Mansions of Wallasey

Vale Park Mansions

Liscard Vale House

In the last century there existed an attractive residential area known as 'Liscard Vale', in part of which Vale Park is now situated. It boasted several smaller houses and two mansions, one of which, known as 'Liscard Vale House' for many years, still survives, and for some time duly as a cafe for visitors to the park. An early occupant and possibly its builder, was Richard Bateson, a Cotton Broker, who subsequently moved to 'Newland House' in Wallasey Road, but in 1844 the property was purchased by Charles Holland, a Liverpool Merchant, who had previously been living at 'West Bank'. a large house standing in its own grounds at what is now the corner of Egerton Street and the Promenade. That house is no longer in existence, but is commemorated by West Bank Avenue off Magazine Lane.

'Liscard Vale House' when first built, was much smaller that it appears today and if care is taken to view the building one can easily see the original dwelling before it was enlarged. The early house is seen on the left hand side in a regency style character of tasteful proportions. It was a very nice looking house but when Charles Holland purchased the property it was too small for his family, he had nine children, so he enlarged it and added the Victorian exterior.

Charles Holland was an offshoot of a well known family which is said to have originated at Up Holland, Lancashire, in the 13th Century, and was later to be found at Sandle Bridges, near Knutsford. His parents were Samuel Holland, a prosperous merchant living at No.126 Duke Street, Liverpool, then a fashionable residential area, and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Menzies, a Liverpool Accountant, while his own wife was Elizabeth Gaskell, daughter of a Warrington sail-canvas manufacturer. She was well known locally for her readings at the old Egremont Institute on Tobin Street, a centre of culture in those days, and her brother William, a Unitarian Minister and Professor of English Literature in Manchester, provided her with an illustrious sister-in-law, in as much in 1832 he married Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson, better known as "Mrs Gaskell", the authoress of "Cranford", "Mary Barton" and other works, and biographer of Charlotte Bronte. As Mrs Gaskell's mother was a Holland of Sandle Bridge, who had married Thomas Stevenson, Keeper of the Treasury Records, and taken up residence in Chelsea, Mrs Gaskell was also a cousin of Charles Holland. Another cousin was Henry Holland, who spent a brief period in business in Liverpool, later studied medicine in Edinburgh, and after commencing practice in London in 1816, was subsequently appointed Physician to Queen Victoria. He was created a Baronet in 1853, and his eldest son eventually became Viscount Knutsford.

Returning to 'Liscard Vale House'. In 1866 Charles Holland purchased a large piece of land on the seaward side of Grove Road from the Trustees of John S. Davies, deceased, late of 'Hoseside Farm', for £8,000. and the following year sold 17,000 square yards of this land to Major James Walter, of 'Verulam Lodge', better known as 'The Grange', for £1,340, to enable Major Walter to extend his grounds to Jockey Lane, as it was then called, but today known as Sandcliffe Road. Charles Holland, who had become a Justice of the Peace for the Wirral, died in 1870, but a year later the Trustees of his estate purchased a further 25,500 square yards of land in this area from a Mr Stanley Sutton, at a cost of £1,550. The year 1888, however, saw the construction of the Seacombe, Hoylake and Deeside Railway, and to enable that track to be taken through to New Brighton the Holland Trustees sold off 10,888 square yards of this land to the Railway Company, for £2,272. Mrs Holland, Charles widow, died in 1892, and in 1898 the remaining Trustees and her own Executors entered into an agreement for the sale of 'Liscard Vale House' and its grounds to a Mr David Beano Rappart, for a total of £7,000. Five months later Mr Rappart arranged to resell the estate to Wallasey Urban District for £7.750, and the deal was concluded in November, 1898. Finally to complete the picture as far as the Hollands were concerned, Charles Holland's Trustees sold thirty-one acres of the Grove Road land, including four acres on the other side of the railway, to the Urban District council in 1909, for £15,500, and a year later the Municipal Golf Links was established.

The Woodlands

Just to the north of 'Liscard Vale House' stood a larger mansion, which appears to have been known as 'Liscard Vale Hall' initially, but later to become 'The Woodlands', possibly to avoid confusion with 'Liscard Vale House'. The property was built at first more in the style of a comfortable country mansion. It appears to have been changed later on, or "modernised" by the substitution of the small paned windows for large sash windows, the addition of two two storey bays, a dormer window to the roof and the increased height of all the chimneys, necessitated no doubt by the down draught caused by the nearby trees.

Owing to lack of information in the Directories, the chain of ownership becomes a little involved, but Henry Binns, a Cotton Broker, was one of the earliest residents, to be followed by his son-in-law, Henry Ellythorp Robson, also a Cotton Broker, in 1850. In the 1870's both Alderman James Smith, later of 'Dalmorton House', and his brother Samuel Smith, the M.P, later of "Clifton Hall', are shown as being in occupation, but by 1880 R.A Eskrigge, son-in-law and partner of the Mr H.E Robson previously mentioned, had moved in from 'Fir Cottage', Magazine Lane, and remained there for many years. In 1898 the house and approximately 13,000 square yards of land were purchased by the Urban District Council, at a cost of £3,500, from the Trustees of the late H.E Robson, and added to 'Liscard Vale House' to form Vale Park. The right to continue its residence at 'The Woodlands' was reserved to Mr Eskrigge and his wife for a minimum of six years and after their occupation the house was eventually demolished.

There are paintings of 'The Woodlands' and its surroundings by members of the Robson family, portraying what must have been a delightful spot in the old days, well-wooded with river views and grounds running right down to the river. The promenade had not then been built, and Mr Robson laid his own pathway along the shore to New Brighton Ferry.