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Garston History pre mid 19th C

Garston History

Garston - Pre-Medieval


We have little knowledge of Garston in the Pre Medieval period. There has been little if any archaeological excavations within the immediate area and, being non-agricultural, what undeveloped land there is is not disturbed by the plough to show what lies below the manicured lawns.

Prehistoric Period
Flints have been found close to the Rivers in Croxteth, by the River Alt, Speke by the Mersey and Tarbock near Ditton Brook. It can also be found in the fields of Hale.

A flint was found in Garston in 1990, which has been judged to be from the Neolithic period showing that man was here in prehistoric times

It is likely that Neolithic man regularly visited Garston, possibly to fish around the four river tributaries within the Township.

The Calderstones which are now in Calserstones Park are date back 4000 years and once formed part of a burial mound. Other prehistoric artifacts have been discovered around the Woolton area showing that there was established prehistoric habitation.

There is also in all probability, an iron age hill fort on Camp Hill.

Roman Period
Twelve Roman coins were found in the garden of Oliver Holden in 1863, bordering on the creek at Otterspool.

A "Roman pavement" was reported in "The Builder" in 1858. This referred to a roadway formed from large and small boulder stones about seven feet below the present surface, apparently running south east. The excavation was a few hundred yards to the east of St Mary's Church. Another portion was discovered near to Otterspool Estate, five feet below the surface. A joining up the dots exercise was carried out and a Roman road was created. Both the discoveries were not examined by archaeologists or antiquarians of the time and the Roman reference was given by the labourers carrying out the excavation. Contemporary accounts even cast doubt on the theory and all that can be derived at present is that the road was of early construction.

Saxon Period
We have no direct documentation for the Saxon period, although we have a legacy of the life through early Norman documents, which initially used the Saxon names to identify places.

The Norris family, although not involved in Speke Hall until circa 1314, date back to before the Norman invasion and legal documents relating to land ownership exist before 1230. It is from these papers that we discover romantic names such as Hethindalemor, Brokus, Qwyndalemor as well as more familiar references such as Gresselonddale and Aykebergh.

Garston From Early Medieval Times

Documents pre-Medieval times are rare and, in the case of Liverpool, virtually non-existent. We have no maps to show us what the land looked like in detail, although there were maps being produced pre-1150 by the "School of Andists" formed by the Benedictines at St Albans Abbey. A map may, therefore, have been produced by the monks of Stanlawe, who had an interest in Garston, although none have been known to survive.

Garston in early times was administered from West Derby. Edward the Confessor had chosen West Derby for the site of a castle and hunting lodge and held it until 1066, when it was given to Roger of Pictou, who developed a wooden mot and bailey. The land and its forest was so important that it was the centre of administration alongside Lancaster for the area. West Derby's importance waned as Liverpool prospered, due to Liverpool being on the coast and in a more strategic position and it was this small hamlet that gained royal favour.

It can be established from the Doomsday survey for the manor of West Derby Hundred that Garston had a mixed farming economy. There was an extensive open field system with land available for the pasturage of 500 sheep, 20 cows, oxen and draught horses granted to Cocklesands before 1206.

We have no contemporary maps but we can interpret what the immediate area looked like by first of all examining the present topography.

The township of Garston was dominated by Mossley Hill, which is 175 feet above sea level, whilst in the background is the Woolton ridge, taking in parts of Allerton, which has three summits, ranging from 225 feet to 275 feet above sea level, plus a ridge line 150 feet above sea level. Between these two portions of high ground, there is a valley, which leads from Garston through to Wavertree, ascending up to West Derby.

A valuable plan was produced in 1855 by the Garston local board, which was used to identify the drainage patterns within South Liverpool and the tributaries it produced. The value of this plan is that the land was still rural in nature and substantially unaltered from much earlier times.

The prominent Mossley Hill of bunter sandstone is now occupied on its summit by Mossley Hill church. Mossley derives from thickets within a clearing, so it can be supposed that the Hill rose above common scrubland.

Four water courses run through Garston. Oskoesbrok, later renamed the River Jordan, ran through Otterspool. A stream also ran through what is now Garston North Dock, originating from the Allerton area, whilst another ran along the bottom of the Woolton Ridge following approximately the West Allerton to Allerton railway line, joining up with the water course from what is now Woolton Village, to form Garston Brook. This discharged into the Mersey through what is now Stalbridge Dock. A small water course also ran along the boundary joining the Speke township through what is termed the Plantation.

The land in Garston was mostly agricultural divided up into smallholdings with rental paid to a landlord. A Norris deed of 1342, ref. 278, has

Roger, son of Simon de Gerstan, granting to Alan le Norreys of Speke a plot of land called Gresselonddale stretching from the sea to Aykebergh.

A plot of land in Holm stretching from Aykebergh to the way to the Mosse.

In the Holm … abutting against Gerstanheth.

We learn later about Garston common land but it is this heathland which supplied uncultivated land for common grazing. The common appears to have been inland from Aigburth, possibly at the foot of Mossley Hill and in the valley formed by the Woolton Ridge. In Saxon times, and possibly even earlier, common land or heathland as it was known, was often located at the furthest point from the centre of habitation and this location meets the criteria for Garston, Allerton, Toxteth and Wavertree.

This land would have been poorer, as it would have been subject to flooding from the streams flowing through the valley and from water draining down the hillside. The location benefits though from being one of the few areas in Liverpool which has a drift-free site containing Sherdley Hill sand which is free draining, stopping it becoming marshland.

Early Habitation

Garston was a community in the 13th Century and had, even then, specialised industries.

Kings Mills:
Garston had a corn mill in the 13th Century and it would have been one of the most important buildings in the district. When William I took over the administration of Britain, he was the only person with the right to grind corn, as it was the privilege of the Monarch. Only the Crown could mill or grant a franchise which dated back to Saxon times under the Soke Laws.

The Monarch would build a Crown mill in the district and tax local cereal farmers for grinding their corn using the "Kings Miller". A toll would then be charged for the grain milled. Should a farmer fail to use his local Crown mill, he would forfeit all his grain and also the horse or horses used to transport it. In Ireland, the miller risked the gallows for purloining even 4d of flour. A baker and corn dealer could also be penalised for defrauding the public, hence the baker's dozen to ensure that the public were not under sold.

The problem was that the King had many favours to return. Knights fighting in battles or lords of the manor providing troops needed honouring. The granting of land was one common display of gratitude, but also the franchising out of milling rights was another.

Adam de Gerstan had such a right, as a manorial privilege, to grind the corn in the district, with all its benefits. The only Kings mills locally were at Eastham Mill in the Dingle, Middle Mill off Dale Street in Liverpool, Ackers Mill, Wavertree Mill and West Derby Mill.

We know that a corn mill was built in Garston around 1226, when Adam de Gerstan granted one-third part mill rights to Roger the Miller along with half the fishery of the mill pool.

Adam de Gerstan was also to pay for all timber and it carriage and guaranteed and to fund the work of 'the pool', and pay for two thirds the cost of the mill stone and the miller paying one third.

We have now established that there was a mill built by the lord of the manor, which he had franchised out one-third to a miller with the necessary skills to build and operate the water-mill. Roger may have come in specially as there was Roger the Miller of Barewe, the place name which has been lost to us today.

The water supply to the mill came from what we now know as Woolton and Allerton areas. It would not have been a constant reliable supply and a mill pond was needed which Adam had built, which would act as a reservoir and provide the necessary head of water.

If we look at the 18th Century maps, we see that field names reflect an earlier time with dam hay and upper mill field. Adam's mill was, therefore, roughly where the old bus shed site was on Speke Rd.

A later map shows the remnants of a mill race on Speke Road which further supports the theory that the mill was in this area.

Fulling Mill

We have established that approximately where the corn mill was in Medieval times was not the only medieval mill.

As lord of the manor and major land-owner, Adam was in a position to rent out or donate land.

It is well documented that between 1219 and 1223 Adam de Gerstan granted certain rights to the Monks of Stanlawe, including fulling mill rights.

The thought at the time was that you could buy your place in heaven and repent all your sins by donations to the Church. What greater donation could there be than provide the means of prolonging the income to the Monastery.

What we do not know is whether the fulling mill ultimately used by the Stanlawe monks was already in existence, but it was probably built by the monks, as there was already one corn mill in existence elsewhere.

The Cistercian monks were the masters at turning the open weave of woollen cloth, which was then mulled sackcloth, into a dense fabric through a process called fulling.

The cloth would be hammered in fulling stocks, through a process called consolidation. This pounding of the fabric in fullers earth was a skilled job, too little produced a density of cloth and too much pounding wore holes through the fabric. This process would reduce 32 yards of fabric to a mere 25 yards.

Scouring was then done to the cloth, which involved cleansing the cloth using water and a cleansing agent to remove any natural oils or greases. This cleansing agent could be fullers earth, soapwort or stale urine. Once processed, the cloth needed to be dried. If left hung up on the washing line the fibres would be distorted. Tis was prevented by a process called tentering and was done on a frame with the cloth secured by tenterhooks. These frames would be in an adjoining field which would often take on a name such as Rack field or similar.

There is no name as such in Garston but the various lords of the manor in Garston granted lands to the monks of Stanlawe.

Prior to 1233 granted to the Abbott of Stanlawe "the third part of the field … stretching all the way to the sea with common pasture and all easements except Granters Mill". Part of this land was probably used for tentering.

The Monks of Stanlawe

Stanlawe Abbey was located where Stanlow Oil Refinery is today. Only a few stones remain of this religious community which dated from 1178, following a gift from John de Lacy. The Order moved to Whalley in 1294 but still retained its lands granted in Garston until the Dissolution in 1536.

The monks worked the land for agricultural purposes and harvested a sufficient amount of grain to have their own granary in Aigburth. Stanlawe Grange is a 13th Century sandstone building with a medieval crook frame, although altered subsequently.

The Grange had a detached Hall, barn, "monks quarters" and a granary.

The complex would have been run by a granger through the authority of the Abbott.

The ecclesiastical taxation of 1291 records that the Grange at Aybeburwe with half a plough land was worth five shillings a year with a sized rent at twelve shillings and profits of nine shillings and seven pence.

It is unlikely that the monks would have lived there and their lay bretheren would have carried out all the manorial labour.

These lay bretheren were not entirely passive, as in 1253 Geoffred the Chetham, who had an interest in the manor of Allerton complained that the monks of Stanlawe had forcibly taken some of his turf and beaten his men who challenged them.

Garston Hall

1850s sketch of Garston Hall

The Stanlawe Grange was not the only monastery property. Garston Hall was a monastic grange located on a rocky outcrop by the lower mill pond.

This Hall was held by the Benedictine monks of the Priory of St Thomas the Martyr of Upholland. We know the original Hall existed in 1334, as a decree by Roger Bishop of Lichfield survives, directing that Brother William of Doncaster, who was formerly a Prior, was residing alone in the manor house at Garston, contrary to the rule and good order.

Further records show that Nicholas Bold was accused of stealing goods and chattels valued at 100s from monastic lands in Woolton and Garston.

The final hall in Garston dated from around 1480 and it was H-shaped. Around this building was a walled enclosure with a ditch which preceded the Hall.

It has been written that "monks field" existed in front of the Hall and to the side of the lower mill dam.

Garston Chapel

First church of St Michael, Garston, 1850s conjectural drawing

The Chapel of Garston existed in 1261, when it was given by Thomas de Grelle to his son, Peter. The Chapel was in the same location as the present church on the corner of Church Road and Banks Road. The present church is the third and possibly the fourth on the site.

These religious buildings, plus the two mills, would have been the main focal point of the hamlet. The remainder of the land was occupied by small homesteads or messuage.

The great inquest of service in 1212 listed all the manors and berewicks in the North West and includes Garston combined with Aigburth. It identifies four carucathes of land (an amount of land that can be ploughed by an eight ox team in a year) with Adam de Guerstan having to pay twelve shillings rent in service to be paid to the Court of Lancaster.

In 1297, the Wapentake of West Derby (division of a shire court) was still twelve shillings which was the lowest second court rental after Thingwall.

We know that there was famine in Garston in 1257 and 1258 following poor harvests, which would have reduced the food available in the locality and the revenue from mill dues for the Lord of the Manor.


Garston Chapel

The 16th Century in Garston would be very much like the previous 200 years regarding its activity. An indenture of Garston Chapel dating from 1552 stated that "…. One cope buscean, three vestments, chamlets with albes and amyces thereto belonging one sensor brasse, two bells, tynacles, candlesticks, brasses …".

By 1650 the Church had fallen into ruin and decay. The report stated "we do present that we find a Chapel within Garston that is very ancient (and in ruin and decay) and that there is no incumbent for the present there lying within the parish of Childwall and that it is distant for the parish church of Childwall, on the nearest side two statute miles, and the further side about four statute miles and a half, and from the Chapel of Hale five miles which we present fit to be made a parish church, and the township of Speke, Garston and Allerton to be annexed to it, except that part of Eggburth that lyeth next to Toxteth Park Chapel, within Garston, it being the next adjacent church unto them; and we find that the tithe of Garston aforesaid worth £36; and we find that the tithe of Speke worth £40; and we find the tithe of Allerton aforesaid worth £20 per annum …".

It goes on to say that the tithe for Garston by way of prescription is hempe and flex, pig and geese in Garston, forty shillings for pig and goose, etc. This is an interesting entry as it reveals that the principal tithe other than crops arise from the hemp and flex and the small scale animal husbandry.

Mike Royden's research suggests that the Garston population were predominantly Roman Catholic. He has identified several priests who were smuggled abroad. The Challoner family had their daughter imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth for harbouring a priest.

The item left also appears in the Norris papers of Speke Hall in a letter from Kathrin Norres to her son Richard in 1704

The chapel had gone into decline and was confiscated by Edward VI and only used as a rent collecting centre as the following entry illustrates.

There is a footnote at the bottom of a document of Thomas Molyneux's indentures in the Lancashire Record Office stating that "on 28th March 1584, Thomas Molyneux went to Chapelry Garston at appointed time but Brettargh failed to turn up to pay £30 as agreed".

The Brettargh referred to is one of the Brettargh's of Woolton. William Brettargh in 1609 was not in a position to rely on income from Brettargh Holt Estates which had passed into the hands of the Earl of Derby in the 1500s and possibly Thomas Molyneux was subject to a "the cheques in the post" situation.

Garston Hall

Garston Hall was also undergoing changes in tenancy. In 1586, William Bishop of Chester leased to Christopher Anderton of Loughstock for three lives Garston Hall and lands adjoining.

In January 1591, Christopher Anderton leased the tithe barn of Garston to Edward Norreys for three lives.

On 11th May 1596, Thurston Anderton leased the tithe barn to Edward Norreys. Presumably, Thurston was taking over as a second life to the recently deceased Christopher Anderton.

By 1650, the tenant of the Hall was Ann Hitchmough who paid £1 13s 4d rack rent to Anderton. The Hall, which was once the focal point of the village as the Manor House, was now a large property available for rent.

In 1681, another occupant, Roger Bradshaw, built three barns at Garston Hall, one of which was soon used as an infant Sunday School.

In 1673, there were 50 houses in Garston, compared with 19 in Allerton, 251 in Liverpool, 99 in Widnes, 43 in Little Woolton and 205 in West Derby.


The financing of the Parish was through the tithe. This form of taxation dated back to biblical times. The Medieval tithes were originally paid in kind, such as one-tenth of crops, wool, milk, young livestock. Predial tithes from crops were for the likes of grain, woodland and vegetables and hence a tithe barn was required for its storage. Mixed tithes derived from the profits of labour and usually related to those with a skilled profession.

Tithes were usually referred to as great tithes and small tithes. The great tithe would normally be paid to the rector, comprising of tithes from corn, grain, hay and wood, whilst the small tithes comprising of what was left went to the vicar.

The tithe for Garston in 1650 was £36, compared with £40 for Speke and £20 for Allerton.

One benefit of the tithe system was that we have detailed records in the form of maps and tithe schedules of which later.

Tithes were not the only taxation. The hearth tax was collected from Michaelmas 1662 to Lady Day 1689. It involved a half yearly payment of one shilling for each hearth in the occupation of each person whose house was worth more than twenty shillings a year, and who was a local rate payer of church and poor rates. It was introduced as a fund raising measure for Charles II. Hearth tax records are incomplete as assessments were only made between 1662 - 1666 and 1669 - 1674. The other years the collection of the taxes was undertaken by private tax collectors who were paid a fixed sum in return for obtaining the tax. During their operation it was not required to send assessments to the Exchequer and therefore no records exist.

For the Lancashire hearth taxes, the full entry has not been examined, but the 1662 tax recorded Master Richard Tarleton as having four hearths amounting to four shillings. Following the hearth tax, the window tax was introduced in 1696 and continued until 1851. Each house paid a basic two shillings with an extra eight shillings payable on houses with ten to twenty windows. After 1747, houses with ten to fourteen windows paid 2s 6d per window, fifteen to nineteen windows paid 2s 9d per windows and twenty windows or more paid 2s plus 1s per window, which is to say 3s per window. In 1825, houses with less than eight windows were exempted. Records for this form of taxation are very limited and none have materialised relating to the Garston area.

People around Garston in the 17th Century

We are fortunate that correspondence and legal documents from the Norris family collection survive, as they provide a valuable insight into everyday life of the gentry and, to some extent, their tenants.

The Norris family of Speke go back to Saxon times and have had a whole variety of spellings of their name - Norys, Norries, Noris, Norrey, Noreis, Noriss, Norrish, Norie, Norrie, Norse and Norice. The name is probably Scandinavian for "North House". The family arrived at Speke in 1314 and started to build Speke Hall.

The family was Roman Catholic until Thomas Norris converted to Protestantism in 1651.

The families were still regarded as Royalist during the Civil War, which unfortunately resulted in the family having their estate confiscated until 1662, two years after the Monarchy was restored under Charles II.

The Norris's were major landowners in Garston and the Speke Hall residence, even into fairly modern times under Adelaide Watt, had an influence on the village.

It is from the Deeds and leases of the family that we learn a bit about the normal people of Garston and what gradual changes took place.

We know that in 1609, an area of Garston called the Upper Pasture was leased out in portions to the Garston population.

Thomas Hichmoughe and his wife, Anne, lived there for a rent of 6s 8d. John Turner and his wife, Elizabeth, also had a small residence on the Pasture.

Edward Pendleton, yeoman, and his wife, Anne, also rented for 6s 8d. A yeoman normally classified as a freeholder farmer was qualified to serve on juries and vote for shire representatives.

William Challoner had a tenancy for 23s and was a husbandman, which was a tenant farmer.

We can see that the pasture land was rented out to small farmers, although some of these farmers may well rent fields from a variety of landowners and the fact that a family has one small field from the Norris family does not mean that they may not have further pasture elsewhere.

The Enclosure Act.

The Enclosure Act, originated in 1607 and continued in various forms until curtailed in 1876. Previously, common land had its rights of free use to graze animals removed and this land parcelled up to form smallholdings.

In 1613, a lease messuage (a farm house with land attached, and its outbuildings, gardens, etc.) for 19s 10d to Thomas Lake of Grassendale and his wife, Claris, who was a husbandman. They leased "new enclosures of the Commons lately made by the said John Lake".

Husbandman, John Roose of Garston also in 1613 leased "former common and waste land".

These lands were the common lands and Garston Heath, which were referred to earlier, covering parts of Garston, Grassendale and up to the start of the rise of Mossley Hill. The scrubland was systematically being "improved" as part of a gradual process. Jumping forward 170 years, it is interesting that Yates map of 1786 identifies an area of land between Mossley Hill and the Rise of Allerton as "drysoil".

We get a feel for the extent of the common land where Henry Mosock, who was a yeoman in 1614, took over enclosed land covering seven acres lying in Garston and Allerton from husbandman, Edward Harrison. This shows a pattern of farmers repairing the land and subsequently passing on the homestead to those with other jobs.

Three acres was also released in Garston to Thomas Histie, husbandman. William Charles of Grassendale also had 'new enclosed land' in Grassendale. These new land improvements would stimulate further families to create new homesteads.

We also learn of other important pillars of the community. Rafe Boardman was a blacksmith and his daughter, Elizabeth, had one acre of land in 1615 in Garston.

Improvements continued with Robert Molyneux who had a further six acres in 1618.

Molyneux also had newly improved Brooke meadow. Brooke appears to be the land by what was in recent years Dutch Farm, extending to what is now Allerton Station. Next to the station is a large warehouse, formerly owned by Limocoat, which stands on the site of Dutch Farm which existed well into the 20th Century.

In the early 1600s, the population would still remember the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. The Irish Rebellion would also have been ongoing since 1609 and the Pilgrim Fathers would be preparing to leave for New England in 1620.

Parts of Garston township were, therefore, being converted for habitation at the same time as we were colonising the Americas.

The Norris's

The incoming correspondence from the Norris family survives and gives a valuable insight into the life of the gentry. Norris was a merchant with one of his residences in Speke Hall, as well as being a major landowner and Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

Much can be learned from the catalogue entries held in Liverpool Record office.

Fishing rights were most important to those leasing them and those holding them. It was a valuable source of food and income.

In 1606, we learn of a court case between William Norris and Thomas Bore, Williams Cooke, Richard Cowley, William Foxe and Thomas Glegge in Cheshire. Norris had fishing rights where he may "quietly have his said right for fishing". The accused were charged with "riot, confederacy, breakage and cutting to pieces" Norris's nets on the River Dee.

With the exception of Richard Cowley, the rest were committed to the Castle of Chester and had to pay Norris's costs.

For a family involved in seafaring to have offspring of uncertain aptitude must have been somewhat disconcerting.

There is a letter of declaration by Henry Norris in 1662 about his experiences working for Mr Robert Geffreys, merchant, his summary dismissal and finally departing to seek his fortunes abroad.

There is also a letter from Thomas Garaway, who was the captain of one of Norris's ships in December 1682 written to his brother, John Garaway, who was residing at Speke Hall at the time. The correspondence talked about John Norres, his misdeed and him not to be trusted with a venture to sea. The letter emphasises the necessity to "get him out of the way".

Further correspondence in January 1683 notes the plan for getting him out of the way involved shipping the young John Norres to Turkey, but he had refused to go "in the present general shipps bound for Turkey as most of the commissioners and men are acquainted with his former follies".

Thomas Garraway outlined in his letter his plans for John Norres's improvement as the ship would not sail for three months. Norres would go to school and endeavour to get "some rudiments" and when at sea he would be an honoury mate of the lowest form and to be taught the art of navigation.

There are other interesting communications between Thomas Patten and Richard Norris. On 6th August 1696, Patten described the violent and distracting nature of love passion. He asked advice about "this malady" and asked for his correspondence to be kept secret. Another letter from Patten to Norris 12 days later thanks him for the advice tended in his love affair. Patten had gone to Manchester to "divert his passion" when he heard of a disappoint in love of a friend of his.

A feeling for what the Mersey was like in 1697

Thomas Patten writes to Richard Norris about fish weares that hinder navigation in navigable rivers and taken to destroy fish and their fry. The mischief done in the "Mercy" by them. (The Mercy was the name of one of Norris's merchant ships.)

Such large numbers of salmon trout were formerly caught in the Mersey that the country and market towns 20 miles around were well supplied and when there was no sale they were given to swine. Norris's brother used to catch every week three or four salmon trout in or near Speke but not recently which is inputted to the distraction of the fry. The letter from Norris's captain was because he was aware of a Bill coming before Parliament which would help make the Mersey more navigable to Manchester and Stockport if these fish weares were removed.

We know that sheep grazed in the areas as there is a letter from Thomas Percival to Madame Norris of Speke containing an account for 112 sheep bought for Squire Norris in September 1690.

The Poor

The Poor Law was introduced in England in 1536. The Law tried to separate vagabonds and idle persons from the sick, lame, feeble and impotent persons not able to work for their living.

There is a difficult balance between paying the idle and not supporting the infirm. In the latter years of the 19th Century the Poor Law was said to discourage the employed from looking for work.

The Elizabethans wanted to remove beggars and vagabonds from public view and the "Act of Relief of the Poor" passed in 1601 provided poor relief for:

1. The able bodied, who were to have work provided for them
2. Rogues, vagabonds and beggars were to be whipped or otherwise punished for their unwillingness to work
3. The impotent poor (old, sick and handicapped) who were to be relieved in Alms houses.

Each parish was to be responsible for the poor and would appoint its own overseer of the poor who, in most cases, were church wardens and those owning large areas of land. The parties would collect the poor rate to be spent:

1. Setting children to work
2. Setting married or unmarried to work where there was no means of maintenance
3. Providing sufficient stock of flax, hemp, wool, thread, iron and other ware … to set the poor to work
4. To provide relief of the lame, impotent and old not being able to work.

It was realised by the Parish that it would be easier and cheaper to support the poor in a large purpose-built complex than in individual housing and the workhouse was formed.

The Parish of Childwall had nine Townships and each was responsible under the 1662 Settlement Act to look after their poor.

In West Derby there was a Parish workhouse from 1731 near Lowe Hill. Other Township workhouses were located at Halewood, Huyton, Prescot, Speke and Woolton. There were also briefly used workhouses in Allerton, Childwall, Ditton, Hale, Cronton and Wavertree.

Garston did not have a workhouse of its own and the poor were administered by the West Derby Board of Guardians after its formation in 1837. The 31 Guardians represented 23 Parishes:
Aintree - Allerton - Bootle cum Linacre - Childwall - Great Crosby - Little Crosby - Toxteth Park (five) - Everton (two) - Fazakerley - Garston - Ince Blundell - Kirkby - Kirkdale (two) - Litherland - Lunt - Netherton - Orrell and Ford - Sefton - Thornton - Walton on the Hill - Wavertree - West Derby (three).

In 1831 the population administered by the Board was 53,058. As the population continued to increase, Toxteth Park separated in 1857 and formed its own Poor Law Parish.

If a poor Garstonian needed assistance, there were a number of workhouses.

Mill Road was the first workhouse in Liverpool in 1835 / 45, with 690 beds and a 150 bed mental hospital. The building later became Mill Road Maternity Hospital.

Walton on the Hill workhouse built in 1864 - 9, on Rice Lane, has 1,200 inmates initially, expanding to 2,500 in 1930. Beaumont Road workhouse built in 1889 - 90, catered for able bodied men and women and later became Newsham General Hospital.

Fazakerley Cottage Homes of 1888 - 89 looked after pauper children and Alder Hey completed 1915 accommodated 1,000 bed-ridden patients.

A 19th Century workhouse day comprised of

Rise at 6 am; breakfast 6 - 7 am; work-time 7 am - 12 noon; dinner 12 noon - 1 pm; work 1 - 6 pm; supper 6 - 7 pm; bed 8 pm.

Work for much of the day. Inmates were involved in running the workhouse, the women doing the domestic tasks such as cleaning, helping in the kitchen or laundry. There was also sewing and weaving plus vegetable growing.

Menial work included stone breaking for road making, corn grinding with four men on a capstan stone, oakum picking and wood chopping.

The main, and possibly, only employment of the poor in Garston was in stone breaking at the local Board's labour relief yard. This yard was located on the land adjoining the salt works which later became Stalbridge Dock and was accessed off King Street.

The Board of Guardians asked whether their paupers could provide stone breaking labour in January 1868. Things did not happen until January 1879 when it was arranged that each man would attend with a napping hammer and sledge hammer costing around 7s 6d. These people would be supervised by the local surveyor and ultimately eight men turned up in October without tools and a local board had to go out and buy the equipment.

Over the winter period, ten men broke 163 cubic yards equating to 180 tons of stone. The Guardians were to be credited with 2s 6d per cubic yard less the cost amounting to £1 7s 6d for the tools not supplied.

The Guardians were true Guardians as they were responsible for and receiving the complaints about their paupers. Mr W McGregor who was on parish relief was disciplined for allowing his children to be running about the streets in an infected condition in 1896.

The Guardians could also deliver complaints as shown in 1866 when they complained to the local board about 18 houses in Raglan Street, 5 houses in Chapel Road, 4 houses in York Street which had no water supply and asked the Board also to compel all parties to keep their houses clean and tidy.

The Guardians were also responsible for their charges health and were advised in 1881 to give special vigilance on the part of the vaccination officer at the present time, with smallpox being prevalent in Warrington.

Parliamentary Acts in 1926 enabled the Board of Guardians to be dismissed in place of Government officials. In practice this did not take place and the Board was continued beyond the National Health Service in 1948 with "reception centres for wayfarers" continuing until the 1960's.

Coming of the Early Industries

We are aware of the corn mill and fulling mill dating back to the 1200's. The other industries were fishing and agriculture but there were other trades needed to maintain the community and local economy.

In 1626, Elizabeth Markland was a servant to William Norris and had a messuage in Garston. In 1629, Thomas Smith and his wife, Margaret, lived in Garston as the blacksmith. In 1630, Peter Miller was a webster, which probably related to leather working. Another blacksmith was recorded in 1615, where Raffe Boardman had newly enclosed lands in Green Hey, Garston.

1631 had John Hayward of Grassendale as a weaver and Thomas Fazakerley in 1636 as a shoe maker. 1655 recorded Richard Hitchen as weaver in Garston as well as a webster. We know that in 1665 Thomas Wilkinson of Garston was a butcher and in 1671 Joseph Pryor was a Liverpool watch maker, having pastures in Garston close to Baxters Lane.

These trades were literally cottage industries.

As well as the supporting trades of the blacksmith, carpenter and butcher there were other trades such as the millwright. Garston had two water mills and at least two windmills. The windmills were located between Banks Road and the river and a record of J Wiswall of 1710 - 1719 lists the work done by him in maintaining the mill and this is reproduced below.

Probate record
Wiswall J. 1710 to 1719

1711 February 28
Pd in Warrington for 57 yards of twill? To be sale cloths for wind mill at Garston and for sacks at 4d1/3 p yd

1711 March 24
Pd Richd Barrow for helping the millwright to was boards for the (Wa wheel) & other timber for the (side) wheel and cogg wheel himself and son ten days att 9d p day

1711 June 9
Pd to Richd Answorth for mending a wall att Garston Mills and helping millwrights 2 days

And for two days plastering and laying bricks in ye passage

1711 June 11
Pd to Jno Rochardson for opening & cleusing ye ditch from water wheel att Garston Mill and soe downward

1711 June 15
Pd ye millwrights for 46 days work in making cogg wheel, water wheel, shaft and other matters relating to the millns att Garston att 1.4 per day

1711 November 26
For loading two loads of slate from moss bank
For loading two loads of mill timber to Garston Milne when lilnwrights were there

1712 May 22
Pd Richd Abeahams millwright for comeing to fasten gudgeons att water miln

1712 July 13
Pd to Wm Hunt to discharg his bill for corn, hay, millnstone that was broken etc
How much ye old millstone was worn before it was broken is yet to be considered

1713 February 2
Pd for a yard of tile for ye killin at Garston and for glassier for windows att water milln

1714 January 21
Spt on the men with horses that helped to bring the millnstone from water mill to windmill and on men that helped to get up the stone into the windmillin and to take the old one down.

1714 July 7
Pd James Worrall for eight days & a half making coggs and rings and cogging wind mill millin wheen and mending hoist over water millin wheel

1715 April 8
Pd to them for helping the millinwrights to raise the windmilln and to lay stones under sills, five men half a day and two men half a day 1s 4d per day.

N.B them seems to mean masons working at Garston Chapel, seems likely that millin is also Garston Mill.

1715 April 16
Pd to James Worral and his man for 28 days and a half at Garston water and wind mills, putting up new salerods and raising the windmillin etc.

1715 December 17
Pd to James Worral for three days workand his man three days helping to take down a millnstone att windmilln and putting it up in water mill when the understone was broken

1716 January 3
Pd to him (Henry Plumb) for making a side ond roof of a stable att milln (Probably Garston as have other refs to stable there)

1716 April 23
Spt when more slate were fetcht for repairs att speake and stables (possible stable at Garston)

1716 April 23
Pd to Jno Diconsen to discharge his bill for milln hall and more smith work for the chapell

1716 October 13
Pd to Ralph Mercer & Jno Mercer for digging up rock for waste water att Garston Milln making wall at ye Dammne head works att the stable at the ? milln. Ridging the stable repairing a chimney att Speake and laying two platts.

The first factory process we know of was that of the vitriol works on the banks of the Mersey by the Garston brook outlet. Vitriol is another name for sulphuric acid.

On the opposite bank of the brook was the most famous of the early industries, the Garston Salt Works.

The salt refining process came late to Garston. Its construction required an Act of Parliament in 1782 to relocate the Liverpool works to Garston by John Blackburn. The reason for its location was stated in the application "the said salt works which were originally situated upon the shore of the River Mersey at the outskirts of the town are now surrounded by houses, walls and other buildings and several new docks which have been there built and that owing to many more ships coming to and staying at Liverpool than formerly, and the hindrance thereby occasioned, the trouble and expense of bringing the rock salt and coal to, and delivering the same at the said salt works are much increased, and the great number of salt and coal flats, or barges coming down the River Mersey to the said salt works, are a great inconvenience to the shipping in general and the Port of Liverpool and the smoke of the salt works is an annoyance to the inhabitants of the town of Liverpool, particularly to such as reside near to the said salt works."

The Deeds record the following where the salt works were to be located in Garston:
"The wasteland or shore of the said River Mersey, on the south side of the gut or sluice running from the mill dale, being 100 yds in length and reaching down to low water mark, and adjoining to the said Manor of Garston, …."

The new salt works had salt-pans, pan houses, store houses, quays, piers, buildings and erections as, in the judgement of the Trustees represented a refinery.

Parliamentary permission was required as, in 1697, a petition was put before Parliament by the Northwich salt workers due to the unfair advantage rock salt refiners had on them due to the "draw back" of salt from the salt water in the Mersey which had not been taxed.

An Act was passed in 1697 preventing the building of any refineries further than ten miles from the salt pits. Garston was made an exception as it was the relocation of Liverpool works, keeping the same number of rock salt refineries on the River Mersey and the River Dee to five, those being Frodsham, Dungeon, Garston, Hilbury and Mostyn.

The works would have been a dramatic change to the coastline. Until then, the land was rural pasture with clay cliffs forming the banks of the Mersey very similar to what we have in Hale today.

The salt works had two docks, a rock salt dock for receiving rock salt brought by boat from Chester via the River Weaver and Weaver Navigation. Coal would have come via boat along the Sankey Canal from the St Helens coalfields and the rock salt would have been dissolved in cisterns and the brine evaporated in salt pans to form the coarse and fine salts.

The finished product, once dried in the drying house, would have been shipped out via the salt dock to ports within the UK and southern Ireland.

The works were sold to the London & North Western Railway Co. circa 1867 and cleared for the later construction of the Stalbridge Dock. The two rock salt docks still continued to be in use until the 20th Century when Stalbridge was built.

The salt residue which was discovered under the works buildings during demolition were sold to the bottle works for glass manufacture.

By 1801, there was 228 persons employed in agriculture, 126 in handicraft, 44 in other trades out of a population of 485 in Garston.

Brick making

Garston had suitable natural deposits of brick clay and many of the 19th Century properties are built from the ground they stand on.

The term "brick stool" appears regularly throughout the 19th Century rate books. In 1854, John Lightbody had a brick stool in Speke Road. The St Helens Canal & Railway Company also had four stools on what is now the Dock Road, no doubt used to build the new railway yards. James Longthorn also had one brick stool in Wellington Street.

In 1874, there were 12 brick stools operated by 7 different concerns in Banks Road, Church Road, Dale Street, York Street, New Dock and Vulcan Street.

The early years of brick making were supplied by a variety of on-site brick stools which were capable of turning out 30,000 bricks per month.

Only a few years later, in 1877, there were 18 stools but, by this time, brick manufacturers were involved. Robert Tushingham had 7 stools and Pete Crawley & Co, 6 stools.

In 1886, Robert Tushingham had a "brick making warehouse and building, machinery, fixed plants" on Speke Road and this signalled the beginning of large scale brick manufacture which, with the advent of the railway, allowed large loads to be transported across the country from brick works.

The Tushinghams ultimately relocated to Huyton and developed their works site which became part of the Garston Gas Works site.


Portion of 1840s Garston tithe map showing mill stream and dam

The 1847 Tithe Schedule and Plan provide valuable input on how rural Garston was. The total land rent was £200. The cereal tithe was

1. 89,910.98 bushels of wheat
2. 336,842.11 bushels of barley
3. 448,484.48 bushels of oats

One bushel = 8 imperial gallons or 0.03637 cubic metres.

We learn from the Schedule all the field names, their uses and their owners. The town in Garston was one large complex of field systems with a central village area at the junction of what is now Woolton Road and Chapel Road.

Garston in the 1840s

Principal properties in Garston were Dale House, where Alexander Dunlop the salt works manager resided, Garston Hall and Garston Lodge.

There were a few villas with spacious grounds "pleasure gardens" in the Grassendale and Aigburth areas, housing mostly the businessmen of Liverpool.

The industries and major employers had yet to come in 1847 to the Garston area and large scale house production was yet to commence.

Changes in Garston from the 1850s

The population in Garston in 1851 was 2,756 and the township contained 439 houses.

One valuable source of information when researching what buildings are listed in a certain year are the Local Board Rate Books. They are far more useful than Ordnance Survey plans, which did not appear with great detail until the 1890's and are only revised every 10 years or so. Other special maps, such as Town Plans, produced from 1855 onwards for public health reasons are also a great source and copies are available for examination at Liverpool Record Office.

The Rate Books, which were produced annually from 1854, listed all properties in street order, including the property owner, and often the occupier. This listed all property, residential and commercial as well as land.

In 1854, should you wish to get to the Mersey shoreline by Grassendale from the centre of Garston, you would have been directed along Chapel Lane past Thomas Sichrell's public house and Richard Archer's mill up to the bridge over Garston Brook. You then had the choice of taking the Garston new road, which later became St Mary's Road, past Robert and Joseph Helsby's joiner shop, Andrew Walker's blacksmith shop, the police station and three houses. There was nothing else until you reached Matthew Atkins' Garston Hotel.

St Mary's Road, as it was to become, had only just been laid out. A country lane led to the riverside of St Mary's Road through a tree-lined dip called Holmes Hollow. Monks Lane also led down to the river, which originally provided access to the vitriol works. Little more than a track way, the lanes would be wet and muddy in the winter months and there were, for many years, reports in Local Board Minutes about the poor state of these minor roads. The third route to Grassendale would have been along the route used for hundreds of years along what is now Chapel Road and around Garston Old Road, known then as Garston Road.

The centre of Garston was officially listed "Garston Village". There were 19 houses, some which had gardens. Two additional houses had shops and one a shippin. There was one public house and four beer houses, one with a shop and another with a cottage.

There was one large house in the centre, Garston Lodge, owned and occupied by George Heald who had a house, garden and access via Heald Lane. The gates at the entrance where 14 Seddon Road is today and the house was located across the road between Nos. 20 and 25 Clifton Street.

Kettle Nook had 13 cottages plus a smithy occupied by Arthur Hornby.

Smithy at Kettle Nook, Garston, ca 1890

Where Garston baths stood were three cottages in an area called Mill Dam, which harks back 600 years to Adams Mill.

Woolton Road existed as Out Lane. In 1852, it was reported to be so narrow that carts could only run in one track. It needed widening and could be done so using cheap ballast, once the new dock was opened. Before the coming of the dock, the problem was locating the source of suitable road materialIt was with the coming of the docks that large quantities of stone became available and the muddy roads had a crushed rock surface which was an improvement, if not ideal.

Out Lane (Woolton Road) had a variety of cottages owned by Harry Carter, 8 number, and George Grace, 10 number. George Grace owned the only Courts complex in Garston on Woolton Road, namely No. 1 and No. 2 Courts. These were notorious places and were often reported by the Local Board for lack of water supply and poor drainage.

If we proceeded out of Garston along Garston Road, (Garston Old Road), we would encounter few houses. There were two properties owned by Abraham Darby, John Holme and James Millholland and the only other buildings encountered during the journey to where St Mary's Church is today would be St Mary's Terrace containing seven large terraced properties owned by Ralph Leyland.

General Board of Health Preliminary Inquiry 1854

All must not have been rosy in Garston in 1854 as the Government Local Board inspectors were called in due to the state of the township. The Board had reported Garston in their report as following "….. at the south eastern extremity of the township there are extensive salt works and an Act was passed in 1850 giving the St Helens Canal & Railway Company power to construct the dock and to make a branch railway, both of which are now completed and in operation.

A new town of cottages will no doubt ere long spring up around these works. In Aigburth proper there are many detached houses of large size, villa residences inhabited principally by gentlemen, merchants and others connected with Liverpool.

In Garston Village is the church of St Michael capable of seating 300 persons, the church of St Anne is in Aigburth and there is a new church in the course of construction in Grassendale, there are also Roman Catholic chapels, a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, and schools in connection with several places of worship."

It goes on to say "…in the township of Garston there are two Estates laid out for building purposes, known locally as Grassendale and Cressington Estates." The report remarked "… the increase in population has been very considerable since 1841. Large as the increase has been, there is every reason to believe that it will be still greater during the next few years. A large number of persons who are now employed in the township are in consequence of the scarcity of small houses obliged to seek accommodation elsewhere. They are being provided to a certain extent in Aigburth Vale where, at the time of the Inquiry, 31 cottages were in the course of erection. In other parts of the township, land has also been laid out for houses of a similar class. Building is not, however, confined to small houses, as land has been laid out for houses of a superior class." Mr Standing, who was the District Surveyor reported that ".. water is obtained from wells sunk in the sandstone from 3 to 30 yards deep.

In the southern part of the township, the water is good and the supply abundant. In Aigburth it is sometimes scarce and not very good. An application was made last year to the Corporation of Liverpool and they agreed to put down pipes on condition that a certain amount of rental should be guaranteed to the township.

Accommodation was provided by 95 lodging houses in the township of Garston. By law they were supposed to provide between 1 and 4 beds per house, although it was thought that some properties had as many as 6 beds in some rooms.

The Medical Officer of Health reported that there had been much fever in these houses, but the policy inspector had taken them in hand and thinned them and the disease then subsided. There was not a vagrant's lodging house in that neighbourhood. Fever was most rife in September last. Evidence went on to report that "there are 90 lodging houses registered in the township of Garston, some of which were situated in or near the village of Garston and others at the southern extremity in the hamlet of Aigburth. They were occupied by labouring people, principally working at the Garston docks and the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway.

The report found that the township was poorly drained and that cess-pools were sunk to the same level as that where water was pumped from wells. Rainwater was collected in tanks for drinking via lead gutters and that many of the privvies were not water tight and leaking into alleyways.

Garston continued to battle against the problems of public health associated with a very rapidly expanding town. Its population rose from 2,756 in 1851 to 10,271 in 1881. By 1901 the population was 17,289 and the shift from a rural to an urban landscape was well under way following the arrival of major employment industries.

The change to urbanisation though is another story to be told on another occasion.

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