Prior to 1887, The Breck was a popular spot for picnics and blackberrying. On its prominence stood Wallasey Mill, a mill similar in appearance to Bidston Mill and equally old but, having ceased to function it was purchased in 1887 by Mr G.H Peers, a Cotton Broker, and the founder of the Peers Institute in St. Georges Road.
Mr Peers demolished the mill and erected a large house, built in brick, which he appropriately named 'Millthwaite'. The tower of the house was said to be situated exactly where the mill had previously stood. the Peers family remained in occupation until the 1960s, but deaths and a serious fire spelt the doom of the house, and in 1968 the house and site was purchased for redevelopment, demolished and its place taken over by flats.
The old Bidston footpath used to start from Breck Road. It remained unchanged for many years and was a pleasant stroll before the construction of the Bidston Dock was undertaken and the surrounding land requisitioned for tipping purposes. the house in the photograph, later known as 'The Mosslands', appears to have begun life in the 1830's as 'Pool House', when it was in the ownership of Mr James Livesey, Cotton Broker, who later lived at what is now the University Hostel in Holly Road, Fairfield, Liverpool. The name 'Pool House' was a logical one, inasmuch as the Wallasey Pool in those days extended as far as Warrington's Bridge, when in later years the Club House of the West Cheshire Golf Club stood, on the Breck Road side of the railway.
Round about 1853 Mr Livesey, who was evidently a man of means as some years previously he had paid £100 for the use of pew in the old St Hilary's Church, gave way to Major William Chambres, Stock and Share Broker, hitherto of 'Hillside', a house standing in Breck Road further to the north, and it was at this stage that 'Pool House' was renamed as 'The Mosslands'. Major Chambres acquired his rank when Queen Victoria gave permission for the formation of Volunteer Regiments, he being the first captain to be appointed in the area. That he was a popular man was evidenced in 1880, when on his removal to 'The Grange' in Grove Road he was the recipient of an illuminated address from 317 members of the working class of Wallasey Village, which ran like this :-
"Sir - on hearing that you were about to leave this neighbourhood. We, the members of the working class of Wallasey Village, felt that an opportunity had occurred of expressing our sincere regard for you and your family whose many acts of kindness and neighbourly love towards us have endeared you us to all, connected as you have been from your earliest years with our village. We, hearing in mind the innumerable tokens of the neighbourly feeling you have ever entertained towards us, cannot but feel the warmest interest in your welfare, and we now rejoice to learn that you are still going to remain with us. We heartily pray that the Divine Protection may rest upon you, your esteemed lady and your family, and hoping that you may be abundantly blessed with health, long life and prosperity.
October A.D. 1878
|We remain, on behalf of 317 members,
Yours most sincerely,
Richard Clough, John Williams
Edward Williams, John Davies"
The next occupant of 'The Mosslands' was Thomas Livesey, son of James Livesey, the original owner, and himself a Cotton Broker. It is on record that when he moved over from Huyton, his gardner, with his wife and seven children, followed him and took up residence in the old School House on the Breck. One of the children was Tom Ibbetson who was caretaker at the Peers Institute and Verger at St. Hilary's Church for many years. Thomas Livesey's stay at the house came to an end in 1886, when business difficulties necessitated his sudden departure for New Zealand on a non-return basis. His successor was a Mr Joseph Brewin, a coal merchant in a large way of business which at one time held the lucrative contract for coaling the Wallasey Ferries.
On Mr Brewin's death his daughters remained in occupation until the early years of the last century, when they were replaced by a Mr Harries, a metal merchant, who owing to the defalcations of his partner was declared bankrupt shortly afterwards. In an effort to recover his money he pursued the fugitive partner to Canada, but in 1906 news came that he had succumbed to heat at Hamilton, Ontario. In the meantime 'The Mosslands' had been purchased in 1904 by Mr R.L Sandie, a Soap Manufacture. Mr & Mrs Sandie were very well-known in the district, Mrs Sandie continuing in residence after her husband's death in 1923 until the property was sold for development in 1935, and she moved out to Raby Grange, where she died in 1963 at the age of 91. 'The Mosslands' is now commemorated by the Drive of that name.
In Breck Road once stood an imposing mansion known as 'Heath Bank'. The history of the house dates back to January, 1829, when one John Wilson, Merchant, Shipowner and partner in the firm of Wilson & Cort, of 27 Exchange Alley North, Liverpool, purchased two fields known as 'Boods Hey' and 'The Croft', on the east side of what was then Poulton and Wallasey Lane, at a cost of £1,000. These fields measured, respectively, 7 acres 1 rood 39 perches and 1 acre 1 rood 38 perches, and the vendors were the Revd. Sir Phillip Grey-Egerton and Phillip de Malpas Egerton, members of a family which had owned land in Wallasey for well over a hundred years, together with Sir John Tobin. of Oak Hill, Liverpool, and later 'Liscard Hall', who earlier had made considerable purchases of land in the neighbourhood. For reasons which have not emerged, the name of Thomas Ogilvy, a well-known Merchant living in the district, also appeared in the transaction. He was a partner in the prominent Liverpool firm of Ogilvy, Gillanders & co., and in 1839 was to be found living at 'Seafield', Wallasey, better known to present day resident as 'Elleray Park'. There was no further mention of him, and he presumably either died or left the district, but as a matter of interest, the Registers at St. Hilary's Church contain the names of five of his children who were baptized their between the years 1833 and 1839.
Construction of the house appears to have been undertaken soon after the purchase of the land, and it would seem that the work must have been completed by 1834, for in that year, possibly to finance the cost, John Wilson mortgaged the property to a Mr John Rigby to secure a loan of £4,000. Rather less than 2 years later the loan was repaid, but in 1844 Wilson sold the estate to Mr John Ripley, of Canning Street, Liverpool, a member of a well-known local family. The consideration on this occasion was £6,500, and Ripley, who according to the census returns was a bachelor, occupied the house until 1866, when he died and was buried in St. Hilary's Churchyard, a brass plate and two lights in the North Transept of the Church perpetuating his memory.
Apart from the fact that Mr. Ripley was appointed a Trustee of the Wallasey Free School in 1852, and was a member of the Committee of the old Infirmary in Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, not very much information regarding him has come to light, but it possible that he was related to Harold Littledale, son-in-law of Sir John Tobin, as they are buried side-by-side in the Churchyard, in identical graveyards. The grave of John Wilson, the builder of the house, is also buried in the Churchyard, when he was buried in 1867, having during his stay at 'Heath Bank' served for two years as Churchwarden. John Ripley's coachman, incidentally, was Thomas George, father of Tom and Will George, one of whom, if not both, played for Wallasey Cricket Club as far back as 1869.
Following John Ripley's death, his Trustees sold the property for £7,000 to Peter Wright, Attorney, partner in the legal firm of Wright, Ewer and Wright (better known in modern times as Wright, Becket and Pennington) and Clerk of the Peace of Liverpool, the equivalent of Town Clerk. He immediately mortgaged the estate to two members of the family, A.T & G.E Wright, also Attorneys, for >
the full amount if the purchase-money, and this mortgage was still in existence six years later, when the property changed hands once more, the purchaser on this occasion being John McInnes, a Scot who had left the country of his birth as a young man, and having patented a special anti-fouling composition for ships' bottoms, had proceeded to make a good deal of money. He remained in residence at 'Heath Bank' until his death in December, 1896, when he, too, found a last resting place at St. Hilary's. He has laid up considerabletreasure on earth, as his Will was proved for £165,500, but in his lifetime, although he was said to be somewhat eccentric, he was known for his benefactions, particularly to the Victoria Central Hospital, which although the foundation-stone was not laid until after his death, was nevertheless the subject of bazaars and other fund-raising efforts in the proceeding years. he did, in fact, give the one-and-a-half acre site on which the Hospital and the Wallasey Dispensary formerly stood. He was also associated in the foundation of the Seacombe Cottage Hospital, and presented the McInnes Cottages to the Homes for Aged Mariners at Egremont.
Mrs McInnes, the widow, died in December, 1900, and in 1902 the property was acquired by Captain Isaiah Weaver, a partner in John Herron & Co., Shipowner's, and then living at Mount Pleasant House, Mount Pleasant Road, Wallasey. The purchase cost him £4,375, but there is no evidence that he ever moved into the house, and it must be assumed that the transaction represented an investment on his part. This is supported by the fact that in 1905 he granted a five-year-lease to a Mr Thomas Wilson, a Shipping Butcher, at an annual rental of £130, but the lease does not appear to have been renewed, and it has not so far been possible to discover the identity of any later tenants. Captain Weaver died intestate in 1911, and the property passed to his surviving son and heir-at-law, Frederick William Herron Weaver, who in 1912 sold off 85 yards of the land to Wallasey Corporation, to facilitate the construction of Cliff Road, which now forms the northern boundary of the estate. In 1920 Mr Weaver, who had moved out of the area, disposed of the house and remaining grounds to the Vernon Trustees, for use as a sports-ground for the employees of William Vernon and Sons, part of Spillers Ltd. Early in 1972 proposals were being made to sell the entire estate, and outline planning permission was, in fact, granted for the erection of something like 105 houses, but there was opposition in various quarters, and efforts were made to continue the estate in its existing. There were successful for a time, but some years later the house was demolished, and the builders took over.
It is stated in "The Rise and Progress of Wallasey" that 'Darley Dene' was built and occupied by Mr Thomas Monk, of the firm of Monk & Newell, Contractors, who were responsible for the construction of the Great Float Docks and the Seacombe Ferry Approaches of 1876, and in whose honour Monk Road and Newell Road were named. They also lowered St Hilary's Brow by eight feet at the top. to reduce the gradient. While it is perfectly true that Mr Monk lived at 'The Slopes', as the house was then called, from 1878 until the late 1880's, his name does not figure in a schedule of deeds in the possession of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, and it would this appear that he was a tenant only. It seems that we ha veto go considerably further back to find the origin of the building, and the earliest reference so far discovered, is a deed of Lease and Release of land, dated 1833, by Richard Smith, presumably Lord of the Manor of Poulton, and another to Sir John Tobin, who was known to be purchasing large quantities of land in the area as a speculation. In 1847 a Conveyance of the land was executed by William Shand, Merchant, of Springwood, Allerton, and Sir John Tobin to Mr John Bewley, an Accountant then living at 'Rose Cottage', Liscard and having his office at No.1 Brunswick Street, Liverpool. In 1845, Mr Bewley is shown as being in residence at 'The Slopes', and the inference is that the house was built at that time. It is said, with what truth is not known, that an astronomer was present during the construction, to ensure that the foundations were set North, South, East and West.
With one break, Mr Bewley continued at 'The Slopes' until the early 1870's, presumably until his death, and the house was then let to a Lt. Col. Clay, of the firm of Clay, Inman & Co. Iron Merchants, whose partner was Mr F.B Salmon, who lived for a time at Poulton Manor House. By 1878 the Lt.Col had moved to Birkenhead, and it was then that Mr Monk made his appearance. Following his departure there was two short-term tenants, but in 1895 Mrs D'Arcy Blackburn arrived on the scene, and was granted a lease of the property by the Trustees of John Bewley, deceased. She renamed the house 'Darley Dene', and later that year was joined by her uncle, Col. J.B Chantrell, who had lost his wife within the previous twelve months, and his son, William Smithson Chantrell, who subsequently entered local politics and attained the rank of Alderman. In 1896, John Bewley Jr., son of the original John Bewley, the builder of the house, died at Oxton, and this presumably decided the Trustees of his father's estate to dispose of the property. Mr R.C. de Grey Vyner, who already owned a good deal of land in the vicinity, was to dispose of the property. The Vyner family residences were Studly Royal at Ripon, and Gautby Hall in Lincolnshire, and those names are commemorated by various roads in the area - Ripon Road and Studley Road in Wallasey, and Gautby Road in Birkenhead. Mrs D'Arcy Blackburn, had previously been a member of St. Hilary's congregation but transferred to St. Luke's, Poulton, when that church was opened for worship in 1900. She died in 1920, and in the same year Mr Vyner sold 172 acres of land in the area, including 'Darley Dene', to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. Alderman Chantrell, who appears to have taken over the lease of the property in 1909, remained in residence as the Board's tenant until his own death in November, 1938, and the following March the Trustees of his estates gave notice of termination of the tenancy. At the outbreak of war the Army took over, and it was in a heavy air-raid on the 12th March, 1941, that the house received a mortal blow, involving the deaths of seventeen soldiers. After later use for Civil Defence purposes, the demolition of the property was completed in 1959, and so passed one of the best-known of the old Wallasey mansions.
'Buxton House' once stood in Wallasey Village, just past the Parish Hall, and on the corner of what used to be known as Smithy Lane, where the entrance gate-posts are still to be seen. The title-deeds indicate that in 1849 a Mr Thomas Peers, Merchant, purchased the estate, on which an earlier house then stood, from the Trustees of the Wills of Lady Elizabeth Murray and of Mrs K Backhouse, for £1,000. These two ladies were the daughters of Richard Kent, Merchant, of Liverpool, and they had a brother, Joseph, who at some date had changed his name by deed-poll to Green on inheriting the Poulton Lancelyn Estates in Bebington.
By 1856, Thomas Peers, who also appears to have been the owner of Highfield House, later incorporated in the Maternity Hospital in Mill Lane, Wallasey, had died, and his Executors sold the Buxton Villa estate, as it was then known, to Messrs Kershaw, who fifteen months later resold the property to Robert Isaac, a well-known Liverpool wholesale and retails fishmonger, for £900. Isaac demolished the existing residence and erected a new house, on which he conferred the name of 'Buxton House'. Death overtook him after a few years' stay there, and in 1867 his devises and mortgages disposed of the property to Edward Billington, a Tea and Coffee Broker, for £2,800. A well-liked man, he remained in residence for many years, but by 1900 he and his widow had both passed away, and in 1907 Mr James increased the size of the estate by adding to it the disused St Hilary's Girls' School, which he purchased from the Rector and Wardens for £600, but in the meantime the house had been let to the Lamb family, Timber Merchants, who were in business in Liverpool for many years. After they left, the property stood empty for some years, and finally, in 1915, Mr James sold out to a Mr A.W Willmer. a well-known Cotton Broker, and Mr F.W Heape, at a price of £6,000.
The next tenant of note was Mr A Bruce Wallis, who was the Managing Director of Blackler's Stores, and he brought life to the building until 1923, when he departed for Warren Drive. The house was later converted into flats, and in 1930 Wallasey Corporation purchased the estate from Messrs Willmer and Heape for £8,000. In 1932, a Mr Frederick Hall, described as a Secretary, became the sole occupant, his name appearing in the Directory for the last time in 1941. At that time the house sustained severe damage by enemy action and later by fire, demolition becoming inevitable