Leasowe Road was once a winding road before it was reconstructed and made into a straight highway. In 1921 it was proposed to widen the road. The total cost of the three mile length of Leasowe Road and Reeds Lane was to be £135,000 split ⅔ to Birkenhead Council and ⅓ to Wallasey Corporation after the Ministry of Transport provided 50% of the cost.
Looking at Leasowe Road in the 1930’s we had Irwin’s the grocers next to Ward’s Garage – a popular motor showroom. They also sold bicycles. Henry Ward had once played football as a goalkeeper for New Brighton Football Club. When Kenny Campbell had been injured in a cup tie and the reserve ‘keeper was unable to play, he was called on to keep goal against South Shields on the 15th March, 1930. By 1964 Ward’s was demolished and replaced by the Co-op. Later becoming a showroom for gas fires and surrounds. Recently opened up as a pet shop. The stores and showroom were replaced by shops, one of which was White’s general store, later becoming Cartridge World.
Spraggs’s Wallasey Vale Brewery was opened by Richard Spragg and is now the site of shops (No. 37 and 39). The brewery was established in 1835 and supplied their ale to a number of local pubs, including the ‘Cheshire Cheese’, the ‘Pool Inn’, the ‘Jolly Sailor’, the ‘Plough Inn’ (Mount Pleasant Road) and the ‘Farmers Arms’. They also supplied ale to private functions in six and nine gallon casks.
Leasowe Road, just like Wallasey Village (road), had many market gardeners living there as their land was close by. Fred Crawford was at ‘Thorsdale’ (No. 29), with the Deans at ‘North Villa’ (Bently and Sam). Mrs Hazelhurst lived at ‘Gesingthorp’.
The ‘Twenty Row Inn’ dates from 1835. The original inn was on the end of ‘Wallasey Terrace’ and a gentleman by the name of Gatehouse was there at one time. Tom Price was landlord for the period during the First World War and was still there in the following years. Then Jim Harris took over. The Twenty Row Inn was later re-built (original being demolished in 1957) but by 2000 the Inn had been also been demolished after falling into disrepair. Later, in 2006, Lidl supermarket was built on the former site. Tom Crawford lived at ‘Briar Nook’ and the Websters were at ‘Homecroft’ and ‘Linkside’ and they were market gardeners. A school teacher by the name of Alexander Aikin lived in a house called ‘The Ferns'. Joe Sutton was the farmer at ‘Leasowe Side Farm, and at the Reeds Lane corner Sam Carter had the Leasowe Castle Buffet. This Victorian building stood diagonally opposite the entrance to Leasowe Castle and, above the main door, advertised 'Public Refreshment Room'. It was a popular cafe but by March 1932 the new proprietor decided to convert the front part into a general store, as well as offering teas in the other rooms. The shop would service the new houses being built on the Reeds Lane Estate. The Buffet was demolished and Castle Filling Station was built on the site in c1960. Apartments now occupy the site. ‘Pasture Cottage’ stood on its own with a path that ran to Leasowe Road.
On the right hand side of Leasowe Road there used to be the Wallasey Weighing Machine Office, with Tome Williams in charge. At No. 12, a professor of music had his home. His name was Signor Liginio Corsi and there were more market gardeners. The two doctors, John and James Anderson, were at No. 36. Their house was called ‘Lockersdale’. A shipowner by the name of Byeford, once lived at No. 54. The Darraghs, the market gardeners, were at ‘The Mains’ and next door was Mr. David Webster Snr., at ‘Rosedale’. The summer camp for girls was along the road and the matron was Miss Ada Reynolds. Ted Upton was at ‘The Bungalow’. Bill Potter and Jack Clough were also market gardeners. ‘Rothesay’ is an old cottage in Leasowe Road. Bill Potter lived there in 1925.
Leasowe Castle has had a long and varied history. Built by Ferdinando Stanley, fifth Earl of Derby (c1559-16th April 1594), in 1593 (the year in which that the earl succeeded his father, Henry). The building consisted originally of an octagonal tower four stories high, with windows on each side of its octagonal periphery and surmounted by a flat lead roof. It is difficult to say why the original tower was built but rumour has it that it was built by Ferdinando as a stand for watching the horse races on the Wallasey course. However, as the finish line was some two miles away, it is not a good position to see such distances. Maybe the building standing in the middle of a five mile long plain with no trees, that the tower could be better used for watching hawking.
The walls of the old tower are over three feet thick so no amount of sea air and storms over four centuries in an exposed location, have failed to affect it.
Later four square towers were added, possibly by William, 6th Earl of Derby. The Stanley’s lost out during the English Civil War (1642-1645) with James, 7th Earl of Derby, taking the side of the defeated Royalist. All their estates were confiscated though not the building but the Stanley’s were to give up the place and it soon fell into a ruinous state, acquiring the name ‘Mockbeggar Hall’, a title given to any deserted building.
In about 1700 it was used as a farmhouse, where Alice Miller was the occupier. In 1778 the Egertons of Oulton came to live here. They made alterations and improvements to the property. From Sir John Egerton it passed to Robert Harrison; the former having died in 1786. In 1802 Mrs Margaret Boode, daughter of the Rector of Liverpool and friend of the shipwrecked, purchased the residence. Her late husband, Lewis W. Boode, was a West Indian Planter. Mrs. Boode carried out further alterations. Her daughter, Mary Anne, married Colonel Edward Cust at Marylebone Church, on 11th January 1821. An unfortunate fatal accident to Mrs Margaret Boode on 21st April, 1826 is commemorated by a memorial on Breck Road.
In May, 1828 Colonel Cust converted Leasowe Castle, his wife’s property, into a hotel, but it was not a success. In 1836 Sir Edward Cust purchased some panelling from the old Exchange Buildings which were to be demolished. There was a Star Chamber, so called because the ceiling was decorated with bright stars so convicts could gaze up at them when sentenced at the Court of Westminster. He brought this to the Castle and it still remains in the Star Chamber along with four beautiful tapestries depicting the four seasons.
In 1843 Cust made his residence in the Castle and it was then that he built the surrounding wall with the gates and gate-house. Colonel Cust died on 14th January, 1874, aged 83 years old, at his home in London. His wife died on 10th July, 1882, leaving the Castle to their son, Sir Leopold Cust, and in 1878, on his death, was passed to Sir Charles Cust, where the family remained until 1895. The property was then put on the market but no offers were made. Eventually it was sold to a company, who opened it as a Hotel with the name of the ‘Leasowe Castle Hotel’ but again it was not successful and it was sold to the trustees of the Railway Convalescent Homes for £11, 750 and converted into suitable buildings, opening on 12th June, 1911. During the First World War the Castle was used to house German prisoners of war.
By 1979 the Convalescent Home was no longer needed and it was offered to the Wallasey Corporation, but they rejected it. It was also offered to the Wirral Society for Autistic Children, together with 60 acres of land for £40,000. After changing hands, with a view to building houses on the estate, it was eventually purchased by the old Wallasey Council for £113,000 in 1974, but little was done with it. The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral was still undecided as to its future and it was offered for sale in 1979.
It was purchased by Ken Harding, a Wirral businessman in 1980 and two years later it was opened as a hotel once more. Today the Castle is owned by Lawton Hotels Ltd
Leasowe Road, 1875
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Leasowe Road, 1898
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