Wandering About: Walton and Orrell Park

Though fairly soulfully, obviously.

Though fairly soulfully, obviously.

When I left the house for a Friday Walk on an actual Friday I had, as so often, no idea where I was going. But walking round the corner I had an idea.

The weather was dreich, to use a lovely Scottish word. Cold, rainy, overcast and dull. Kind of like I was in a cloud. So my idea was to get on the first bus that came, then get off it when the rain stopped or when it reached its terminus, whichever was the sooner.

The first bus when it came was a 68, which I’ve already been on several times this week. But rules are rules even if I’ve only just made them up, so I got on.

Then in Priory Road Anfield the sun came out.

Then in Priory Road Anfield the sun came out.

So I got off.

So I got off.

'Oh no it's Groundhog Day' regular readers might be thinking.

‘Oh no it’s Groundhog Day’ regular readers might be thinking.

“He’s going to walk round Stanley Park for the second time this week“.

Actually no. I'm going to turn right instead of left.

Actually no. I’m going to turn right instead of left.

First for a look at Anfield Crematorium.

First for a look at Anfield Crematorium.

Where my partner Sarah often works as an Independent Funeral Celebrant.

Then into the Cemetery.

Then into the Cemetery.

Not all that many people get buried these days compared to when this was opened in 1863. At that time here and where we’re going to walk today – see I’ve made up my mind already – we’re on the very edge of the City of Liverpool. This a vast burial ground opened to relieve the overcrowded cemeteries of the city centre.

Anfield 1908

Anfield 1908

On the map you can see that though the streets around the football ground are built, it’s farmland on the northern side of Priory Road except for the Cemetery and a ‘Fever Hospital’.

It's a huge and gracious place.

The Cemetery is a huge and gracious place.

Beautifully laid out.

Beautifully laid out.

Containing nearly a thousand military graves.

Containing nearly a thousand military graves.

Together, of course, with many more thousands of the graves of those who didn’t have to fight because they did, particularly in the wars of the first half of the 20th Century.

But some of the chapels in here have seen better days.

But some of the chapels in here have seen better days.

Aimlessly - 12 Aimlessly - 13 Aimlessly - 14

It does look like there are plans to restore them though.

It does look like there are plans to restore them though.

Stones neatly stacked for when that day comes.

Stones neatly stacked for when that day comes.

I know someone who's involved with Homebaked who's also involved here.

Then further along there’s another chapel.

I know someone who’s involved with Homebaked who’s also involved here. So I’m sure he could tell me more. Another friend has told me of someone called Billy who’s often around here and is an expert on the place. But I don’t go looking for him today, this is a day for me, a day to be on my own. Think my own thoughts, or nothing at all. I wander on.

This place is huge, even a gate onto far distant Cherry Lane.

This place is huge, even a gate onto far distant Cherry Lane.

Aimlessly - 18

I leave and cross to the streets where I was born.

I leave and cross to the streets around where I was born.

Or at least where I first lived, Diana Street by Goodison Park.

Walking along to where I had my first flat when I grew up.

Walking along to where I had my first flat when I grew up.

Along Church Road.

Along Church Road.

I explored along there as part of my Walton Hall Park walk last year.

Today I turn into Walton Village.

Today I turn into Walton Village.

Where there are less shops now than I remember.

Where there are less shops now than I remember.

But I always loved this terrace.

But I always loved this terrace.

A friend called Pete Growcoot lived along here. And I’d walk around many mornings in the 1970s for a lift into the housing place where we both worked. Mostly we’d drive there in his Lotus Cortina, to my delight. But occasionally Pete would utter the dread phrase ‘I think we’ll go on the tandem today!’

Just along from where he lived is beautiful Walton Church.

Just along from where he lived is beautiful Walton Church.

I think about walking along County Road into town, but decide to turn the other way.

I think about walking along County Road into town, but decide to turn the other way.

Through the Rice Lane Subway.

Through the Rice Lane Subway.

Where Walton Town Hall used to be.

Where Walton Town Hall used to be.

Walton only became part of Liverpool in 1895. So, again, we are walking out beyond what was the edge of Liverpool not all that long ago.

Still, by the 1960s the old settlement of Walton on the Hill had this big subway dug under it so that Queen's Drive, Liverpool's outer ring road, could fly over us.

Still, by the 1960s the old settlement of Walton on the Hill had this big subway dug under it so that Queen’s Drive, Liverpool’s outer ring road, could fly over us.

I climb out of the hole onto Rice Lane.

I climb out of the hole onto Rice Lane.

Passing streets we worked on in the 1970s. Carnarvon Road here.

Passing streets we worked on in the 1970s. Carnarvon Road here.

Yes I know it’s spelled wrong but that’s what it’s called.

Next arriving at my actual birthplace.

Next arriving at my actual birthplace.

Not that modern health centre, but the former workhouse behind it. By 1954 when I arrived it had become one of the newly acquired NHS hospitals.

Rice Lane 1907

Rice Lane 1907

On the map the ring road looks like it’s being laid out but is not yet built. To the north the hospital can be clearly seen as ‘West Derby Union Workhouse’ with just one hospital wing in it. Again, farmland to the north and in Bootle.

Some of the former hospital's been knocked down now.

Some of the former hospital’s been knocked down now.

So part of where I was born, and Paul McCartney before me, will now be an Aldi.

So part of where I was born, and Paul McCartney before me, will now be an Aldi.

To compete with the Sainsbury's the other side of Rice Lane.

To compete with the Sainsbury’s the other side of Rice Lane.

A more recent memory than being born, The Plough.

A more recent memory than being born, The Plough.

Clearly an old roadside tavern where coaches and horses could pull in on the way to and from Preston and Glasgow.

In the 1970s this was my Tuesday night regular with 'the lads'

In the 1970s this was my Tuesday night regular with ‘the lads’

Why Tuesdays? Who knows, but it was.

And it certainly didn’t have function rooms. Didn’t have food beyond crisps or peanuts. You’d have got yourself barred out asking for a pork pie or anything else sophisticated like that.

Further along is the library.

Further along is the library.

Except it isn't anymore.

Except it isn’t anymore.

It's becoming a 'major health hub'

It’s becoming a ‘major health hub’

I’d missed this one going, haven’t been along here in a long time. But I’m doing my best on the rest. Which I’ll tell you about some time.

Quick detour into Rice Lane Rec.

Quick detour into Rice Lane Rec.

Where spring is also arriving, glad to say.

Where spring is also arriving, glad to say.

Past the looming bulk of Walton Gaol.

Past the looming bulk of Walton Gaol.

Built in 1855. So far then we’ve seen a cemetery, a workhouse and a gaol. All constructed beyond the limits of the 19th Century city.

Through now to Walton Vale.

Through now to Walton Vale.

I'm getting hungry by now and had remembered a really good bakery shop along here.

I’m getting hungry by now and had remembered a really good bakery shop along here.

Long gone now.

Time having moved on in many curious ways.

Time having moved on in many curious ways.

Let me tell you about Walton Vale.

Let me tell you about Walton Vale.

When I was growing up, coming here was a credible alternative to going to town. It’s only one road, true. But it was packed with quality shops. Now half of them aren’t really shops at all, but money lenders, tanning salons and bookmakers.

Or just closed down and empty.

Or just closed down and empty.

I’m so very sad to see this happen to what was one of Liverpool’s principal high streets. So many of my memories are here. Here’s one.

My Nan lived nearby – we’ll be going there in a bit – and we’d come here after visiting her to get the bus home to the suburbs, where we’d moved in the late 1950s. Sometimes while waiting for the bus we’d get to go to a Coffee Bar that had magically opened along here. They had a Juke Box, and I loved to press my face up against it while it played the records my mother would put on. Mostly slop by Cliff Richard, her favourite. Then this one time, pronouncing the just learned letters carefully I said to her:

“What does L-i-t-t-l-e R-i-c-h-a-r-d sound like?”

Fearing he might be a diminutive version of his near namesake Cliff. Well, heaven was with me, she went with my choice and the sound when the needle hit the record nearly knocked my head off:

“A wop bop a loo bop a lop bop bop!”

I’d had no idea until that moment that a human being could do that. That music could be not just exciting, but wild on a scale that would normally get you sent off to bed without your tea for a week! It was my rock’n’roll moment. It changed the rest of my life.

So that even today, walking along sad, tired Walton Vale,  if you passed a man with a camera singing ‘Tutti Frutti’ by Little Richard it was almost certainly me. I only hope I sounded half this good:

Then I sat here and dined.

Then I sat here and dined. Hardly in style but perfectly fine.

By the Black Bull at the top of Longmoor Lane.

By the Black Bull at the top of Longmoor Lane.

After which I walked back along the Vale.

After which I walked back along the Vale.

Noting this place as I passed by.

Noting this place as I passed by.

I was wearing thermals on this still cold day, so didn’t want to go inside anywhere. But for another day this looked busy and good.

Then I crossed over into Orrell Park.

Then I crossed over into Orrell Park. (Note the spelling, I’ve checked)

Somewhere I haven't been in decades.

Somewhere I haven’t been in decades. (Note the spelling, in the bricks of a building!)

I remember a second hand record shop along here that didn't have anything more recent than the 1940s.

I remember a second hand record shop along here that didn’t have anything more recent than the 1940s.

This was around 1970 when I wandered in and asked the scowling inhabitant if he ‘had anything by Elton John?’

“Al Bowlly’s what we have in here. Al Bowlly, a proper singer!”

Let’s move on.

To find this Monkey Puzzle tree round the corner in Moss Lane.

To find this Monkey Puzzle tree round the corner in Moss Lane.

Duly catalogued for Sarah’s Monkey Map.

Settled and ok along here, compared to ravaged Walton Vale nearby.

Settled and ok along here, compared to ravaged Walton Vale nearby.

Orrell Park in 1907

Orrell Park in 1907

Moss Lane is here, running through the middle of an area that’s almost all farms. Settlement beginning near to the railway at Orrell Park. And the terraced streets of the Klondyke beginning north west of still rural Linacre Lane.

Not in any way gentrified.

Now, not in any way gentrified.

But proper, quality, neighbourhood shops.

But proper, quality, neighbourhood shops.

A greengrocer's and a Post Office as there should be.

A greengrocer’s and a Post Office as there should be. Plus Marie’s Coffee Lounge.

Hope Marie’s got a Jukie in there with Little Richard on it?

And the Carlton's still here!

And the Carlton’s still here!

This was the cinema where me and someone called Linda came to see ‘Easy Rider’ back in 1970. She mustn’t have liked films about drug-smuggling hippies, because she never went out with me again.

Getting close to where my Nan lived now.

Getting close to where my Nan lived now.

Just crossing into Bootle, hadn’t realised it was so close to the docks.

I remember this. The first Chinese Chippie anyone round here had ever seen. And it still is, well done

I remember this. The first Chinese Chippy anyone round here had ever seen. And it still is, well done!

Then I turn down an alley I certainly haven't walked along since 1970.

Then I turn down an alley I certainly haven’t walked along since 1970.

The back entry's alley gated now but I can still get through to the road.

The back entry’s alley gated now but I can still get through to the road.

To Marsh Avenue.

To Marsh Avenue.

No 31 there on the left, where my Nan lived.

No 31 there in the middle, where my Nan lived.

We did too, for a few months in 1957 while we waited to move into our new house out in Maghull. Here’s the house and my Nan, Elizabeth Gerrard, back in 1956.

I'm the one in the duffel coat, 2 years old.

I’m the one in the duffel coat, 2 years old.

Elizabeth Gerrard was buried just up the road here in Bootle Cemetery when she died in 1970.

Elizabeth Gerrard was buried just up the road here in Bootle Cemetery when she died in 1970.

The last words I remember her saying to me being:

“I never thought I’d live to see the bloody Tories being voted back in.”

I cross the Leeds and Liverpool canal along Linacre Lane.

I cross the Leeds and Liverpool canal along Linacre Lane.

Aimlessly - 70 Aimlessly - 71

Then turn onto Stanley Road where I catch the 62 back to Penny Lane and home.

Then turn onto Stanley Road where I catch the 62 back to Penny Lane and home.

One of Liverpool’s more interesting bus routes, back along Walton Vale, then weaving its way through Fazakerley, Norris Green and Old Swan. Fully documented in this ‘Great Bus Journeys’ post.

So that’s it then, a good day, a Friday Walk around the northern edge of Liverpool as was and half a century of my own life. In a busy time of early mornings and evening meetings it’s so good to do this sort of thing. Just be. And wander aimlessly.

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Wandering About: Walton and Orrell Park

  1. lindsay53

    Loved this Ronnie, for so many reasons! I identify with that moment when you hear a piece of music that changes your life and yes, has ‘listen to that again and you’ll go to bed without your tea’! feel about it! Dangerous and wonderful and well worth the risk! So important these sorts of documents on daily life. So glad you take the time out to do this;

    Reply
  2. Sue Ferguson

    Walton Library is still being fought for. We may not be successful but we will not go gentle into that goodnight. We were there in the rain on National Libraries Day and we got tremendous support from the residents there. Appreciate your wanderings and wondering.

    Reply
  3. Maggie Wallace

    Loving your remembered last words from your Nan. I feel much the same these days. Should the world last till the next General Election I hope this bunch of (insert your own rude word here) are well and truly trounced. I just pray that they haven’t totally destroyed the bedrock of our society by then.

    Reply
  4. Lin Friday

    Yet again Ronnie we have much in common. This is my old stomping ground – I am a proud North Ender. I am intrigued by the Linda you took to see Easy Rider in the 70’s as I too went to the Carlton to see it !! Sadly the North End shopping districts don’t fair so well as Allerton Road and co. I wonder does any one remember the Vimto shop near the swimming baths at Queens Drive. Also the river that runs parallel to Rice Lane through Stalmine Road and come out in the Rec and at high tide the cellars in Stalmine Road used to be flooded. Worthy of note is the freeze on the small building next to the Plough – (I also drank in here on a Tuesday) just above the pizza sign it shows images of animal,s this was the gatehouse to a zoological garden that stood here and the original brick wall still stands behind the the Dunny and the houses in Stalmine Road. T he area has quite a history that is often neglected.
    Thanks for resurrecting some fine memories !!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Be more than a little astonishing if amongst our many parallel experiences and opinions we once went out with each other!

      I remember the Stalmine Road floods from when i was at LHT and we were doing up the terraced houses round there in the late 70s. And The Plough being next to the zoo has been mentioned on Twitter too. Piece by piece, story by story, the history of the place is being told.

      Reply
  5. Martin Greaney

    My nan and granddad (and therefore mum!) lived in Orrell Park, so for me Walton Vale and the railway lines remind me of my childhood. Sadly the footpaths need to be gated and Walton Vale doesn’t seem to be faring as well as it was even into the late 90s. The amount of pounds I spent on toys in a pound shop there was something to behold… You don’t hear Orrell Park mentioned often, so it’s good to hear about other people’s memories of it. Need to properly visit Walton village some day.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Martin, I’m really enjoying spending so much time working in and walking round North Liverpool. Where you come from will always be ‘home’ and it is.

      Walton Vale is strange. Hard to avoid the feeling of deliberate blighting going on?

      Reply
  6. Janet

    Thanks for the pictures. Brought back memories! Im from orrell park, just off moss lane. My mates used to say, even when we had moved away, that walton vale was my mums spiritual home. I made a film about walton library, to little me it was a proper palace of literature, a place to give you high minded ambitions. So sad to see it drip drip away. It was erected the same year that robert tressel was buried across the road in rice lane. https://vimeo.com/114168325 If you fancy a watch!

    Reply
  7. Jeff Lloyd

    I was born 1947. 1a Windsor rd. i bought my first record from that shop up in the Orrell, “The railroad runs through the middle of the house” My dad used to manage the Garage by the Railway Bridge in your Photo, its now a tyre place, When the Grand Prix was on, Ferrari used to base the mechanics and cars there. They would drive the F1 cars up to Aintree along the Vale, along with all the spectators cars. No tax discs or Police or the like. Drove back recently, God whats happened to the Vale, all the jiggers have been blocked off, must be rife with crime. We used to play in the old bombed church and play footy in the Wartime Emergency Water Supply, we got down in it by rope about 25 ft deep. Someone stole the rope, the Fire Brigade got us all out about 12 oclock at night. There where a few thick ears that night. They filled it in and built the Windsor pub in its place………………… I think we have seen the best of the Vale…..Sham

    Reply
  8. Helen Hudson (Drinoczky)

    I loved your article.

    In the mid 60s my family moved from the Dingle to “a posh area with trees in the street” so from 6 I grew up in a flat above the Liver Launderette in Moss Lane,Orrell Park. I emigrated to Australia in 1981 and have only been back a couple of times since.

    I really enjoyed your photographs and imagining going on the walk through the areas I spet my childhood and teenage years in. The memories poured. The Rec, the side streets and jiggers I ran through, so many mates (sadly several passed away so young),The Devo Park, the chippy, The El Toro, The Red Pepper, many pub crawls from the Black Bull to the flyover…… All a long time ago.

    Now seeing how Walton Vale shops are it makes me sad. Obviously every area changes over time but hopefully Orrell Park can regenerate.
    Thanks for reviving my memories.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Helen, there are a lot of local people working hard in Walton and Orrell Park now. But thanks so much for the detailed memories of growing up round here.

      Reply
  9. Sara Parker

    Loved reading this. My nan was off Rice Lane, in Eskdale Road from about 1972. I remember the bakery you mention and can still taste their barmcakes on Saturdays. Nice pic of the railway bridge too – when I lived there in the 90s I’d say to the taxi driver “just left after the Nova autos bridge, please”.

    Reply
  10. Graham Ashley

    Wow, what a journey back through time. I lived in Moss Lane from 1950 until 1972 and remember all of those places including Anfield Cemetery where my mam lies. I am due to go back in March and can’t wait to walk the streets again and savour the memories. I had a Saturday job in Dangerfield’s butchers in Northfield road and used to deliver meat to your nans street along with newspapers from my paper round.

    Reply
  11. Diana Hurford

    Researching family tree and stumbled across this while looking for old pictures of Devonfield Road and its history (still looking). Loved your blog. How lucky you are to have an early history all in one place; we moved nearly every year because my dad was in the navy. I like your sentiments too and the fact you choose to write about it.

    Reply

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