Olive Mount

Walk along Thingwall Road, keeping the sandstone wall on your left. In the nineteenth century this wall was the boundary of the Olive Mount estate. Olive Mount was a Georgian mansion which set the pattern for a whole series of similar houses, standing in their own grounds, forming a virtual ring around the old village of Wavertree: Sandown Hall, Westdale House and The Grange being other examples. Close to the point where the road bears round to the right was an ornamental lake (marked as 'fish pond' on the 1893 Ordnance Survey map).

Continue on Thingwall Road, walking alongside the Manweb sports ground. Between the tower blocks of Olive Mount Heights and the Manweb club-house you will see a red-brick building: a former school, now the Art Annexe of Childwall Comprehensive. This building is all that survives of the Wavertree Cottage Homes complex, built in the grounds of Olive Mount at the very end of the nineteenth century. Just a few yards further along - from opposite No.78 Thingwall Road - you should be able to catch a glimpse of the mansion itself: immediately to the right of Olive Mount Heights.

Olive Mount - the mansion - seems to have been built in the early 1790s for Mr James Swan. Swan was a grocer and tea dealer who had business premises in Castle Street, Liverpool, and who in 1790 had lived very close by in Redcross Street (between the present Derby Square and the river). Gore's Liverpool Directory for 1796 lists him for the first time as living in Wavertree. He was then 47 years old, and business was obviously going well. Whether Swan's new house gave its name to the hill on which it stood, or vice versa, we do not know, but he must have chosen this spot - one of the highest points in the vicinity of Liverpool - for its elevated position and views across the open countryside. The house is typically Georgian in style, and built of local cream sandstone.

James Swan died, aged 80 years, in 1829. The house was put up for sale, and at the time of the 1841 Census it was the residence of 50 year old Luke Thomas Crossley, who was described as 'Independent' (i.e. not working for a living) and born outside Lancashire. Living with him at Olive Mount were his wife, their six daughters (aged 5-14) and five servants. By 1861 the Crossleys had moved away, and the house was occupied by Adam Steuart Gladstone, an East India merchant who seems to have been unrelated to the famous Liverpool-born Prime Minister. By 1871 Francis Hollins, a cotton broker, had arrived. And by 1881 Olive Mount was the home of another merchant: Thomas Dyson Hornby, the nephew of Hugh Hornby of Sandown Hall. Then in 1897 the estate was purchased by the Liverpool Select Vestry, for the building of Cottage Homes

Dwarfed and overshadowed by the three thirteen-storey blocks of flats - built just yards away from its front door in 1963, before it became a Listed Building - the mansion has lost its original privacy, and its view, but it remains a fine example of a Georgian merchant's residence.

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