In the year 1907 the authors William Farrer and J. Brownbill described Kirkdale as follows:
With a frontage to the Mersey of a mile in length, Kirkdale extends inland about a mile and a half, the area being 841 acres. It occupies the level ground between Everton and the river, a large part of which was formerly Sandhills, and the village lay at the foot of the hill, on the north-west side of the road from Liverpool to Walton. To the north rose a brook which ran down to the river by Bank Hall. From the village a road led to the river side at Sandhills; another road, Field Lane, afterwards Bootle Lane and now Westminster Road, ran to Bootle. On the eastern side towards the border of Walton the land rises a little, attaining 150 ft. above the Ordnance datum. Like other townships absorbed by the growth of Liverpool, Kirkdale is a mass of buildings, chiefly small cottage property, the dwellings of the working classes, mixed up with factories and warehouses, railways, and shops. There are no natural features left, scarcely a green tree to relieve the monotony of ugly buildings and gloomy surroundings, save in some old enclosure that was once a garden.
|Old Cottage, Kirkdale. Shows an old cottage with new|
(Victorian) houses and countryside in background. 1862
|Overhead Railway, Huskisson Dock Station|
The old road from Liverpool to Walton and Ormskirk was the principal thoroughfare through Kirkdale. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway from Liverpool to Preston created the stations, Sandhills and Kirkdale, and the Southport line, which branched off at Sandhills, had another station at Bank Hall. The London and North-Western Railway's branch from Edge Hill to the docks had its station at Canada Dock, and the Cheshire Lines Committee had one at Huskisson Dock. Sandhills, Bankhall and Kirkdale stations remain to this day and are currently used by Merseyrail. The Overhead Railway which ran along the line of docks, with numerous stations and the Liverpool tramway system had many lines in and out of the city. Therefore a large part of the shore side of Kirkdale was occupied by railway sidings connected with the dock traffic. The portion of the dock system within the township of Kirkdale were Sandon Dock, with its large graving docks; Huskisson Dock, with two long branches, and Canada Dock. For many years, from about 1860, Canada Dock was the centre of the timber trade, the dock was designed by Jesse Hartley opening in 1859. Prior to the docks being built, Kirkdale, like its neighbor Bootle had a sandy coastline which was used by many to bathe in the river and enjoy the beach.
Kirkdale Gaol was built as a county prison and session’s house in 1819, the prison was transferred to the borough of Liverpool about 1855. It stood near Kirkdale railway station and closed in 1897, part of the site has since 1897 been utilized as a recreation ground. The Stanley Hospital, also in Kirkdale, was established and built in Stanley Road, in 1867 as the Hospital for the Treatment of Diseases of the Chest and Diseases of Women & Children and was supported by voluntary contributions. The first hospital building was closed in 1873 and a new building erected on the Stanley Road site in 1874. In 1937 the Liverpool Stanley Hospital became a constituent member of the Royal United Liverpool Hospitals.
Colonel John Moore (1599–1650), was the original Lord of the Manor, When English Civil War broke out in England in 1642, Moore pledged his allegiance to the Roundhead Parliamentarians as did most of Liverpool's burgesses, who were largely of Puritan stock. The nobles and gentry formed the bulk of the Cavaliers (who had control of both Liverpool Castle and tower), including the mayor, John Walker. The Castle and the township was handed over to Lord Derby for the Royalists. In May 1643, however, John Moore and his Parliamentarian men set about routing the castle, which they succeeded, suffering only 7 dead to the Royalists' 80 dead and 300 prisoners. The Lancashire Royalist faction collapsed soon after. After the castle had been taken, John Moore assumed control of both it and the area that it encompassed, taking the title of Governor of Liverpool for himself. Cromwell rewarded him with the rank of Colonel in his Parliamentarian army and also making him Parliament's vice-admiral of Cheshire and Lancashire.
|Kirkdale Industrial School 1850|
|Monument to Major Lester |
in St Johns Gardens
Thomas Major Lester (1829-1903) became a curate in Liverpool in 1853. Apart from a stint in Manchester, he spent the rest of his life in the city, becoming Vicar of St Mary's Kirkdale, and later an honorary Canon of the city. He is widely remembered for the Kirkdale Child Charities, through which he operated the Major Street Ragged Schools and later a Girls' Home in Walton Road, followed by school facilities there. As it says on the right side of the pedestal, he also founded the Stanley Hospital. Over 10,000 children benefited from his work ("Canon Thomas Major Lester"). A prominent educationist, amongst his many offices were those of Chairman of the Liverpool Self-Help Emigration Society, and President of the Liverpool Ruskin Society. He is buried at Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool.
|St Albans, Athol Street|
Like many other areas of the city, Kirkdale catered well for the religious population. Before the middle of last century the population had so greatly increased that various places of worship were built. In connexion with the Established Church, St. Mary's, at the north end of the old village, was built in 1835. St. Lawrence's, erected in 1881, was a chapel of ease. St. Paul's, North Shore, close to the site of Bank Hall, was founded as an Episcopal chapel in 1859 and became a parish in 1868, when the church was built. St. Aidan's, near the Liverpool boundary, was first built in 1861, but moved to another site in 1875, the old one being required for docks. St. Athanasius's, built in 1881–2, was in the gift of the Simeon trustees. For Welsh-speaking Anglicans. St. Asaph's, Westminster Road, was licensed as a chapel of ease to St. David's, Liverpool. A Free Church of England existed in Kirkdale from 1868 to 1871. The Wesleyan Methodists had a church in Rosalind Street, built in 1877 and two in Boundary Street East, one for Welsh-speaking members. For the Baptists the Tabernacle was built in 1892. Other chapels were on Stanley Road and near Stanley Park, built in 1875. For Welsh speaking Baptists. There was also a United Free Gospel Chapel in Tetlow Street, begun in 1860 and enlarged in 1877. Meanwhile, the Congregationalists had a church in Westminster Road. The Welsh Chapel in Great Mersey Street originated in 1858, springing from the Liverpool Tabernacle. The Presbyterians had churches in Everton Valley, founded in 1862, and in Fountains Road (Union Chapel), 1878. The Salvation Army has barracks in Walton Road and Barlow Street. For the Roman Catholic faith a fresh beginning after the reformation was made in 1848. Thousands of poor Irish labourers, driven from home by the great famine, came to Liverpool to work at the docks. To minister to them St. Alban's, Athol Street, was opened in 1849; it was completed, and was consecrated in 1894. Our Lady of Reconciliation, Eldon Street, sprung from a mission begun in a shed in 1854; the church, designed by Welby Pugin, was opened in 1860. St. Alexander's, on the borders of Bootle, was founded in 1862, mass being said in a hayloft for some years; in 1867 the church was opened, and enlarged in 1884. From 1878 till 1884 a chapel of ease, known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, was used. In 1870 the Congregational chapel in Claremont Grove (now Fountains Road) was purchased and opened as St. John the Evangelist's; a permanent church replaced it in 1885. St. Alphonsus' Mission was founded in 1878, a building in Kirkdale Road, formerly a masonic hall, being utilized. For the jewish community there was a synagogue in Fountains Road.
|The Scene of utter devastation which followed the explosion of the Malakand with 1,000 tons of shells and bombs aboard|
at Liverpool Docks
|Logan Towers Liverpool|
Because of its proximity to the docks it was a perfect place to build houses for the thousands of casual workers who were too poor to live more than walking distance from their potential employers. As Liverpool developed and grew in the late Victorian period a large number of terraced houses were built in the area. Kirkdale was incorporated into Liverpool, as a suburb 1835, and was one of the earliest suburbs to do so. The area suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the second world war, mainly because of its close proximity to the docks. The early 20th century slum clearance affected the area more than any other part of the city and changed the face of Kirkdale forever. At the time the now demolished 22-storey Logan Towers was the world’s tallest prefabricated building.
British History on line
Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Records Office
By Robert F Edwards