The First National Standard Pillar Box

Long Lane is one of the oldest roads in Wavertree - it appears on some early maps as a continuation of the meandering Pighue (or Picko) Lane - yet the part of it immediately east of this point is still unadopted by the City Council. Before crossing to the other side of Sandown Lane, walk to the pillar-box which, you will soon discover, lacks any sort of royal cipher. This box was installed here as long ago as 1865: the date and the maker's name - Cochrane Grove & Co of Dudley - are cast in metal near the base. It is one of the few surviving examples of the so-called First National Standard type of box, a design that was introduced in 1859 but quickly superseded owing to the fact that rainwater could so easily enter the slot. In 1982, when it was temporarily removed for refurbishment, the Post Office revealed that only three others of its type remained in use.

Why should a pillar-box have been erected in this particular location? Look across Long Lane for a clue: a single-storey house in Sandown Road with a carved sandstone pillar alongside. The stone pillar was one of a pair which, in the nineteenth century, supported gates facing across to the end of Sandown Lane, while the house was the gatekeeper's lodge. This was the entrance to Sandown Park, an exclusive residential estate laid out in the late 1840s by local architect Cornelius Sherlock. As in the case of similar estates elsewhere on Merseyside - such as Grassendale Park and Rock Park - plots were made available for the building of large villas (either detached or semi-detached) whose residents could enjoy the tranquillity and prestige of landscaped grounds without the expense of maintaining the whole estate themselves. By the 1860s about twenty houses had been built in the Park - the householders listed in Gore's Directory for 1862 including 9 merchants, 3 brokers, 2 attorneys, a brassfounder and a silversmith - and it was obviously felt that a local pillar-box was fully justified.

The above is an extract from 'DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE',
. © Mike Chitty 1999.
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Page created by MRC 26 February 2000.