OTHER WEST DERBY PLACES OF INTEREST
West Derby Station
This fine Victorian train station served West Derby from the 1880s until 1960 when the Cheshire Lines Railway closed to passengers. Trains originally ran from Southport to Warrington and beyond. Among members of the royal family who used the station was Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, visiting Croxteth Hall for the Grand National. The track was taken up in the 1970s and is now part of the popular long-distance Sustrans cycle track.
Built in 1846 by architect and builder Thomas Haigh, Grade II-listed Lowlands has been the home of the West Derby Community Association charity since 1957. Between 1958 and 1966 to hosted the Pillar Club where many famous musicians performed before reaching stardom. George Harrison played with the Les Stewart Quartet and Ringo Starr with the Hurricanes. Others included The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer, The Big Three, Hollies, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits. Lowlands is the home of the West Derby Society and many other clubs and organisations including jujitsu, children’s music, women’s choir, yoga and lots more. This nationally-important building, refurbished in 2009, is available for private events such as birthday parties.
18th century Lamppost
Wealthy James Clemens lived in a mansion called Ashfield at the junction of Thomas Lane and Thingwall Lane. He was Mayor of Liverpool in 1776 and entertained many guests at his beautiful home set in pretty gardens. To help his visitors find their way, James set up a tall sandstone signpost outside the gates of his mansion. At night one of his servants would light an oil lamp on the top to guide visitors through the often pitch-black countryside.
Knotty Ash Lych Gate
The entrance gate to Knotty Ash Church was made of ancient timbers from Boltons, a medieval house that stood off Finch Lane. This picturesque half-timbered structure popular with artists was taken down in 1897. Local historian Richard Duncan Radcliffe saved the timbers for this gate and also a section of the house which was re-assembled in Liverpool Museum. It was destroyed when the museum was bombed in 1941.
Now part of a school, this was Grade II-listed house (entrance lodge pictured) was once the home of German financier Gustavus Schwabe. One evening in 1868 he hosted a dinner which was to make a huge impact on the world’s shipping. Among the guests were Schwabe’s nephew Gustuv Wolff and an aspiring young businessman called Thomas Ismay. They struck a deal with Schwabe lending money to Ismay’s infant White Star Line and Wolff, of Harland & Wolff, built the ships. Later ships included the ill-fated Titanic.
Built in 1615, Tuebrook House was probably the first brick-built house on West Derby Road. It was constructed for a yeoman farmer called Mercer. There is said to be a priest’s hole in the chimney – the building has long been associated with Roman Catholic martyr St Ambrose Barlow.
Former Alder Hey Lodge
This Grade II-listed lodge and gates in Alder Road once gave access to the drive leading to Alder Hey, a big house demolished to make way for the children’s hospital in 1911. There was a small private estate around the house adjoining another estate which became Springfield Park. Both areas were used for temporary camps housing American troops in the First World War.
Sandfield Park was created in the 1850s as a private residential estate, which it remains. Originally it was housed a large number of private mansions including the Old Hall, one of the earliest private houses in Liverpool. Many were demolished but some remain with different uses including Runnymede and St Claire which are now part of St Edward’ s College. Gates on North Drive (pictured) were intended to give access to Bellefield, the home of wealthy shipowner Sir Edward “Bully” Bates. They were never used because Bates – who got his nickname from his intimidating manner – refused to pay the park fees.