Concern has been mounting for some time now about the future of the former Manweb playing fields on Thingwall Road. The freehold of the land is owned by Liverpool City Council, but a 125 year lease was granted to Scottish Power in 1995 - in order to secure its maintenance as a recreational facility for members of the Liverpool Manweb Sports & Social Club. Following the demise of the club, Scottish Power advertised the lease for disposal in 2010, and it was sold to new owners on 6th June this year.

This land is the last remaining vestige of the open grounds of the Olive Mount 'country estate', created in the late 18th century when a fine sandstone mansion - now a Grade II listed building, the offices of Merseycare NHS Trust - was built off Mill Lane, Wavertree, for the wealthy Liverpool grocer James Swan. These grounds extended to the south as far as Childwall Road/Thingwall Road and to the north and east as far as the fence-line behind the present-day houses in Deverell Road, Northway and Southway. They were landscaped to enhance the views both of and from the house, which was given the name Olive Mount because of its elevated situation. The perimeter of the estate was planted with trees and shrubs, and landscape features including an ornamental 'fish pond' (later known as Harper's Pond, on the site of the present Olive Mount Gardens linear park) were created.

The house had a succession of wealthy owners in the 19th century. When the estate was purchased by the Liverpool Select Vestry in the 1890s, the grounds to the north of the house were used to build the Wavertree Cottage Homes in which orphans and other destitute children could live in 'family type' groups. The land to the south and east remained as open land, and the 1925 Ordnance Survey map indicates the eastern part as a 'Recreation Ground'. In the 1930s it was known as the L.O.G.O.S. - Liverpool Overseers' & Guardians Open Space? - Recreation Ground, which amongst other things was the venue for Wavertree Garden Suburb's annual Floral Queen Festival (see photo on next page). By the 1940s it had become known as the Liverpool Electric Supply sports ground, intended for the use of employees of the electricity department of Liverpool Corporation. MANWEB - the Merseyside & North Wales Electricity Board - took over the Corporation's power stations in 1947, was privatised as Manweb plc in 1990 and then purchased by Scottish Power in 1995.

The picture at the top of the page - of a cricket match on the Manweb field, with the Southway houses in the background - is No.5 in our series of Wavertree Garden Suburb Notelets, featuring the watercolours of the late Alan Bickley.

Continued . . .

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Page created 3 Sep 2011 by MRC, last updated 4 Sep 2011