Further Adventures in Aigburth

Cooper's Coffee Shop, Aigburth Road.

Cooper’s Coffee Shop, Aigburth Road.

A (splendid) late breakfast with a friend here, ended with me setting off on another of my random walks down the far south end of Liverpool. Previous Aigburth walks have featured the suspected Magdalene Laundry we didn’t want and the planned Aigburth Docks we never got. Let’s set off up a road I don’t think I’ve ever walked along, certainly not with a camera, and see what we find.

Barkhill Road.

Barkhill Road.

A long narrow road where, as you can see, they’re touchy about parking. It’s gently suburban now, but as you can see from the age of the sandstone walls, older and maybe grander houses have stood here once.

There are still echoes of age along the road. Pieces of near rural.

There are still echoes of age along the road. Pieces of near rural.

And lodges of the grander houses that once stood here.

And lodges of the grander houses that once stood here.

Names like Kilgraston, May Bank, Elmhurst and Delfield we’ll see soon on an old map.

Modern and ancient gateways, briefly side by side.

Modern and ancient gateways, briefly side by side.

Across the road, the furthest out of town I've seen the CityBikes so far.

Across the road, the furthest out of town I’ve seen the CityBikes so far.

This is a part of John Moores University.

This is a part of John Moores University.

Named in honour of:

“Walton-born Irene Marsh who in 1900 opened a college on the site to train women to become PE teachers.”

Apparently, the University are now in the process of closing it down and selling it off to developers.

Some of its grand buildings already looking closed.

Some of its grand buildings already looking closed.

And not much cared for.

And not much cared for.

Though I like a bit of genteel fading myself.

Though I like a bit of genteel fading myself.

The Gym's still open thouth. Irene Marsh's beloved PE the last to go?

The Gym’s still open though. Irene Marsh’s beloved PE the last to go?

25 years ago I used to bring my little daughter here to learn to swim.

25 years ago I used to bring my little daughter here to learn to swim.

Holmfield, one of several of the grand buildings around the site.

Holmfield, one of several of the grand buildings around the site.

Which can be seen on this OS map from 1905. Around the time Irene Marsh was  getting hold of the former merchant’s houses and turning them into her college.

The 1905 Godfrey OS map of around here.

The 1905 Godfrey OS map of around here.

The gates of Holmfield today.

The gates of Holmfield today. Road name spelt differently. Maintining a magnificent Liverpool tradition.

I suppose if developers are on their way that might be the last time I can walk so freely around there.

At this point I’d thought I’d walk down Mossley Hill, which we’re now pretty well on top of, pointing myself in the general direction of home. But my feet have got other ideas involving other homes I’ve lived in, many years ago.

So they make their own way along leafy boulevards I've not even seen since the early 1990s.

So they make their own way along leafy boulevards I’ve not even seen since the early 1990s.

Taking the cut-throughs I'd drive along in those long gone days.

Taking the cut-throughs I’d drive along in those long gone days.

To arrive back at Aigburth Road and a place where I briefly lived.

To arrive back at Aigburth Road and a place where I briefly lived.

At the time I knew this new estate had been built then, in the mid 1980s, on the site of a former convent.

And I knew there were the gates of the convent.

And I knew these were the gates of the convent.

But I was less curious then than now, and so never attempted to find out any more – until today.

These were the gates to La Sagesse.

These were the gates to a house called ‘Holmleigh.’.

A convent and a school.

Which became La Sagesse, convent and a school.

‘La Sagesse’ – The Wisdom. What  a gorgeous name for a school!

And the Liverpool Schools Website has this to say about it:

“My sister attended this school, which amalgamated with Notre Dame Woolton in the early 1980s, to form St Julie’s. Photos from Barbara Price of the Garston & District Historical Society.

The house, Homleigh, was convent for the Daughters of Wisdom, a French order founded in 1703. They started with evening classes for girls, and also visited the poor. An 1835 map shows the land as belonging to Peter Challoner – who built St Austin’s Catholic Church in Grassendale just over the road. In 1894 and 1905 maps, Holmleigh is marked – there is nothing to suggest it is either a school or a convent. Probably opened as a school about 1911. There are lots of postcards from the 1911 onwards showing both boys and girls in the grounds. It was a girls’ High School by the 1930s. Alumni include Rita Tushingham.

La Sagesse was a convent school. When my sister was there in the 1970s/1980s the Headteacher was Sister Charles (Miss P R Souper).

(More photos of the inside of the school and convent on their website.)

Once the school closed the developers very quickly moved in.

And by 1987 it looked like this.

And by 1987 it looked like this.

I lived in the middle house here.

I lived in the middle house here.

Our back wall was the old back wall of the convent garden.

Remembered, though none too specifically, here.

Remembered, though none too specifically, here.

These days it looks like the place must contain a good number of wood-fired stoves.

These days it looks like the place must contain a good number of wood-fired stoves.

I lived here barely two years. And even all these years later I’m not sorry to walk on. (Not the place’s fault, mind. Just a very unhappy time in my life.)

I remeber I had some cousins lived out on Grassendale Road, in one of those houses.

I remember I had some cousins lived out on Grassendale Road, in one of those houses.

Some time around 1964 I came to stay with them and now recall the older of the girls telling me she was probably going to be going to the school over the road, La Sagesse. That never once occured to me while I lived there though. Memory being an unpredicatable thing.

Ah, 'Private' - an open invitation to walk in.

Ah, ‘Private’ – an open invitation to walk in.

When I lived here this little lane was just a muddy track and contained an old cottage lived in by a very old lady.

Now, almost inevitably, it's gated.

Now, almost inevitably, it’s gated.

Never mind though, there's somewhere else 'Private' for us to explore here.

Never mind though, there’s somewhere else ‘Private’ for us to explore here.

Before we do let’s have a look at another map from 1905.

OS Godfrey Edition map of round here in 1905.

OS Godfrey Edition map of round here in 1905.

Towards the top of the map, on Aigburth Road, you can see Holmleigh where the convent was going to be. Not yet though. The Local Directory printed on the back of the map has this listing for the occupant of Holmleigh:

“Davey William J. shipowner ‘Holmleigh”

Then to the left of this and going down towards the river there is Grassendale House. This is long gone now, but when I came here to stay with my cousins in the 1960s it was still there, though in ruins. And I recall us getting in, through a Secret Gate into its Secret Garden. I was sworn to secrecy and haven’t told a soul about this ’til now!

Grassendale House as was. 'Haunted' apparently!

Grassendale House as was. ‘Haunted’ apparently!

Anyway, for now we’re off into Grassendale as it is now. Most of it still much the same as on the 1905 map and, as you can see, right next to Garston Docks.

Through the grand gates.

Through the grand gates.

Past the memorial plaques.

Past the memorial plaques.

Grassendale and Cressington Parks, which we’re also about to see, were both speculative, private, mid-19th century developments. Built as the railways were permitting the middle classes to move away from the crowded city, then being fouled up by the industries they owned.

And here it still is a leafy enclave.

And here it still is a leafy enclave.

Of moderately grand houses.

Of moderately grand houses.

Some of them relatively new.

Some of them relatively new.

On roads sloping down to the river.

On roads sloping down to the river.

Some of the houses have been made into flats now.

Some of the houses, though not many, have been made into flats now.

And for 6 months from September 1990 I lived in this one. That was my bedroom window in the middle there.

And for 6 months from September 1990 I lived in this one. That was my bedroom window in the middle there.

And I absolutely loved it.

And I absolutely loved it.

It's the only time I've ever lived right next to the river.

It’s the only time I’ve ever lived right next to the river.

And felt it, right there next to me. Lifting my heart every time I’d drive down the road and park. Roaring away in the night as the winds rattled my windows.

Going to sleep I'd leave the curtains open and watch the winking lights of Ellesmere Port on the other side.

Going to sleep I’d leave the curtains open and watch the winking lights of Ellesmere Port on the other side.

I loved those days. And though a newly divorced Dad I was sorry to leave after only 6 months, when the private landlord tried to do what they tend to do, and jack the rent up beyond what I could afford. At least I had my time by the river. Time I’ll always treasure.

Even if the place always was a bit stuffy with its notices.

Even if the place always was a bit stuffy with its notices.

Then right next to where I lived is a little passage through to the next private park.

Cressington.

Cressington.

Very close, as you can see, to Garston Docks there.

Genteel.

Genteel.

Seems to have more houses in brick than Grassendale.

Seems to have more houses in brick than Grassendale.

Still got its notices though.

Still got its notices though.

And even its own pill box to repel would-be invaders.

And even its own pill box to repel would-be invaders.

Leafy.

Leafy.

With a good view of Cammel Laird's.

With a good view of Cammel Laird’s.

And look at this.

And look at this.

It's got its own lawn tennis club!

It’s got its own lawn tennis club!

Which I'm sure used to be 'Residents Only?'

Which I’m sure used to be ‘Residents Only?’

Cressington Park.

Cressington Park.

and the cause of Grassendale and Cressigton?

And the cause of Grassendale and Cressigton?

Their very own railway station.

Their very own railway station.

Further Adventures in Aigburth - 56 Further Adventures in Aigburth - 57

Even got their own church.

Even got their own church.

Further Adventures in Aigburth - 60

I leave the parks and find I'm on 21st century Aigburth Road.

I leave the parks and find I’m on 21st century Aigburth Road.

Where I wait for my bus.

Where I wait for my bus.

Something I’d say I never once did when I lived out here. The furthest I’ve ever lived in my adult life away from Liverpool city centre. These were company car days. Putting on my suit and driving to work to be a Social Housing Director. Coming towards the end, though I didn’t then know it, of my ‘having a proper job’ days.

Before long the 82 arrives and I'm soon back in the life I'm living now.

Before long the 82 arrives and I’m soon back in the life I’m living now.

You never know where your feet will take you when you let them decide where to go?

See my other Aigburth Walks here:
In the neighborhood, Mossley Hill And Aigburth, Part One
In the neighborhood, Mossley Hill And Aigburth, Part Two

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Further Adventures in Aigburth

  1. stan cotter

    hi ron long time no speakmy friend, I enjoyed this one as I don’t live far away and have been down there on the prom many times ive never noticed the pill box down there but did you notice what appears to be the entrance to and air raid shelter just in front of it. on many raf bases the entrance to the shelters was like this regards stan ps keep up the good work

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hello Stan, great to hear from you.

      Is the entrance to the air raid shelter the thing beneath the pill box? Beneath the tide line? I’d thought that was a drain or a sewer?

      Reply
  2. Rosie

    This is Great! Thanks so much. However…the Cricket Ground with huge pavilion is still standing, isn’t it? And Beechwood Road, down at the bottom the two Victorian (listed) houses are still there, sadly in a v sad state, though. The farther one was our home for very many years, 40s 50s and early 60s. Grassendale House (not haunted in the 50s and 60s!) and Beechwood House were also homes of our family!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Rosie,
      Good to hear from you and know that your family lived in such splendid houses. I didn’t go down Beechwood Rod on this walk though, or imply the Cricket Ground isn’t there any more!

      Reply
  3. lindsay53

    Lovely photos, Ronnie and mostly good memories. Such an interesting part of Liverpool and, like you, there is a sort of primeval need to be near moving water, whether it be river or sea.

    Reply

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