A review of our November talk - by Anna Alexander

On 20th November, the Gateacre Society was pleased to welcome back Beryl Plent. This time we heard about the people who lived in some of the big houses in and around Acrefield Road; and what a celebrated group they were.

Henry Tate lived in 'Highfield'. Born in Chorley in 1819, he started a career as a grocer in Liverpool, eventually owning six shops. Approaching 40 he moved into the sugar business. With two sons as partners, he built Love Lane refinery, which opened in 1872. A Unitarian, he attended Gateacre Chapel and donated the Good Samaritan window to the chapel. Beryl showed us a photograph of the illuminated scroll which marked his inauguration as a Freeman of the City of Liverpool. Henry went on to build a sugar refinery in London and used his great wealth to build the National Gallery of British Art, 'The Tate'. A true philanthropist, he gave away much of his wealth. Bequests to Manchester College at Oxford University were to encourage the teaching of Unitarianism. Retired at 77, he died age 80 in 1899. Sir Henry Tate had moved to London in the 1880s but his son, William Henry, lived at Highfield until the 1920s, then the house became the Liverpool Babies Hospital.

'Aymestrey Court' was the home of Colonel H.J. Robinson who married Tate's daughter Agnes. He commanded the 6th Lancashire regiment and died in 1906. Subsequently the house was a special school, then the Redbourne Hotel. It is now a private house once again. Henry H. Bardswell, president of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and well-known cricketer, lived at 1 Woolton Mount. His daughter married a member of the Walker family. We viewed a photograph of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, in mayoral robes for he was twice Mayor of Liverpool. Moving to Gateacre in the 1860s he rebuilt 'Gateacre Grange', Rose Brow, in 1867-69. The Walker Art Gallery, his gift to the city, opened in 1877. Sir Andrew, head of the well-known brewing firm, died in 1893 and is buried at Childwall church. His son William Hall Walker kept polo ponies at Gateacre Grange and a stud farm in Ireland. In 1896, age 39, he married Sophie Sheridan, a descendant of the poet. To celebrate the marriage 2,500 guests were invited to Gateacre Grange, many being brewery employees.

'The Priory' on Woolton Hill Road was the residence of Sir Arthur Bower Forwood, merchant, shipowner, magistrate, Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1877, MP for Ormskirk, and a secretary to the Admiralty - the only one to have ever lived outside London. A monument to him can be seen in St John's Gardens. Later, living at The Priory, was cotton broker Mr Paul E.J. Hemelryk consul to Japan in Liverpool who spoke five languages.

Thomas Rodick built No.4 Gateacre Brow (originally 'Kendal Cottage') in the early 1800s. A Unitarian, born in Kendal, he also had an estate in Arnside. His youngest daughter, Janet Preston Rodick, inherited all his property. She moved to the Nook and then to London on her marriage. The Thornely family moved into the house, renaming it 'Browside'. James Thornely was a solicitor as well as law clerk to the Little Woolton Local Board. He married Laura Roscoe, granddaughter of the famous William Roscoe. They moved up the hill to 'Baycliff', later the home of iron merchant George Rathbone, which now, as the residence of Liverpool's Anglican bishops, is known as 'Bishops Lodge'.

Thanks to Beryl for another fascinating talk.

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