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Everton Beacon

Everton Beacon, the small round tower, was built as a Bridewell or lock-up in 1787, however, the original beacon built to guide ships using the Mersey estuary stood over half a mile  north of the round tower. It was built by Ranuf, Earl of Chester, in around 1230. The building was a plain square two storey building and housed a kitchen on its ground floor and a guardroom upstairs, it is said to have blown down during a storm in 1802.

The title of the beacon passed to the lock-up which has several other names, these include, The Round House, Stewbum's Palace, the Stone Jug and of course Prince Ruperts Tower or Castle. The reference to Prince Rupert is due to a report that he used the old beacon as a vantage point overlooking the town, during the civil war.

The tower has been used as the heraldic crest of Everton Football Club since the 1937/38 season when it first appeared on the club tie at the instigation of Theo Kelly, the then secretary of the club. The crest was later incorporated into the Everton shirts. 

Everton was Liverpool’s first, official, Football Club, it was originally attached to the local St Domingo Methodist Church, which once stood on Breckfield Road North. The Minister, Rev Ben Swift Chambers (1845-1901), became concerned that the young men of his parish had little to occupy their free time productively. So, in 1878, he established a football team, called St Domingo FC, to ‘keep his lads off the streets’.

The team became very popular and, at a public meeting, in November 1879, it was agreed to change the team name to Everton Football Club. However, the newly constituted club soon adopted the nickname ‘The Toffees’, because of Molly Bushell’s famous Everton toffee.

By 1844, the club were playing their matches on a field that would eventually become the site of the present Anfield Stadium of Liverpool Football Club; but Everton FC were there first!

This land was owned by John Houlding, a wealthy brewer, an Alderman, a Justice of the Peace, and a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool. He was also the President of Everton Football Club. Nevertheless, he decided to increase the rent he was charging his own football team to £100 a year, and then to £250 a year. By 1892, Houlding had increased the Club’s rent twice more, which angered many of his fellow board members, players, and supporters. This led to a split in the football club and George Mahon, a respected local figure and the organist at St Domingo’s Church, took the disgruntled people, and the Everton FC name, to an ambitious new home on the north side of Stanley Park, called the Mere Green Field.

This was soon re-named as Goodison Park; a rock-strewn wasteland that was cleared and laid out by the Everton FC players and supporters themselves. The ground, stadium, and stands that they then created became the first major football stadium in the Country, and was the sporting wonder of Victorian England. It was from this time that Everton Football Club became known as ‘The People’s Club’.

Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House, operated by Old Ma Bushell stood close to the beacon near to where the original Everton team played, the club moved to Anfield and then in 1893 to the present Goodison Park, where another toffee shop Old Mother Nobletts stood, she went on to produce Everton Mints. and Ma Bushell responded by getting her granddaughter, Jemima Bushell   to distribute toffees inside the ground on match days, which led to the tradition of the Everton Toffee Lady. In 1953 Mary Gorry continued this tradition. Her and a friend made a few alterations to a bridesmaid dress, then went to Goodison dressed up, as Jemima Bushell did, to hand out Everton toffees. Mary did this at every Everton match for three years before handing over the job to Peggy Morley.

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Robert F Edwards

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