Lost Mansions
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill @ allertonOak  
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill home page
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Historical Background
During the decade leading up to the First World War, many of the great houses ceased to be used as family homes. This transition was so sudden and widespread that it perhaps calls for some explanation. Looking at the census returns for 1901 and 1911, it is remarkable how many of the owners of these properties seemed to have acquired them upon retirement and were therefore advanced in years. Many had died by 1920, often leaving vast fortunes even after death duties were taken into account, but their children had long since departed and set up with their own families elsewhere. There simply seems to have been no market for these vast mansions with their hosts of domestic staff and escalating maintenance costs.   Many of the houses were demolished and only live on, if at all, in the names of local roads and other developments, although their lodges have often fared better as private houses. The surviving properties have all been converted to other uses, typically schools, nursing homes and luxury apartments, or, failing that, exist only as ruins. According to Quentin Hughes in his book Liverpool City of Architecture, 'This splendid heritage of irreplaceable mansions has, in many cases, been wantonly thrown away'. The Pevsner Guide talks of Allerton Road as a 'document of destruction', although the Mossley Hill Road area has fared rather better. Probably not everything in the area was architecturally worthy.
Wyncote Lodge
Along Allerton Road
Allerton Road and its off-shoots suffered more than most the depredations of the 20th century. Here, proceeding north to south, we consider what has been lost.
First on the right there was Elm Hall, whose lodge was on the site of St. Barnabas's Church and whose drive ran through woods to the house itself, situated in the region of the present Elmsdale Road. It was probably built for Thomas Haigh (1800-1874), a cotton broker and general merchant, who was living there in 1841. After his death it was the home of general draper William Henry Watts (1825-1924), who moved to Quarry Bank in 1905. In 1911 it appears to have been under a caretaker and this might have marked the dawn of its eventual demise. It was demolished c.1920.
Further along on the left, occupying a large plot bounded by the present Addingham Road, Menlove Avenue and Allerton Road, was Hillside House, approached via a wooded drive from a lodge on the site of the present HSBC bank. It was built before 1840 and Isabella Moon (b.1797) was living there in 1861. In the 1890s and 1900s it was owned by oil merchant Thomas Wilson (1832-1907), who had moved from the Hermitage in St. Michael's Hamlet. It was demolished c.1920.
At All Hallows Church, on the right by the junction with Greenhill Road and dating from before 1850 stood Wyncote with its lodge, the latter still there. The original entrance, now bricked up, can be seen a little further along. It was the home in the 1860s and 1870s of merchant Charles W. Newman (1806-c.1885) and in the 1890s and 1900s of shipowner Henry McIver (1853-1921). In 1911 it was owned by soap manufacturer Shirley Sutton Timmis (1875-1957), son of Thomas Sutton Timmis of Cleveley. It was demolished c.1970.
Further along from Wyncote on the right was Greenhill, built on or near the site of an earlier house called Green Hill that appears on Sherriff's Map of 1823. The former house was owned by merchant Samuel Joseph Clegg (1772-1849), son of James Clegg, co-purchaser with William Roscoe of the Allerton Hall Estate. The new house was designed by Norman Shaw and built in 1894 for sugar refining heiress Isolina Tate (1852-1935), second daughter of the famous Henry Tate I (1819-1899), and her husband Thomas Gee (1848-1923), who was a solicitor. They moved to Caer Rhun Hall in the Conwy Valley in the early 1900s and the house was taken over by shipowner Thomas Hughes (1852-1912). It was demolished c.1930.
Next door to Greenhill and dating from the 1880s was Allerton Beeches, built for Henry Tate II (1853-1902), 6th son of sugar refining magnate Henry Tate I. After his death it became the home of shipowner Charles William Jones (1842-1908) until his death, when it was acquired by Sir Alfred Allen Booth (1872-1948). He was a director of the Cunard Steamship Company and was created 1st Baronet Booth of Allerton Beeches in 1916. The Baronetcy survives in the 3rd Baronet Sir Douglas Allen Booth (b.1949), who lives in California. It was demolished c.1950.
Allerton Beeches c.1930
Drygrange Lodge
Cleveley Lodge 'Hoarwithy'
Just past The Forty Pits on the right was Beech Lodge, home of tobacco manufacturer Thomas H. Cope (1866-1913) in 1891 and engineer's cashier Robert Dickinson (1841-1917) in 1911. It was demolished c.1970.
Next door to Beech Lodge stood Verdala Towers, home in 1901 and 1911 of Asmus Dahl (1850-1919), a Danish-born shipbroker. It was demolished c.1970.
Further along on the left stood Maryton Grange, whose gatepiers are still there. Just inside is Yew Tree Lodge, which appears to have functioned as the lodge to Maryton. In 1901 it was the home of civil engineer Frederick Dresser (1844-1903), who was married to Jane Brocklebank, eldest daughter of Thomas Brocklebank II of Springwood. In 1911 it was owned by shipowner Edward Lionel Fletcher (1876-1968), son of Alfred Fletcher of Allerton. It was demolished c.1980.
Next on the right was Drygrange, whose lodge is still in use, now called Hoarwithy. It was owned by stockbroker William Todd (1852-1920) in 1911. It was demolished c.1970.
Next door to Drygrange was Cleveley, a particularly grand gothic mansion, a surviving photo of which may give an indication of what has been lost elsewhere. It was designed by George Gilbert Scott and built in 1865 for Joseph Leather (1825-1904), a cotton merchant. The lodge, now called Hoarwithy, and a cottage and stables still survive. By 1891 it had become the home of Thomas Sutton Timmis (1831-1910), a partner in Mathieson & Co., at that time one of the most important companies in Widnes, producing alkali and glycerine for soap. His portrait hangs in the Catalyst Museum in Widnes. The house was empty under a caretaker in 1911. It was demolished c.1970.
Yew Tree Lodge and Maryton Grange gateway
Cleveley in its heyday
Between Yew Tree Road and Vale Road
The wedge between Yew Tree Road, continuing part-way along Beaconsfield Road, and the line down to the dog-leg on Vale Road was a popular area for the wealthy to establish themselves in the 1860s.
Heading along Yew Tree Road from Allerton Road, the first house on the right would have been Yew Tree House. A house of this name on this site is shown on Sherriff's Map of 1823. This must have been demolished when the new house, set slightly further along Yew Tree Road, was built for Samuel Greg Rathbone (1823-1903), second son of William Rathbone V of Green Bank. He was a merchant with offices in Shanghai and Canton selling British-made goods and buying Chinese tea and silk. He was a Liberal councillor in the 1860s and Justice of the Peace for over 40 years. He retired to the Lake District in the 1890s and alkali manufacturer Robert Shaw (1836-1904) was living in the house in 1901. After his death it was acquired by cotton merchant Arnold Richard Rathbone (1864-1915). It was demolished c.1990.
Next door to Yew Tree House stood The Grove, probably built for cotton broker George Blundell Thompson (b.1821), who was living there in the 1870s and 1880s, presumably until his death. In 1891 it was the home of another cotton broker Hubert S. Bradyll (b.1862), who joined the Royal Navy in the 1900s and was a lieutenant-commander in World War I. In the 1900s and 1910s it was the home of general produce broker Henry Stewart Brown (1863-1947), who married Ellen Sophia Timmis daughter of Thomas Sutton Timmis of Cleveley. It became a Mary Fowler Home called Eventide House (an old people's home?) in the 1930s. It was demolished c.1990.
Next door to The Grove was Stonehouse, presumably built for Prussian born general merchant Augustus Henry Lemonius (1813-1898), who was living there from the 1870s until his death. It was then acquired by George Theodore von Heyder (1845-1925), who lived there until his death. He was another German born general merchant. He married Sophia Julia Blessig, daughter of Philip Jacob Blessig of Beechley. The house was demolished c.1990.
At the far end of Yew Tree road stood Elmwood. It may have been built for Robert George Moran (1813-1904), a Canadian born ship owner and merchant, who was living there in the 1870s and 1880s. In the 1890s it was bought by banker John Naylor (1856-1906), who lived there until his death, and whose widow Magdaline was still there in 1911. It was demolished c.1930 but the lodge survives.
Stonehouse in 1988
Elmwood Lodge
Strawberry Field in its heyday
Crossing over into Beaconsfield Road, up on the right stood the house known as Strawberry Fields until about 1900, when it became Strawberry Field. It is famous these days as the inspiration for the Beatles song Strawberry Field's Forever (surely an apostrophe belongs there?).
The vast gothic house was built for George Hignett Warren (1819-1912), a merchant ship owner. It was acquired after his death by Alexander Cameron Mitchel (1844-1927), a South America merchant, whose widow Eliza sold the estate to the Salvation Army in 1934, a few years before her death in 1940.
It was opened as a home for young girls in 1936 and, in the 1950s, for boys. By 1973, the house was in a poor state of repair and was demolished. A new purpose built house was erected on the site. This closed in 2005 and it is now a church and prayer centre. The gateposts and wrought iron gates survive and are a place of pilgrimage for hoards of Beatles fans from around the world.
Strawberry Field Gates
Heading south again on what is now Menlove Avenue but was then part of Vale Road was Woolton Vale. This house was probably built for Robert Gladstone (1834-1919), an East India merchant who lived there until his death, when it became Woolton Vale School. It became Liverpool Remand Home in the 1950s and was demolished c.1990.
On the opposite side of the road stood The Gables, the home from c.1900 to his death of Frederick Gardiner (1851-1919), a shipowner. It became part of a school c.1970 was demolished c.1990.
Next door to the south was The Vineries. It was probably built for Thomas Charles Clarke (1821-1885), an iron founder and later horticultural engineer, who was living there in 1871 and until his death. I came across the following story, which ties the name of the house to the later profession of the occupant: 'Mr. T.C. Clarke of the Vineries, near Vale Road, spent a small fortune on erecting long rows of glass-houses. He filled them with vines and introduced a system of carrying heat beneath the ground. The heating was a complete failure, by slow degrees the vast area of glass collapsed, and Mr. Clarke lost all his money.' The property was uninhabited in 1901 and 1911 and probably remained so until it was demolished c.1920.
To the east in the bend of Vale Road stood Stanhope House, the home of builder Isaac Denton (1823-1889) in 1881 and until his death. It was then acquired by Samuel Hearon Johnson (1848-1931), a wholesale dealer in drugs, chemicals and oils. It was presumably demolished just after his death.
Set back in a secluded position behind The Vineries on what is now Dowsefield Lane was the house called Dowsefield. As early as the Yates and Perry map of 1768 there was a nearby house called Dowes or later Douse House, which disappeared in the latter part of the 19th century. The new house was probably built for Herman James Hillam (b.1824), a civil engineer who was living there in 1871. In the 1890s and 1900s it was the home of shipowner William Samuel Graves (1849-1918). It became part of a college c.1970 and was demolished c.1990.
The Woolton Road Area
Laurel Bank Cottage
Another large area that drew the attention of the well-off was that bounded by Dudlow Lane, Woolton Road, Gipsy Lane, Druids Cross Road and Beech Lane (now Menlove Avenue).
On Dudlow Lane, Sandford, Sandford Lodge and Dudlow House (built by the owners of the Harrison shipping line) are still standing but Fylingsdale and Dudlow Grange have gone. Both the Yates and Perry Map of 1768 and Sherriff's Map of 1823 show Dodlow Hall, a property on the opposite side of the road from Dudlow Grange that was demolished c.1900.
South to north on Green Lane, Holly Bank survives and the former Convent of Mercy is now Our Lady's Bishop Eton Primary School. Further along, Birch House is still standing (currently derelict and up for sale), as is the attractive later 19th century Laurel Bank Cottage.
On Crompton's Lane, once past Beechenhurst, Rockfield and Woodlands on the right, Oakfield on the left and Etonfield opposite Bishop Eton have all disappeared, along with Derwent Lodge and Eton Lodge (shown on Sherriff's Map) around the corner on Woolton Road. Etonfield, built in the second half of the 19th century, was latterly a novitiate of the Presentation Sisters, who were missionaries in India from 1842. Five of the Sisters, who had spent much of their life teaching in India, acquired the property in 1919 but the novices subsequently had to live in impoverished conditions. Eventually the house became untenable and the Sisters left in 1927 to open a school in Matlock. The property was sold in 1928 and, like so many of its type, the house was demolished in the early 1930s and the present c.1935 houses constructed.
Heading down Hornby Lane from Woolton Road, Etonbank on the right is no longer with us. Neither is Druids Cross, built for merchant Joseph Hornby and once standing at the top end of Druids Cross Road on the south side. On Beech Lane next door to Beechenhurst, Beechfield has been demolished, as has Beechwood further along on the opposite side.
North-West Mossley Hill
The area around the presently named North Mossley Hill Road has the greatest concentration of surviving Victorian mansions. Nevertheless a number of significant houses have disappeared.
On Mossley Hill Road itself, Moreno House, opposite Clearwood, has disappeared along with Carnatic Hall and Elmswood Hall, under the Liverpool University halls of residence, but everything else is essentially intact apart from altered usage.
Elmswood Hall was a grand mansion on a 13˝ acre (5˝ ha) site between Carnatic Road and Elmswood Road, built before 1850. It was acquired in about 1860 by William Dawbarn (1819-1881), whose family were in the drapery business in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. He relocated his large family of eleven children to Liverpool, where he took over his father-in-law’s slate business, which ultimately became Dawbarn & Co., a supplier of a broad range of building materials. The success of his business in Liverpool led to his involvement in local government and public affairs.
Following Dawbarn's death, the property was put up for auction in 1884. The auction pamphlet provides a wealth of detail, including photographs and a map. The 'capital mansion' was to be sold with:
  [..] land, shrubberies, pleasure grounds, and outbuildings thereto belonging, including vineries, conservatory, pine and forcing houses, stabling for eight horses, shippons for four cows, pigsty, fowl pens, etc. The house is pleasantly situate in its own grounds, which are beautifully wooded and tastefully laid out, and contain an ornamental dell or quarry and a small lake, suitable for boating or fishing, and from its elevated position commands very lovely views over the River Mersey and the Cheshire and Welsh ranges of hills.
This provides a unique insight into the general style of some of these more up-market Mossley Hill properties when they were at their peak. From c.1900 until its demolition c.1960, the Hall is denoted on the Ordnance Survey maps as a laundry. A possible explanation of this odd fact is that it was at that time one of those institutions run, like Kelton, by the Catholic Church as a home for young single mothers and their children, where the mothers had to work for their keep under trying conditions in the laundry.
The houses on Elmsley Road have by and large survived, although Elmsley itself has gone under an impressive modern house. On Park Road we still have Mossley House, part of Mossley Hill Hospital, but have lost Parkside. On Carnatic Road, Redcourt survives.


Elmswood Hall in its Heyday
Map of Elmswood Hall in 1884


Outside of this area, the story is not so good. At the junction of Mossley Hill road and Elmswood Road, two large properties, Riversley and High Pastures, both built before 1850, have disappeared. In 1851 Riversley became the home of Charles Pierre Melly (1829-1888), eldest son of André Melly (1802-1851), born in Geneva. André was famous for attempting, in 1850, to discover the source of the River Nile. He reached Khartoum with his wife, two sons and daughter (the first time any European women had been there), but died of fever near Berber in Sudan on the return. In 1851, Charles bought Riversley as a country residence for the family. It remained in the family until 1951, when, in a state of total neglect, it was left to Liverpool University and demolished.
André Melly's younger son, George I (1830-1894) was a merchant, shipowner and Liberal Member of Parliament. He was the great-grandfather of George Melly II (1926-2007), the famous jazz singer, writer and art critic, especially on surrealism. As a youngster, George II visited his relatives in Riversley. He was a third cousin twice removed of Emma Holt of nearby Sudley. His great-grandfather George Melly I's wife Sarah Bright had a sister Elizabeth, who married George Holt, Emma's father. He visited Emma regularly in Sudley in the 1930s.
Just down Elmswood Road from Riversley stood Rosemont, another substantial property dating from before 1850. In 1932 the zoo at Otterspool relocated there, much to the displeasure of the Mossley Hill residents. The throngs of visitors and the sound of lions roaring at night did not meet with their approval. The star attraction was a chimpanzee called Mickey, whose party tricks included blowing raspberries and playing football games with the public. He escaped several times, running rampant through the quiet streets and over the rooftops and molesting passers-by. On the last occasion in 1938 he was shot by an army marksman and the zoo closed later that year.
In the wedge of Elmswood Road and Woodlands Road was another group of significant properties and just one, at the apex, that is still there: The Mount with its cottage. Further down Woodlands Road on the right was Roselands, while along Elmswood Road on the left were Beechlawn and Oakfield, later called Oakwood. Opposite Oakfield was the particularly large estate of Mossley Bank. Roseland, Oakfield and Mossley Bank predated 1850; the others were somewhat later.


Elmswood Hall from the Drive in 1884
Elmswood Hall and Lake in 1884
William Dawbarn
South Mossley Hill and West Allerton
The area to the south of Mossley Hill and the west of Allerton, around the central parts of Mossley Hill Road and Greenhill Road, was another focus of grand housing development in the second half of the 19th century. Unlike in the north-western part of Mossley Hill, little is still standing here.
The two surviving examples are Bark Hill, on Barkhill Road, and Holmfield, on Holmefield Road, now both part of the I.M. Marsh Campus of Liverpool John Moores University. On the opposite side of Mossley Hill Road from Bark Hill there once stood Sandheys. Originally Mossley Hill Road took a right angle turn to the east along what is now Netherton Road, to continue along the present South Mossley Hill Road. On the southern side of the turn stood the house called Netherton. At the start of South Mossley Hill Road on the north was the lodge to Holmfield House, which itself stood to the north-east.
On Greenhill Road heading from Booker's Lane, now Booker Avenue, southwards, the first house on the corner on the right was Poplar Grove, later called Ivy House. This was the home of West India merchant Josias Booker (1794-1865), one of the earliest to have his country mansion in Allerton. It stood on the corner of Booker's Lane (now Booker Avenue) and Greenhill Road. The family remained in the house until it was sold in 1886 to shipowner Edward Bromhead (1841-1910), who probably renamed it. It was demolished in 1936-7. Further along on the right were Holly Bank, Acresfield and Melbreck, all postdating 1850 and probably demolished around the same time as Ivy House.
Acknowledgements and Further Reading
Once again, the census returns, available from several genealogical websites for a subscription fee, provide further information about the families. You can find out more about Henry Tate and sugar refining at Tate & Lyle. For more on George Melly's recollections of Mossley Hill, see Owning Up: The Trilogy, Penguin UK, 2006. William Dawbarn of Elmswood Hall is the subject of an extended MA thesis by W.F. Yeo. I am greatly indebted to Simon Jervis for providing me with access to the uniquely informative auction pamphlet for Elmswood Hall. For the architecture, it is again Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West (The Buildings of England, Pevsner Architectural Guides), Richard Pollard & Nikolaus Pevsner, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006. My thanks for private communications received from Sr. Susan of the Presentation Sisters for information about Etonfield and to Martin Newton for the photo of Stonehouse.
This is a non-commercial website that is intended entirely for research and educational purposes. If I have unintentionally breached copyright with any images, I hope that the copyright owner will tolerate my usage in the present context, otherwise I will remove the material. Modern colour photographs are by the author.