The site of Wavertree Mill

Beverley Road is marked on the Wavertree Enclosure Map of 1768 as an unnamed trackway leading from the present-day Church Road (before the church was built) to what was, even then, regarded as an ancient windmill site. The mill itself stood just behind the pair of modern semis: Nos 35 and 37 Beverley Road. These houses were built in 1986 after the City Council granted planning permission for the mill's remains to be swept away. A vigorous campaign by the Wavertree Society failed to prevent the development, though it did result in a thorough archaeological investigation of the site, and the relocation of some of the bricks and stone blocks from the mill's foundations. This material remains on view - in the front gardens of the modern houses - together with an old millstone which was also recovered from the site.

Numerous photographs exist of Wavertree Mill in varying states of dereliction, prior to its demolition in 1916. It was a 'post mill', consisting of a circular brick base and an unusually-shaped timber superstructure. The timber part, including the sails, could be turned to face the wind. It revolved around a huge central post, which was supported by four timber 'legs' hidden within the brickwork. The stone slabs which survive each supported one of these legs, and the ring of bricks indicates their position in relation to the base. A few yards out from the base was a ring of stone blocks - clearly visible in 1985, but now completely destroyed - on which ran a large cartwheel attached to the end of a wooden pole. This pole projected from the body of the mill, and was the means by which it was turned round.

In spite of all the surrounding housing development, and the fact that the remains of the mill have been moved some 15 yards, it is still possible to appreciate why this site was chosen in medieval times for what was one of only four 'Kings Mills' in the Liverpool area. The ground slopes away in all directions, ensuring a good flow of wind to the sails. Records indicate the existence of a mill here as long ago as 1452 - a document of 1475 refers to a "mill called Watremylne" - and for almost 200 years it was the property of the Crown. In 1639 Charles I granted it, along with the Township of Wavertree, to Lord Strange, son of the Earl of Derby. Wavertree Mill was valuable property, for it carried with it the power of 'soke': that is the power to seize the produce, or the cart and horses, of any local farmer who refused to bring his corn to be ground.

By the eighteenth century - which was the estimated date of the remains uncovered by the archaeological dig - the mill had passed into the hands of the Lord of the Manor, Mr Bamber Gascoyne, who lived at Childwall Hall. The Wavertree Enclosure Act of 1768 prohibited the erection of any house or building, or the planting of any trees or the growth of any existing trees, within 200 yards of the mill "to such a height as to prevent the going of the said windmill". In the nineteenth century this caused problems for Col. James Bourne of Heathfield - the mansion whose grounds were later to be developed by Charles Berrington - for he was very keen on trees and liberally planted them around the perimeter of his estate. Threatened with legal action by the Marquess of Salisbury - Bamber Gascoyne's successor - Col. Bourne eventually decided to lease the mill himself in order to avoid having to cut down his trees.

The above is an extract from 'DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE',
. © Mike Chitty 1999.

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Page created by MRC 26 February 2000.