New streets as the town grew

From the 1700s, the town started to grow. Lord Street was laid down, running east from the site of the Castle. It took its title from Lord Molyneux of the family which became Earls of Sefton. Where Lord Street joins modern Paradise Street a bridge was built over the Pool in 1672. When the building in which McDonald’s is now situated was built after the devastation of World War II, the remains of an old bridge were found deep underground.

After the bridge over the Pool was built, a new street called Church Street was laid down and named after St Peter’s church which stood for over a century until 1922 where Top Shop now is. A brass cross is set into the pavement outside the shop to mark the site. The Athenaeum (older than its namesake in London!), moved in 1922 from its original building in Church Street to a new building on the site of the churchyard site. St Peter’s was temporarily the Anglican Cathedral after Liverpool was made a diocese in 1880, while plans for the present enormous Cathedral were being drawn up. When Church Street was widened at this point in Victorian times, graves had to be moved. It was found that water flowing underground had turned some of bodies in them to stone. This water was flowing from the Moss Lakes which were in the area where the main part of the University of Liverpool is now situated. Water from these lakes still flows, from a fountain in St James’ Garden behind the Anglican Cathedral.

From the junction of Lord Street and Church Street, Whitechapel and Paradise Street go north and south, built over the upper part of the Pool. Whitechapel, so named because of a nearby chapel, led up to the old bridge over the Pool at the bottom of Dale Street. It was originally called Frog Lane because of a colony of frogs there. It had a reputation for being a place of “ill repute”. Paradise Street was named after a London street where Thomas Steers, who built the first dock, once lived. It led down towards Canning Place where a large, domed Victorian classical building housed the Customs & Excise until it was destroyed by bombs in World War II. Paradise Street is now the centre of one of the biggest retail developments in Europe, Liverpool One. At the top of church Street was once the Washington Hotel. Garibaldi, who led Italy to independence, once stayed there on his way to New York.

Leading out of town

From the Dale Street bridge over the Pool Scotland Road was built in the eighteenth century as a new route to the north, one of two original turnpike (i.e. toll) roads out of the town. Scotland Road became the focal point of Irish immigration into Liverpool. (In 1847/48, 300,000 Irish people came a the twelve month period, some going on to the United States, others remaining in the city.) Their story is commemorated in St Anthony’s church in Scotland Road, where many thousands of Irish descendants are buried in graves beneath the Church.

The streets off Scotland Road were places of terrible poverty. Thousands lived in stinking courts and mean terraced houses. The houses where Irish and other immigrants lived spread eastwards up Everton Heights, where in the previous century merchants lived in large villas with well-tended gardens. The graveyard of St George’s Church at the top of the hill commemorates some of them. Scotland Road itself was the scene of much evening drunkenness and violence until well into the twentieth century. It saw many clashes between the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities which continued until World War and the clearance of bad housing in the 1960s, when people were moved to new estates on the outskirts of the city. Since the 1960s, sectarianism has largely ceased to exist in Liverpool and the city, under the leadership of successive Roman Catholic Archbishops, Anglican Bishops and Free Church clergy has become a model of co-operation between different parts of the Christian Church, in which representatives of other faiths are also involved.

The continuation of Dale Street after Scotland Road is William Brown Street (named after a former Lord Mayor). Further on this becomes London Road, for centuries the main way out of town. On the left of William Brown Street several potteries once stood, Liverpool ware being well known here and in America. The magnificent buildings on this site now – the newly refurbished World Museum Liverpool, the Central Library which houses the Liverpool Record Office and the Walker Art Gallery, the finest British art gallery outside London, make a vista of nineteenth century classical architecture with few rivals. Across the road is St John’s Gardens and behind them is St George’s Hall, said to be the finest nineteenth century Greco-Roman building in Britain. It contains a magnificent concert Hall and rooms built as law courts and used as such until a few years ago.

Around St George’s Hall – in St John’s Gardens and facing Lime Street – is a superb collection of statues. One is of William Ewart Gladstone, one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers, born in 1809 in Rodney Street, Liverpool, near the Philharmonic Hall. Another statue is of Benjamin Disraeli, another Victorian Prime Minister, whose Conservative Party had strong support in Liverpool for many decades and who described the city as the second city of the British Empire. A plaque in St John’s Garden commemorates French prisoners who were buried there in the eighteenth century when the site was occupied by a church. They had been prisoners taken by Liverpool privateers, government-approved pirates who plundered the ships of enemy countries.

Behind St George’s Hall is Lime Street. This was first called Limekiln Lane, from the lime works there. These were closed in 1804 because of the health hazard which they caused. Nearby, cock fights, dog fights and bare knuckle boxing used to take place. On Shrove Tuesday it was the custom to turn cockerels loose in the presence of boys who had their hands tied behind their backs to prevent them seizing the cocks except with their teeth.

This article has been reproduced by the kind permission of the author,

Andrew Pearce ( Liverpool Cultural Heritage Forum)

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