Walking with Greg: Lost Liverpool in late Autumn

As you’ll know if you follow this blog, on Fridays Sarah and I walk. In fact, so popular have these proved with readers, they have their own section on the blog.

But there are other walks. Which happen because of friendship. But also to discuss ideas. Because ideas tend to flow more easily when you’re walking. Ideas about society, enterprise and life in general. And throughout this year I’ve been walking with Greg.

Greg Walker OBE. Greg’s the one on the right.

Greg Walker is a serial social entrepreneur, with Dove Design, SRJ and Create, helping long-term unemployed people get back into work and training by things like making furniture and recycling white goods. So many unemployed people, in fact, that Greg was proud to be presented with an OBE earlier this year.

And as we walk we talk about our latest ideas. What’s working, what isn’t, what we might try next. And sometimes we just enjoy the places where we are, the rhythm of walking, and each others company.

Like today, when for the first time Greg was introduced to the Lost Liverpool walk. Hearing with  a certain amount of fear that I’ve been known to run this one in 33 minutes, Greg worried he was in for a hard time. But in fact we spent nearly 3 hours exploring a little seen, mostly off-road area of Liverpool. Like it’s the late 18th century. And it’s the days of slavery.

A damp Autumn day…
Where at least half the leaves around the estates of Harthill and Calderstones…
Are now on the ground.

In late eighteenth century Liverpool the slave trade is still going strong. The bigger transatlantic ships have not been good news for Bristol’s docks, hard to get the ships up the Avon from the Severn. So Liverpool has most of the trade now and a population of over 75,000.

Meaning the centre of town has now become too crowded for the liking of the wealthier merchants, most of them involved in the slave trade to some extent. So they’ve moved themselves out here. And today we’re going to see where some of the money from the slaves and the products of slaves – tobacco, sugar, cotton – is being spent.

Along the lane from Calderstones, the site of Dowsfield, a moderately sized merchant’s house.
Through part of what will become a golf course in the 20th century.
To ‘Allerton’
Imposing.
And genteel.
Far away from the grubby commerce that got it built. Home to the traders in slaves.
Along the lane for the horses and carriages…
And across the future golf course. You can almost imagine it.
And now the lanes…
Leading in all directions…
Are timeless. You can’t tell what century this is.

But back in the late eighteenth century we go through the back gate of Allerton Towers, estate of the Earle family, notorious slave traders and privateers, having moved themselves here from their former edge of town estate around what will become Earle Road.

The family’s cold store. Refrigeration has not yet been invented.

So Greg can’t yet recycle it.

Here gazing at the beautiful south facing orangery.
And the house, Allerton Towers.
Inside the orangery.

Here we stopped for a drink, out of these ‘flask’ things that have recently become so popular.

Then we left Allerton Towers. And passing close to the village of Woolton found more grand houses.

Woolton Manor, which will become a residential care home in the 20th century.

Up the hill and past the residence of ‘Woolton’ and its sadly locked walled garden (yes, a shame so many of these places have such similar names) we reach Camp Hill. One of the highest places in the Liverpool area and originally said to be settled by Celtic peoples thousands of years ago.

From where they could see for miles.
The view from the 18th century house ‘Camp Hill.’
The site of the house seen from below.
And all that will be left of the house by the 21st century.
Along with its lovely sunken garden.

We walk down Camp Hill and across the fields that will later become graveyards for the huge city of Liverpool.

The graves of Liverpool.

To arrive at our final house of the day.

Allerton Hall.

Yes, the third mansion called ‘Allerton’ something. This one, at last, inhabited by an abolitionist, William Roscoe. Unlike the others this will still be in use into the early 21st century. As a pub, mainly catering to the trade from the local graveyards and crematorium.

Round the back of Allerton Hall is its stable block…
And walled garden.

And before long we find ourselves back in the timeless lanes.

Heading back to the 21st century.

Where the talk is of bankers and greed and the iniquities of an economic system that makes the poorest of the people pay for the crimes of the wealthy. And we wonder how much has really changed since the days of slavery.

Published by Ronnie Hughes

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

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8 Comments

  1. Ronnie. Fabulous day. Thanks for the walk and for writing it up so beautifully so we can share the day with friends and family and with all those who read your blog. You should have been a writer of course. Maybe you will be in the 21st century!

    Greg

  2. Interesting to hear about the history of the merchants manors in the suburbs of Liverpool Ronnie.
    I met a woman recently who expressed frustration about the need to apologise for events that happened in the past and slavery was the example she gave;
    “Why did the city need to apologise, it’s in the past and we need to move on now”.
    Kevin Bales from Free the Slaves came to the International Slavery Museum three years ago and he gave this powerful talk about slavery today. Unfortunately, this isn’t a subject which remains in the past:

    Another great blog!

  3. These images of the glorious countryside are difficult to reconclie with the terrible shadows of the past. At least the ruins remind us that the horrors of the Liverpool slave trade have passed. Fascinating how those once powerful families and their mansions have either blended into the countryside or have become something else.

  4. Hey Ronnie! Thanks for the wonderful article with pictures. Could you email me with directions for how to get from one place to the next? I’ve been to Calderstones Park once, but I’m coming back to Liverpool from the USA (where I live these days) with my girlfriend, and I think she’d love to see this part of Liverpool. She’s a big history lover, so it will really interest her.

    Cheers!

    Michael

    1. Hi Michael, I’m not that sort of blog. You need to go over to the Yew Tree Road side of Calderstones, near to Strawberry Field, find that secret path in the photographs, and then see where it leads you both.

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