Tag Archives: Kelton House

In Aigburth: Liverpool’s Magdalene Laundry?

“I hated being sent to collect me mum’s washing from the Kelton laundry. With a kid’s imagination it looked like Dracula’ s castle or maybe Colditz to my young eyes. You would knock on a huge door which was duly opened by a fearsome looking nun in full habit. Peering in as she went to fetch the wash, revealed a scene I thought was what hell must look like. A horrible smell of cleaning and lots of steam. Lines of women in pinafores and covered heads slaving away. A vacant expression of hopelessness on every face. I sensed evil even at my tender age.

The evil that was the Magdalene story”.
Phil Jones, October 2017

This comment turned up in my email early one Saturday in October 2017 about a blog post I’d written nearly four years earlier in December 2013. That post had been about a general walk around Aigburth in South Liverpool that had ended with me finding somewhere I’d almost forgotten from earlier in my life.

“Let me tell you a story, a true story, from half my lifetime ago.

It’s the mid 1980s and I’m delivering my beloved baby daughter to her nursery. It’s called Kelton and is just down the hill from a convent, called Kelton House. This morning I’ve noticed someone watching me as I drive past Kelton House. Someone who doesn’t look much like a nun. I ask one of the women who work in the nursery, an Irish woman as it happens ‘What is that place up there? I thought it was a convent.’ ‘Well it is’ she says ‘But it’s also a mother and baby home. It’s where the girls come to have their babies, off the Irish boats as often as not.’

So hurtful for them. Us bringing our much wanted and much celebrated babies to the nursery each morning, while they watch us from their hidden away lives.

I wasn’t sorry, then, when the nursery had to move to another place a few months later because the nuns, who owned the land, had decided to sell it off for housing.”

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In the neighbourhood: Mossley Hill and Aigburth, Part 2

Continuing this week’s walk through the southern suburbs of Liverpool, culminating in a major surprise that would have changed South Liverpool forever.

I paused the story of this week’s walk here at Kelton House.

The 'mother and baby home' that's still standing.

The ‘mother and baby home’ that’s still standing.

Thank you for the contacts about this through Twitter. Including from someone who was born here in 1967 and adopted the following year without ever being told about it by his adoptive parents. Secrets on secrets.

So, walking on now, downhill towards the river, arriving at another Victorian Merchant’s house.

'Crofton' - the Lodge first.

‘Crofton’ – the Lodge first.

Just next to the main house. Derelict when I last passed, a few years ago.

Just next to the main house. Derelict when I last passed, a few years ago.

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In the neighbourhood: Mossley Hill and Aigburth, Part 1

A bright short day in December, following my feet from home to the river along roads I don’t usually follow. Coming by surprise to somewhere that was the hidden birthplace of many, and I’d thought was long gone.

You know the way it is, even us habitual wanderers have our well worn pathways we inhabit without thinking. Here to the river? Down the hill, across the park, round the lake, through Otterspool. I can run it in 25 minutes. There.

Well today I did it differently. Along Allerton Road first, familiar enough.

Then turning right into Rose Lane, Mossley Hill.

Then turning right into Rose Lane, Mossley Hill.

Coming soon to Harper's Dairy.

Coming soon to Harper’s Dairy.

Not a dairy any more, but you can almost hear the cows.

Not a dairy any more, but you can almost hear the cows.

Long time blog readers may recall Duncan Scott’s splendid talk about Liverpool’s Cow Houses at ‘Mr Seel’s Garden’ earlier this year. Well here is one. A dairy on an urban street. At their height there were 900 of these in Liverpool. We’re not that far away from our semi-rural past. Continue reading