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 Society Information

 West Derby History

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 Lowlands History

 West Derby Album



Events for 2015


                                                                                           Spring 2015



Holly Lodge

Plans have been unveiled for housing on the site of old Holly Lodge School .

A new school has been built on an adjacent site and Liverpool City Council is selling the land to building company Redrow for 60 homes.

Redrow held a public consultation in the hall of the new school on 11 March attended by the West Derby Society (WDS), local residents, councillors and other interested parties.



 WDS, while welcoming the overall plans, immediately lodged objections to the planned demolition of Holly Lodge House (above) and the single access road on to Mill Lane , a notorious bottleneck. It suggested another access road on to Queens Drive via Uplands.

Two Grade II-listed mansions, Fremont and Sandheys, will be returned to residential use. The unusual Fremont garden room / summer house will become a detached bungalow. In addition the large pond becomes a public amenity accessible to pedestrians via the old school entrance.

A planning application has yet to be made but if approved by officials is likely to be waved through by councillors.

* See Chairman’s Comments, back page.

                                                                                                    Chapel Brawl

On the Sunday after Ascension Day in 1361 a brawl took place in West Derby Chapel. This, though by no means credible, is the earliest recorded event in connection with the chapel, writes Alastair Caird.

Other voluminous evidence indicates that the chapel existed much earlier in time than the date of the recorded punch up – in early Anglo Saxon days, in fact.

In the 11th century the manor of West Derby was in the possession of Edward the Confessor, a deeply religious man who founded Westminster Abbey.



The old chapel (above) was replaced in 1856 by the new parish church of St Mary the Virgin.

The manor of West Derby is ranked in the Doomsday Book as first and most important in the list of manors lying between the Mersey and Ribble.

After the Norman Conquest the manor changed hands frequently, ultimately reverting to the Crown, in whose hands it remained until Charles I.

Charles sold the Manor to certain citizens of London who in turn, sold it to James, seventh Earl of Derby. It finally passed by marriage to Lord Salisbury, the present owner. 

The chapel, originally a chapel of ease to Walton Church , became a parish church in 1844 by Act of Parliament constituting West Derby as a separate parish.

This prompted the move for a bigger, more fitting church for worship.



Another reminder of earlier times is the stocks occupying part of the former pinfold. Made of wrought iron, the stocks, symbolising what might be called rough justice, are now decorously surrounded by railings, sheltered by holly trees and backed by bushes and plants.


In 998 the first Anglo Saxon translation of the New Testament was produced.

Following the Norman Conquest, French was the preferred language of the majority of the elite and literate people.

It was nearly 400 years before John Wycliffe’s manuscript copy of the Bible was written in English for the common people. It was translated from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible.

William Tyndale’s New Testament was printed in the English Language in 1526. It was the first English translation to work directly from early Greek and Hebrew texts.

Tyndale said: “If God spare my life I will see that the boy who drives the ploughshare knows the scriptures”.

Since Tyndale’s Bible many more translations have appeared, aiming to make the Bible available to all in the commonly-spoken English tongue of the day.

                                                                                WDS Annual General Meeting      


Chairman Stephen Guy opened the AGM, held at Lowlands on 21 January 2015 at 7.40 pm .

APOLOGIES: Steph and Dave Grogan, Mr & Mrs Langeveld, Pat Burgess, Audrey Beasley, Olive Webster and Stan Guy.

MINUTES OF LAST AGM: Stephen confirmed that everyone had seen a copy of the Minutes.


CHAIRMAN’S REPORT: I’ll start off my annual report with a reminder of our two outings which again were both fully-booked.

The mystery tour took on 18 June saw us first travelling to Kirkby to look at the Molyneux family graves and the lodge originally at the end of a drive from Croxteth Hall. The coach then took us through Melling and Bootle into the old Mersey Tunnel.

Break Down

At the Birkenhead exit we had a first in my time as chairman – we broke down. After about an hour we piled into a replacement coach and continued on our way. We went past Arrowe Park Gates then north through Moreton and Leasowe to our destination – New Brighton , which has recently enjoyed something of a Renaissance. It was a beautiful, clear evening and some of us sat on the veranda at Wetherspoon’s enjoying the summer sunset.

The day trip to Caernarfon went without a hitch and we had a most enjoyable time in this pleasant town which always manages to be busy but never heaving with people. The sun shone all day while many of us visited the ancient castle with its dark passageways and towers reached by spiral staircases. We sat by the quaysides and admired the views or explored the town. Let’s hope this year’s outings are equally well-supported.

We had some excellent speakers during the year. Frank Kennedy brought A Date with Dickens in February with his impressive impersonation of the great author. Our own Ernie Burgess came in March to tell us about the guide dogs while the following month we had an instructive talk about the Reader Charity’s work. Anfield Bicycle Club was the May theme then after the summer break auctioneer John Crane gave us many insights into the trade. Columnist and broadcaster David Charters called in as our October speaker followed by Radio Merseyside’s Andy Ball with his archive tapes and varied recollections. I put on record our thanks to all our speakers for coming along and entertaining us so well. Finally, the Christmas Quiz went well with an excellent top score of 80% - the best we have ever had.


In May I was delighted to be elected chairman of the West Derby Community Association which has run our home, Lowlands , since 1957. Since first visiting this beautiful building as an 11-year-old in 1959 to see comedian Arthur Askey open the garden fete I have been fascinated by this Victorian landmark.

I rent an office and study at the back of the former merchant’s house so I am here very frequently. Ernie Burgess was elected deputy chairman so the West Derby Society continues to have a strong presence at Lowlands .

The Society has maintained a stable membership of about 80 people – happily about half the membership as well as some visitors turn out for our monthly meetings. This is excellent although sometimes I think we will need a bigger room.

Towards the back end of the year I started putting short one to two-minute films I made, featuring items of historic interest, on the Society’s Facebook page. Many new people have been introduced to the Society through this site – we have had up to 5,000 people a week logging in.

Some of the films have prompted comments and likes from many people. A feature on the overgrown site of Vergmont, the old Meals-on-Wheels depot on Mill Bank, had more than 1,500 views. One featuring the derelict former Ambrose Barlow School on Queens Drive attracted more than 2,500 people including former staff and pupils.

Of course these figures pale into insignificance compared to the many thousands who see the West Derby Link every month. I continue to get great enjoyment writing the front page articles which also promote the Society.

During the year we have continued our vigilance regarding historic properties and were pleased to see refurbishment work restart on the Yeoman’s House in the Village. We alerted the City Council when lead was stolen from the Margaret Bevan roof.

I would like to thank all the members of the committee for their support during the year. Most of all I thank all West Derby Society members for ensuring that we continue to thrive and hopefully expand.

Thank you.


West Derby Society Finances 2014


Subscriptions £ 790.00

Misc. £ 122.40

Donations £ 31.00

TOTAL £ 943.40



Hire of Hall £ 180.00

Speakers £ 220.00

Print/Post/Stationery £ 110.55

Donations £ 00.00

TOTAL £ 857.05

WDS has once again had a good financial year, though we have had more outgoings this year due to buying more subscription leaflets (which we need as they are doing very well recruiting new members for us) and some speakers charging more for their speeches. But thanks to our members continuing to support us by buying the magazines and a lot of visitors we have had over the past year it has balanced out quite well.

The coach trips also did very well this year both coaches being full and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.

The evening trip cost £330.00 and the day trip cost £420.00 making a total of £750, ticket sales were £762.35 making a profit of £12.35 plus the raffle we had which made £59.00 giving WDS a profit of £71.35

The interest made in Santander Account was £3.16 again not much but up from last year.

Once again I would like to thank all our members for continuing to support us throughout the year and look forward to your support in the next year.

The balance for the Community Account year ending 2014 is £ 558.10

The balance for Santander Account year ending 2014 is £ 3,511.09

Giving WDS a grand total of £ 4,069.19

Thank You

Steph Grogan

Hon. Treasurer

ELECTION OF OFFICERS: All elected officers stood down and offered themselves for re-election. All were unanimously re-elected.

DATE OF NEXT AGM: 20 January 2016 .

AOB: None.

There followed a vote of thanks from Tony Adamson, a member from the floor, to all the Committee members for their hard work during the year, seconded by Eric Preston.



West Derby Rd is seen (above) on 3 April 1954 , the last day of tram services at this location. Baby Grand car No 210 is heads for the city centre with Sheil Park to the right, complete with “temporary” prefabs.

The wartime prefabricated dwellings were later replaced by permanent housing and the park lost forever.

St Margaret’s is in the background, obscured by mist – this popular church was later destroyed by fire. This section of road was made into a dual-carriageway in the 1960s.

 The map below shows the junction of West Derby Rd , Sheil Rd and Rocky Lane with the tram tracks clearly visible in the centre of the road.



                                                                                                Society Alerts

Two empty Grade II-listed West Derby properties have been subjects of WDS alerts.




Kiln Hey (above) is vulnerable after fencing was blown down. The Cookson stained glass window has been covered by protective sheeting after two panes were vandalised.

A leaded light window of the Yeoman’s House has been broken. WDS contacted owners and the City Council, responsible for supervising listing regulations.

                                                                           WEST DERBY CHARACTERS

They can be odd, funny, charming or just plain daft but we never forget the characters we come across on life’s journey.

Some have no name while others are only known by nicknames and they brighten up our days.

Many were encountered regularly and always raised a smile. These memories go back to the 1950s and 60s.

Bob the horse had stopped and stubbornly refused to budge, leaving the cart standing with its cargo of fresh milk waiting to be delivered.

The woman in the driving seat, wrapped from head to toe in thick warm clothes that had seen better days, had witnessed it all before. Bob could be temperamental but she knew how to deal with him.

People were waiting for their milk – kettles were simmering, cereals ready to be consumed. Slowly she climbed down from the cart and walked calmly up to Bob, facing him eye-to-eye.

She moved until their noses were almost touching, grabbed his blinkers and barked: “Move you b****r!”

Bob jumped, snorted and shook himself. He placidly resumed his rounds, his brief rebellion quelled until the next time.

The year was 1960 and soon the clip-clopping of Bob’s hooves around the Leyfield Road area of West Derby would be silenced.


   Mabel the milk girl lived at Jackson ’s Farm on Town Row (pictured) and had been delivering the milk for as long as most people could remember.

Jackson ’s farm was pulled down in 1961 and Glenmarsh Close built on the site. Bob and Mabel both enjoyed happy retirements and left many fond memories with those they served.

He was known as “The Major” and regularly caught the bus into town on Melwood Drive , dressed in bowler hat and sporting a flower in his button hole.

While waiting for the bus he would impart his philosophies in cultured tones. A favourite was: “Once you’ve got a thousand in the bank, you’re on your way.”

Another denizen of Melwood Drive , where he was often seen shuffling along the pavement, was an old soldier emblazoned with medals.

He would suddenly scream out in distress then shout “Sorry!” People said he had shell-shock.

The window cleaner was such a fan of premium bonds he was known to some simply as Ernie.

He would skilfully carry his ladders strapped to his ancient bike. His spare cash was spent on purchasing £1 bonds but Ernie always wore the same jacket and trousers.

There were quite a few young characters too. If you offered a bag of sweets around at school one lad would always say: “Can I have two ‘cos my mum’s dead?”

Eccentricity could be encouraged. One teacher would scratch away on his violin during lessons.

To discourage too much youthful exuberance, another announced at morning assembly: “If you can hear yourself singing, you are too loud”.

A bald-headed grocer had an irritating habit of playing with piles of shiny sausages, constantly arranging and re-arranging them. His bald pate closely resembled the colour of his pink charges.


                                                                                    SOCIETY OUTINGS

The WDS 2015 day trip will be to Penrhyn Castle and Bangor on Saturday 4 July.

The popular mystery tour is on Wednesday 17 June and will include a one-hour stop for refreshments. 



   Built between 1820 and 1832, Penrhyn Castle was the home of wealthy quarry owners the Pennants. It was last occupied in 1949 and was handed over to the National Trust in 1951.


Once dismissed by some as a folly, the castle has stunning interiors constructed from the finest materials.

Huge fireplaces and stained glass windows dominate massive rooms built to impress.

The castle and its lovely grounds were never meant to be a snug home. It was designed as a statement of wealth and status by the Pennants, dominating the coastline.

There are some remarkable items of furniture including a big brass bed made for the Prince of Wales’s visit in 1894.

The servants’ quarters give a vivid impression of the Downton Abbey era. The cook’s cosy sitting room, for example, contrasts with the enormous reception rooms.

The castle also has a fine collection of paintings amassed over the years.

                                                                                          Chairman’s Comments

WDS is not averse to change and welcomes new ideas.

However, I for one am against change for change’s sake and an example has come up with the proposals for the Holly Lodge site.


Redrow plans to return Grade II-listed Fremont (above) and Sandheys to residential use after many decades school use.

This is to be applauded – indeed protection of these nationally-important buildings is required by legislation.

Sadly, Redrow plans to tear down Holly Lodge House - apparently simply because it is not listed.

WDS tried to get the building listed about 10 years ago – around the time it was successful in getting the former Casbah Club in Haymans Green protected.

English Heritage turned down the application saying Holly Lodge House had been altered and joined on to other school buildings.

At the consultation evening on 11 March we urged a re-think about preserving Holly Lodge House.

Later, at the suggestion of a Holly Lodge old girl, I alerted Private Eye to the building’s plight and WDS’s stance was featured in Nooks and Corners (issue 1389).

Piloti wrote: “It defies comprehension, and commercial logic, that so handsome and solid a building in good repair, a familiar landmark with happy associations, should not also be made into flats as it would be a desirable place to live.”

We might hope Redrow is big enough to change its mind.          

   Stephen Guy