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Walton - A History


Listed in the Doomsday book 1086 as Waleton, in 1907 Walton was described by the authors  William Farrer and J. Brownbill as follows:

This township, having a wedge-like form, lies on the west and north-west of West Derby and Fazakerley; it has a length of over 4 miles and an area of 1,944 acres. At the extreme north is Warbreck on the border of Aintree; the Gildhouses were also at the north end, and along the southern border from north-west to south-east are the districts called Spellow, Anfield, Walton Breck, and Newsham; these are often regarded and named as Anfield. The natural features of the township have long since been obscured or entirely swept away by bricks and mortar, and thronged streets of small houses and busy shops and electric-car standards occupy the site of country lanes, gardens, and trees. The geological formation is the new red sandstone or trias, the ridge of higher land on the west, reaching the 175 ft. level, consists of the pebble beds, and the eastern slope towards the Fazakerley brook of the upper mottled sandstones of the bunter series of that formation. The population in 1901 was 54,615.

The town name 'Walton', may have been derived from the same origins as the country name 'Wales'. We know that in 1246 it was Waleton. The Saxons called the earlier inhabitants of Briton (the Celtic Britons) the 'Walas' or 'Wealas'. Thus, Walton may have once been called 'Walas' town. Whatever the origins of the name, Walton is one of the oldest areas of settlement in Merseyside.

The original main road ran from Liverpool to Ormskirk, passing close by the parish church of St Marys on the higher ground before descending the hill onto what is now Rice Lane. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Liverpool to Preston passed through the town, having a station at Walton Junction, it was here the line to Bury and Manchester branched off to the east, with an adjacent station called Preston Road. The dock branch also ran the town. The London and North-western Company's branch line from Edge Hill to the docks crossed the southern end of Walton, with stations called Walton and Spellow. The Cheshire Lines Committee's railway from Manchester and Liverpool to Southport crossed arbreck, and has one branch turning south-west to the docks and another with a station at Walton village. The old village lay near the church, in a street bending round its northern side. The workhouse of the West Derby Union was a mile to the north as was Walton cemetery belonging to the parish of Liverpool. Further north still was the county prison where executions took place.

Spellow House 1843
The main road at Kirkdale, passed through Spellow. The grounds of Spellow House, which used as a nursery garden. The Spellow area was later covered with streets of cottage houses, and the district was urban all along this road up to Aintree. On the west side of the road Clayfield Lane, later Breeze Hill, led from the church to Bootle and later, on that road, was built a reservoir of the Liverpool Water Works. Another road from Spellow led east through Mere Green and then north to the village. Stanley Park and Anfield Cemetery. On reaching the village, the road continued northwards to pass Walton Hall. Rake Lane or Cherry Lane, ran eastward to West Derby. Near the Everton border two roads led south-eastward to Newsham. Stanley. Two further roads, cross the area leading through Everton to Kirkby, Breck Road and Townsend Lane.  'Cabbage Hall,' an old-established Inn, gave its name to the surrounding district, which was also called Walton Breck.

At the death of Edward the Confessor Winestan held the manor of Walton, After the Conquest it is supposed that Roger of Poitou included Walton in a large estate which he gave to Godfrey, his sheriff, by whom it was held at the date of the compilation of the Domesday Survey. William de Walton in 1312 made a settlement of the manor.  Three years later he was one of the supervisors of the assize of arms and array in the county, and next year and in 1319 was returned to Parliament as one of the knights of the shire. He died 1n June, 1321, His mother Alice was still living and indeed Simon, his son and heir, who was nearly seventeen years of age, and had been married six years before. Simon de Walton came of age in 1326 and took control of the estates and office. Robert an illegitimate son of William de Walton sued several persons for lands in Walton in 1335.  He afterwards succeeded in acquiring the manor, and lived until the beginning of 1400. John de Walton, his son and heir, was then sixteen years of age and laid claim to the lands. The heir's claim was challenged by Robert de Fazakerley and Ellen his wife, eldest daughter of Robert de Walton, who alleged bastardy. In August, 1412, Robert with a hundred others marched to the manor of Walton and dispossessed John de Walton, his wife and children, taking away all the goods and chattels he had there. In 1418 the sheriff was directed by parliament to make a proclamation that Sir John de Stanley, Robert de Fazakerley and others, under penalty of £100, should, 'by authority of Parliament, suffer John de Walton to occupy peacefully his manor of Walton.' The dispute was not settled until 1426–7, when a third part of the manor was awarded to Robert de Fazakerley and Ellen his wife. By the fifteenth century Walton had been acquired by Sir Richard Molyneux of Sefton.

A local board was formed in 1863 and a school board in 1883. The township was incorporated within the borough of Liverpool in 1895, when three wards were assigned to it, each with an alderman and three Councillors.

Oakfield rd from Walton Breck rd in 1969 showing the Methodist church where now stands a petrol station.

As with most areas of Liverpool there was adequate provision for worship. As well as Walton Parish Church a mission room was opened in 1890, A number of churches were built over the years for the worship of the Established Church. These include, Holy Trinity, Walton Breck, built in 1847 and St. Peter's, Aintree, St. John the Evangelist's, Warbreck, was built in 1881, an iron church having been used for ten years. The Wesleyan Methodists had several churches. Kirkdale Chapel, in County Road, dating from 1880, Anfield Chapel, in Oakfield Road, from 1885 and Walton Chapel, in Rice Lane, from 1890. There were others at Warbreck Moor, 1899, and Cowley Road, 1903. In Anglesea Road there was a preaching room.The United Methodist Free Church had a school chapel, built in 1890 and the Primitive Methodists had churches in Walton and Warbreck. A Baptist church in Carisbrooke Road was opened in 1879. In 1870 the Congregationalists began to conduct services in an uninhabited house in Walton Park; a school chapel was opened in the following year, which was enlarged in 1875. Services were also commenced in a mission hall in Rice Lane in 1890. In Walton Park the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists had a church. For their English-speaking members there where chapels in Spellow Lane and Breeze Hill. The Presbyterian Church of England had Trinity Church in Rice Lane, built in 1898, the congregation having been formed in 1881. The provision possible after the Reformation for Roman Catholics is unknown, however, Blessed Sacrament, Warbreck, originated in 1872 in the saying of mass in a barn, generously lent by a Protestant. The church was opened on Trinity Sunday, 1878. Work at St. Francis of Sales' in Hale Road had an equally humble beginning, a stable being used from 1883 to 1887, when a school chapel was erected. All Saints', Walton Breck, also a school chapel, was opened in 1889.

Liverpool Zoo, Rice Lane, Walton

Walton has a history of animal attractions. In 1884 the Liverpool Inner City Zoological Park & Gardens opened on what is now the Cavendish Retail Park. Its star attraction was "Pongo", a chimpanzee who lived in the Monkey House. The Zoo itself was known for its large bronze Liver Birds which sat atop of the entrance gates, and its splendid beauty. The gardens closed in the early 1900s and the only surviving remains is the Ticket Booth, which remains beside The Plough public house. The Rice Lane City Farm is also housed in Walton, this is situated at the end of Rawcliffe Road, occupying the land that once was Liverpool Parochial Cemetery (or Walton Park cemetery in another period).

Prince of Wales the Sod House
© Joe Neary
The Prince of Wales pub on Rice Lane, which has the nickname of "The Sod House", was given the nickname by King Edward VII, who after making a royal visit to the previously mentioned Zoo, entered the establishment for refreshments, and proclaimed the pub to be a "Sod House" for reasons unknown. An alternative, or perhaps associated, explanation is that the landlord used clods of earth ("sods") draped over the beer barrels to keep the beer cool. He would water the sods and heat would be drawn from the barrels as the water evaporated. Walton-on-the-Hill's Town Hall was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Queens Drive fly-over. Though no longer there, the side wall, which includes the name etched in stone, still stands on the northbound side of the A59 at the fly-over.

Queens Drive Baths. 1967 © J D Rogers

Walton also housed the now demolished Queens Drive Baths, which until 1981, was "Olympic Standard" in its size. The Baths and Washhouse, as it was then called, opened in 1909 and remained a boothed pool until its radical renovation. In 1929, on 25 September, Marjorie Hinton set the record for the 200 yard breaststroke in its main (Olympic) pool. Walton is also the location of Walton Hospital, on Rice Lane. Several famous Scousers, including Sir Paul McCartney of Beatles fame, were born at the hospital. The hospital was also a regional centre for neurology and neurosurgery. However, as demand for services continued to increase, the capacity for patient's at the relatively small Walton Hospital site decreased and in 1998, all A and E services were later transferred to the newly built, The Walton Centre, located on the same site as Aintree University Hospital in Fazakerley. This cemetery, which now houses the City Farm, also holds the grave of Robert Noonan, Aka Tressel, authour of 'The ragged tousered philanthropist,' who fell ill and died in Liverpool while waiting for a ship to emigrate to the 'New World', America.

Walton is home to Goodison Park football stadium, which was built in 1892 as the first purpose built football stadium in England and the home of Everton Football Club, who have remained there ever since; although little of the original stadium structure now exists. They had previously played at Anfield Stadium on the opposite side of Stanley Park, which then became the home of Liverpool F.C.

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