Mansions of Wallasey

Egremont & Liscard

North Meade

'North Meade' was large mansion which stood in Brighton Street, with grounds running down to the seawall. It appears to have consisted of two separate units of accommodation, probably because a bungalow was built in the grounds to cope with the situation where an irate father would refuse his sons admission to the house proper if they arrived home after a certain hour at night. The property originally formed part of the Marriage Settlement of the Revd. John Tobin, son of Sir John Tobin, of Liscard Hall, and first incumbent of St. John's Church, Egremont, but was sold by the Trustees of the Settlement in 1845 to three sisters, Hannah, Cicely and Mary Leyland, who established a boarding school there. By 1863 all three sisters had died, and the property passed to a fourth sister, Ellen, who sold it in 1867 to a Mr George Hulse, a turtle merchant in a large way of business in Liverpool.

There were various tenants over the years, notably John Joyce, Shipowner, Justice of the Peace, and member of the Local Board, who lived at the house in the late 1880's prior to his removal to 'Seabank House', but by 1893 the Grosvenor Ladies' Academy was in occupation. George Hulse had died in 1871, but his Trustees retained possession of the property until 1898, when they sold the two houses and 9,623 square yards of land to Councillor John Kiernan, an Amusement Caterer, who proposed to build a theatre on the site. The Council, however, had other plans and made him a good offer the following year, with the result that he sold out to them for £6,400 plus a cancellation fee, and built the Irving Theatre instead, in what is now Borough Road. The site of the theatre was previously occupied by 'Hope House', a charming little residence in its own ground, also owned by the Hulse family, and much of the stone for the theatre came from the old St. George's Church in Lord Street, Liverpool, which was being demolished at that time. After using 'North Meade' as a depot for some years, the Council offices being nearby at the bottom of Church Street, demolished the buildings, and in 1914 King George V laid the foundation-stone of the new Town Hall in their place.

Liscard House

Opposite Liscard Hall, on the east side of Liscard Road, stood 'Liscard House', approached through gates, known as 'Tobin Gates', and along a carriage-drive the site of which is now occupied by Chatsworth Avenue. The house was situated at what is now the junction of Eaton Avenue and Ferndale Avenue, and was built about 1833 by Sir John Tobin for his son, the Revd. John Tobin, M.A, the first incumbent of St. John's Church, Egremont. St. John's Church was erected at the same time on 7,000 square yards of land given by Sir John Tobin, who also contributed at least 1,000 towards the cost. The Revd. John Tobin, who was only 24 at the time of his appointment to St. John's had previously been a curate at Burnley. His wife was a local girl, Emily Ann Arnaud, and a portion, if not all, of the 'North Meade' estate, on which the Town Hall now stands, formed part of his Marriage Settlement until 1845, when it was sold to Misses Hannah, Cicely and Mary Leyland, who conducted a boarding-school there for some years.

The Revd. Tobin, a member of the Liverpool Committee for the Relief of Widows and Orphans of Clergymen, was a man of ample proportions, and the story goes that on one occasion he had crossed the river when there were a number of trippers from Lancashire on board. In those days the gangway planks, were without handrails, and were not too secure, and the Revd. Tobin overheard one of the strangers about to land say to his companion, "Wait a minute and let the fat old chap go first, it it bears him, it will be safe for us".

The Revd. Tobin remained at Liscard Hall until 1862, when he resigned and moved to the South of England. He finally died at Caversham, Oxford, in 1874, at the age of 65. For some years 'Liscard House' was occupied by Mr Joseph Donnell, a Corn Merchant, and a later tenant was Mr John Cattle, who in 1886 purchased the old Grosvenor Brewery in Borough Road, Seacombe. By 1898 Chatsworth Avenue had been constructed, but the house was still standing, although it had been empty for three years. It was demolished soon afterwards.

Liscard Hall

This house would of been familiar to everybody as the former School of Art, and it had, in fact, been in public ownership for over one hundred years. Originally known as 'Moor Heys House', it was built some time prior to 1835 by Sir John Tobin, Merchant, Shipowner, Shipbuilder, and one-time Mayor of Liverpool, for his retirement, on land once held by the Prior of Birkenhead and purchased from F.R Price who owned a considerable estate in this area, The stables bear the date 1838 and the initials I.T.

'Moors Hey House' was built in a neo-classical style, five bays by six bays, with pillared porch, pediment roof, and prior to nearby building developments, had extensive views of the surrounding countryside and the River Mersey. Indeed the tale goes that Lady Tobin could watch Sir John sailing his yacht from one of the windows which commanded a view of the river. Sir John used to moor his boat on an anchorage near to Egremont Ferry.

The name 'Moor Heys House' causes one to question the origin, but the title is not so strange when the local Field Map is examined.

Evidence can be found of a field called 'Moorhey' which was adjacent to 'Liscard House' and yet another field called 'Middle Moorhey' which is now the site of the cricket pitch in Central Park...and therein lies the association.

Sir John, who is said to have received his knighthood in 1821 for having jointly written letters of condolence to George IV on the death of his father, George III, and congratulations on his accession to the throne, previously lived at Oak Hill Park, Old Swan, Liverpool, and in 1789 had married the daughter of James Aspinall, a Liverpool merchant. By her he had one son, the Revd. John Tobin, and three daughters, who became respectively, Mrs James Cockshott, Mrs Harold Littledale and Mrs Reddie, wife of the Governor of the Isle of Man. Margaret, incidentally, Harold Littledale's wife, is shown in the family tree as having seven other names in addition to that of Margaret.

Sir John died in 1851, and lies buried in St. John's Churchyard. Six years later the churchyard was closed by an Order in Council on account of drainage problems, but the tomb is still to be seen, on the north side of the church. Sir John was succeeded at Liscard Hall by his son-in-law, Harold Littledale, who, as is generally known, built the Model Farm in Mill Lane, an undertaking which was the subject of considerable interest all over the country, and even abroad. His wife, Margaret, by whom he had two children, died in 1865 at the age of 52, and he did, in fact, re-marry, his bride on the second occasion being the widow of a Colonel Thew.

After a busy life, including membership of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board for 30 years, Mr Littledale's death, closely followed by that of his son, occurred in 1889, his fortunes having been adversely affected in the meantime by the operations of a speculator on the Liverpool Cotton Market. His second wife survived him, but he, his first wife and his son are all buried in St. Hilary's Churchyard. The son had had rather a sad life inasmuch as he wished to marry his cousin, Sir John Tobin's' grand-daughter, but his father objected on the grounds of consanguinity. the son thereupon became a recluse at the Hall, and until his death could be seen in the grounds with his hair down to his shoulders.

On one of the choir-stalls in St. Hilary's Church appeared a notice to the effect that it was the gift of Lady Boughey in memory of her father, mother and brother. Lady Boughey was, in fact, Harold Littledale's daughter Sarah Annabella, who in 1864 had married Thomas Fletcher Boughey, of Aqualte, Staffordshire, later Sir Thomas Fletcher Boughey, Bart, at the Church. In 1886 she had inherited the 3,000 acre-estate of Storrs, Windermere, under the will of Colonel John Bolton, a wealthy West Indian merchant formerly living in Duke Street, Liverpool. This estate was originally left to her father, Harold Littledale, but as he had lost £3,000 in helping a Scotchman to work a kelp invention in the Western Isles, Colonel Bolton altered his will and left the estate to the Revd. Thomas Staniforth, with the proviso that failing male heirs it should revert to the Littledale's. The Revd. Staniforth died in 1886, apparently without having produced any sons, and under the proviso the estate passed to Littledale's daughter.

After Harold Littledale's death the Hall and grounds were purchased by the Local Board and thrown open to the public.

It was a worthwhile investment although the continued existence of the hall, where changes had taken place, had been threatened on occasions. The grounds have been the venue for many gatherings in the past, and a bandstand, an earlier gift of Capt. John Herron of 'Clifton Hall', used to resound with musical tributes.

The house was turned into an arts school and renamed 'Liscard Science & Art College'. The college closed in 1982 and in 1988 was renamed 'Liscard Hall' and was leased to 'Serve Wirral Training' where the Youth Training Scheme (government funded programme) had their base but Serve Wirral Training went into voluntary liquidation in 2003

The end of 'Liscard Hall' came in July 2008 when, after the hall had laid empty for a number of years, the building caught fire. The structure was deemed unsafe and was demolished.

Highfield House

'Highfield House' was first built about 1850 by Thomas Peers, a Cotton Broker, as a private residence. It was eventually purchased by the Corporation in 1919 from the Reece family whose house it had finally become and in order to cater for new arrivals in the town 'Highfield' was converted into Wallasey's first Maternity Hospital and opened in 1921.

In its term as a private residence it was the home of several families at various times. Its first owner, Thomas Peers, died in the middle 1850's, and by 1860 the house was occupied by a Mr Charles Shaw, who once took the whole of the scholars from the national School in Liscard Road to Eastham for the day, the first treat that anybody in the parish could recall. he was followed by the Twiname family, and later by another Cotton Broker, William Peers on this occasion. Thomas Gorman, a Wholesale Provision Merchant, who is commemorated by a large cross in front of St. Albans Church, purchased the property in 1876, and sold it in 1889 to Captain Alexander McGachen, a Master Mariner, who spent six years there before disposing of the estate to Mr Samuel reece, of dairy fame. It was on the death of Mr Reece's widow that the house and grounds were acquired by the Corporation. The house was damaged beyond repair in the last war air-raids, and was subsequently demolished.