The History of Childwall

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Records on a Vicarage go back all the way to 1307 when a dwelling place for the newly-created Vicar was provided for in the endowment by the rector of the vicarage, dated 17th December 1307, on a piece of ground next to the church called Greenland. In the churchwardens books, the Vicarage is first mentioned in 1572, 1574 and in 1657, the parish to pay for repairs of the "vicaridge" house.

The Vicarage house, out-housing and an acre of land, worth in all 2, 10s. a year, appears in Mr. Marklands revenue statement of 1714. The terrier of 1728 describes it as containing a house, brew house, granary, barn, stable, and cow-house, with a kitchen garden and an acre of lane, apart from some glebe in Little Woolton and Childwall.

The terrier of 1778 gives fuller details, and we see it was then a stone and slated building, 36 feet by 33 feet, with hall, parlour, kitchen, pantry, milkhouse and cellar, and four rooms above. The above picture (centre and right) of the Vicarage is on the grounds what is now the Church Hall and was demolished in the 1930s. Before demolition took place, a new Vicarage was built further up Childwall Abbey Road and the entrance was next to the road entrance to what was Childwall Hall, and is now Lime Pictures. This is now a privately owned house but before the sale took place, part of the land was sold off behind the Church Hall and a new Vicarage now stands. The controversal redesign of the Church Hall will be taking place on this site.

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THE VICARAGE

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The Vicarage house, out-housing and an acre of land, worth in all 2, 10s. a year, appears in Mr. Marklands revenue statement of 1714. The terrier of 1728 describes it as containing a house, brew house, granary, barn, stable, and cow-house, with a kitchen garden and an acre of lane, apart from some glebe in Little Woolton and Childwall.

TAKE THE TOUR

There are many ways to walk around Childwall, one may walk around the Parish boundary, or maybe just around the heart of the Village and take in the tour of the Church and Graveyard.  We plan to take you on a long and varied tour starting in the heart of the village having just left the Church and now crossing over the road towards the Childwall Abbey Pub which has been featured in the previous page.  Up Childwall Abbey Road past the Gatehouse, around the Triangle for a look at shops in days gone by, down towards the fiveways for information on the 'Farm', turning left on Queens Drive to head up to Woolton Road, turning left and going past the old Dudlow Lane Pumping Station, carry on down Woolton road past Childwall C of E School, heading out towards the roundabout of Childwall Park Avenue/Woolton Road, heading through the gate at the edge of Childwall Woods, through Childwall Woods in to Childwall Fields, out of Childwall Fields to Childwall Cross, then up Childwall Lane past the church and along to Score Lane.

Today, the shops around the Triangle produce a very good place to shop, with many different outlets. However while the shops themselves have undergone many changes, it is the area that has gone considerable change even in the last 100 years. Standing in the same place over 100 years ago, you wouldn't be shopping, but rather you would be standing in a sandstone quarry! Not only was this a large quarry, there were also changes to the road layout and was also home to a couple of large exclusive houses. Walking down Taggart Avenue (which was once called Park Road) up to Stand Park road, this was once called Rabbit Lane. However Rabbit Lane, while taking the same route at it does today, stopped around the location of what is now Highville Road and turned left rather than carrying on to Childwall Park Avenue (as Childwall Park Avenue wasn't there 100 years ago!). The lane then followed part of Highville road as it is today but then came out opposite the top of Childwall Abbey Road.  The location today would be part of the Alleyway that runs behind the shops on the left hand side.

At the junction of Dunbabin Road, there were two large houses.  On the left hand side one was called Stand House and what was Rabbit Lane is now called Stand Park Road taking the Stand from the house name and the Park Road from the name what is now Taggart Avenue. On the right hand side of Dunbabin Road was a house called "Hill Top". Now long gone, the only remains is the name which is given to Hilltop Road which can be found off Dunbabin Road. The colour photo above was taken in 1960 by Mr Dale and shows his fathers tobacconist/confectioners shop, which was owned, from 1938 to 1965. In 1965 it was taken over and remained a tobacconist/confectioners shop but changed hands again a few years later when it was bought by a Larry Hodgson. It was subsequently sold to Ricafeg who only used it for a short time as they had bought the shop on the other block, which then became RS McColl. Ricafeg sold 94 Childwall Priory Road to Sylvia Rose who bought what was Dorothy Rennies shop knocking them through in to one. The black and white photo (what is now Martins on the corner) is Kirkland Jennings Bakers and this had a tea-room above it. The entrance was on Taggart Avenue and the black and white picture shows a walled area, and you can still see where it was today. There was a small gate to the entrance and you went in and up the stairs to the tea-room. Also note the way the car is parked, as prior to 1961, this was a two-way road. The Welfare Food Distribution Centre in Dunbabin Road used to give out free orange juice to passing youngsters after the war. Also the Post Office corner where the ATM machine is now in the wall used to be a stairway to the flat above the post office. This was part of Childwall Radio/ Childwall Wireless and contained booths where you could listen to gramophones before buying them.

Childwall Priory was a farmhouse and is said to have stood on the location for over 500 years before being demolished in the early 1930s.

The Church-like side was added in the 1820s and perhaps this is where it gets the name 'Priory' from. The drive way appears to be more or less the same position as the small alleyway leading off Childwall Valley Road next to the Dentist shop to get around the rear of the shops. It follows the same line as the alleyway towards Orton Road and the farm appears to have been placed between what is now Orton Road and Paignton Road.

Childwall Well was situated on the slope of the hill about 200 yards from the Childwall Abbey Hotel and was known as the Monks Bath. It was working as a strong cold spring in the 1830's.  The bason of the well measured about 15' across and it was well protected by an interior four sided wall of masonry. A stream from it used to flow into the Childwall Brook a short distance away.

 

After a long career, the well suddenly dried up about 1840 as a result of the Corporation Wells in Green Lane and therefore became filled up with rubbish.When the old wall was taken down, they came across a well 4-5' in diameter with three steps leading down to it. This was so ancient that it was not even featured on any local records.

 

Historians have suggested that this could be the well which gave the village its name of Childewell as it was called in the region of Richard II.  The newly discovered well very probably gave its name to Well Lane. Sadly the well has now been filled in, with 15 tons of rubble and covered over.

 

Perhaps this may be excavated in the future! On the left we see Childwall Valley Road when Childwall Brook overflows.

Visitors to Childwall from many years ago would be shocked at the level of change on the left hand side of Childwall Abbey Road!  For once stood the Childwall Stables, a public toilet block and the Childwall Abbey playing field is now a car park, a sub station and a new housing estate. Immediately behind the Childwall Abbey Pub and directly across from the entrance of the Church Hall car park stood Childwall Stables, which became surplus to requirements and stood empty.

 

These were lovely sandstone buildings and had stood the test of time for many years. Their demise came very abruptly when they were pulled down due to structural reasons but it was a shame that money could not have been found to repair the damage in the time allowed but may have proved too costly (as with Childwall Hall). It was a shame to see the rubble left in a pile for many months on the same site until the Childwall Abbey Pub came forward and a small car park was created in the space. The sandstone rubble was then used to build the boundary wall to the car park. Space at the rear of the old stable block was also grassed and is now an extended playing field/childrens play area giving what has to be the largest beer garden in Liverpool!

To the left of the old stable block was a public toilet for both Ladies and Gentlemen with a Electricity Sub station in the middle.These toilets were still in use around 20 years ago until they were closed down presumably for the same reason that all public toilets are closed down today for. They were left boarded up for many years until the area of the stables and the Cricket field going meant that work could be done on a new substation demolishing the toilet blocks either side. The Childwall Abbey playing field (or Cricket Field as it was known) was a large patch of land that started opposite the entrance to what is now Lime Pictures and ran down towards the rear of the bowling green of the Abbey Pub. Most of this area was kept very nicely presented with a large hill on the left hand side separating the field from the last house on Childwall Abbey Road and large bushes gave the boundary mark to what was the area behind the public toilets and the stable block. Up until about 18 years ago, there was a wooden changing room block which stood in the corner nearest to the Public toilets but was burnt down and only the footings remained. Nowadays, this land was bought to create a new housing estate, which now sits on the site.  However, at least part of the original wall was kept as the boundary wall to the estate, but it was a sad loss when this land went.

 

Driving up towards the Childwall Fiveways Roundabout today, it is easy to see where it gets the name from with 5 exits to take: Childwall Valley Road, Childwall Road, Childwall Priory Road, Queens Drive (heading towards Allerton) and Queens Drive (heading towards the M62). It was until fairly recently, a 3 lane roundabout but was deemed unsafe and thus converted to two lanes. Back in the early 1900s, the Roundabout didn't exist and only three roads were present that met up: Childwall Road, Priory Road (which is now Childwall Priory Road) and the continuation of Priory Road (which is now Queens Drive heading towards the M62).

The area at this time was virtually all fields, and the landmarks back then were Childwall Priory Farm, Hillside Farm (roughly by the junction of what is now Childwall Valley Road/Childwall Mount Road), Hill Top and Stand House. The pictures on the right show from Clockwise top left: Queens Drive, Childwall Valley Road at the top and Childwall Valley Road looking up and down past Score Lane.

 

The area of Childwall is no stranger when it comes to water. Childwall Brook was fed by a spring once located near the junction of Wall Lane and Score Lane, 200 yards from the Childwall Abbey Pub.  Water flowed down towards the Cistern Pit known locally as Jackson's Pond. Until recently, Jacksons Pond lay between the Loop Line and Gateacre Park Drive.  It was a spring fed, and a popular place to fish.

 

Today, a park is present on the same site although the ground is always wet. Water also seeps from the fields by Barnham Drive in to Childwall Valley Road where the railway bridge crosses the road.

Roadworks at the corner of Childwall Lane and Well Lane in 1965 found a well 4-5ft in diameter. Dudlow Lane Pumping Station was built in the 1860s when increased demand for water, combined with a drought meant that water supplies were restricted. The well had two oval shafts 12ft by 9ft to a depth of 247ft. The Pumping Station was demolished in 1960.

Looking at older maps of the area, it can be said that the area of Childwall Wood, Black Wood and Childwall Field haven't changed all that much, but rather the names given to them and the ownership of the land that has changed over the years. At one time, the owners of Childwall Hall owned vast amounts of land in the area. This can be seen today as Childwall Woods with the border of Childwall Abbey Road, Countisbury Drive and Woolton Road. The area then was called The Grounds and was literally the grounds to Childwall Hall. However, before Woolton Road was built from Gateacre up to the Roundabout at the end of Childwall Park Avenue, the grounds extended to what is known today as the Black Woods.

 

It is interesting to view the boundary of Childwall Woods of 100 years ago as it has virtually kept the same boundary 100 years later. Bisected by Woolton Road, even the Black Woods has been virtually unchanged too. The area that is now Cabot Green (off Woolton Road) was actually a small field on exactly the same size that the Green is now including the houses, no land was taken from the Grounds to build this exclusive Green.  

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THE TRIANGLE

CHILDWALL PRIORY FARM

CHILDWALL BROOK

CHILDWALL ABBEY ROAD

 

CHILDWALL FIVEWAYS

 

DUDLOW LANE PUMPING STATION

 

CHILDWALL WOODS

 

Touring the woods, it is interesting to note that it has virtually unchanged. Starting off by the exit to the Roundabout, one can take the left path and follow it around to the exit of Countisbury Drive, or take the path to the right to bring one round to the border of Childwall Fields. Taking the path to the left, one can walk through the trees and many plants and flowers and take in the surroundings around. Bats, voles, foxes and squirrels can be seen in the area and one only has to stop walking and look up on the larger trees to see the Grey squirrel darting around. Other Urban wildlife that can be seen include small blue, small copper and red admiral butterflies, linnets and sparrow-hawks, and also on the ground one can notice English Bluebells and Southern Marsh Orchids.

 

Over 100 years ago, Childwall Fields didn't exist, nor did the land resemble anything like it does today! Childwall Fields was originally called Childwall Park and while the name has long disappeared, it has moved and can now be found on a local road called Childwall Park Avenue. The area of the Fields virtually holds the same boundary today as it did 100 years ago with it bordering on Childwall Woods running down to Childwall Lane, however the land has changed. Originally the land was a gentle slope from the Woods to Childwall Lane and followed the hill much in the same way as the natural hillside.  The area was sparsely covered in trees and the only building on the land was almost opposite the Childwall Cross on Childwall Lane. The original entrance (though boarded up) can still be seen to the drive on Childwall Lane.

 

In the 1960s, this land was used as a landfill site and there are now three large hills that make up the land. The area was left to grow itself and it is amazing that so much greenery can be found on the hillside. From large bushes covering hidden pathways to grass virtually covering the entire area. With the land bordering Childwall Woods, there are many entrances, however it is safe to say that there are now two official entrances. That from Childwall Lane through the gate or from Childwall Woods by the entrance opposite the rear of Cabot Green. It is from this entrance that a pathway was made and forms the access point to the first area. This area on both sides of the path is built up with thick bushes in this area though following the line of the Woods, it is less dense the further one goes in.Continuing this path, one will come to the start of the 1st hill and has an amazing view of the hillside running away.  On a good day many areas can be seen including Winter Hill and the Runcorn Bridge.