Spotlight on . . .


Below: An extract from Bennison's map of 1835 (rotated 67 degrees clockwise, so North is at the top) compared with the present-day Ordnance Survey street map for the same area. The thick black line (which is in fact colour-tinted on the original map) is the West Derby/Wavertree township boundary.

Part 1

Intriguingly, Wavertree Hall is marked on Bennison's map of the Environs of Liverpool (1835) as the property of Thomas Hawkes. Hawkes, who was M.P. for Dudley at one time, lived in Himley, Staffordshire. His wife Alice Anne is said to have inherited Wavertree Hall, and the Manor of Garston, from her father, John Blackburne. This John Blackburne, who was Mayor of Liverpool in 1788, is always described as living at "Blackburne House in Hope Street and Wavertree Hall", so it would seem that it was Blackburne who had lived there before Lawrence moved in. Perhaps Lawrence - a Liverpool merchant who traded with the West Indies - was Thomas Hawkes's tenant, rather than the owner of the house.

By 1839, Wavertree Hall was the home of the Liverpool corn merchant Joshua Walmsley, who was a noted reformer of public services, served as Mayor in 1839-40 and was knighted in 1840. However, after failing to secure election to Parliament for the Liverpool constituency in 1841, he moved to Ranton Abbey in Staffordshire. Wavertree Hall was demolished in 1843 - presumably its proximity to the railway had by this time made it much less desirable as a gentleman's residence - when its grounds were acquired by the Liverpool Corporation as the site for a new prison. After an outcry from local residents, however, this plan was abandoned (the prison was built in Walton instead) and the land became derelict. In 1856 it was re-landscaped as a Public Open Space (called Wavertree Park), alongside the formerly private Botanic Gardens, for the benefit of the rapidly-growing local population.

(To be continued in a future Newsletter)

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