Introduction

Woolton is in South-East Liverpool, the eastern border being also the border of the City of Liverpool for the most part. The photo below shows a view of the village from Woolton Woods, showing St. Peter's Church near the highest point in Liverpool, about 90 meters above sea level - the actual highest point might be somewhere else in the near vicinity, e.g. the storage reservoir further up the road. It was in St Peters' Hall that John Lennon first met Paul McCartney but that is probably of more interest to outsiders than it is to inhabitants of the area!

Above photo by kind permission of John Cumberland (Member of Woolton in Bloom Committee and Woolton Village Residents Association).


History

An iron-age encampment is said to have been identified on Camp Hill but no solid evidence has been found to support this assertion. Construction during the 19th. century would have destroyed any evidence, if there was any in the first place.

Recorded in the Domesday Book as Uluentune. 'Tune' (from Old English - tun indicates 'farm' (or homestead or village - the whole name indicates 'farm of Wulfa'.

The Knights Hospitallers held the area by 1189 until confiscated in 1559 during the dissolution of the monasteries, the land being transferred to the monarch for the next 70 years or so.

In the middle of the 17th. Century it was acquired by Isaac Greene, from whom it eventually passed to Bamber Gascoyne.

The 1851 census showed that 24% of the population were Irish. A noticeable concentration of poorer people were packed into the Quarry Street area, including Rose Street and Rodick Street.

It only became a part of Liverpool in 1913. The Eastern boundary is still today the boundary of Liverpool.

The names 'Much Woolton' and 'Little Woolton' crop up now and again. These names do still appear on maps of around 1900 - Much Woolton seems to correspond more or less to present-day Woolton while the former Little Woolton is the area 'beyond' Gateacre - the boundary between Much and Little Woolton passing through the center of Gateacre.

Victorian Age and its Wealth

About the whole area it has been said that this part of South Liverpool in Victorian times was the greatest example of conspicuous wealth in Britain, if not the world, which is a great accolade. And even now you can still get a feel of the reflection of that wealth that was generated in the city." -BBC

The above quote tells of an aspect that I had never been aware of previously. But presumably it could be true, taking into account the number of buildings hidden behind high walls, those that have disappeared, those that have been converted to other uses, etc. View BBC website.

Included in the relevant list of Victorian buildings are

Beaconsfield Road
Strawberry Fields   Now demolished. Home of shipowner, George Warren.
Abbots Lee School   Home of William Gottager, soap manufacturer in Widnes.
Beaconsfield   Built for Ambrose Lace, a solicitor, in 1833.
Stoneleigh   built as Fortfield House for Barton Wrigley in 1888/89
Knoll Park   built in the 1820s for Thomas Foster, Town Clerk of Liverpool. In 1978, this became St. Gabriel's Convent.
Woolton Hill Road
Bishop's House   home of Bishop of Liverpool. Formerly Baycliffe.
Church Road
Beechwood   built for James Rose
Rosemount   Built by James Rose for his mother.
Speke Road
Woolton Hall   Built iin the early 1700s.
Rose Brow
The Grange   built as the home of Andrew Barclay Walker, the brewer, whose name lives on in the Walker Art Gallery. The grounds originally backed on to Grange Lane.

Woolton Quarry

The quarries produced sandstone, most famously latterly for the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Quarrying in a major way dates from the early 1800s, with the name of James Rose figuring large, and many local buildings were built in the local stone. When work on the cathedral finished, the quarry closed soon after.

The 'new' quarry was towards the top of Quarry Street, away from the village. The 'old quarry' is at the near end of Quarry Street adjacent to the village. After it became disused it was used as arubbish tip initially and then latterly became used for small industrial units. I remember a fire breaking out among a pile of old tires stored there (in the 60s or 70s), producing a plume of smoke giving the impression of a major disaster when viewed from a distance - something that actually seems to have happened to a certain extent since then a few times as well.

Just a few buildings made from Woolton stone include Woolton Hall, Stoneleigh, Beaconsfield and Gateacre Grange.

There are other quarrying locations as well, notably adjacent to Reynolds Park, in Woolton Hill Road.

Whereas most souces say that the 'Quarrymen' were named after John Lennon's school (and mine as well - Quarry Bank School, but there is an alternative view. To quote a passage from www.liddypool.co.uk talking about original member Peter Shotton :- Pete Shotton also says that a reason they chose that name is because of the massive stone Quarry in Woolton, situated off Quarry Street. Pete said, "Since our native Woolton was pocked with sandstone quarries, and most of us attended Quarry Bank School, The Quarrymen seemed as good a choice as any." So in that sense, living in the shadow of the quarry, they were also 'Quarrymen'.

Quarry Steet

George Tipping relates his memories of the burning down of various houses on Quarry Street, for fire practice:

I'm not exactly sure when but I think it was about 1937/8. I remember them setting light to the top floors and the fire worked its way down. The chippy (owned by my grandmother) had two floors above street level and a 'semi' kind of cellar, the front door at street level and the rear down a level. Before it was a chippy it was the "Stag Inn" I remember all the shops along Quarry Street, but not the property behind them. By the way the tyre dump was previously the council tip, filling in the Old Quarry. Afterwards they moved down Allerton way, near Clarkes Gardens.

Bamber Gascoyne

Bamber Gascoyne There were two 'lords of the manor' with this name, based at Childwall Hall. The original Bamber married, in 1756, Mary Greene, who had inherited Childwall Hall and land in Woolton and elsewhere. The Hall had been rebuilt and renamed by her father, Isaac.

The second Bamber was MP for Liverpool from 1780-1796, and a leading light in the campaign to oppose all attempts to abolish slavery.

A descendant of the family, Bamber Gascoigne, is well known in Britain as a TV presenter.

In 1881, Ralph Brocklebank, ship owner became a tenant of the Hall.

In 1947, the Hall was presented to the Council, but it had to be demolished because of dry rot. In 1955, a college was opened on the site.

Woolton Old School

Woolton Old School

Probably the oldest building in the area. The date 1610 is displayed but it is thought to be earlier. It stopped being used as a school in the 19th. Century. After being converted into a house in the 1980s it has been back in use for educational purposes since about 1990 as a nursery school.

Woolton Cinema

"Woolton Picture House" is apparently the oldest cinema in Liverpool (opened in 1927) according to some sources, while others try to claim it is the oldest cinema in the North West. I remember that it was originally a bit of a 'joke' being so small, but that small size has presumably allowed it to stay open while larger cinemas have shut down.

In a similar way, both the library and the swimming baths are both the smallest in Liverpool, which was a bit of a disappointment at the time but I think the library particularly is probably of a typical size when compared nationally, i.e. libraries in Liverpool are generally larger than in most of the country. Similarly I get the impression that Liverpool has more swimming pools than most places. (When the Baths were being repaired in 1952, it was discovered that a well - about 8 meters deep and 2 meters wide - underneath the pool was only actually covered by the tiles of the swimming pool. It was re-covered with concrete. Jimmy Tarbuck chipped his tooth in Woolton baths, an obvious characteristic later on)

The cinema did shut on 3rd September 2006, but has now re-opened. Further details here.

Official website

Miscellaneous

Woolton Baths


The Pond, Woolton


Woolton Woods

The woods are almost "next door" to the village, with the contiguous Camp Hill at "the back" from where you have a view in the direction of Liverpool Airport. Woolton Woods was acquired by Liverpool in 1920 from James Reynolds (resident of present-day Reynold's Park) who had himself bought it 3 years beforehand from Woolton Hall, and camp Hill was bequeathed the following year. Cuckoo Clock in Woolton Woods

There is a cuckoo clock in a walled garden, bearing the inscription

This floral clock was presented to the public by the family of the late James Bellhouse Gaskell, in memory of his long stay in Woolton Woods, 1927

The Gaskell family had been resident at Woolton Woods since 1871 and the walled garden is the only surviving bit of the former mansion, originally the kitchen garden.

After a period of decay, this clock appears to be back in working order (without the cuckoo call). Although I believe that it might currently be out of order again due to vandalism.

Reynolds Park

Reynold's Park is a small (less than 6 hectares) park which was donated to Liverpool in 1929 by James Reynolds, a member of a cotton-owning family. His daughter continued to live at the park and was active in its development as a park. The original mansion burnt down in 1975

St. Peter's Church

St Peter's Church, Woolton

St. Peters's occupies the hill overlooking the village, at more or less the highest point in Liverpool - the top of the tower could be the highest point in Liverpool (although there is also some mention of this honor being held by the reservoir tower), about 90 meters above sea level. It was in the adjacent hall that John Lennon first met Paul McCartney.

It is built of sandstone and is one of the largest parish churches In Liverpool. It was finished in 1887, replacing an earlier chapel of 1826, described as being built 'in the worst style of British church architecture' by someone. It has stained glass windows by Charles Kempe and two by William Morris.

Their web site can be reached here.

Transport

In 1897, Liverpool City Council had taken over the running of the tramways. Although they seem to have been reluctant to get involved with buses initially despite obtaining powers to do so in 1909, on 1st January 1911 they did purchase the Woolton Omnibus Company's business for £934 - three buses, one charabanc and a leased garage in Allerton Rd.

Originally buses were used to connect Woolton to the trams at Calderstones,, but in 1924 the tramway was extended from Calderstones to Woolton along a reserved route, which was typical of a lot of Liverpool's tramways.. The relevant tram numbers were 4W, 5W, and 48 trams (the 4 and 5 only ran between Town and Calderstones).

The later route 66 was started in 1920, originally from between Garston and Woolton, extended to Gateacre in 1925.

Woolton trams were ended and replaced by buses in 1949 - the bus services 4 and 5 still exist. While not an expert, the story of the Liverpool trams seems to tell of missed opportunities. Although the tramway system had potential for the future (with reserved track, fairly large number of modern tramcars) , in 1945 it was decided to close it down in favor of the 'more economic' bus - the last tram ran in 1957. When I see today the tram making a revival, I can't help but think of the closing down of the coal mines. The closedown of the Liverpool system was probably hastened by a fire at Green Lane depot which destroyed about 60-odd trams, including a fair proportion of the more-modern trams.

Current bus routes are 4, 5, 73, and 78 to Town; the 81 between Speke and Bootle; the 66 between Garston and Belle Vale.

Crosville buses from Chester and Halewood also take passengers to and from Woolton, and the 89 St.Helens bus goes through Woolton between St.Helens and Garston.

There is information further down on Gateacre Railway Station.

John Lennon and the Beatles

John Lennon's House

John Lennon lived at 251 Menlove Avenue. I used to go past there every day on my way to school and back (to Quarry Bank, incidentally, John's old school), without having the slightest inkling that this was where he used to live !

The house was bought by Yoko Ono in 2002 and donated by her to the National Trust. They opened it to the public on Saturday 29 March 2003.

Arrangements in 2003 were as follows :- Tours run from March 29th to October 26th, 2003, Wednesdays - Sundays.

Tours depart at 10.30am and 11.20am from Albert Dock (0151 708 8574) and at 1.50pm and 3.55pm from Speke Hall (0151 427 7231).

These tour times may change, you are advised to telephone in advance to secure a seat. There is no direct access to these properties by car or foot.

Admission prices from 1 Mar 2003: Non-members: Adult 10, accompanied children free. Members (to cover minibus): 5. Price includes admission to garden and grounds of Speke Hall.

The Vanished World of a Woolton Childhood with John Lennon

Profile: Len Garry John Lennon's first bass player with news on the 1997 reunion of John's original Quarry Men

Beatles and Woolton


Well Met in Woolton

Program on Radio 4
What happened when two young rockers met at a church fete? Only the birth of the Beatles...

It's hard to believe that a serendipitous meeting at a local garden fete in suburban Woolton, on the outskirts of Liverpool, could engineer a social and cultural revolution-namely, the genesis of the Beatles. But in among the villagers with their prams, the yeomanry and the youth club, and the garlanded trucks carrying the newly crowned Rose Queen, 50 years ago at Woolton fete, on 6 July 1957, Ivan Vaughan introduced his two mates to each other: fellow 15-year-old Paul McCartney and 16-year-old John Lennon.

Lennon was a member of the Quarrymen, five boys from Quarry Bank School with a love of skiffle who'd got permission to play the fete so that the youth had their own entertainment. It was such a momentous meeting - the birth of what was to become the Beatles - that both Radios 4 and 2 are broadcasting separate documentaries, but while last week's When John Met Paul on Radio 2 concentrated on the music (plus a new interview with McCartney), Well Met in Woolton splices together the memories of those who attended the fete to create a simple, yet profound, nostalgic slice of life that the Beatles were about to change for good.

One of those voices reminiscing is Lennon's younger half-sister Julia Baird, who was ten at the time; another is McCartney himself, captured on tape in 1998 by Baird when she was researching her book John Lennon: My Brother. 'Paul talks through the whole setting up of the Beatles; he admits he was a bit frightened of John, who was the bigger one, with a quiff, while Paul was practically in boy-scout uniform!"

The initial meeting, after the Quarrymen had set up in the local church hall, was equal amounts recognition and suspicion of one another's talents. McCartney enjoyed Lennon, a prototype Teddy Boy, singing the Del-Vikings' Come Go with Me with improvised lyrics; Lennon, in turn, was astounded when left-hander McCartney picked up Lennon's guitar, turned it upside down and played proper guitar chords (instead of the Quarrymen's banjo tunings) and sang every word to Eddie Cochran's Twenty Flight Rock.

Two days later, Lennon invited McCartney to join the Quarrymen. "From everything I've read," says Baird, "John was jealous because Paul was so suave and good-looking, but John recognised that, for the good of the group, Paul was right for it. John even said Paul looked a bit like Elvis, which was a compliment from John. I can tell you! Paul was dead keen from the start. Years later, they diverged with their talents, but at that point they were just two rockers."

This year's Woolton fete is being held over three days, a sign of the popularity of festivals and the changing times, which have left the Beatles behind much as it has the Quarrymen. But the Quarrymen, with founder member Rod Davis fronting the band, are appearing again, in the same church hall where John met Paul. "Wouldn't it be wonderful," says Julia Baird, "if Paul turned up? He says he likes playing small clubs again; Paul the rocker! You never know."

Martin Aston

BBC Site for the 'Well in Woolton' site

The Quarrymen   site of the current Quarrymen group, including some further information on the above-mentioned event

Gateacre

Gateacre at the turn of the century

This image shows the Wilson Memorial Fountain on Gateacre Village Green at the beginning of the 20th century. John Hays Wilson, of Lee Hall, was Chairman of the Liverpool Water Committee and was involved in the plan to construct Lake Vyrnwy. He died in 1881, before the project began, and this memorial was erected by 'the people of Gateacre' on land presented by Andrew Barclay Walker. In the background can be seen Gateacre railway station (allegedly).

Gateacre Railway Station

Gateacre Station was situated on what was originally the Cheshire Lines Committee's North Liverpool Extension Line which connected its main Liverpool to Manchester line to the north Liverpool docks at Huskisson by skirting through rural land to the east of Liverpool - at the time Gateacre was a small rural village. The line opened between 1879 and 1880 An 1887 Junction diagram shows the station being referred to as Gateacre & Woolton

On 1st September 1884 a further extension of the route opened to Southport Lord Street although it this line ran into difficulties at an early stage. It failed its first inspection in December 1883 so did not open until 1884. Its indirect route and longer journey time meant that this line was not very successful. Low passenger numbers forced the Cheshire Lines Committee's parent companies to save the line from bankruptcy (not being able to pay its debts) in 1888. The Cheshire Lines Committee's service became even slower by comparison when the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway's line switched to electric operation in 1904.

The line was always busy with goods trains accessing the docks. Passenger services from Gateacre went north to Aintree Central and Southport as well as to Huskisson (the line to Aintree/Southport and the line to Huskisson split at Walton Triangle), although this latter service was cut back to Walton on the Hill as early as 1885 and ceased altogether on 1st January 1918. To the South trains served destinations to Liverpool Central and to Manchester.

The first major service to be withdrawn was the Southport service on 7th January 1952, followed by the service for Aintree Central and Manchester on 7th November 1960. This left only the Gateacre to Liverpool Central service, which ended on 15th April.1972 supposedly as a temporary measure to facilitate the construction of the Merseyrail Loop and link lines in the City Centre. The intention was that Gateacre would reopen complete with electrification as part of this network and in the future passenger services would even reopen towards Aintree. The line from Livertpool Central did re-open as far as Garston in 1978 and to Hunts Cross in 1983 but since then nothing has happened (there is a suspicious connection with the election of Thatcher in 1979 and her attitude to public transport).

Goods traffic had steadily declined and in its later years became a single track branch running from Hunts Cross to Huskisson. The last goods trains ran in August 1975.

The line was lifted by a demolition train over a number of Sundays in early 1979.

Map of Liverpool Railways

Click on above map for further details

Today the route is part of the National Cyclway Network Route 62 - The Trans Pennine Trail. Information on the Liverpool end can be downloaded here.

Route 62 of the National Cycle Network

Stations on the Main line
  • Hunts Cross which was the junction with CLC Liverpool to Manchester line. Hunts Cross is still open today, served by electric trains

  • Gateacre (1 December 1879-15 April 1972)

  • Childwall (1 December 1879-1 January 1931).

  • Knotty Ash (1 December 1879-7 November 1960)

  • West Derby (1 December 1879-7 November 1960).

  • Clubmoor (14 April 1927-7 November 1960).

  • Walton on the Hill (1 December 1879-1 January 1918)

  • Huskisson (13 July 1880-1 May 1886).

Stations on the North branch
.
  • Warbreck (1 August 1929-7 November 1960).

  • Aintree Central (13 July 1880-7 November 1960).

Stations on the Southport extension
  • Aintree Central (also known as Aintree). (13 July 1880-7 November 1960).

  • Old Roan railway station. (1884)

  • Sefton and Maghull railway station, Maghull. (1884-1952).

  • Lydiate. (1884-1952).

  • Altcar and Hillhouse, (Altcar) (1884-1952).

  • Mossbridge (1884-1952).

  • Woodvale (1884-1952).

  • Ainsdale Beach (Ainsdale). (1884-1952).

  • Birkdale Palace (Birkdale). (1884-1952).

  • Southport Lord Street. (1884-1952).

Publications

I Remember, I Remember by J.F.Marsh.  Taken from J.F.Marsh's book Parts 1 & 2 'The Story of a Woolton Pub' 1930 in which the author wrote in the preface:-
Breathe there the soul so dead
That never to themselves has said
This is my own, my native spot.

Personal History

Just in case there is anyone out there who is past acquaintance of mine (Email given at the left).

I attended Woolton County Primary, Out Lane. I have information of two web sites

Infants - Teachers (Headteacher : Miss Garrett)

  • Miss Fiddler
  • Mrs Fisher
  • Mrs Bland (Twice)
  • Mrs Wright

This is a picture from about 1960 or 1961

Enlarged picture

My attempts to remember the personalities here

?, ?, Stephen Langford, Margaret Ashley, David Palmer, Nick Willasey, Robert Morton

?, ?, ?, ?, Anne Whitfield, ?, ?, ?

?, ?, ?, ?, Steve Chapman, Christine Paisley, ?, Brian Daugherty, Billy Hargreaves, ?,

?, ?, Dilys Scowcroft, Judith Warren, ?, Elaine Mordaunt, ?, Stephen Puddifer

?, Rowena Allen, Ian Whittington, ?, Gillian Clarke, ?


Juniors - Teachers (Head : Mr O' Connor)

  • 1st Year - Miss Jones
  • 2nd Year - Miss Wright
  • 3rd Year - Mr Mathews
  • 4th Year - Miss Morgan

This is a picture from about 1964

Enlarged picture

My attempts to remember the personalities here

Angela Pink, Judith Warren, Carole Davy, David Palmer, Davis Mortensen, Alan Holdsworth, ?, ?

Avis Powell, Tony Bushell, Ewan Simpson, Brian Daugherty, Jonathon Moerschner, David Foster, Gillian Clarke, Robert Morton, ?, Christine Paisley

Alison Knight, Helen Chapell, Lydia Brown, Rohan Bates, Stephanie Williams, Janet Sefton, Richard Kenney, Judith Smith, Carol Shinkfield, ?, Alan Overend


I was a member of 33rd. Allerton Scout Troop, based at the Congregational Church.

Cubs - (Akela : Mrs McKenzie)

Scouts - (Skip : Mr Wilson)

I was a member of 2359 Air Training Corps on Speke Road.



  • Assistance Required

    To start off, this link goes to the Archive for this section


    Do you know who owns Woolton Hall?

    If so do you have an email address for them, or could you give them mine?

    Regards, Chris

    Chris Wynn.


    Just wondering, was there ever a house called Oakfield Grange in or around Oakfield Road in Gateacre ?

    Hazel

    Hazel MacMichael.


    Hello Brian,   I have recently moved into Camphill Rd, off School Lane. I have been told that our house was built on what used to be a glass bottle works but I can't find any info, any help would be much appreciated, thanks Paul McIntyre.

    Paul McIntyre.


    Hello Brian:

    My name is Joanne Nelson. I live in British Columbia Canada. My great-grandfather was George W. Warren, Shipbuilder & Owner of George Warren Ltd. He owned Strawberry Fields, later passed on to the Salvation Army.

    I am currently working on my family tree and I am having difficulty finding personal information on my great-grandfather regarding his family pre- and post- marriage? One of his daughters married my grand-father, Cecil Bateson who established Messrs. Bateson and Company in Liverpool . My father was John Keith Neilsen Bateson.

    Any information you can send me regarding my family heritage would be most appreciated or where, in particular, I can find same.

    Joanne Nelson (nee Bateson)


    Hi my name is Jeanette Daley, was Cookson at the time. I went to Gateacre School and later I worked at Oakfield Special School for Riding for the disabled, l worked with the horses. (This was in the early 80s and there was meant to be a haunting. Of a grey lady in the house - although I never really saw anything we did hear things that were unexplainable and saw lights coming on or turning off by themselves when there would only be Fred the care taker and myself in the building and the grounds). I have tried to find information on the school but never been able to, I'd be grateful if you could help. You can reach me at

    janlakeside@yahoo.co.uk


    Dear Brian,

    I am researching a soldier during the great war CSM Martin Swanick 1880-1927 whose father and family lived in Quarry St. Woolton; his father (also Martin) was a carter and carried stone for the Anglican Cathedral. CSM Swanick won the DCM during the retreat from Mons in 1914 with the Kings Regt. Do you know anyone in Woolton who maybe knew or knows of the family......yours sincerely

    George Wilson


    Hi Brian,

    I wonder if you may be able to advise me? I am trying to find out what the land was before the houses on Ridgetor Road and Linkstor Road were built?

    Gaynor Finneran


    Hi

    I'm trying to find out about the land now occupied by Allerton Allotment Society Keswick Road/Allerton Road.

    I understand it was once owned by a Mrs Ebbs who sold / Gave it to Liverpool City Council but that's as far as I seem to be able to go.

    I would be very grateful for any help you could give me

    Tom O'Rourke


    Dear Brian

    My friend has recently acquired Woolton Wood Lodge and I am helping him restore the building.

    I was wondering whether you could point me in the direction of someone/organisation who might have photographic records of Woolton Manor and WWL.

    Kindest Regards

    Glen Penrhyn-Lowe


    "I am conducting oral history research - specifically with people who have family oral histories relating to Woolton 1860s - 1940. I can be contacted at aliceliverpool@hotmail.com if anyone has any contacts. I am interested in everyday stories about such things as housing, schooling, working, family values, relationships, religious observations, death, illegitimacy, spinsters, local characters, local customs etc. etc. All privacy respected."

    Alice Bennett


    I wonder if you can help me. According to the 1851 census an ancestor of mine lived at No. 1 High Street, Much Woolton - she was listed as a servant and was the only occupant of the house. I have been to Woolton but have been unable to find No. 1, I have only seen the even numbers. Any help would be appreciated.

    Patricia Felton


    Hi Brian

    I am helping my father look for his birth family as he was adopted in 1948 and his birth certificate mention he was originally from Woolton Road. He has his birth mother's name - Constance Peters and I wonder if you could help us shed some light on the Peters family if possible please? I note some of your pictures are of a similar era to my father and wonder if you could provide any further information if possible. My father was adopted at the age of approx. 9 months old.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks in advance

    Danielle Fairclough



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