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.
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.
Names like Kilgraston, May Bank, Elmhurst and Delfield we’ll see soon on an old map.
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.
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.
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.
At the time I knew this new estate had been built then, in the mid 1980s, on the site of a former convent.
But I was less curious then than now, and so never attempted to find out any more – until today.
‘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.
Our back wall was the old back wall of the convent garden.
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.)
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.
When I lived here this little lane was just a muddy track and contained an old cottage lived in by a very old lady.
Before we do let’s have a look at another map from 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!
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.
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 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.
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.
Then right next to where I lived is a little passage through to the next private park.
Very close, as you can see, to Garston Docks there.
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.
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