Half way along Longmoor Lane is a path leading to Harbreck Cottages and out again on Lower Lane. Sadly, this path and many others like it are lost. Census records show a number of lanes that have disappeared from the area such as "Old Lane" and "Intake Lane" but it is impossible to say where they were exactly. The 1828 map states that many properties around here were owned by Richard Leyland. This was Richard Bullin who assumed the name of his uncle, partner and benefactor Thomas Leyland.
Richard Leyland/Bullin was a member of the Leyland and Bullins family who owned much of the land and property in this area including Fazakerley Hall and Walton Hall. The Leyland/Bullins family made much of their fortune as merchants in the growing City of Liverpool, mostly from the slave trade. Uncle Thomas Leyland was mayor of Liverpool three times and Richard once. Thomas was able to buy the grand Walton Hall from the family of another successful slaver John Atherton. Much is already written about this family who had a step up the ladder from a lottery win and ended up in banking as Leyland and Bullins. This was eventually sold and then through various mergers ended up as part of a well known bank.
Between January and June of 1847, 300,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Liverpool trying to escape death and destruction caused by the potato famine. Starving and ill they took shelter where they could crowding into attics and cellars in horrendous courts with no sanitary arrangements. In escaping the terror of starvation they faced another - typhus. 5, 239 people died of typhus that year with another 2,236 from diarrhoea and dysentery. Meanwhile other diseases such as TB, scarlatina, measles and many more continued to take their toll.
Life was harsh for many, but some people did what they could to help. Kitty Wilkinson understood the importance of cleanliness, allowing her neighbours the use of her boiler to wash infected bedding. Her actions led to the founding of the "wash house" Kitty also cared for orphaned children.
Agnes Jones was a prodigy of Florence Nightingale who worked at the Fever Hospital on Brownlow Hill. She contracted typhus while caring for the sick and dying and died herself from exhaustion on 19th February 1868.
A figure who is well remembered for his efforts to improve the health of Liverpool people is Dr William Henry Duncan who practised in Rodney Street, taking on extra duties in the Liverpool Dispensary in Vauxhall Road, where he witnessed great suffering. He warned at the time that fever would continue while living accommodation was dirty and lacking fresh air. He believed in quarantining patients to remove them from the "miasma". The theory worked but for different reasons not known at the time. Dr Duncan was appointed as the first Medical Officer of Health in England and Public Health has remained a important facet of health care ever since, but his career was not without controversy. As part of his quest to clean up the city he enforced the closing up of cellars without contingency plans for the housing of the homeless, forcing many thousands onto the streets.
In 1849 the General Board of Health ordered the removal of persons from rooms where diseases appeared. Temporary hospitals were set up often too late; some of the sick were taken to the Workhouse spreading the diseases further amongst a susceptible population. Over the coming years and various epidemics it became apparent, although unpopular, that isolation of patients was as important as the need for social change. Fifty years later, the City Hospital Fazakerley was one of the hospitals built around Liverpool to cope with the ever-growing need.
The City Council bought the land in 1898 and opened up the Annexe section in 1901. It contained 160 beds for smallpox patients and was intended as a temporary hospital until the larger City Hospital was built, however it was still in use in the 1950's. This temporary hospital consisted of a brick pavilion, four wooden pavilions, an isolation pavilion and discharge block, mortuary, coalhouse as well as other small functional buildings. Harbreck House was used as the nurses quarters and administration block.
It is difficult to imagine the small beginnings of such a vast institution. The 1901 census reveals that there was an isolation hospital in Higher Lane at this time, however, there were just 18 staff, all female, unmarried or widowed between the ages of 18 to 43 staying there that night caring for 25 patients under the age of 16. One of these people was the Matron Catherine Berry, a 32 year old single woman born in Liverpool. Tracing Catherine back through previous census gives a little insight into the life of the First Matron. In 1881 she was living with her father William, a general labourer from Ireland, and her mother Mary, a midwife, in Romeo Street Kirkdale. By 1891 she had chosen her career, perhaps influenced by her mother, and is recorded as an officer at the Mount Pleasant Workhouse. Moving away from the bustle of an inner city workhouse to a small hospital almost in the countryside must have been a big change for her.
Higher Lane is an ancient road which almost still follows the path of old field boundaries. Leave behind the Victorian houses at the beginning of the road, cross the railway bridge and you almost enter a time capsule, sandstone walls of old farms, large trees and as many wild blackberries as you could ever want. The course of the road has been changed by the building of the prison and its access roads but you can still see the red brick hospital walls and ornamental entrance.
Carved sandstone blocks lie carelessly scattered among the trees hinting at the earlier history of a grand building . Ivy and wildflowers have grown over paths which were laid out as part of the wealthy merchant's estate and in later years, where patients exercised. How different this must have seemed from the squalor of the inner city.
Fazakerley Brook, a tributary of the River Alt, meanders through the trees at the back of the hospital cutting under Lower Lane near the ambulance station. The old stone bridge is hardly noticeable in the rush of the present day traffic, but floods caused by heavy rainfall will quickly remind any passer-by of the natural geography of the area.
A Bridge in the Woods
Facilities for staff were to be the best as they lived in, rarely going home. This postcard dated Jan 1st 1907 may have been sent by a nurse or patient to her sister in Walton. Not that far away but isolation meant just that. The views on the postcard show pristine new buildings and immature gardens. This was the City Hospital's first Christmas and New Year -there have been another 101 since and many of the buildings such as Aintree House remain in excellent condition.
A stroll around the north part of the hospital grounds shows the layout of the old City Hospital. Enter via Longmoor Lane and see the imposing Aintree House ahead of you. Just beyond the gateposts to the left and right are the medical superintendents residence and the porters lodge now used for other purposes. Aintree House was the original administration block with the kitchen attached and beyond that, the nurses home. The entrance contains two brass plaques from 1906, firstly, describing a brief history and the function of the hospital, and secondly, listing the members of the Port Sanitary and Hospitals Committee of the Council of the City of Liverpool.
Take a right turn at Aintree House and walk along the path to the end, you will eventually come to an example of one of the pavilion wards, sadly neglected and covered in graffiti.
At the back of Aintree House is the old nurses home with the kitchen block joining the two. The small building across the grass was the laboratory and dispensary (now Central Stores). There is a porters lodge and a mortuary situated on Lower Lane side which no longer exist. Many other buildings are still used but many have disappeared under much needed car parking space.
The picture above shows that the City Hospital ends behind what is now the maintenance department. A look at the map below shows that there was still plenty of land between the City Hospital and the Annexe available for expansion, however, the First World War would delay building and change the use of the hospital temporarily.
Just before the beginning of the war, Liverpool Corporation rented 25 acres from the Hospitals Committee in 1914 for a temporary hospital for Infectious Diseases which was commonly known as "Sparrow Hall Hospital" after the farm of the same name which previously occupied the site. This was also used by the military for injured soldiers. Few pictures of this hospital exist, however, it's surrounding high red brick wall remained on the East Lancashire Road perimeter into the 1980's and is remembered by residents.
Some of the trees were retained and integrated into the Sparrow Hall council estate which was built later on the site.
There is little written about this small hospital, however, Gore's Directory for 1925 states that Miss B Roberts was the matron.
This temporary hospital would continue to be used until 1950 when the patients were transferred to Fazakerley Sanatorium and the land was sold to Liverpool Corporation for a token sum.
The story of the growth of Aintree Hospitals continues below with the building of Fazakerley Sanatorium 1920. Further reading about hidden Fazakerley and the Myers Family mentioned at the beginning of this post can be found on previous posts.
The Administration Block
This picture above shows an unusual view of the Administration block taken from the lawns behind the old Male Pavilion now Training and Development. It hints at how beautiful it must have been in those early days. This must have been one of the first parts of the Sanatorium to be built as the date stone gives the date as 1915.
Plaque on the Administration Block
To the west of the central Administration block was the Nurses Home, many nurses will remember living there as it continued as a nurses home into the 1990's and then became the offices of Social Services.
The Nurses Home
The Nurses Home now
The Back of the Nurses Home
This picture of the back of the Nurses Home is interesting as it shows the remaining concrete base to the fence which would have separated the Sanatorium from the City Hospital.
The nurses life would have been very different from today. A hand written book which keeps the details of working life of Probationers shows that many young girls left after a couple of months. One young girl was "insolent and not interested" while another "did not return following a day out" Another 19 year old from Wrexham resigned because she "could not take lectures" while poor "AB" from Anfield had to leave because she was "undersized and not strong"
A Ward Sisters Register 1912 - 1932 shows that many nurses who stayed long enough to achieve promotion often moved around various isolation hospitals and many did military service. For example "EML" of Rock Ferry trained at City Hospital Fazakerley and the moved to Marylebone Infirmary in London. She served with the military from 1914 to 1919 and re entered Fazakerley on 8th June 1919. She then transferred to Netherfield Rd and was promoted to Night Sister. She is recorded as being "very good to all patients"
A Female Ward
The Nursing Pavilion
Detail in the plasterwork on this building reflects the feelings of a people who had come through a terrible war. The scroll says "God has given this peace to us"
God has given this peace to us
The Male and Female Convalescent Pavilions were situated either side of the Nursing Pavilion and of a similar design. These were built to accommodate 80 males and 64 females. Balconies were placed at the ends with smaller verandas in front. Inside the larger wards accommodated 12 beds with ample washing facilities. The floors were Terrazzo. Red electric light bulbs over the doors and an alarm bell in the nurses' duty room indicated when she was needed.
The Male Convalescent Pavilion as it was
As it is now
On 17th October 1940 at 10pm the Male Pavilion, known as West Block, was hit by a 750lbs demolition bomb which exploded on impact. There were two casualties, one fatal. A second time bomb also hit simultaneously but did not explode until 9.30 the following evening. Information about the incident is scarce, however, Arthur Johnson, a reporter on the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo kept a secret diary which his son published.The book "Merseyside's Secret Blitz Diary" recounts that this was the third time bombs were dropped in this area and that the patients including children were evacuated. He also says that soldiers were evacuated but one was killed.
West Block Bombing
Looking at the building today it is clear to see where it was rebuilt in 1956.
In 1948, U block which housed two thoracic surgery wards and a theatre was opened - this collection of buildings has only recently been demolished to build a multi-storey car park.
The Poultry Farm
The opening brochure states that "facilities for graduated exercise and employment are afforded in connection with various handicrafts established in wooden buildings and sheds situated within the hospitals grounds. Joinery and boot repairing for males, and sewing and knitting in the case of females, are carried out in the huts designed for these purposes. A poultry farm, constructed in the main by the patients themselves, is situated withing the estate boundary. Kitchen gardens provide the necessary exercise for a number of patients, both male and female"
The 1946 Kelly's Directory lists Miss A. J. Murray as the Matron of Fazakerley Sanatorium and Oliver F Thomas as the Medical Superintendent. At the same time Miss Rose Baines was the Matron of both the City Hospital and the Annexe, while Albert Ernest Hodgson MD DPH was the Medical Superintendent. Walter Vernon Swinscoe, the hospital engineer lived in Brook Cottage situated on Higher Lane, while Fred and Andrew Glaysher, the bailiffs for Harbreck Farm, lived in the "The Hollies" and "Red Beech" on Lower Lane. Harbreck Farm was still a working farm at this time and continued to be so for many more years. In 1957 it was run by one farm bailiff and 10 employees who also maintained the hospital grounds. During this year the farm produced potatoes, vegetables, fruit, hay, straw and corn. There was also the profitable Aintree Piggeries connected to the farm which stayed open until 1961.
Aerial View 1960's
This amazing aerial picture taken around the time of site clearance to build the new Tower Block shows all the buildings mentioned - in the foreground the Annexe, Harbreck House with its heated walled garden to the left. In the middle of the picture a line of trees show the path of the brook with Fazakerley Sanatorium buildings above this. Above again shows the lay out of the City Hospital, then Lowerhouse Lane, the railway heading off towards Kirkby and then Aintree racecourse. The surgical block can be clearly seen to the right of the Sanatorium and then the area has been cleared.
A document called an Estates Terrier has been recently found. Apparently it is a register of the various legal titles attaching to properties owned or used by a person or organisation. It lists the properties which had been bought up over the years by the Hospitals Committee. Some of the documents listed date back to 1830's. Buildings such as Birch Tree House, Brook Cottage, Pea Hey, Holm Lea and many more are named as are the previous owners such as Leyland, Naylor, Elsworth, and Newbould to name but a few. The size of the land involved is given, as are the dates of purchase.
The names of the hospitals were eventually changed, City Hospital and the Annexe became Fazakerley Hospital. The Sanatorium became Aintree Hospital. The Tower Block was built in the 1960's. Today they are all part of the same hospital. The lay out changes constantly to keep up with the growing needs of the population. The old surgical block has recently been demolished to make way for the multi-story car park and the laboratories have disappeared under a new surgical block.
The story goes on.....
Read more about Harbreck House and the Myers Family click on this link
More about Walton Hall and the Leyland Family here
More about St Georges Church in Everton here
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