Mansions of Wallasey

Manor Road & Withens Lane

Liscard Manor House

Any publication on the old mansions of Wallasey would not be complete without reference to this fine residence, 'Liscard Manor House', which stood on the foot of Manor Lane in extensive grounds, and according to the date on the ship bell which used to hang there, was probably built around 1790. The owner in those days, and also Lord of the Manor, was John Hough, whose father, Charles Hough, had inherited the estate under the will of his cousin, Anne Meols, sole survivor of the Meols family of Wallasey Old Hall, which until it was demolished in 1864 stood just below St. Hilary's Church. John Hough died in 1797, and four years later the estate and all manorial rights were purchased from his Executors by John Penkett for the sum of just over £2,500. Penkett, a well known Liverpool merchant, was also agent to the gunpowder magazines at Liscard, a lucrative post when you consider that every ship that left the port in those days was armed. He lived in Duke Street, Liverpool, and used the Manor House, which until 1841 was known as 'Sea Bank', as a summer residence.

When John Penkett died in 1838 he left the house to his daughter, Mary Anne, who had married her cousin, John D. Maddock, in 1820, and was subsequently known as the Lady of the Manor until she died in 1888. Among her gifts were the stone for St. Hilary's Church from her quarry at the top of Mount Pleasant Road, and the land and £800 for the erection of St. Mary's Church in Withens Church. During the course of her life, Mrs. Maddock appears to have had six children, two sons and four daughters. The eldest son, John Penkett Maddock, was born at 'Sea Bank Cottage' in 1825 and was baptised at St. Hilary's Church, but he only survived one year, and was buried at St. George's Church in Liverpool. The youngest boy, William Worthington Maddock, was born at 'Sea Bank', later the Manor House, in 1826. He was baptised at St. Thomas Church Liverpool, and became an Ensign in Her Majesty's 98th Regiment in 1846. He was posted to India, but two years later, when returning to England as a result of ill health, he died on board the P & O Steam Packet 'Haddington', and was later buried at St. Hilary's Churchyard. Anna, the eldest daughter, born in 1822, married Timothy Bristow Hughes, a member of a local family, and they lived at 'Sea Bank Cottage' for a number of years. She died in 1865 at the age of 43, followed four years later by her 18 year old daughter, Lucy, but Mr Bristow Hughes himself, who served for four years as Churchwarden at St. Hilary's, lived to be 76, dying in 1892 and joining his wife and daughter in the churchyard.

Of the three remaining girls, Margaret Elizabeth was born at Number 105 Duke Street, Liverpool, in 1823. Emily Frances was born at 'Sea Bank' in 1831 and Clara Mary Anne, the youngest, was born in 1834, also at 'Sea Bank'. She was married at St. James' Church, Paddington, London, in 1857 to William Savage Crawley, son of a Gloucestershire parson, but while a tombstone in St. Hilary's churchyard records that he died in 1892 at the age of 68, there is no mention of his wife, presumably buried elsewhere.

As previously mentioned, the name of the house was changed from 'Sea Bank' to 'Liscard Manor House' in 1841, and 'Sea Bank' was given to the house standing at the corner of Manor Lane and the promenade, consisting of two cottages made into one. About 1850 Mrs. Maddock had deserted the Manor House for 'Sea Bank', and in 1856 the Manor House estate, then tenanted by Mr John Naylor, a partner in Leyland's Bank, was offered at auction but apparently a sale did not materialise. It would seem that Mrs. Maddock may have been becoming financially embarrassed, as in 1857 she borrowed £10,000 on the security on part of the land and in 1897 the loan was increased to £20.000. In addition, she owed her Solicitors upward of £10,000, and it was evitable that the disposal of the property would have to be put in hand before very long.

In 1882, part of the grounds, was sold for the erection of the 'Homes Of the Aged Mariners', and in 1890, after Mrs. Maddock's death, the Trustees of her Will and her mortgagees entered into an Agreement for the sale of further portions of the estate to a Mr. David Beano Rappart, a Land Agent, for £18,000. He in turn, sold to the Liscard Manor Estate & Co Ltd for a similar sum, and within a few years the Drives running off Sea Bank Road began to make their first appearance. The Manor House itself remained in the occupation of various tenants, the last resident being a Mr. Davidson, who went there in 1902.

For some years a school was conducted in one of the rooms, but when Mr. Davidson moved to Birkenhead in 1935, the house was converted into an infirmary for the Mariner's Homes, and was finally demolished in 1937.

Home Croft

'Home Croft' dates back from 1848, when it was built by Henry Pooley on land purchased from the 'Liscard Manor House' the previous year. Mr Pooley, if for nothing else, was famous for his weighing machines, which was produced at his Albion Foundry in Manchester and Liverpool and were to be found at one time in every railway station in the country. One of the first members of the Wallasey Local Board on its formation in 1853, and its Chairman for 5 years, he was a zealous worker in the public interest, particularly with regard to the Ferries and the provision of an adequate water supply for the district. Not only did his firm build the Water Tower in Mill Lane in the 1860's, but he also presented a number of drinking fountains for the parish.

In 1858, Mr Pooley, an ardent Wesleyan laid the foundation stone of Seacombe Wesleyan Church, now demolished, and obviously did not neglect his other duties, as his 12th child was born shortly after 'Home Croft' was built! There were 5 boys and 7 girls, one of whom did not survive childhood, and as each girl was married her father built a house for her

Declining appointments as Justice of the Peace on account of deafness, Mr Pooley retired from business in 1873 and died in 1878. The widow of the belated Mr Pooley left 'Home Croft' for Penkett Road and twenty years later the house was purchased by the YMCA Association. For 112 years the Wallasey YMCA served the local community but due to cuts to local authority funding it was announced it would close on 30th September 2011. Currently the building is being transformed into nine apartments by Magenta Living.

Clifton Hall

'Clifton Hall' was quite imposing. Built in stone, two storey's high, the ground floor was emphasised by strong horizontal lines in the stone whilst the upper floor was finished in a tighter joint. The front elevation faced south away from Withens Lane and was accentuated by a protecting porch with composite fluted columns. The front was five bays wide with tall single windows, and the parapet above the bays was higher over the end and centre sections and finished in an overhanging coping giving it the look of an Egyptian temple. At the rear of the hall to the north was a large conservatory. The entrance to the grounds was via a pair of double iron gates set in stone columns with single gates on either side. Beside the gates was a small lodge which lasted longer then the hall. The drive went in a circular route to the hall and around the grounds terminating by a coach house and stable and nearby on the north boundary was an orchard with greenhouse.

The earliest reference to the property was in March, 1840, when Thomas Chadwick mortgaged a field known as the 'Hippicar' to a Mr Joseph Reece to secure a loan of £100. In April, 1841, he borrowed a further £100 from the same source, and two years later borrowed yet another £300 on the security of the land, on this occasion executing a mortgage in favour of Joseph Reece and a Mr G.H. Crump, an Attorney, who was at that time was living in 'Pool Cottage' in Poulton Road, and who married as his second wife one of the daughters of Mrs. Maddock of 'Liscard Manor House'.

In August, 1843 Chadwick and his mortgages sold the 'Hippicar' to John Taylor, a Corn Broker on the point of retiring, for £1,526, and the following year Mr. Taylor built the house. Having duly retired he died in 1851, and in 1864, following on the death of his widow at Scarborough in 1860, the house passed to his nephew, a Mr. F.T Payne, under the terms of the Will.

In the meantime, there had been a variety of tenants, one of whom was Mr Edward Oliver, a Merchant, who was a resident from 1855 to 1857. Mr. Oliver was followed at 'Clifton Hall' by Peter Wright, Clerk of the Peace of Liverpool, who was reputed to employ a negro as a manservant, but in 1865 we find that a Mr. Hugh Dixon, a Merchant and Shipowner, one of whose daughters married the Revd. R.B Billinge, a curate at St. Hilary's Church. Mr Dixon died in 1868, aged 48, being buried in St. Hilary's Churchyard, and by 1875 a Mr. Carvill, also a Shipowner, had taken over. However, in 1869 Mr. Payne, the owner, had sold the property for £4,500 to Samuel Smith, a Cotton Broker who had previously been living at 'The Woodlands', now part of Vale Park and apparently did not move into 'Clifton Hall' until about 1876.

Samuel Smith was born at the small village of Roberton, Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire, in 1836, the son of a gentleman farmer. Showing considerable scholastic ability at an early age, he was originally destained for the Church, but changed his mind and in 1854 came south to Liverpool, where he too apprenticeship with Logan & Co, Cotton Brokers. Ten years later he went into partnership with Mr Edwards to found the firm of Smith, Edwards & Co, a venture in which he was later joined by his two brothers, James and Anthony. He was also a partner in the Liverpool offices of James Finlay & Co, Merchants of Glasgow.

Owing to the American Civil War, cotton was virtually unobtainable from the United States, with the result that the firm turned to Egypt and India for its supplies, and it was then that Smith developed a love for India which was to last all his life. In 1878 he became a Town councilor in Liverpool, representing the Castle Street Ward, and four years later, having raised his political sights, he was elected Member of Parliament for Liverpool in the Liberal interest, defeating a well known citizen in the person of Sir Arthur Forwood. Three years later, however, there was another Election, with a heavy swing to the Tories, and Mr. Smith was unseated for the next two years. In 1886 he was elected to represent the Flint Boroughs, and some time later became a Privy Councilor. He had left 'Clifton Hall' in 1883 for Princess Park, Liverpool, where he set up house at 'Carleton', South Gate, and identified himself with the National Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Children, which he helped to establish. It is said that he aimed to devote two-thirds of his income to charity, and that this cost him between £8,000 and £10,000 annually.

In 1893 Mr Smith's wife, a Mrs Melville Christieson, of Biggar, Lanarkshire, died, to be followed five years later by his only son,John Gordon Smith, a partner in the firm and Secretary of the Navy League, who fell a victim to typhoid fever. His father erected the Gordon Smith institute for Seamen in his memory, at a cost of £7,000, and thereafter spent most of his time abroad. It was while he was attending the Indian National Conference at Calcutta in 1906 that news of his sudden death was received in Liverpool, and cast a gloom over the business community. He is commemorated by a granite memorial erected in 1909 at the Lodge Lane entrance at Sefton Park, at a cost of £1,850 and unveiled by the then Lord Mayor of the City, and by a stained glass window in Egremont Presbyterian Church, as it was known then.

When Samuel Smith moved to Liverpool in 1883, his Trustees sold the 'Clifton Hall' estate for £4,500 to Captain John Herron, Master Mariner, Shipowner, Justice of the Peace, Member of the Local Board, and Chairman of the Ferries Committee, who named one of their ferry boats after him. Captain Herron first saw the light of day in Ireland in 1820, probably at a small village called Kircubbin, on the shores of Strangford Lough. At the early age of 13 he was apprenticed to a Liverpool shipowner, and obtained his Master's >

Ticket when barely out of his teens. In 1850 he married a Miss Jane Carson at St. Thomas Church, Walton-on-the-Hill, and she followed the not unusual practice of those days of accompanying him to sea, as it is on record that in 1856 one of their son's was born on board the sailing ship 'Lord Raglan', of which Captain Herron was then in command. About that time the Captain was engaged in carrying troops to the Crimea and later to India at the time of the Great Mutiny, in fact on one occasion he witnessed the execution of some of the mutineers, who were blown from the muzzles of the guns.

His seafaring days came to an end in the 1860s when he was made Marine Superintendant of the fleet of Mr S.R Graves, a well known Liverpool owner, also Irish born, but when that gentlemen decided to stand for Parliament and sold his ships, Captain Herron himself became the owner, first in partnership with his brother under the name William and John Herron and later to John Herron & Co, with his son-in-law, Captain Isaiah Weaver, of 'Mount Pleasant House', Wallasey, as one of his partners. Although Mrs Heron presented her husband with eight children, the marriage was not without tragedy in as much as five of the children, two sons and three daughters, predeceased their parents, one of the daughters Mary, the first born, being lost at sea in 1899 with her husband and two children, when one of their father's sailing ships, the 'Lord Raglan', presumable named after his earlier command, left San Francisco for Queenstown with a cargo of wheat and vanished without trace.

Mrs Herron died in April 1897, and barely a month later, at the age of 77 , her husband succumbed to an attack of pneumonia, said to have been caught while attending the funeral of a friend, Mr H.A Bailey, in St. Hilary's Churchyard, He was buried in Flaybrick Cemetery on 28th May, 1897, six ferrymen acting as pall-bearers.

During his lifetime Captain Herron took an active part in local affairs, being Chairman of the Wallasey Local Board in 1892, Chairman of the Liscard Branch of the Wirral Liberal Association, a Governor of Wallasey Grammar School, and an official of Egerton Presbyterian Church. Although his private benefactions were said to overshadow his public gifts, he did, in fact, present the band stand in Central Park to the town, and gave £600 to the Jubilee Fund for the erection of Victoria Central Hospital, in memory of his wife.

In 1901 Captain Herron's son John, who was his Executor, sold the house and approximately five acres of land to the Navy League for £6,100. The Navy League was an organisation started in 1895-6 to take poor young boys of good character off the streets and train them for the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy. Navy League Homes were set up in various places including Wallasey on the 'Clifton Hall Estate'. The foundation stone was laid on October 18th 1902 by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal. By 1903 additional buildings for training and living were opened for use. The Captain Superintendant lived in 'Clifton Hall' itself.

The Boys were full time boarders for up to two years receiving training in seamanship and allied interests, which would fit them for life at sea. Local cinemas gave them privileged rates for some performances and Church Parade was a regular event accompanied by their band. Due to the economic recession and various other difficulties the Homes did not survive the Second World War. Money was scarce, the school leaving age was raised, entry requirements in the Services were of a higher standard and the Homes could just not compete with other facilities and the costs of modernisation. The land and the buildings of 'Clifton Hall' covering a total of 36,608 square yards were sold to the Local Authority for £28,500 on October 13th 1948, for the purpose of forming an Adult Education Centre.

Very sadly 'Clifton Hall' was demolished in the early 1950's, dry rot being the reason for this decision plus the cost of restoration. The Navy League quarters were left untouched and new teaching accommodations were built which formed what became known as the North Wirral College of Technology. In 1982 Wirral Metropolitan College, which included Withens Lane College, Birkenhead and Carlett Park, were created. In June 1996 it was announced that Withens Lane College was to close. In 1997 the college closed.

Zig Zag Hall

'Zig Zag Hall' in its early days, was in fact known as 'Zig Zag House'. Originally a farmhouse, it took its name from Zig Zag Lane, which wandered down from Rake Lane to the river, and in 1834 Thomas Lowry, then aged about 65, was to be found in residence there. Some years previously he had become principal of the firm of Lowry, Roscoe and Wardell, an offshoot of an earlier firm of bankers and colliery proprietors, in which William Roscoe, the famous man-of-letters, was a partner. In addition, Thomas Lowry owned a brewery in Cunliffe Street, Liverpool, where he resided at the time, and was also connected with the Liverpool Gas Light Company. of which he was Treasurer in 1821. The firm dissolved in 1827, and Thomas Lowry, who had moved first to High Seacombe and later to Rupert Hill, Everton, contented himself with his Brewery. His wife died in 1830, and on 24th March 1831, two of his daughters were married, Elizabeth, the elder, to William Mann, and Ann, the younger, to James Stringer.

In 1832 Thomas Lowry had apparently given up the brewery and joined his two sons-in-laws in the firm of Lowry, Stringer and Mann, at that time Merchants, and later Steam Sawmill Owners and Salt Proprietors, with premises in Seel Street, Liverpool. His own son died in 1833, and four years later he retired from business, the firm becoming Stringer And Mann. He was joined at 'Zig Zag House' in 1839 by his son-in-law, William Mann, and died a year or two later, but William Mann, who in addition to his other commitments was Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool Shipowner's' Association, was to occupy the house until his own death in 1864. On the cover of a large prayer-book in St. Hilary's Church his name, jointly with that of Richard Bateson, of 'Newland House', Wallasey, another mansion that has vanished into the limbo of the forgotten, appears as a Churchwarden in 1850. The records reveal that he served for three consecutive years in that capacity. It is also recorded that when the old St. Hilary's Church was burnt down in 1857, he was a member of the committee formed to legislate for the rebuilding of the Church, and contributed £150 towards to cost of the replacement.

William and Elizabeth Mann had seven children, three boys and four girls. The boys followed various occupations, Lowry Mann, the eldest, born in 1834, spending much but not all of his life in Wallasey, and participating to a considerable extent in the life of the community. The second son, however, who was born in 1839 and given his father's name of William, was to be found studying at Hamburg University when in his nineteenth year, but his stay there came to an end when he was called home on the account of the illness of his father. After the father's death William departed for New Zealand, where he obtained employment with a Surveyor, but soon decided that he wanted cattle. On the advice of a Catholic Priest he went to Australia, where he teamed up with some "Sheep men", traveling up the country with them and being left on occasion to care for single-handed for large numbers of sheep despite the presence of bands of savage blacks roaming in the area. His next move was to India to join his elder brother, Lowry, who had left Wallasey temporarily and gone there to found a coffee plantation. William was then beset with chills and fever, causing him to return to England, but the desire to travel re-asserted itself, and a year or so later he left for South America. In Argentina he found work with cattlemen, which occupied him for the next two years, at the end of which he went to Virginia, where his other brother, Arthur Joynson Mann, had purchased a property which he called 'Mannsfield' and occupied with his wife Marion and their two young daughters. After Arthur's death, at the early age of 42, Marion, his wife, returned to her native Ireland, and William bought 'Mannsfield', living there with two Englishmen for a year, at the end of which he returned to England to visit his mother, who was still living at 'Zig Zag House'. There he met Eleanor Atkinson, who was tutoring two sons of one of his sisters, and after three months married her at Bunbury Church, thereafter returning with her to 'Mannsfield'. His death occurred in 1910 but his descendants still occupy the property.

Of William Mann's four daughters, at least three made good marriages. Two of them, Elizabeth in 1857 and Adah in 1864, found husbands in the persons of two brothers, Ford North and Henry North, sons of John North of 'Stonebark', Warren Drive. Ford North, at the time of his wedding a barrister-at-law, was destined to become the Hon. Sir Ford North, a Judge in the Chancery Court, but his brother Henry, who was in business as an Insurance Broker had the misfortune to lose his wife after five years of married life. Her tombstone in St. Hilary's Churchyard records that she died in 1869, at the early age of 31.

In 1865 the third daughter, Anne, who had been born at 'Zig Zag House' twenty-three years earlier, married the Revd. John Graham, a curate at St. Hilary's at the time, and son of the reigning Bishop of Chester, who performed the marriage ceremony. There were two sons of this last marriage, but on the death of her husband Anne married again, on this occasion her bridegroom being Robert Slatter, by whom she had a further son.

Ellen Mann, the youngest of the four girls, did not marry. She was something of an artist, and the picture of 'Zig Zag House', painted in the late 1870's is still in the possession of the family in America.

William Mann's widow, Elizabeth, passed away in 1873, and her death marked the end of the family's direct connection with the house, as in 1874 Captain John Herron, the shipowner, became the occupant, remaining there for two or three years before moving on to Manor Road, and finally, to 'Clifton Hall' in Withens Lane. 'Zig Zag House' was purchased in 1881, by Mr T. H Sheen, who rebuilt the house and renamed it 'Zig Zag Hall'. He was followed in 1880 by Richard Steel, Cotton Broker and first Chairman of the Wallasey Urban District Council on its formation in 1894. He had the reputation of being rather forthright, and on one occasion, when having made some somewhat libelous remarks about another member, Mr A.T Wright, a well known Solicitor, at one of the meetings, he found a Writ on his breakfast-table the next morning, and was forced to make a tactical withdrawal. On another occasion, in 1906, he sued John Joyce, the shipowner, for slander over the case of a Corporation employee who had been dismissed for embezzlement. The action was heard at St. George's Hall and a excited a good deal of local interest, but after hearing the evidence the jury found in favour of Joyce.

After Mr Steel's death in 1910, his widow remained at the house until the mid 1920's, when it was demolished and Steel Avenue and Sheen Road constructed on the site.

Manor Lodge

In 1844 John Penkett, Lord of the Manor of Liscard sold a piece of land at the corner of Manor Road and Withens Lane to Robert Sinclair, at a price of £456. The house subsequently known as 'Manor Lodge' had been built on the land by 1850, and appear to have passed into the hands of Mr Sinclair's four daughters. Later the property was sold to a Mr Henry Cram, a Shipowner, but by 1870 a Ladies' School, conducted by the Misses De Watteau and Allison, was in occupation. Miss Allison appears to have continued the school single-handed by 1875 before moving on elsewhere.

In 1880 Captain Benjamin Gleadell, a Master Mariner, was in residence at the house. He was noteworthy as much as a young boy he ran away to sea and rose to become Master of the White Star liner "Germanic" and at a later date, Commodore of the White Star Line itself and finally President. He died at sea in 1885 at the age of 59, and his grave is to be found at St. Hilary's Churchyard. One of his daughters married Francis Johnston, head of Robert Gilchrist & Co, one time well known Liverpool shipowner's. Ten years previously, in 1878, Johnston, whose father, incidentally, founded the old Oakdale Mission in Seacombe, had been a passenger on the Wallasey ferry-boat "Gem" when she was in collision in mid-river with the Brocklebank ship "Bowfell" in dense fog. Several lives were lost, and Johnston, although rescued, lost his hearing. While living in Wallasey, he and his wife attended Egremont Presbyterian Church, but in 1920 they moved to 'Merida', Noctorum, where he died in 1929. After Captain Gleadell's death his widow, Maria Gleadell, continued to live at 'Manor Lodge' until her own death in 1915, when she too was buried in the family grave, together with two sons and a daughter, both boys having predeceased their mother.

Following on Mrs Gleadell's death, the house was occupied by a Mrs Weathrope for a time, but in 1930 the property had been converted into the 'William Fletcher Rogers Home for Elderly Ladies, and, continued such until it was completely demolished in an air-raid during the last war, and some eighteen of the residents were killed.