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 Society Information

 West Derby History

 Lowlands Album

 Lowlands History

 West Derby Album



Events for 2014


                                                                                     Summer 2014  


                                                                                     Courthouse Custody


The West Derby Society (WDS) now has joint custody of the Grade II*-listed Courthouse in West Derby Village .

The Society is able to open and close the building for Sunday and market day openings or by appointment. 

WDS chairman Stephen Guy says: “Liverpool City Council has owned the Courthouse since the 1930s when it was handed over by the Marquess of Salisbury. 

   “The new arrangement means WDS has greater control of public access to this important attraction which draws more than 1,000 visitors a year.”

The Courthouse, built in 1586, is Britain ’s only free-standing post medieval courthouse. It was last used as a manor court in 1910. 


                                                                  Homes and Halls 

Who knows the location of the oldest house in Liverpool ?

   One of the oldest is whitewashed Tuebrook House in West Derby Rd , dating from 1615.

   The oldest may be Stanlawe Grange, in Aigburth Hall Rd , with parts dating back to the late 13th century, writes Alastair Caird.

   Another contender is Park Lodge near Sefton Park which looks like a 19th century house but is said to incorporate a much older structure.

   The Old Hall in Sandfield Park has bits dating back to around 1500. The Yeoman’s House in the Village is contemporary with the Courthouse, as are parts of Croxteth Hall. 

Speke Hall was built by several generations of the Norris family during the 16th century.



Former Council-owned Tuebrook House was recently put up for auction but failed to find a buyer. 

However, it was later sold by private treaty. I believe that the new owner, if he gets permission, wants to make the Grade II-listed building into a combined residence and coffee shop. If this idea is approved, the only place for any prospective customers to park appears to be on the dual carriageway. Watch this space. ?


 Although the following have no direct bearing on West Derby , one or more of the products listed affects every member in one way or another. It is also a salient reminder of just how fast time slips by:

Marmite first appeared 112 years ago.

Gordon’s Gin is now 245 years old.

Colmans Mustard Powder first went on sale 200 years ago.

Lyles Golden Syrup has been spreading for 129 years.

Kendal Mint Cake was first crunched 95 years ago.

H P Sauce has been spicing up our meals for 115 years.

Cadburys Dairy Milk Chocolate first hit the shops 109 years ago.

Lea & Perin’s Worcestershire Sauce was allegedly discovered by accident 176 years ago.

Dickinson & Morris pork pies have been baked for 163 years.

 Frank Cooper’s Marmalade started to spread 140 tangy years ago.

Devotees have been downing Pimms for 191 years.

Shell petrol first revved up 127 years ago. 


More statistics …


Otterspool Promenade was opened in 1950, using 30 million tons of rubbish and spoil, much of it from the Mersey Tunnel excavations.

   The promenade was extended in 1984 to include the 250-acre Garden Festival site which is now part of the Sustrans cycle route and an excellent public park with restored Festival features.

   The first (St Mary’s) West Derby Rose Queen and procession was held in July 1932 when it was called the Floral Carnival.

Past Plugs

   The following adverts for Gibson’s Garage & W Brooks Ltd are taken from St Mary’s Parish Church Magazine of July 1932. 




                                         Did Adolf Hitler visit Liverpool between 1912 and 1913?       


Adolf Hitler’s alleged visit is told in a memoir written by his sister-in-law Bridget in the 1930s.

   It is historical fact that Hitler’s half-brother, his wife and nephews lived in Liverpool ’s Upper Stanhope Street before moving to the US

   Hitler’s nephews, after unsuccessfully trying to ingratiate themselves with the dictator, later served in the US Army – a massive propaganda coupe for the Allies.

   Ironically, the former Hitler Liverpool home was reduced to rubble by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz.




Bridget’s memoir was filed away once Hitler started to turn dangerous to peace but was rediscovered years later. The story was taken up by several fact and fiction authors – one was the novel Young Adolf by Liverpool writer Beryl Bainbridge. 

This took the idea of Adolf visiting Liverpool , as recounted in the memoir and developing it further. Later it was made into a two-part TV drama, thus reaching a wider audience.

Although Bainbridge made clear at the time that the novel was a product largely of her own imagination some people accept the visit as historical fact. 

Talking to the Washington Post in 1979 Bainbridge said: “I haven’t really got the education for that sort of thing, the bit of what I laughingly call research that I did on Young Adolf I quite enjoyed. 

“I felt rather educated rushing around looking in libraries. What seems most real is the part about Adolf coming to Liverpool . It’s the most understated, whether it’s true or not. There’s no proof that he came but there’s no proof that he didn’t.”

Years later in the foreword to Gardener’s Last of the Hitlers, her view of the memoir was undimmed. 

What rings true, by reason of its mundane content and naivety of expression, is Bridget’s account of Adolf’s arrival in

Liverpool . This encapsulates the view of many of those who feel this section of the memoir has credibility with its very matter-of-factness. It is not dressed up for effect – in fact quite the opposite. 


The ordinariness of it is quite stark. Young Adolf playing with Bridget’s child in the kitchen while chatting about the future of Germany . He would never hesitate to interrupt the housework to explain how Germany was going to take its rightful position in the world. First would come France then England

Bridget says: “I didn’t find this talk very interesting but whenever I tried to get away he would begin to shout, although I rarely troubled to contradict him. 

“He would whip himself up into a rage and go on until hoarseness or some other interruption stopped him. I put it down, partly to the pleasure he took in hearing his own voice – another trick he had in common with my husband – and partly a desire to dominate me …

“During his stay in Liverpool Adolf hadn’t even picked up enough English to ask directions to the station.”


Come with me to the Casbah is a sentence familiar to Charles Boyer fans but for West Derby teenagers in the 1960s it had quite a different meaning.

   The Casbah was opened by Mrs Mona Best in the cellars of her 8 Haymans Green home. She claimed it was her son’s idea to turn the cellars into a den for their friends. Later Mrs Best, after a discussion with her 18-year-old son Pete, decided to open a club. It took two months for Mrs Best and her boys to paint the walls and stain the boards to give it an Eastern atmosphere. Their pride and joy was a large dragon which was painted along the length of one wall. Three friends, Kenneth Brown, David Hughes and Douglas Jenkins were among those who helped with the conversion after work and at weekends.

   Kenneth Brown had been a member of a guitar group who began to play at the Casbah on Saturday nights. Other members of The Quarrymen, later the Silver Beetles, travelled from the south of the city - John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. They were joined by Pete Best on drums.

   George was also a member of the Les Stewart Quartet, the resident band at the Pillar Club in Lowlands 13 Haymans Green which opened some months earlier than the Casbah. 

   Like the Pillar Club and similar basement clubs in Liverpool ’s suburbs, Casbah members took their own records or listened to those provided by Mrs Best. There was also a room for dancing. In the first few weeks Casbah membership topped 280 and was soon rivalling the nearby Pillar Club.

                                                                                        New Chairman

WDS chairman Stephen Guy (above ) was elected chairman of West Derby Community Association ( Lowlands ) in May. 

He succeeds Mrs Pat Blair JP (above, with Lowlands committee members) who stood down after many years. Pat was later awarded the MBE in the birthday honours for her services to women’s clubs.


                                                                West Derby Village Memories

                                                         by WDS country member Roland Dowd


I was born in 1930 on Queens Drive . At the bottom of our garden was a fence with Lisburn Farm on the other side.

   My memories of West Derby Village start from about the age of four when we often visited friends and relatives. One lived in Eaton Rd next to the bank.

   I made many visits with my grandfather to see his sister. She lived in a couple of rooms off Town Row – sometime later she died in a fire.

   I remember Mr Shallcross the vet who lived in one of the Mill Lane Cottages before the Eaton Rd junction.

   My father was a tram driver who is pictured above driving a 12 at the Pier Head. In 1937 we moved to near Broadgreen Hospital .

In 1941 I won a scholarship to Liverpool Collegiate. The college’s sports ground was at the back of Holly Lodge running down to the Cheshire Lines railway, with a small wooded area at the bottom. 

   I joined the Collegiate Scouts and we held weekend camps on the sports ground. 

   We were attached to St James’s Church which we attended regularly. 

   Aged 11, I used to visit the shop at the corner of Eaton Rd and Mill Lane to purchase a cinnamon stick which I attempted to smoke. You could buy a glass of Vantas in the Village for a penny - heady days indeed.

   In 1944 I joined the Army Cadets based in Sandforth House, Sandforth Rd , where regular soldiers were also stationed. This was frowned upon by the Collegiate as you were expected to join the officer training corps. That didn’t appeal to me as their uniforms were 1914 – 1918 style with puttees etc. In 1946 we relocated to Townsend Ave Barracks.

   When I married we moved to Moscow Drive near St James’s Parish Hall – the vicar’s wife visited us a number of times.

In 1962 we moved to just off Melwood Drive . We used to hire as taxi from a garage in the Village. They were originally called Z Cars but the BBC complained that it impinged its copyright so the name was changed to A to Z Cars.

   We moved away in 1965 and later my wife, a former nurse, founded the Rathbone Hospital League of Friends. The treasurer was a Mrs English who lived in Almonds Green.

   In 1968 we left Liverpool for good but have been back for a number of visits. I still retain a great interest in West Derby Village especially through my friend and colleague Andrew Richardson.


                                                                           Lister of Lister Drive  

Cotton broker James Lister, of Basil Grange, Sandfield Park , was chairman of the West Derby Local Board in Victorian times - Lister Drive was named after him. 

   The huge Lister Drive Power Station was built to cope with the surge in demand for electricity with much of the current needed to power the city’s new electric trams.

   It was 1900 and electrically-propelled vehicles were taking over from the traditional horse-drawn tram cars while electric light was superseding gas.

   The Lister Drive Power Station with its four towering chimneys dominated the surrounding area for decades.

Boiler houses stood on either side of the engine rooms, supplied directly with coal from London and North Western Railway trains in adjacent sidings. There was no cooling pond so condensing water was pumped into cooling towers, also prominent features of the local landscape. 

   In 1905 Liverpool had the equivalent of 104 miles of single-track tramlines made out of 60 ft girder rails weighing about 95 lbs per yard.

   There were 469 trams in stock with about 400 in regular service. Most of the trams were double-deckers with a 6 ft wheel base.

   The demise of Liverpool ’s trams in 1957 sounded the beginning of the end for Lister Drive . No 1 station closed in 1958 and industrial decline in the 1960s saw demolition of power station buildings including the removal of the big chimneys.

Fiddler’s Ferry near Warrington took over and the last remnants of Lister Drive were cleared in the 1990s to be replaced by a business park. 

    It was Sunday 12 September 1875 and the police officer knew who lived at Basil Grange - prominent magistrate James Lister. The JP was the biggest fish caught in a police swoop that netted 100 people who allowed their dogs to be at large without a lead.

   Lister was summonsed to appear at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court along with all the others.

   At first he tried to bluster it out, telling the court: “I have two dogs and they are never allowed to go at large without somebody being with them.

   “I was in church at the time. I have two little dogs and they are in the habit of going from my grounds to the coachman’s lodge but to get there they must go into the high road. The animals are quite harmless.”

   Lister puffed out his chest and declared: “A little discrimination would have told the police that there was really nothing in it. There has been too much zeal shown.”

   However, his fellow magistrate trying the case, Lt Col Bidwill, had done his homework and upon closer questioning Lister admitted that his dog did not have to cross the road to get to the lodge.

[There is a short private drive from Basil Grange (pictured) to the lodge. 

   Lister still insisted the dog was under his control even though it was not on a lead and he was in church!

   He was fined 2s 6d (12.5p) and ordered to pay 5s 6d (27.5p) costs. 

   A repentant Lister told the court: “Quite right and I am happy to pay it.” 

   In 1897 powerful politician and baronet Sir Arthur Forwood MP, of The Priory, Woolton, was fined 2s 6d (12.5p) for having a dog at large, this time without a muzzle. Presumably this law still applies but is rarely enforced. 


                                                                              Chairman’s Comments

I sat down and switched on my computer – nothing.

   I tried again, and again, with the same negative result.

   I bought the computer in 2008 and had paid £9.99 a month for a service plan. Taking it back to the store where I originally made the purchase, the  assistant tried to make it work without success.

   It was sent away and a few days later I received a call saying the machine could not be repaired.

   As I had the monthly plan, they sent me a £650 voucher to buy a new computer, so the monthly plan was money well spent!

   They also sent the hard drive so I could transfer all my files on to the new computer.

   This is where my troubles began.


The store assistant tried in vain to transfer the material off my old hard drive (a small metal box with circuits) on to the new computer.

Later I discovered that the original supplier had provided a series of potentially defective hard drives. That’s apparently why I was given a virtual refund. 

   A computer enthusiast friend is now trying to access the files from the defective hard drive. Complete success seems unlikely as it needs very expensive equipment to do the task effectively.

   The moral of the story is always to back up your files. Fortunately I did this with some of the more important material.

  This story underlines how we have become so dependent on new technology.

  I am tempted to say it would not have happened with traditional printed material but that can be lost as well.

   Many years ago, when computers were in their infancy, a friend lost his daughter’s 20,000-word university thesis due to the careless pressing of a button. Human error and technical failures are just waiting to happen.                      

 Stephen Guy