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Hockenhall Alley

Just off  Dale Street between Cheapside and Vernon Street, you will find  Hockenhall Alley. Still standing in the alley is one of the city’s oldest surviving late 18th century houses.

It is one of those little streets that many of us have probably used to cut through from Dale Street to Tithebarn Street without paying much attention to the surroundings. Albeit pretty sparse these days, the street has a history all of its own.

The book, 'A compendious account of the election at Liverpool Nov., 1806', gives the following information on the electorate of the time:

The Box (referring to the Ballot Box) in Wykes’ court.

From the Box for Hockenhal alley, more generally known by the name of Molyneux's wient.

Moleneux's Weint

Astle William                 Baker                           Harvey Samuel            Soapboiler
Bruffield  Samuel         Roper                          Holmes Edward            Plaisterer
Thomas                         Roper                           Hoskison John              Watchtool maker
Fazakerly James        Roper                          Lunt Joshua                   Bricklayer
Ryder Thomas           Shipright                    McDonald Joseph         Clockmaker

Hockenhull Hall near Tarvin Cheshire
The street was originally called Molyneux Weint after the Roman Catholic minister, and constable of Liverpool Castle, Richard Molyneux, in 1611, it was renamed after a Cheshire family, the Hockenhalls/Hockenhulls who were related to one of Liverpool’s Moores family who had some standing in the city at the time. The  Hockenhalls have a 900 year old ancestral home, Hockenhull Hall, in near Tarvin in Cheshire, designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building. It  is part of a working farm and in 2009 it was placed on the market with an estimated price of £4 million.

Hockenhall Alley by Herdman

No.10 Hockenhall Alley is believed to have originally formed part of a short row of houses, between the breweries and warehouses of Cheapside and Cunliffe Street, number 10, with its tiny yard, backs onto Cheapside’s Rose and Crown pub.

Liverpool Corporation decided that they needed to widen Dale Street in1808, as the town began to develop and in the1863 book, Recollections of Old Liverpool, 1863, by ‘A Nonagenarian’ the author says;

“Great difficulties were constantly thrown in the way of alterations by many of the inhabitants, who had lived in their old houses, made fortunes under their roofs, and were hoping to live and die where they had been born and brought up. The most obtuse and determined man was a shoemaker who owned a small house and shop which stood near Hockenall-alley. Nothing could persuade him to go out of his house or listen to any proposition. Out he would not go, although his neighbours had disappeared and his house actually stood like an island in the midst of the traffic current.

“The road was carried on each side of his house, but there stood the cobbler’s stall alone in its glory until the authorities, roused by the indignation of the public, took forcible possession of the place and pulled the old obnoxious building about the owner’s ears. The cobbler stuck to his old house to the last, showing fight all through, with a determination and persistence worthy of a nobler cause.”

The house as it is today
By the 19th century there were warehouses either side of number 10 which stored goods from the docks. The house however remained between its new neighbours. The house became a chemists’ until the 1950’s and later clock repairers, ‘John Nelson Limited’ that name can still be see on the door plate, but it has been empty and boarded up since John Nelson ceased to trade.

The house was given Grade II status a couple of years ago, and was described as “a rare and important survival of an exceptionally modest working class dwelling that illustrates the inner city living conditions of some of the poorest members of late 18th and early 19th century society.”

Liverpool's executive member for heritage and the environment Berni Turner is quoted as saying: "The building in Hockenhall Alley is known locally as the Fisherman's Cottage. It's a one-up, one-down building from the end of the eighteenth century and looks like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.

"It's a fascinating and quirky survivor from that time and we are delighted it has been listed".

The Dickensian building, which only has one small room on each floor, still has original features including a narrow timber winding staircase, a plank and batten door and lath and plaster ceilings.


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