Saturday 7 February 2009

Where was Walton Hall?

Many people will know or have memories of Walton Hall Park situated about three miles north of Liverpool on Walton Hall Avenue,the main road out to Manchester and the M6. The road itself is wide and tree lined on the side nearest to the park. Trees also line the central grassed area which covers the old tram lines. In spring the central reservation is covered in carpets of daffodils and by summer the trees overhang the left side of the dual carriageway allowing shafts of sunlight to waft over the road. For a minute or two depending on the mode of transport and the amount of traffic, the traveller might feel that they have left the city behind until they go under the box girder railway bridge and back to the reality of modern living in the suburbs.

The park itself is large and houses a sports centre and a lake. The lake that was once a beautiful boating lake is now used by fishermen who catch only the hardiest fish who can live in the murky water. It is hard to imagine that this area was once part of the land belonging to some of the richest men in Liverpool. It must have been a beautiful area that few people would have been allowed access to. Somewhere in the area was the magnificent Walton Hall but exactly where the Hall was situated has not been determined until now.

Walton Hall

Walton Hall, the home of the Brere family and others, was sold to John Atherton in 1746. Atherton had made money out of the slave trade. The Atherton family sold the estate to Thomas Leyland sometime between 1802 to 1804.

Thomas Leyland

Thomas Leyland was in business in Liverpool when he and his partner had the good fortune to win the lottery, he invested his winnings in building up his business interests which sadly included slavery. His success in business made him very wealthy and influential. He was elected mayor of Liverpool three times.

When he died in 1827, his widow Ellen continued to live in Walton Hall until her death in 1839. Thomas' nephews Richard and Christopher Bullin inherited the estate. The brothers took the Leyland name and coat of arms as per the instructions of their uncle's will. Richard moved from Fazakerley into the grand hall after his aunt's death but he and his brother Christopher died childless so the hall passed onto their sister Dorothy and her husband John Wrench Naylor. Incidentally Christopher Bullin bought Leighton Hall and gave it to his nephew John (son of Dorothy and John) as a wedding present.

Walton Hall fell into disrepair after the death of Dorothy and was demolished around the turn of the century.

Walton Hall

The land was eventually bought by Liverpool City Council. Walton Hall Park and Avenue was then laid out. This 1897 map of the area shows the position of the Hall but it has been unclear where the Hall was in relation to the present day. The general assumption is that it must have been in the parkland, although one source suggested that it was nearer to the old zoological gardens on Rice Lane.

1897 Map

However, a comparison of the 1897 map and the 1917 map below, shows the area of the Hall and its associated buildings and gardens were either side of Walton Hall Avenue. Recently, confirmation that the Hall was situated within the park area came from a gentleman who worked for the Corporation Parks and Gardens Dept. He had worked on the laying out of the park and told his stories of this and the railway to a curious young lad named Tom who lived in Walton Hall Avenue from 1967 to 1987. He told Tom he had seen the remains of the foundations of the hall and confirmed them to be towards the middle of the park behind the present tennis court/bowling green area.

1917 Map

Peter Auldis in "Pictures and Thoughts on Walton's Past History" describes the estate at the time of Leyland as having a half a mile long driveway entered through massive wrought iron gates and flanked by rhododendrons. This grand entrance was situated in the Haggerston Road area. It is interesting to note that the name Haggerston may have came from Haggerston Castle in Northumberland which was part of the Leyland Estates.

Contemporary maps show there were a number of lanes in the area which led to the hall.

1840's map showing the area before the railway

Moor Lane arched around the back of the hall before joining up with another lane as seen on the this map above. The lane it connects with went from Long Lane (almost opposite to today's cemetery) to the Hall itself. This may have been called Lodge Lane as this name appears on other maps but this is not confirmed. This "Lodge Lane" must have been closed with the building of the railway as it would have had to pass under or over two lines at this point. Moor Lane must have been extended down to Walton Hall Avenue following the path of what would become the main pathway in the park. It then turned sharply left and went under a new stone bridge toward Stopgate Lane. This "new"road is obvious on the 1902 map of the area. Tom's neighbour recalled that this became the outwardbound carriageway of Walton Hall Avenue after it passed under the stone railway bridge. The bridge was replaced by the current box girder bridge when the road was made into a dual carriageway. He also confirmed that the rest of Moor Lane before the bridge became the main pathway in the park.

1902 OS Map showing the "new" road joining Moor Lane

There appears to be another lane to the hall coming from Lily Grove, off Cherry Lane. This is interesting as there are remains of substantial sandstone walls still evident amidst the newer buildings. More information about this later.

My research continues into the hall itself. Auldis described it as surrounded by "magnificent timber" and adjoined by a picturesque walled garden and gardeners cottage, which can possibly be discerned from the 1897 map.

Another area of interest is the Stanley Park and Anfield Road area. Stanley Park was created on land partly owned by Leyland and his nephew lived in Anfield Road. If passing the area the newly refurbished Gladstone Conservatory is well worth a visit.

Thank you to those people, especially Tom, who have took the time to help me with this fascinating story. If anyone has any further information which will help in my ongoing research, please email me at the address below.
February 2009 (updated April 2009)


Penny Lane - Liverpool Reservation said...

I just was amazed reading this blog! Such lovely srories from Liverpool history... I must confess that Liverpool is also a part of my history as I seem to have been born under the Beatles' star :) I visited the city in 1997 and I actually fell in love... Thank you so much Barbara!

Anonymous said...

I have lived just off Walton hall avenue for several years and have never heard that there was an actual hall on the site of the park .Really glad I found this blog.Very interesting.
thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Just looking at my family tree and my relatives were in the 1901 census in round lodge moor lane walton, would this be in the Walton Park Area? There were a lot of people in the house seems like two families residing there.
Hazel Flude - Family Hollands in Walton

Barbara said...

Moor Lane was in the Walton area. It arched around the north side of Walton Hall. If you send me your e-mail address (which I won't publish) I can give you further information

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara,the 'old maps' site goes through a timeline of any location from late victorian to post war and it does prove Walton Hall Avenue goes straight through the old hall and its out buildings,check out 1927 to 1928 as they are building the estate, also Tue Brook is uncovered and runs right through Asda Walton and there is a small woods called the paddock behind the present store, personally, I always thought the footprint of Walton Hall was the bowling green, it must be very near.....I think this because the tennis courts at Larkhill is the footprint of the old hall,incidentally, love your site.BTW, recently moved to to New Brighton and Im trying to get info or images of the old football ground around Sudworth rd and Sheil Rd...thancks.

chris said...

great info on Walton Hall,thanks.My 1950s boyhood spent there when the pond was clear &full of sticklebacks. Where might the 'seven sisters',now drained,have fitted into the historical layout?

Anonymous said...

Walton Hall Park is currently under threat from developers. We friends of walton hall park are desperately trying to save this beautiful park for the community & residents to carry on using. The park has been used by generations of families and we need this stopped for our futures.There have been reports it is only part of the park they are going to build on but it is nearly the whole park. Plans include a 55.000 seater stadium, car parks, fast food outlets, a bar, 1,000 homes and a school. Please please we have to stop this and keep our park green!

Paul Power said...

Would anyone know any history behind the name of Woolhope Rd which faces Walton Hall Park, part of the ship Rds. ???

ste latimer said...

Paul the old entrance to the hall led from walton village and across the land on were the ship roads are now built. Lots of maps online and a great facebook page called walton on the hill and surrounding area may have more info for you.

Trevor Owens said...

With regards to the stone wall in Lilly Grove this was part of the wall to the gardens of Rake House on Cherry Lane. Rake House was the coach house of Walton Hall. My father was born there in 1909. The old cottages that used to be in Lilly Grove were built for the Hall estate workers. The gardens at Rake House were overgrown when I was a child but the remains of the tennis courts were still there as were the old large greenhouses. Behind the house there were more formal gardens with lots of rhododendron bushes.To the side of the house on Cherry Lane there were garages that had housed the carriages and later the motor vehicles together with petrol pumps.