Newstead, Old Mill Lane

After a few more yards Olive Lane merges with Mill Lane. Cross the end of Valencia Road, a 1930s cul-de-sac built on the site of Valencia House. This was - in the late nineteenth century - the home of fruit broker William M'George: hence, presumably, the name Valencia.

Stop and look across the main road, towards Old Mill Lane: the original course of Mill Lane until it was straightened and widened in the late 1920s to carry electric trams. The impressive, stuccoed building with the castellated turret is 'Newstead', now a Roman Catholic residential home but originally a private house. In 1881 it was the home of Joseph Smith, an iron merchant, who lived there with his wife, three small children and no less than eight domestic servants. The Census records that both he and his wife (aged 48 and 39 respectively) had been born in Liverpool, but the servants were drawn from a wide area: a laundry-maid from Wavertree, a nurse and under-nurse from Liverpool, a kitchen-maid from Chester, a maid from St Asaph, and two housemaids from Ruabon.

In 1890 Mr Smith sent a letter of protest to the Wavertree Local Board of Health, which was constantly striving to improve the amenities of the district:

"My dear Sir, I must ask the Board not to put a seat opposite my field. The one put by the lake is a nuisance, roughs from the Swan use it and I was told by one who passed it a few nights back that the language of those using it made him shudder. Besides the footpath is not wide enough, anyone sitting on it with his legs out would compel all passengers to walk into the road...
"P.S. Respectable people do not sit on such from ten to 11 at night."

A century later, perhaps similar views would be expressed! Certainly, to judge from the Minute Books of the Local Board, the 'good old days' in Wavertree were by no means free from controversy and the problems which we think of as modern.

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