Spotlight on . . .ROADS THAT NEVER WERE
In the early 18th century, Wavertree was a rural village, with few connections to anywhere else. Yates & Perry's map of 1768 shows Wavertree Lane (nowadays Picton Road/Wavertree Road) linking it to Liverpool three miles away, and a couple of trackways crossing the heath or common land to the east. It was the Wavertree Enclosure Act of 1768 that replaced these trackways by proper roads, including the present-day Thingwall Road meandering towards Broad Green, and the present-day Woolton Road running in a straight line and named on the Enclosure Map as "the Road from Hamiltons Firr Nook towards Gateacre".
As the town of Liverpool expanded during the 19th century, villages such as Wavertree and the dense mass of housing that had grown up within commuting distance of the port and commercial districts came to be regarded as obstacles to the free movement of people and goods within and around the emerging city. A variety of solutions were put forward to solve the problems of congestion, and they often involved the building of new roads.
One early scheme was for a 'Wavertree by-pass' that would have been a continuation of Woolton Road towards the centre of Liverpool. This is referred to in Samuel Lewis's 'Topographical Dictionary of England' published in 1848: "a new road is projected, from Gateacre, past Wavertree, through Spekelands, to the end of Myrtle-street, Liverpool; the houses are to be of the first class, and the road will form one of the principal entrances into the town". As the new terraced streets were laid out in the area between Wavertree Road and Smithdown Road, provision was made for this new road - which is known today as Earle Road and Lawrence Road. The Minutes of the Wavertree Local Board of Health for 23 Jan 1860 refer to it as "Childwall Road [which] is intended to run from the junction of Smithdown Lane and Lodge Lane in the Borough of Liverpool to Wavertree Church, a portion of the line of road is already sewered". On 8 May 1866 it was reported that tenders had been obtained for forming "Serjeantson Road, late Childwall Road", and on 9 Oct 1866 it was resolved that the "new street at the Iron Church (late Childwall Road), Wellington Road to Bagot Street, now being made by Mr A Thomas at Mr Serjeantson's expense … be called Lawrence Road".
On the Local Board's insistence, a bridge had been included within the railway embankment - built in 1863-64 as part of the 'Edge Hill & Garston Deviation' - to allow the proposed road to pass underneath. But the vital link between Fir Lane and Lawrence Road was never built. If it had been, then Wavertree Playground - The Mystery - would almost certainly not exist today.
(To be continued)