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Everton area history

Described by William Farrer and J. Brownbill in 1907:

This township lies on the hill to the north-east of Liverpool, the highest point being at St. George's Church. From that point there is a very rapid slope to the north and to the west, the elevated ridge continuing southward to Low Hill and Edge Hill. The height allows an extensive panorama of the city of Liverpool, including a distant view of the Cheshire side of the River Mersey. At sunset the windows of the houses on Everton Brow flash back the glowing radiance, showing that nothing impedes the wide prospect westwards. The foot of this ridge is the western boundary. The area is 693 acres, the township being about a mile and a quarter from north to south, and less than a mile across. The population in 1901 was 121,469.

Herdman’s View of Everton 1833,  from Great Mersey Street Kirkdale

Formerly known as, Evreton, 1094; Euerton, 1201; Erton, 1380; Everton, the approach to it was by a road leading eastward from Liverpool .The old village stood at the top of this road in what is now Village Street, above the old roundhouse or bridewell, which still remains. About half way up the slope Netherfield Lane turned away to the north, with a branch leading up the hill. From the top of the village the road led north to the top where the Beacon stood, destroyed by a gale in 1803, and then dividing, down the hill to Kirkdale and to Anfield, and south to Low Hill. This road remains one of the main thoroughfares of Everton, as Heyworth Street and Everton Road. The road from Liverpool passed through the village and divided, the more northerly branch, Breck Lane, leading to Walton Breck, and the other, which also divided, to Newsham and West Derby. The mere, afterwards called St. Domingo Pit, was below the Beacon, to the east; Mere Lane led down to it.

Everton 1800

In 1642 it was found that the people of Everton paid £5 11s. 3½d. for their enclosed lands and 13s. 4d. for their commons, Hongfield (Anfield), Whitefield and Netherfield; this last payment was known as Breck silver, the commons lying on the Breck or slope of the hill. An agreement was made in 1667 between the tenants and the earl of Derby, as lord of the manor, for enclosing a third of the commons, which then extended to 180 acres large measurement; they were afterwards leased to the tenants. Then in 1716 Lady Ashburnham granted to the copyholders a lease for a thousand years of 115 acres of the 120 acres unenclosed, for £115 paid and a rent of £5 15s. a year.

Because of the commanding situation of the village, Prince Rupert fixed his head quarters here when attacking Liverpool in 1644. The Royalist headquarters is marked these days by a well -known local pub, the Campfield, on Heyworth Street. 200 years later, in 1879, the Everton Park site would swap the sword for the ball to become the spiritual home of a game that has since made our city world-famous. The former Queens Head Hotel, which stood in Everton Village, hosted a meeting where church football team St Domingo’s took the landmark decision to change its name to Everton.

In more peaceful times the wealthier merchants of Liverpool chose it for their country mansions, and in 1824 it was  described as follows:

'This village has become a very favourite residence of the gentry of Liverpool, and for the salubrity of its air and its vicinity to the sea, may not inaptly be called the Montpellier of the county.'

Everton Village by W G Herdman  showing the shaft of the market-cross: Ancient Liverpool 1843.

The roads were shaded with fine trees, and a walk to the top of the hill was a pleasant exercise for dwellers in the town. Sadly, the growth of Liverpool northwards, and the erection of chemical works and other factories by the riverside, slowly encroached on the area, and over a period of about fifty years the great houses in their spacious grounds were replaced by closely packed streets of small dwellings. The roads above, Heyworth Street and Everton Road, remained the principal ones, and where widened and improved to allow The Liverpool electric tramways to serve the district. There was a large sandstone quarry on the northern slope of the hill. Until 1820 the shaft of the market-cross stood on a flight of stone steps in the open space of the village; a sundial had been fixed on it. There was formerly a holy well here, but the site was lost. The Beacon, already mentioned, a plain rectangular tower of two stories, about 18 ft. square and 25 ft. high, was built of local red sandstone. The little open green by the roundhouse was maintained by the corporation of Liverpool, and has been slightly extended by the demolition of some cottages on the north side of it, among them being the Old Toffee shop. In 1825 the Necropolis at the foot of West Derby Road was enclosed as a burial place for Nonconformists. It is now a public garden. Shaw Street, the principal street on the Liverpool side of Everton, was formed in 1828 by Thomas Shaw, a councillor of Liverpool.

Like most townships surrounding Liverpool, Everton had no shortage of churches. The first place of worship erected in the township in connection with the Church of England was St. George's, on the summit of the hill. It was designed by Thomas Rickman (based upon the preliminary work of Joseph Gandy) and built by John Cragg who made his money as the owner of the Mersey Iron Foundry in Tithebarn Street, and was keen to exploit his business in the construction of churches. It was planned in 1812 somewhat as a commercial speculation, the land being given by James Atherton, and the money raised in shares of £100 each, any profits to be divided among the proprietors. It was opened in 1814. The next, St. Augustine's, Shaw Street, was built in 1830, shares being subscribed and Thomas Shaw giving the land. Christ Church, Great Homer Street, was built in 1848 by the family as a memorial of Charles Horsfall, mayor in 1832–3. St. Peter's, Sackville Street, followed in 1849. St. Chrysostom's in 1853 replaced a chapel of ease in Mill Road, which had been built in 1837. St. Saviour's, Breckfield Road, 1870, originated in an iron church erected in 1867, St. Timothy's, near Everton Brow, was built in 1862 and St. Chad's, Everton Valley, was opened as a school-church in 1881, a permanent building soon following. St. Ambrose Church was built in 1871.  St. Benedict's, erected in 1887 succeeding an iron church, stood near the old village. St. Cuthbert's, on the Anfield side, was built in 1877 and St. Polycarp's, Netherfield Road, was erected in 1886. St. John the Evangelist's, Breck Road, was built in 1890 as a memorial to Charles Groves, a well-known Liverpool churchman. Liverpool College, Shaw Street, was established in 1841.

The Wesleyan Methodists had several churches, Great Homer Street Chapel, built in 1840,  and Whitefield Road, 1866; also a mission chapel and a preaching room. There was a large Welsh-speaking population, and two chapels were devoted to them by the Wesleyans. The Primitive Methodists had two churches; the Methodist New Connection and the United Free Methodists.

Fabius Chapel, Everton Road, built by the Baptists in 1868, represented the first place of religious worship known to have existed in the township. Dr. Fabius, a well-known physician, who lived close by, built a chapel about the year 1707; a yard attached was used as a burial ground. The congregation increased, but secured a meeting-place in Liverpool in 1722, and the Everton chapel was abandoned. The same denomination have churches in Shaw Street, built in 1847, and in Breck Road, called Richmond Chapel, built in 1864. The Welsh Baptist Chapel, built in 1869, in Village Street, is a migration from Ormond Street, Liverpool, where a congregation had gathered as early as 1799. The Congregational church in Everton Crescent is the result of a separation from the Establishment in 1800; Bethesda Chapel in Hotham Street was then erected, but in 1837 the congregation moved to the Everton chapel. For Welsh-speaking Congregationalists there was a church in Netherfield Road, opened in 1868, being a transplantation of the old Tabernacle in Great Crosshall Street, Liverpool.

The Calvinistic Methodists had three places of worship where services were conducted in Welsh, and two others for English-speaking members of the congregation. The United Free Gospellers had two churches. The Presbyterians had two churches, and there is a Church of Christ in Thirlmere Road. The Salvation Army had a barracks and the Unitarians have a church in Hamilton Road.

St Francis Xavier
Postcard courtesy of George Rimmer
Everton was always an extremely Protestant district, but the Roman Catholics had several churches within it. The earliest being St. Francis Xavier's. The Jesuits, who had served Liverpool during the times of persecution, were able to return in 1840, when land was secured on the border of the rapidly-growing town. Two years later they opened a school in Soho Street, and in 1845 the church was built. St. Mary Immaculate, on the northern slope of Everton Hill, was erected in 1856 as the Lady Chapel of a proposed cathedral, and was enlarged in 1885. The bishop's house and St. Edward's College occupy the adjacent St. Domingo House. St. Michael's, West Derby Road, was erected in 1861 to 1865, and was later practically rebuilt. St. George's Industrial School adjoined it. And finally, the Mohammedans had a mosque in Brougham Terrace.

Everton area 1959 prior to the slum clearance programme
Everton underwent a massive slum clearance programme in the 60s houses were said to be unfit for human habitation. So the city council demolished them moving whole family out to areas such as Kirkby, Cantril Farm and Netherly, they also built tower blocks to house remaining residents. In 1966 they built three tower blocks, Crosbie, Canterbury and Haigh Heights, on William Henry Street But within 18 months the conditions there became so bad that, by all accounts, these tower blocks were not fit for human habitation. They became known locally as "The Piggeries." They were subsequently demolished.

The Piggeries

Some notable residents of the area were, Thomas de Quincey 19th century author Robb Wilton English comedian and actor, Paul Aloysius Kenna cavalry officer and VC recipient and Gordon Elliot Australian journalist and talk-show host. Everton is also a hotspot for urban legends, meaning that there are many rumours of dubious credibility throughout history of "monsters" terrorising the area, such as Spring Heeled Jack over a century ago. Along with neighbouring Vauxhall, Everton traditionally housed the city's Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants. Everton was to be the original site for the building of the Metropolitan Cathedral on St Domingo Road but this was abandoned because of financial constraints. The book "Her Benny" by Silas Hocking was mainly set in Everton and dealt with child poverty in the early 1900s.

From the 40 steps Everton Brow

Everton Park
Everton Park covers an area of over 40 hectares and was created between 1984 and 1989 by a major housing clearance programme – the second in a generation – which has changed the face of the area. Everton Park is a Council owned and managed public park, The Park currently serves a local community function but its aspect and location, just a short walk from Lime Street Station and the City Centre, give it the potential to be one of the city’s top visitor attractions. It offers the best views of the City Centre, the waterfront and the World Heritage Site.

A £150m scheme to regenerate part of north Liverpool. The Great Homer Street development, known as Project Jennifer, saw the “Greatie” market, moved from its historic home to a new £2.2m facility off nearby Dryden Street in October 2014. The market has seen crowds of shoppers flock to the site every Saturday since. It moved the 150 yards down the road from its historic home. In April 2015 Great Homer Street - celebrated its first Sunday opening. The historic market, which usually runs on a Saturday, opened its gates from 10am to 4pm for the first time.

Notre Dame Catholic College, Great Homer Street
Photograph © Copyright Graham Hogg and licensed
for reuse under a Creative Commons licence

Notre Dame Catholic College welcomed invited guests to the official opening ceremony of the new build on Great Homer Street on Friday 11th October. The event was extremely exciting with many distinguished visitors attending.


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