1825
 
The original Eton House
 
The Old School House
 
Acknowledgements
Many of the images are from the wonderful resource Ancestry Images, in turn sourced from Lancashire Illustrated, 1831/6 (Liverpool from Toxteth Park, engraved by J. Sands after a picture by G. Pickering, Wavertree Hall, engraved by W. LePetit after a picture by S. Austin) and Pictorial Relics of Ancient Liverpool, engraved by W.G. Herdman, 1843 (Park Road Windmill, The South Shore). The drawing of the Calderstones is by William Lathom, 1825. That and the drawing of the Waterfall on the Osklesbrok are from Mike Royden's invaluable Local History Pages. My thanks to all of the above. Childwall Hall, engraved by P.Heath after a picture by J.P.Neale, was published in Jones' Views of the Seats, Mansions, Castles, etc. of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, 1829. Roscoe's birthplace was engraved by Robert Wallis after a picture by S.Austin, published in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1832. The c.1815 engraving of Green Bank is from Nicholson's Views in the Vicinity of Liverpool, 1821, by Samuel and George Nicholson. The painting Solomon's Vaults is by Charles R. Wood, c.1910. The drawings of Knott's Hole and Dickenson's Dingle are from The History of King John's Royal & Ancient Park of Toxteth by Robert Griffiths, 1907. The engraving of Allerton Hall in 1812 is by J.P. Neale and is from his book Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen, 1824.
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.