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Sefton Park Palm House

Toxteth and the south of the city, in common with many other areas was highly populated and as such the use of parkland and open space were of paramount importance not only for children but for adults also. With its lake, Palm house and gardens it was a beautiful oasis in a busy city. Sefton Park covers some 269 acres of land. It was in 1867 the Council purchased 375 acres (1.52 km2) of land for the development of the park for £250,000 from the Earl of Sefton following which the park was developed as a local community resource. 

The park was opened by the Duke of Connaught in 1872 and the Palm House in the park completed in 1896. The Palm House was a gift to the city by Henry Yates and designed by the Edinburgh firm McKenzie and Moncur.. The building is over 70 feet high has ,4,000 panes of glass and12,000 metal parts. The total cost at the time was £12,000.  Inside were a collection of exotic plants the like of which had never been seen in the city before. There are nine marble statues including the 'Whispering Angel' by Sir Benjamin Edward Spence, dating from 1850. Eight of the statues were placed outside the Palm House, four in bronze and four in marble, of famous explorers including Columbus.

The Statue of Columbus

During the second world war the corporation disguised the Palm House with camouflage material to stop the moonlight reflecting in the glass and attracting the attention of the Luftwaffe aircraft. A bomb did however fall close to the building and shattered all the glass, the glass was not replaced until 1950.

Because of financial austerity the Palm House fell into decline and was vandalised during the 1980s, and the building was closed and all the glass removed. By 1992 a preservation trust the Public House campaign was established which led to a 'Save the Palm House' campaign and together with the city council and Heritage lottery money and contributions from other bodies, work to restore the Palm House began in 2000. The building was dismantled piece by piece and at a cost of £3.millionit was completed in September 2001.

The Palm house is still in use and is 121 years old it has been used to host events, it is available for hire and has its own shop and visitor centre.

Robert F Edwards

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