Recently in Liverpool's Parks Category

Sefton Park Liverpool Daffodils The past few days have convinced us that Spring is finally on its way. The daffodils in Sefton Park are a glory all of their own - the focus of hope in so many ways, at the equinox when people begin once more to populate our park's wonderful space, strolling by in chatty groups, with prams, on bicylces, running to raise funds for charity or simply stopping to enjoy. And then as the daffodils begin to fade, we see the promise of the next great gift of nature, the delicate blossoms of almond and cherry to delight us yet a while....

Sefton Park Liverpool Daffodils (29 March 2009)

Sefton Park Liverpool - first blossoms of Spring (30 March 2008)

See more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside and read more about Sefton Park.

08.2.16 Sefton Park boating lake with dumped bike The upheavals as Sefton Park is 'restored' have been grim. Trees and habitats destroyed, birdlife disrupted and months of mud and noise - though at least, we all believed, for future benefit. But will the Boating Lake, largest and most public of the waterways, now remain a dumping ground for waste as before? Apparently the money may be running out. If it does, I'd say, so is our civic pride.

08.06.27  Sefton Park boating lake with heron and rubbish

Is this (above) the view of Sefton Park Boating Lake which will stay with us after all the heritage and landscape restoration is finished? Will the people of Liverpool, already said by Bill Bryson to have celebrated a 'Festival of Litter', permit what is arguably the City's most significant park to retain within it a dumping ground for anything their careless fellow citizens have over the decades jettisoned into the Boating Lake?

... and this proposed 'cost-cutting', so it is said, all for a saving which is probably less than the amount already spent on destroying perfectly healthy trees in Sefton Park because they 'block the view'?

The photographs below show some of the garbage which lies below the normal waterline of the lake, together with a view of the area which the dredger has cleaned up (by the top island), and the boating fence which, as things stand, may delineate the divide between the restored area and the much larger part of the lake which it's feared will be left in neglect.

Will the powers-that-be ensure, despite the rumours, that the whole lake will be cleared? Or has this City really still so little civic pride? We await the evidence that all will be well, hopefully very soon.

08.05.18 Sefton Park boating lake with swan and rubbish

08.05.10  Sefton Park boating lake with dredging machinery

08.05.26 Sefton Park boating lake half dredged

08.2.17 Sefton Park boating lake with dividing fence by island (icy)

Read more articles on Sefton Park
and see more photographs at Camera & Calendar.

08.2.1 Sefton Park renovation tree chopped and felled pink ribbon  117x110 025a.jpg Mid-winter, and the rawest, sorest part of the oh-so necessary works on Liverpool's Sefton Park has begun. Here lies the pink ribbon of protest an anonymous tree-lover tied on this felled tree. And here (below) lies scattered the still fresh sawdust of the vigorous cull of trees around the upper lake. Soon, we are assured, these voids will be host to new and vibrant growth. Soon, our park will be even more lovely than before.

08.2.1 Sefton Park renovation trees felled and fresh sawdust, top lake with stump machine 496x372 020a.jpg

More information on Sefton Park is available here.

Photographs of Sefton Park on this website include:

Liverpool's Sefton Park Trees Under Threat - Unnecessarily? (Photo of the subsequently removed Willow tree in the Cherry Blossom / central lake)
Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool.

For more photographs please see here.

Sudley House, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007 Aigburth is a long-established residential area within sight of Liverpool Cathedral. Amongst the many surprises in this enduring part of the city is the National Museum Liverpool's newly refurbished Sudley House, tucked away behind Rose Lane, Carnatic Halls and Mossley Hill Church. Bequeathed to the City by Emma Holt, daughter of a Victorian merchant, it offers a major art collection.

Mossley Hill Church, Liverpool, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House veranda & conservatory, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, view to the River Mersey, the Wirral & Moel Famau, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, wall & stables , 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House & Holt Field , Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House Hillsborough Memorial Garden, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House wallside walk, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House conservatory, Liverpool,  29 Oct. 2007

North Sudley Road looking to Liverpool Cathedral (below Sudley House & Holt Field), Liverpool, 20 Jan. 2007

Sudley House contains works by artists such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Landseer and Turner. This is the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location.

The earliest resident of the house was Nicholas Robinson, a rich corn merchant, who bought the land and built the original house somewhere between 1811 and 1823. The architect may have been Thomas Harrison. Robinson was Mayor of Liverpool in 1828-9. He lived in the house until his death in 1854, and his two daughters continued to live there until their own deaths in 1883.

Sudley was then sold to George Holt, a ship owner and merchant, who made many alterations to the property. He acquired the art collection which remains in the house, which, with its contents, was in 1944 bequeathed to the City of Liverpool by his daughter Emma.

See also: History of Liverpool

Carols Round The Christmas Tree At Sudley House

Liverpool's Ancient Chapel Of Toxteth, Dingle Gaumont Cinema, The Turner Nursing Home & Dingle Overhead Railway Station

Autumn Glory In Sefton Park

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Please see additional photographs at Camera & Calendar

More information on Sudley House and visitor arrangements is available here.

Sefton Park Beeches Autumn 06.11.03 1915a (91x122).jpg Liverpool's Sefton Park, part of a once sprawling Royal Park, is the 187 acre lung of the city's historic Toxteth, Aigburth and adjacent areas. The designers Edouard Andre and Louis Hornblower, commissioned by some of the city's Victorian philanthropists, worked between 1867 and 1872 to bring enduring tranquility and beauty to the people of Liverpool.

Sefton Park Beeches in Autumn 06.11.03 1916a (486x365).jpg

See also Sefton Park, Liverpool or click here for more historical background to Sefton Park.

Grebe CIMG7739.JPG Yesterday we saw the grebes on Sefton Park lake in Liverpool. There were the two adults who caused such excitement when they arrived some three years ago, plus two quite large chicks, all bobbing up and down happily in the centre of the lake. Then, a little further on we saw swans, a pair with four cygnets this year.

Like the grebe chicks, the cygnets are now almost full-size, but just a bit more fluffy and woolly coloured than their parents.

The grebes
This is the first time we've actually ever seen the grebes' family; perhaps the young ones lurk near the island at the top end of the lake until they're large enough to survive in more open water - though even today we saw the parents feeding their young straight from a catch of minnows.

Cygnets and swans
The swans, however, are less shy and their young have been 'on show' for several months. Perhaps their size is adequate protection without further caution. This year four out of an original five cygnets have survived, which seems to be about par for their annual breeding activity.

So how many cygnets must this pair of swans have produced over the years? And where do they all go?

Read more articles on Liverpool's Great Parks & Open Spaces: Sefton Park

Liverpool's Sefton Park, Swans, Herons And Grebes

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool

Friends Of Sefton Park

Save This Tree! (small) 95x138.jpg The heritage people are (at last) about to make improvements to Sefton Park. Much of the intended work is welcomed by everyone. So why must they remove certain trees - such as a lovely willow - which those who use the park as a local place for peace and quiet have come to regard as part of that tranquility? I hope they change their minds soon.

Liverpool SeftonPark middle lake willow, under threat

See also: What Now For Liverpool's Sefton Park?

Cherry Picking Liverpool's Sefton Park Agenda

Sefton Park's Grebes And Swans

Liverpool's Sefton Park, Swans, Herons And Grebes

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool

Solar Lighting Could Solve The Parks Problem

Friends Of Sefton Park

Liverpool Toxteth Chapel (small) 100x143.jpgOne of Liverpool's most significant and fascinating historic areas is barely known even by the city's own residents; so Monday Women arranged a visit. The area lies in the heart of Toxteth - Dingle, comprising four adjacent sites: the early seventeenth century Ancient Chapel of Toxteth (the original place of worship of astronomer Jeremiah Horrox or Horrocks), the Turner Nursing Home built by Alfred Waterhouse in 1882-5, Dingle Overhead Railway Station, constructed deep underground and opened in 1896, and the Dingle Gaumont Cinema, erected on the site of the old Picturedrome in 1937.

Liverpool Toxteth Chapel inside.jpg
The general perception is that Liverpool has few really serious historic sites. Interesting architecture, Yes, in abundance; 'old' buildings, No. On Saturday 16 November 2006 several dozen members, families and friends of Monday Women and CAMPAM set out on a beautifully sunny afternoon to discover why this perception is not always accurate.

The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth
Liverpool Toxteth Chapel inscription100x312.jpg

We congregated first in the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, opened especially for us by its warden, Annette Butler. She and local historian Christina Clarke (to both of whom we owe enormous thanks) had a remarkable tale to tell about the history of this simple and appealing building, constructed variously at times between 1604 and 1618. The Chapel is now owned, and used, by the Unitarians, but was built and developed by Puritan dissenters from the Church of England.

The site of the Chapel is that of the thirteenth century royal hunting Park in Toxteth, sold late in the sixteenth century to the Earl of Derby. He in turn sold it to Puritan families from around the Lancashire towns of Bolton and Ormskirk who were seeking more freedom of conscience in their religious practices, using a place which had been Crown property and was thus not subject to parish law or to enforcement of regular attendance at the parish church. [See: The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth, Lost Villages of Liverpool: Pt. 1, The Diaries of Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby 1826-93 and map Toxteth (Old O.)]

Liverpool Toxteth Chapel graveyard 180x225.jpgEven with sunshine outside, the inside of the Chapel feels dark and close (perhaps in part because the winters of the seventeenth century were bitter), the pews being closely placed, but with an appealing and open gallery area above them, and an impressively large pulpit at the centre of the south wall. Over the centuries the building itself has been considerably extended, not least to adapt the previous schoolhouse (built in 1611) into the access point for the organ loft.

In contrast to the closeness of Toxteth Chapel itself, our visit to the graveyard found it calm and airy, with dappled light through the mature trees, as we examined the columned arcade and headstones of such local luminaries as Richard Vaughan Yates , who devised Princes Park, and the cartographer Richard Horwood [A to Z of Regency London]. Many other well-known local family names, including the Mellors, are also to be found there.

Jeremiah Horrox or Horrocks (1618 or 1619 - 1641)
Liverpool Toxteth Chapel Horrox plaque-closeup.jpgAmongst other fascinating plaques inside the Chapel is one commemorating the brief life and momentous work of Jeremiah Horrox (as spelt on this plaque; or Horrocks as often spelt in the reference books). Horrocks was the youthful astronomer who first observed the transit of the planet Venus, on Sunday 4 December - 24 November by reference to the Julian Calendar then in use - 1639. (There is an anecdote, possibly apocryphal, that he calculated this rare occurrence and had to pre-empt much of the Curate's duties he may have performed in Hoole, Lancashire, that day, in order to observe the transit via a telescope he constructed himself, reflecting the sun's image onto a piece of card.) [Jeremiah Horrocks,Astonomer (1618? - 1641) and His Times: No.6 (Chorley Civic Society Occasional Papers)]

Dingle's Gaumont Cinema
Liverpool Toxteth Gaumont Cinema Dingle Lane & Park Lane160x216.jpgToxteth Chapel is on the north-western corner of Park Road (running parallel to the River Mersey) and Dingle Lane (which goes from Princes Park directly towards the river). On the south-western side of this junction is a cinema now unused for its original purpose, the Gaumont, designed by W. E. Trent FRIBA, FSI (Chief Architect of Gaumont-British) specifically to accommodate the large fan-shaped curve of the roads at this corner, and opened on 29 March 1937.

The Gaumont Cinema, an art deco building erected on the site of the old Dingle Picturedrome (photo in Edwardian A-Z and Directory of Liverpool and Bootle: South Liverpool Part 3; demolished 1931), must have been very impressive in its hey day - there are many features reminiscent of the famous Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street. It has (or had?) an orchestra pit and Wurlitzer organ console (again, the Phil has a fine organ, almost unique in rising from the stage). The cinema seated 1,500 people, 615 of them in the balcony.

It is said that the projection room was the first in Britain to have the Gaumont 'projectomatic' system which automatically changed the reels during projection of films, as well as controlling the houselights and stage curtains. There was also a Western Electric Mirrorphonic sound system.

Sadly, the Gaumont lost its originally intended function in September 1966, to become a Top Rank Bingo Club which opened in January 1967. We were not therefore able to go into the building to see more as we passed on to the south-eastern corner of this 'site visit' and the next venue of our Monday Women trip in November.

The Turner Nursing (or Memorial) Home
Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Turner Nursing Home 140x211.jpgThe story behind the Turner Nursing Home is very sad, but the outcome is a testament to the positive thinking of Mrs Charles Turner, wife of the Liverpool Member of Parliament who was also first Chairman of the Liverpool Docks and Harbour Board - the tale of which Board we shall continue at the next and final stop of our Dingle-Toxteth 'tour'. The entire Turner Memorial Home project commemorates Anne Turner's husband Charles Turner MP (13 June 1803 - 15 October 1875) and their son Charles William (16 October 1845 - 13 September 1880), who died tragically.

Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Turner Nursing Home sculpture 40x100.jpgIn memory of her husband and son Mrs Turner commissioned the architect Alfred Whitehouse to build a strikingly asymmetric and strangely attractive 'home' for retired and 'distressed' gentlemen - a function which it still has. In the entrance lobby there is a lovely marble statue of the two male Turners, father and son, created for the opening of the Home in 1885 by the London-based sculptor Sir William Hamo Thorneycroft R.A. (1850 - 1925). This sculpture seemed to fascinate our younger companions on this visit, perhaps because it is actually so sympathetic and life-like.

Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Turner Nursing Home chapel 140x281.jpgLiverpool Dingle Toxteth Turner Nursing Home turret 140x53.jpgThe red ashlar, turreted Home has a chapel, almost church-sized, with an arcade of octagonal columns and stained glass windows (by Heaton, Butler and Bayne); and beyond the spacious communal living areas we saw wide lawns sweeping down towards the River Mersey. This is a gracious reminder of times gone by, still of great value to the community, which shows us just how elegant Dingle and Toxteth must have been a century or more ago.

Dingle Overhead Railway Station
Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Overhead Railway Station (looking down)160x168.jpg Finally on this special afternoon, as the light drew in, we retraced our steps to Kedlestone Street, the road opposite the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, and to what appeared to be a short side-alley leading to a mechanics' garage. Few of us had any idea what would come next.... As we approached, the owner, Nigel, opened the doors and we were led down an alarmingly steep slope to another world - the world of the legendary Liverpool Overhead Railway designed by leading engineers of the time, Sir Douglas Fox and James Henry Greathead.... a return to the time of the 'Dockers' Umbrella' and Liverpool's great era of engineering and transport.

Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Overhead Station group 160x217.jpgThis was the site of Dingle Station, the final stop of the Overhead Railway route from Southport, Seaforth, Litherland and Aintree, via the city centre and the frantically busy docks, to the south end of the city. Interestingly, especially in the light of current-day debates elsewhere in Liverpool, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board had on a number of occasions from 1852 onwards had travel route proposals rejected or returned for modification in the light of the increasing demands for public transport to and from the city centre.

Liverpool 'The Dockers' Umbrella' book by Paul Bolger 160x181.jpgEventually however, in 1888, a group of prominent businessmen formed the Liverpool Overheard Railway Company and obtained the powers of the Dock Board by an Act of Transfer. Work on the elevated railway therefore began in October 1889. [See: Seventeen Stations to Dingle: Liverpool Overhead Railway Remembered; Liverpool Overhead Railway.]

Dingle Station opened for passengers on 21 December 1896 and closed to the public fifty years ago, on 30 December 1956. The station platform (a full 170 feet by 28 feet) has now been demolished, but the tunnel and entrance subway remain in use as a car repair business, Roscoe Engineering. There is also an astonishing extension to the station - a kilometer long passage from this point to an opening on the Herculaneum Dock 'down by the river', and thence to the docks via the factory site of the Herculaneum Pottery which, though the company closed in1840, must have triggered a lot of local industry.

Some of us, hugely curious, then made our wary unlit way down to the Herculaneum tunnel entrance and Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Overhead Station Tunnel to Herculaneum Dock 160x232.jpgback, and others, less nimble, used the time to learn more from our host Nigel about the remaining features of the station (the red buffer Liverpool Toxteth Dingle Overhead Station buffer 100x98.jpg hidden behind mechanics' equipment; the sturdy hooks and notices...). And finally we returned to Park Road as the day ended, much enlighted by our visit and debating energetically how future generations would see the places we had visited - places which (as evidenced by the enormously ambitious commissions in Toxteth - Dingle a century or so ago, engaging the most prestigious architects, designers and engineers the nation had to offer) had in times past witnessed great wealth and opportunity and then, nearer to the present day, distressing poverty and huge challenges.

'Which way now?' was the question on everyone's lips as we hit the road for home.

See also: History of Liverpool

Sudley House: Victorian Home Of A Mayor Of Liverpool

Read the discussion of this article which follows the book 'E-store'.....

Holly berries (small).jpgToday is the Winter Solistice - the shortest day of the year, if by 'day' we mean daylight hours. Yet, in this so-far extraordinarily warm Winter, even at this point in the annual cycle of birth and rebirth there is much to see when we venture out into the great urban spaces such as Liverpool's Sefton Park.

Sefton Park Winter squirrel with conker.jpgSefton Park Winter rat.jpgThis is the Winter Solstice, a time when little is expected of an urban park, a time of anticipated bleakness and dank dark days. Yet in this month of nothingness Liverpool's Sefton Park, just a mile or two from the city centre, has life in abundance. The small creatures of the secret places continue to roam their tracks, there are birds both of the water and of the air, and humans too, of every sort, take their ease with their companions, their children, their partners and their four legged friends.

A park for all
Sefton Park Winter boys, ducks, golden lake.jpgHere are young and older couples, parents and children, kids looking for a bit of fun by the lake, people exercising seriously and people intent on doing nothing. The short day offers no excuse for staying indoors, whether there be sunshine or showers. The opportunity to take the air remains, for so far this Winter there have not been many really wild or soakingly wet days when the only place to be is home. Even in this, the solstice week, walking in the park is what the people of Liverpool have been doing.

Mists and mellowness, not biting winds
Sefton park Winter couple reflected in waterfall pool.jpgSefton Park Winter young couple.jpgSefton Park Winter mother & small cyclist, sitting.jpgThis is still, in Winter 2006, the season of mists and shadowy silhouettes against the sky. It is not as yet the season of ice and snow, though doubtless this will prevail as the year turns on the coming Spring equinox, for a short while covering everything in a shining blanket of white.Sefton Park Winter man in mist by lake & trees.jpg

But for now the mildness of Autumn stays with us whilst the temperament of Winter fails to claim the expectations of the park. The days are short but the fierceness of wind and sleet which usually accompanies this brevity of light has not on the whole been forthcoming. We continue, urban ramblers at our leisure, unchallenged by the elements in the brief hours of light and even sunshine which this strange solstice is affording.

The sun, golden
Yes, we have seen rain - and on a few days much rain, though not bitingly cold and cutting - but we see also setting suns against the faded former glories of the bandstand, we watch that same sunset against the snowy-looking clouds behind the trees, and we gaze until it disappears at the liquid gold of the lake, reflecting the sky which illuminates all below it.

Sefton Park Winter father & son golden lake.jpgSefton Park Winter bandstand sunset.jpgSefton Park Winter trees against golden cloud.jpg

Waiting for Winter
This is a time of waiting. The solstice will very soon be forgotten as Christmas takes a hold on the park, the city and, it seems to us from where we stand, the entire world. Perhaps this year the many strollers who occupy Sefton Park on Christmas Day and Boxing Day will be sporting not their usual new, thick Winter Sefton Park 06.3.4 (snow) 046.jpgscarves and woolly hats, but the lighter attire of Autumn and Spring. This year we may, it seems, be spared the cruel inclemencies of deep Winter, thereby

Sefton Park 06.7.24 & 25  Grebe splashing (small pic 2) 003.jpg Sefton Park is as inner-city as it gets, but it's large enough to be home to an amazing range of birdlife - swans, herons and grebes amongst them. So are we doing enough to ensure that these treasures are appreciated by the human beings who co-exist with them in this fascinating super-urban environment?

Once again Liverpool's Sefton Park has come into its own.

This is an inner-city green space, with all the usual problems and challenges, but it's nonetheless a wonderful place to be [*]. Even we, old hands at taking a stroll in our local oasis of calm, were thrilled by what we saw today.

The heron
Sefton Park Heron (b) 06.6.30 013.jpg First, in the early morning light, we again encountered the young heron which we first spotted in the rushes last week and which we think has just returned to its childhood haunts. On the previous occasion this bird had been close to invisible, silent and almost eerily still on the shaded bank of the island in the top lake. Now, just a few yards across the water from our path, it perched loftily, white feathers dramatically eye-catching in the sunlight, on the branch protruding from the middle lake which the terrapins usually claim as their own.

A family of grebes
Sefton Park Grebes 06.6.30 005.jpg Later in the day, as afternoon turned to evening, we returned to see a small group of quietly excited people with binoculars and cameras focused on the island at the top of the big lake - giving confirmation, by a nest with three very new babies (two of them actually sitting on their mother's back) that we had indeed caught a glimpse of a grebe earlier in the week. This time there were two adult birds. One was sitting on the nest with the babies. The other was diving for fish before returning, his captive minnow held high, and trying (with only limited sucess - the babies were oh-so-tiny) to get his new family to feed from his beak.

Swans and cygnets
Sefton Park 06.6.26 Swans & Cygnets 002.jpg Sefton Park 06.5.12 003 Cygnet feed(long)jpg.jpg Adding to this our delight that the pair of nesting swans still have their seven cygnets several weeks after hatching - one mode of feeding in the initial weeks being the parents grasping upwards with their long necks literally to tear leaves from the central island's bushes, before thrusting the mulched veggie delight (perhaps with attendant gnawed insects?) into their juniors' open beaks - and it made for a pasturally perfect day.

One swallow does not a summer make; and nor does sighting one heron, two grebes and a family of swans consitute a full visit to countryside and woodland. But I can get to my local park any time, and it never ceases to fascinate, engage and refresh.

I just wish that others (in my more selfish moments, not too many others) would value it as do those of us 'in the know'. Perhaps we could start by more (there is some) active involvement with local schools. If you don't know that swans, herons and grebes are special, you can't be excited by seeing them, can you?

[* For a detailed City of Liverpool colour leaflet click here.]

See also:
Sefton Park, Liverpool (collection of web postings)

Sefton Park's Grebes And Swans

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Cherry Blossom For May Day In Sefton Park, Liverpool

Friends Of Sefton Park

What Now For Liverpool's Sefton Park?

Cherry Picking Liverpool's Sefton Park Agenda

Liverpool's Sefton Park Trees Under Threat - Unnecessarily?

Solar Lighting Could Solve The Parks Problem

Friends Of Sefton Park

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