"". Old Photographs of Liverpool Liverpool Picturebook Bygone Liverpool | Liverpool Picturebook Google

Search Liverpool Picturebook

Bygone Liverpool

A collection of drawings and paintings illustrating bygone Liverpool...

Theatre Royal. From a drawing by E. Beattie, in the possession of Messrs. Rankin, Gilmour and Co., Ltd. Before the erection of this theatre in Williamson Square there was a theatre in Drury Lane, which was managed with much spirit for a number of years, and to which the principal London actors came. This theatre fell into disuse on the erection of the Theatre Royal, which was opened in June 1772, on which occasion a prologue was read by George Colman, a writer of somewhat loose poems. The theatre was ably managed, and some capital acting was to be seen there, as well, sometimes, as much rowdyness, and many free fights. It was in this theatre one evening that George Cooke was playing in the character of Richard III, when some one in the audience hissed, it is said because the actor was not sober. Cooke paused, and then advancing until he stood near the footlights, looked steadily at the audience, and told them " he was not on the stage to be insulted by a set of wretches," adding, according to Mathews' "Anecdotes of Actors," " there is not a brick in your dirty town but what is cemented by the blood of a negro " a remark which is said to have hit home, for large fortunes had been made in Liverpool by the Slave Trade.

The Theatre Royal Williamson Square

Whitechapel North-West Side. From a drawing by W. G. Herdman, in the Liverpool Free Public Library.
Whitechapel is built over a portion of the bed of the Pool, and at one time received the drainage of the fields which lay to the east of it, including, of course, the stream which flowed from the Moss Lake, which was a bog occupying most of the district between the modern Hope Street on the west, Brownlow Hill Workhouse and part of Paddington on the north. Crown Street and Kimberley Street on the east, and Croxteth Road and South Street on the south. Referring to this stream of water Edward Moore observed: "Therefore I hope the town will never lose the advantage of the water coming that way, for if they do, all they are worth cannot procure a stream to cleanse this Pool, as above said." Small wonder that Whitechapel was at one period called Frog Lane, for there would be ample accommodation for the frogs on the marshy ground on either side of the Pool which ran along its entire length ; and in the map published by R.Williamson in 1766, and in Perry's map, 1769, it is designated "Frog Lane" John Eyes' plan of 1765 spells it " Frogg Lane." Boats are said to have been built in Whitechapel on the banks of the Pool, and in the "Annals of Liverpool" for 1663 there is a note stating " ordered that no more boats be built in Whitechapel "; but on consulting the Town Records of that date no such order is recorded, and it seems improbable that it ever was made, for the name Frog Lane appears constantly in plans and documents, and was not altered to Whitechapel until a much later date. In the Directory of 178 1 it assumes the name of Whitechapel.

Whitechaple 'Frog Lane'

Ranalegh Street. From a drawing by Herdman, in the Liverpool Free Public Library.
Ranalegh Street is named on Chadwick's Map of 1725 "the way to Manchester." The Pool used formerly to follow the course of Paradise Street and Whitechapel, cutting off the district of Church Street at high tide; but when the Pool was bridged Church Street developed, and afterwards Ranelagh Street, the line of traffic being along Lime Street, then called Limekiln Lane to and up London Road, presumably to avoid Shaw's Brow, then very steep, but which formed the most direct line of access to London Road from the centre of the town. The picture represents the street in the year 1825, when it was a quiet and unpretending suburb of Liverpool, and is copied from a contemporary drawing by the Rev. Dr. Raffles. The point of view is from Lime Street, looking towards Church Street, and the large house at the left corner was the residence of the Harveys. In the distance are seen the shops in Church Street, and beyond are the Cheshire hills, with the mill and signals on Bidston Hill. The street took its name from a famous hostelry, named the "White House " on Perry's map of 1769 ; but a new and energetic proprietor laid out its large gardens attractively, changed the name to " Ranelagh House and Gardens," and gave open air concerts and firework displays. The inn occupied the site of the present Adelphi Hotel.

Ranelagh Street

View of Liverpool in 1825. Oil painting by Robert Salomon, in the Liverpool Museum.
This view is taken from Seacombe at an interesting period, for the year before, Castle Street and Lord Street were lighted by gas for the first time, and the lighting gradually spread to the whole town. It was high time the matter was taken in hand, for a Londoner writes at a little earlier date : " I wish to be informed by some of your Lancashire readers, why that justly celebrated town of Liverpool is so shockingly ill-paved and lighted? It is certainly the worst paved town in the Kingdom." Happily the lighting and paving were seen to soon after that date, and Liverpool has been for many years one of the best lighted and best paved towns in the kingdom.

View of Liverpool 1825

The Bowling Green Inn: The birthplace of William Roscoe. From a drawing by Samuel Austin in the Liverpool Free Public Library.
The inn was situated in Mount Pleasant in days when Mount Pleasant stood outside the town, and was an eminence where one might linger to enjoy the prospect, or rest on the farm gates to watch the dusty carts descend into the town. At the summit of the hill, near the corner of the road, stood this quaint hostelry, which presents few architectural attractions, and certainly would not find a place here if it had not been the birthplace of one of Liverpool's most eminent citizens, and of one who was distinguished on every side of life he touched, as a husband, father, scholar, poet, citizen, and lover of fine arts. The inn was much frequented, not only for the refreshment it afforded, but for the recreation of the bowling-green and the attractiveness of its large garden, for William Roscoe's father eked out his small income by the cultivation of an extensive market garden. William Roscoe, in a letter to a friend, alludes to the drawing here reproduced, and says, " I was born on the 8th day of March 1753, at the Old Bowling-Green House on Mount Pleasant, one of the oldest houses yet standing in Liverpool, and of which an excellent drawing by that rising artist, Austin, is engraved." This is not the place to attempt a full account of William Roscoe's long and useful life, nor even to print a list of all his published works. Briefly stated, he helped his father in the market garden until 1769, after which he was articled to John Eyes, Jun., and then to Peter Ellames, attorneys in Liverpool, being admitted an attorney in 1774. In 1777 he published "Mount Pleasant: a Descriptive Poem," and in 1793 John MacCreery began to print the "Life of Lorenzo de Medici," which was published in Liverpool in 1795. The following year he retired from his profession and purchased Auerton Hall. He entered the Bank of Messrs. William Clarke and Sons in the year 1800 as partner, and in October 1806 was elected Member of Parliament for his native town. In politics he was a Whig, and was strongly in favour of the abolition of slavery. In 1816 Roscoe's bank suspended payment, and to satisfy in part the claims he sold his books and his collection of prints and pictures. A selection of his books was purchased by friends, and now forms a portion of the Roscoe Collection in the Athenaeum Library. The " Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth " was published in Liverpool in 1805. The author died at his house in Lodge Lane on June 30, 1831, and was buried in the burial-ground attached to the Unitarian Chapel, Renshaw Street, Liverpool.

The Bowling Green Inn
St Lukes Church. From a drawing by T. Allom, in the Mayer Papers, Liverpool Free Public Library.
On December 13, 1802, a Select Committee was appointed to carry into effect the order of the Council which was made as far back as the 2nd day of January 1793, for erecting a church on a piece of land purchased for that purpose and situated on the north-east side of Berry Street, opposite the south end of Renshaw Street and Bold Street. The foundation stone was not laid until  1811, when the Mayor, James Drinkwater, performed the ceremony. The work progressed very slowly, and for some reason ceased; but was proceeded with again in 1826, and the church was completed in 1831. The design is attributed to John Foster, the Corporation architect, and the architecture has been freely criticized. One very competent critic states that it shows copyism in every line, and describes it as a rifacciamento of scraps put together with much  painstaking care ; whilst another critic writing at about the same date says, " it is a chaste specimen of the decorative Gothic order that may vie with any similar erection in the Kingdom." The engraving presents a north-west view of the church, and shows (on the left) the south end of Renshaw Street ; on the right the east end of Bold Street; and, in the middle distance, Berry Street, and the tower of St. Mark's Church, Upper Duke Street. On account of real or supposed danger, St Mark's tower was taken down in the year 1830; the whole church has just been demolished in order that another open space for the people may be obtained. The drawing is undated but was engraved in 1829.

St Lukes Church
The Royal Institution and Colquitt Street. From a drawing by G. and C. Pyne, in the Mayer Papers in the Liverpool Free Public Library.
This street is named after John Colquitt, the Town Clerk, who resided in Wood Street and owned the land in the neighbourhood. The street was then on the outskirts of the town, and the houses still remaining there attest to the opulence of the residents in the early days. The street will always be regarded with pride by Liverpool people, because of its connection with literature, science, and art, for in this street, in the house of Thomas Parr, which was purchased for the purpose, was established an Institute to promote the increase and diffusion of literature, science, and art. The Institute was founded in 1814, and incorporated by Royal Charter 1822; the cost of the house and alterations being about £14,000, which was defrayed by subscriptions of £50 and £100 each. The building was opened on November 25, 1817, on which occasion Mr. William Roscoe delivered an address " on the origin and vicissitudes of literature, science, and art." On the ground floor the Literary and Philosophical Society met, with Mr. William Roscoe as President. There was a room for the use of the Liverpool Academy, and another for the paintings purchased at the sale of William Roscoe's effects. That excellent boys' school, the " Royal Institution," was established to give more than the ordinary education, and many of the leading families in Liverpool sent their sons there. The head master, Mr. Dawson William Turner, is still remembered in Liverpool with affection. The  drawing from which this plate is reproduced was made in the year 1823.

The Royal Institution Colquitt Street

The Lyceum Room  - The Liverpool Library—Bold Street. Drawn by Pyne, engraved by Jordan. In the possession of the publishers.
This handsome classical building, which was erected on the site of a timber-yard, was commenced in 1800 and completed in 1803. It was built from the design of T.Harrison, of Chester, and cost £11,000. It contains under one roof a news room, library, and of late years a club; the library and news room are distinct institutions, with different proprietors and committees of management. The history of the library dates back to 1757, with the publication of the Monthly Review. Previous to the appearance of this magazine, a few gentlemen met at the house of a Mr. Everard for the discussion of literary matters, and they agreed to take the magazine and circulate it among the members of the little circle. Gradually other books were added, and on November 17, 1758, the coterie was able to issue its first catalogue of 450 volumes. The library was afterwards removed to Lord Street, and by 1803 found its present home. William Roscoe, Dr. Currie, the first editor of Robert Burns' Works, the Rev, John Yates, and William Rathbone were prominent members of the library. Bold Street was named after the Bold family, who possessed property in it. Late in the eighteenth century there was still a dairy farm in the street, and a well of good water, which the owner turned to profitable account by selling the water to his needy neighbours at one halfpenny per bucket. The date of this view is 1828.

The Lyceum News Room

The Athenaeum Church Street. From a drawing by James Brierley, in the possession of the Atheneum.
Unfortunately there has never yet been published a good engraving of this important building, nor have the publishers been able to discover an interesting drawing. The one here reproduced is the best old one obtainable. Its date is 1830. The Athenaeum, ever since it was opened in 1799, has been a centre of literary activity in Liverpool, and the best traditions of William Roscoe, Dr, Currie, and other literary men are still maintained there. The library, a valuable one,contained the interesting Roscoe Collection. It was specially strong in local books and maps, possessing the only complete set of Liverpool Directories known, and there is a small but interesting collection of old prints relating to Liverpool. The original building was demolished, and replaced by a new building in Church Alley in 1924. The new building now houses the large library. The members are known as Proprietors.Notable Proprietors have included, in addition to William Roscoe; William Duncan, the first Medical Officer for Health in Britain, Sir Ronald Ross, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902, Sir Charles Sherrington, joint winner of the same award in 1932, the local architect Sir James Picton, and the Rt Revd Francis Chavasse, the second Bishop of  Liverpool. In the 1920s, the Corporation of Liverpool decided to widen Church Street to accommodate a new tram system, and this involved the demolition of the club's building.

The Atenaeum Church Street

St Peters and Church Street. Drawn by IF. H. fVatts, engraved by W. Green. In the possession of Messrs. Rankin, Gilmour and Co., Ltd.
It is hard to realise at the present day that Church Street was at one period cut off from Lord Street by salt water; but such was the case, and until the Pool was closed in 1709, Church Street and the country beyond could only be reached by crossing over the Pool by the bridge, at the foot of Lord Street. St. Peter's Church, was erected in 1700. All its doorways were of different design, and that fact has given rise to the legend that when the plans were submitted to the Town Council, alternative designs for the doorways were suggested ; and the Council, unable to choose between them, decided to use them all. Church Street remained unpaved until 1760, and was not flagged until 1816, although there were constant complaints of its muddy state, whilst one writer depicts it as a quagmire, for there was a cattle market held there once a week. The first oratorio in Liverpool was performed in St. Peter's Church in 1766, the piece being "The Messiah." In 1880, the Rev. Canon J.C. Ryle, M.A., was consecrated the first Bishop of Liverpool, and his  enthronement took place on July 1st, the Church being designated the pro-Cathedral. This view was made in the year 1800, and shows Church Street and Lord Street looking west.

St Peters Pro Cathedral Liverpool


Source Information 
Bygone Liverpool' Muir Ramsey
Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Records Office

Robert F Edwards

Pin It