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 Society Information

 West Derby History

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 Lowlands History

 West Derby Album



Events for 2015


                                                                                              Autumn 2015 


                                                                                               Lost Screens

 There’s an old saying that you don’t miss something until it’s gone and this is certainly true of much-loved buildings.

Several people have contacted the West Derby Society (WDS) about the disappearance of the old Curzon cinema in Old Swan – one minute it was there, the next it had vanished.



This picture was taken by WDS chairman Stephen Guy in 1962 as the Curzon was being converted into shops. The first to open was the Fine Fare supermarket – the face of shopping to come. Thankfully Old Swan’s many varied shops generally continue to thrive. A new building now rises on the site of the splendid Art Deco Curzon – sadly never listed – which closed in August 1960.



Over the road was the Regent, pictured on the same day, showing The Wizard of Baghdad. The Regent closed in March 1967.



Many old glass bottles are found all over the West Derby area - the most prolific provider was in Liverpool’s Paddington district, writes Alastair Caird.

Most were the “Codd” type invented by Hiram Codd, born 10 January 1838 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He was the youngest child of a carpenter, Edwin Codd, who died when his son was still young. Hiram married Jane Colebrooke on 5 February 1856 and his second wife Elizabeth Blundell in June 1885. At the age of 23 Codd became a mechanical engineer, working for the British & Foreign Cork Company.


It was whilst he was employed here that he recognised that there was a need for better machinery for filling bottles plus a different type of seal other than cork.

Codd registered his invention on 24 November 1870 with the British Patent Office for a glass bottle with a marble stopper. His creation was to become standard throughout Europe and the British Empire.

It was in 1872, while living at 27 Queen Row, Grove Lane, Camberwell, Surrey, that Codd - together with Richard Barrett of London, to whom he granted half of his rights - filed a patent for “improvements in bottles containing aerated or effervescing liquid”.

These bottles could be used over and over again without the expense of buying new corks. The bottle had in its neck a glass marble. They were filled upside down: the pressure of gas in the bottle forced the marble against the vulcanized India rubber washer at the top of the neck. This  

provided an efficient seal for the liquid inside. It is said there are instances of such bottles having remained sealed for over 100 years without the gas escaping.

In 1873 Codd perfected his glass marble-stoppered bottle. By the middled of that year he had granted 20 licenses and received another 50 applications. In 1874 his licence became free to bottle manufacturers providing they used his groove-lipping tool, marbles and sealed rings. Another proviso was that the firms they traded with must already have a licence to use his bottles.


Codd had two factories for the production of the marbles, one in Camberwell and the other in Kennington, London. He licensed his patent to several manufacturers, one being Ben Rylands. They formed a partnership and started Barnsley’s Hope Glass Works. They remained business partners until Ben’s death in 1881.

Although Codd had the original patent his design was copied and there are many variations of his design. These type of bottles were still in use some 60 years or more after his invention. Indeed Codd’s patented globe stopper bottle is still manufactured in India, by Khandelwal glass works.


Codd designed a bottle-opener for inserting into the neck to push the marble down, enabling enough gas to escape and release the marble from its seal. While this was the most hygienic way to open the bottle, most people just pushed the marble into the bottle with their finger when their hands were not always clean.

Perhaps for this reason it was not widely used in the USA.

As well as providing containers for soda and mineral water, Codd bottles also supplied toys for children.

When the content had been consumed children would smash the bottles

to obtain the glass marble - known in Liverpool as an olly - to play games with.

The big clear glass marble used to knock other marbles around in the improvised game, was called a bolly washer.

Hiram Codd died, aged 49, on 18 February 1887 at his home in Suffolk Lodge, Brixton. The cause of his death was chronic liver and kidney disease and congestion of the brain. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.

It is said that the name “Codswallop” was used by beer drinkers as a derogatory term for non-alcoholic drinks. This may be a load of old Codswallop but for certain Codd was a very intelligent man. Today his bottles are prized the world over by antique bottle collectors.


Many bottles similar to these late Victorian examples have been found during the excavations of the Williamson Tunnels, Edge Hill.

                                                                                    ~ oOo ~

In 1843 an Act for the Division of the Rectory of Walton-on-the-Hill provided for the creation of a separate parish of West Derby, enabling a parish church to be built there. Construction of the new West Derby parish church was begun in 1853 and completed three years later. The old chapel was demolished and the new church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, consecrated on 6 November 1856.


 A massive tower was a feature of this new church but unlike its neighbour up the road, St James’s, it did not contain a peal of bells. It seems that the architect did not think that the foundations could support the extra weight of heavy bells. (The heaviest bell in the world hung for full circle ringing is in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. It weighs over four long tons - more than four metric tons. Despite this colossal weight it can safely be rung by just one experienced ringer.)

It was 35 years after the completion of St Mary’s before the chiming clocks were installed. They were the gift of the Pemberton-Heywood family of Norris Green. A special service took place on Advent Sunday 1888 to celebrate the installation of both the two-faced clock and chimes.

Originally the clock mechanism and chimes had to be wound by hand every day but now it is done electrically.

Arthur Heywood 1753 – 1836 was a prosperous Liverpool banker and one-time Mayor of Liverpool. He had a large house built for himself in Norris Green Park in 1830. The mansion was set in 16 acres with landscaped gardens, orchards and stables. The house was built to provide a sanctuary away from the pollution and disease of overcrowded Liverpool town centre. The clean air of Norris Green would have been much healthier than the smog of the city - the spread of typhus and flu was deadly. Epidemics spread throughout the social classes leaving many thousands dead.



John Pemberton Heywood was one of his sons and also a banker. Anna Maria Heywood was his wife who outlived her husband. When she died in 1887, the clock and chimes were installed in her memory (above).

                                                                ~ oOo ~


Letters Patent of King John 28 August 1207: John, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, to all his faithful

people who have desired to have Burgages in the township of Liverpool, greeting. Know ye that we have granted to all our faithful people who have taken Burgages in Liverpool that they may have all the liberties and free customs in the township of Liverpool which any Free Borough on the sea has in our land. Therefore we command you that securely and in our peace you come there to receive and inhabit our Burgages. And in witness hereof we transmit to you these Letters Patent. Witness Simon de Pateshill at Winchester on the 28th day of August in the ninth year of our reign.



Charter of Henry III (above): The traders in Liverpool soon wanted greater freedom. It happened in 1229 when King Henry III was in great financial difficulties and he was therefore very willing to sell further privileges. The inhabitants of Liverpool raised ten marks to buy a new charter of a very extensive kind.

This charter was of the greatest importance in the history of the borough because it effectively remained the governing charter until the 17th century. It was much more elaborate and detailed than King John’s. Henry’s included the establishment of a borough independent of the shire or county especially for judicial purposes. It increased trading privileges and power to establish a merchant guild or association.

Charter of Charles I: Liverpool was beginning to be increasingly prosperous. However, the rights of the burgesses were somewhat uncertain and open to challenge.   

Various applications for a new charter were made & eventually in 1626 Charles I granted one.

It was the most important since Henry III’s because it authorised in more modern terms the powers of the borough. It decided the vexed question of incorporation, settled the borough’s constitution with a mayor, bailiffs and burgesses acting as the supreme authority and bringing the legal system of the town into order.



Map of Liverpool 1729


Late 17th to mid-19th centuries: Liverpool progressed and prospered, growing at an astonishing rate. Further charters were obtained in 1677 (Charles II), 1685 (James II), 1691 (William & Mary), 1695 / 1698 (William III), 1709 (Anne), 1752 (George II), 1808 (George III), 1828 (George IV) and 1836 (William IV).

Queen Victoria 1880 / 1893: The 1880 charter conferred upon Liverpool the title of City, as opposed to a mere borough. It was closely linked with the foundation of the Bishopric of Liverpool in that year.

The 1893 charter decreed that the title Lord Mayor of Liverpool could be used, as opposed to plain Mayor.

                                                                    ~ oOo ~

West Derby was one of the eight Hundreds of Lancashire – 15 townships came under its jurisdiction. Over the centuries it was, in turn, inhabited by Danes and Anglo Saxons. Until the 13th century it stood in a forest about 11 miles long and two miles wide. It had a Norman fortress. King John transferred the Wapentake court from West Derby when he granted the Charter to Liverpool in 1207. Ecclesiastically, West Derby was part of the Walton Parish for many years, becoming independent in 1848. The present parish church, built in 1856, replaced its predecessor the ancient Chapel of St Mary the Virgin.

 Mr Spock take note …



Vulcan of Southport made these track-driven Vulcans and tested them at Birkdale. This is a 22.4hp Vulcan - the photo was taken at the local beach testing area in 1925.




WDS has recently received two generous donations of historic deeds, photographs, books, history notes and tapes.

Both collections were amassed by two local men who were not known to the Society.  We are very grateful to their families for letting us have this important material. It helps our understanding of West Derby and Liverpool’s rich history.

The first donation was a cache of about 50 documents from about 1850 to the early 1900s.

Many are written in copperplate on parchment and some bear the signature of the deputy steward of West Derby Courthouse. They relate to hearings at the manor court where land issues were settled for centuries.

The Molyneux family of Sefton and Croxteth Hall were hereditary stewards from the 15th century.




Many of the deeds refer to Mercer Place, the Georgian hamlet off Deysbrook Lane. This historic enclave of cottages and small holdings was flattened and replaced by modern housing in the 1960s. No trace remains.


The other collection was built up over a lifetime and includes research into Liverpool’s Welsh churches, chapels and others.

There are several scarce local history books. Some of the material is from the estate of a family member, Glyn Hughes, a well-known journalist who died more than 40 years ago. He wrote many articles in local papers including the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post.

Reel-to-reel tapes in original boxes include music, singing and discussions.



The collection includes this rare early photograph of Christ Church, Tuebrook.


Didn’t we have a lovely time …


…the day we went to Bangor.

No, we didn’t sing the 1970s Fiddlers Dram hit on the coach but we could have done.  The Society’s annual day trip on 4 July took in the North Wales university city and nearby Penrhyn Castle.

We again had a  full coach and arrived at Bangor quickly and smoothly along the A55 coast road. We stayed for an hour or so – a few stayed there the whole time while most of us went to the castle. We had free National Trust day passes thanks to Civic Voice , our national umbrella body.

Once dismissed by many as a folly, this impressive  late Georgian / early Victorian pile houses high-quality original furnishings and exudes an air of calm.

The grounds and gardens are equally stunning, with marvellous views over the sea and mountains.



Before we went home, a few of us watched in admiration as a group of young people abseilled down one of grey stone towers.


From the Liverpool Daily Post 13 June 1867:

"West Derby Manor Court: the annual court of the manor of West Derby was held at the Courthouse, West Derby. Mr Spencely, steward of the Lord  of the Manor, presided. The  business  was simply routine and void of interest."

So now we know.


                                                          Holly Lodge Hutchinsons


As protests continue over builder Redrow’s plans to demolish historic Holly Lodge, here is more information about family links.

WDS member Terry Hutchinson Powell, a descendent of Hutchinsons who lived at Holly Lodge, writes:

Phyllis Hutchinson, who died in the Lusitania sinking, was granddaughter of Edward Hutchinson of Holly Lodge,

Her parents were Edward Mason and Isobel Lucy Martha Hutchinson (née Franks).

Phyllis was born Kingsmead Road, Oxton.

Barrow-in-Furness was another area where the Hutchinsons were prominent.

In 1903 Hutchinson's bought out the firm of Walmsley and Smith, flour millers of Hindpool Road, Barrow-in-Furness.

Edward Mason Hutchinson, John Hutchinson and Francis Edgerton Hutchinson, directors and managers, oversaw operations there from time to time. Francis Edgerton Hutchinson lived at Monks Croft, Barrow. Now sadly demolished, it latterly became the HQ of the regional health authority.

John and Edward Mason Hutchinson travelled to and from the Lakes in respect of their duties in Liverpool and Barrow. John lived at Aldingham Hall, Aldingham, while Edward Mason lived at Woodcroft, Eleanor Road, Bidston, and Birket House, Cartmel Fell in the Winster Valley near Windermere.

The construction shed of B A E Shipbuilders is on the site of Barrow Corn Mill where the Hutchinson family carried on business.



 Eleanor Road, Bidston, seen in 1911



                                                              Chairman’s Comments


I visited the Lady Lever Art Gallery recently and was brought up to date on the exciting £1.2 million renovations due to open about May 2016.

The art gallery stands in the centre of Port Sunlight, built for the workers by soap king William Hesketh Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme (his late wife was Miss Hulme).

Port Sunlight is a Victorian and Edwardian confection of mock-Tudor, Jacobean and other styles. It faces the huge factory which has employed many generations of workers.

The original Lever Brothers grew into the giant Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, one of the greatest business success stories.

It has survived by diversifying and spreading its operations around the world.

In the 1980s it acquired 80 companies in just four years. Back in 1986 it paid out an eye-watering $3,000 million for the makers of Vaseline and Ragu pasta sauce. A few years later it ditched 1,200 products to concentrate on its global mass-market brands.

Now it is moving into the prestigious, high-priced skin care business, producing luxury goods for the high end of the market.

Walking around Port Sunlight, it is amusing to think that most of it was paid for by Lord Leverhulme’s massive best-seller Sunlight Soap.

There are similarities between West Derby Village and Port Sunlight. The environments we see today were largely the visions of individuals – in West Derby’s case the 4th Earl of Sefton, who redesigned and rebuilt much of the Village starting in the 1850s.

Unlike Port Sunlight, it was paid for by old money, the product of centuries of land and property acquisition started when William de Moulins took part in the Battle of Hastings.

It is of great concern that several listed buildings are empty in West Derby Village along with the former Co-op. It is hoped this and the empty lodge and houses will soon be re-occupied.                  

    Stephen Guy