Sandy Knowe, Mill Lane

Continue along Mill Lane until you are standing opposite the entrance to 'Mount Royal', a housing estate built in the 1990s on the site of the Olive Mount Childrens Hospital. The street names on this estate - Swan Crescent, Crossley Drive and Hollins Close - were suggested by the Wavertree Society, and commemorate former owners of the old Olive Mount mansion.

The large red sandstone house behind the wall to your right is called 'Sandy Knowe'. The conversion and extension of this early-Victorian house to form sheltered flats was carried out by Merseyside Improved Houses in 1975. Prior to that, the house had been used as an Independent Methodist church, but originally it was the home of Sir James Picton. Knighted in 1881 by Queen Victoria, Sir James died here at Sandy Knowe in 1889.

James Allanson Picton - architect, surveyor, historian and promoter of public libraries - had designed the house himself in 1847, having deliberately chosen the very highest point of Olive Mount: 215 feet above sea level. The son of a builder, he had been born in Highfield Street, off Tithebarn Street in Liverpool, in 1805, but later lived in Warren Street (near Brownlow Hill) before moving to Laurel Road (off Edge Lane) and finally to this house in Wavertree.

Picton was a seasoned traveller, being in the habit of touring different parts of Britain and Europe each summer. He was also a literary scholar, and named his new house after the farm where Sir Walter Scott was brought up, in the Scottish border country . In fact there is a distinct similarity between Sandy Knowe, here in Mill Lane, and Smailholm Tower - an old border fortress - which stands on a rocky outcrop by Sandyknowe Farm, near Kelso. The polygonal sandstone extension - displaying the family arms - was built to house Picton's own private library.

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