Where is Toxteth, in modern day terms ?
A very quick but slightly inaccurate summary of the boundary
is a line from the Mersey at Queens Dock along the full length of
Parliament and Upper Parliament Street to the Smithdown Road junction,
along Smithdown Road to Penny Lane, along Penny Lane to Queens Drive,
down Aigburth Vale to Otterspool and the Mersey. The more accurate
version is a touch more extensive than this.
When in 1207 Liverpool received its charter from King John, the Manor of Toxteth together with Smeedon (Smithdown) had already been laid waste by John and in its place the Royal Park of Toxteth set up, with a keeper to protect what had now become the King's deer, although it is doubtful that the royal park ever received any Royal use.
The very early boundaries are clear in some parts but hazy in places.
A great deal of information can be gleaned from a 1765 map in the possession of the Earl of Sefton, whom at that time, was Lord of the Manor of Toxteth. This
is not the inadequate map of Yates and Perry but another, remarkably
accurate, map which I hope to present here in time. The
date of this map is significant, as it is within the period
of the main Parliamentary Enclosure
Acts and it was probably an attempt to both define, and lay claim
to, the holdings at that time. The surveying is remarkable
- field boundaries were
set and often marked out with hedges or walls. Roads
were widened and straightened. I have tried to translate the boundaries, roads, rivers and
fields into modern settings by reference to maps both old and new as well as other works.
It is notable however that so many of the present roads and streets
within toxteth, follow ancient field boundaries.
The boundary of the Royal Park starts at the Mersey, at about the site of the Queens Dock where Parliament Street meets the river
banks. It runs along Parliament Street, past the historically important junction with St James Place, where there was once an entrance to the park, and up the full length of
one side of Upper Parliament Street.
boundary reaches almost
to the Lodge Lane and Smithdown Lane junction
but does not actually reach the junction as, for some reason unknown,
it diverts (at what is now Lorton Street) behind the site of the
buildings at the junction and behind the site now occupied by 'The
Boundary' public house. It then rejoins Smithdown Road (the Old
Smithdown Lane) through the property next door to The Boundary.
This is all evident on map
Lodge Lane is also significant in history, as it leads to one of the original lodges of King John - the Upper or Higher Lodge.
The "Upper Lodge" at the end of Lodge Lane (that portion later renamed Sefton Park Road) was one of two hunting lodges which existed in the Royal Park.
This Upper Lodge apparently still stands in a modified form contained
within a house called Park Lodge at the junction of Sefton Park Road and Ullet Road (formerly Ullet Lane). Though externally much altered some of the interiors betray its great age. Research on this continues
the house is also known as Higher Lodge. (1891 census).
There was also a Lower Lodge which survived as traces
of ruins until the early 20th century. It was found near Jericho Farm in Jericho Lane, Otterspool.
Three versions of its demolition exist, one says
that it was destroyed when the railway was built in
second version has it standing to about 1915 whilst
the least likely third alternative has it in occupation until the mid 1950's, when it
was destroyed. I can find no evidence for the third
version at all, other than the original statement which
I believe is an error. Research continues here.
From this junction the Toxteth Park boundary turns to run, not along Lodge Lane, as
might be expected perhaps, but along
one side of Smithdown Road the
ancient Park boundary, earlier called Smithdown Lane. It
changes sides and close to Toxteth Cemetery, it passes
over the course of an old stream, the Lower Brook.
This occurs between Webster Road and Cranborne Road (and not at Mulliner Street
as has been suggested by Robert Griffiths (1902)).
crossing' is where
another Parliamentary boundary joins the Toxteth boundary, (this other
one followed the line
of the Lower Brook
itself, which ran along the present route of Spofforth and
Webster Roads) before diverting along Smithdown Road for a
short distance. The course of the Lower Brook runs on through (or
rather under) the Cemetery
but the Toxteth boundary carries on along the line of Smithdown
Road, although it is at this point that the close relationship between
Smithdown Road and the boundary, begins to loosen. Map
The boundary wanders now
and takes a line through the properties which face Smithdown Road, so that, for example, the Royal
Hotel at the end of Langton Road (Map
1g ) has
its front within Toxteth but the rear rooms outside of the Park. As Smithdown Road veers slightly to the south, then the line of the old Park does not and the boundary runs through the alley at the end of Portman Road (cutting off the properties at right angles to Portman Road, facing Smithdown Road, which fall within the Park). Map
The 1765 map shows the boundary suddenly turning to the north at Well Croft, which is on the city side of the present Gainsborough Road junction, around Woodcroft Road. The shape of the 'diversion' is characteristic, and matches remarkably well with the Parliamentary boundary recorded in 1908. If not this exactly, then it is so close as to be indistinguishable. The boundary goes right through a property at the end of Woodcroft Road.
There is yet another short ancient stream here, probably a tributary of
the Lower Brook, but this remains to be accurately placed.
boundary now makes a right angle and runs north up the alley between Woodcroft Road and Bagot Street for the distance of several properties,
continuing through an alley which links Bagot Street with Thorneycroft Road. (This alley may have been blocked off by buildings, this remains to be verified) and through a similar alley to Wellington Avenue. This clearly brings the lower part of Wellington Avenue and Wellington Field within Toxteth Park. The line now follows Borland Bank (an extension of Garmoyle Road on the 1905 OS Map). This 'diversion' corresponds to a property and enclosure called either "Well Croft" on the 1765 map. It would be nice if it was called Wood Croft, given the road here
of this name, but I cannot visualise the tiny print as Wood Croft!).
There is evidence around this area of settlements or farms
which predate the Victorian development of the area.
The boundary now continues along the present Garmoyle Road. One
side is toxteth, one side is not. The
census entries for 1901 for includes all odd numbers for Garmoyle Road
within Wavertree. It does not include even
numbers. Airdale and Foxdale Road are both within Wavertree. This accords
with the boundary as suggested. The Garmoyle Road section seems accurate and the road follows the original park boundary which runs
much of its length until Lidderdale Road when it picks up the
line of yet another ancient stream, the Upper Brook. This brook
provides the boundary line down to Smithdown Road. The area between Garmoyle Road and Smithdown Road contains the site of both The Old Brook House (built by Lord Sefton in 1754) and the present Brook House pub
both of which fall totally within Toxteth.
The line of the ancient stream continues on through Greenbank
Park but the Toxteth Park boundary does not follow this stream line or
the adjacent road, ( I have seen
this quoted as the toxteth boundary - this is not correct) .
The Toxteth Park boundary in fact turns and runs along Smithdown Road
until just before the Garmoyle Road junction, when it suddenly veers,
first north to a boundary stone (probably now lost), then east,
crossing the line of what is now the railway. This excludes the
site of what was Penketh Hall from
Toxteth and places this within Wavertree. This is in accordance
with the 1901 census.
is another boundary stone marked on the 1905 map and this is illustrated
in the book 'Wavertree' by Mike Chitty and David Farmer, published
2004. These highly significant boundary stones apparently existed here
until at least 1969, when the photograph was taken. I am very
grateful for permission to use their picture here. See also http://www.wavertreesociety.org
there is still a railway company boundary stone (left) which looks
to be quite recent (as does the fence - which was made of upstanding
railway sleepers when I was a child). A recent search of the
area turned up a weathered square stone (right) which may or
may not be significant. It has crossed my mind that it may
even be the stump of the stone shown in the 1969 picture. What is
significant here however is that the entire entrance to Wavertree
Playground at Smithdown Road, is most clearly within the Ancient Park of Toxteth.
boundary now carries on in a line which approximates to the present Grant Avenue, but which appears
(in 1765) to contain four fields which would be on the far side of Grant Avenue and thus
within the present Wavertree playground. It may be noted here that the old
Parliamentary boundary follows this line and runs along what was described as a "five foot thick hedge" in 1905. It would be easy to imagine that this could be an old hedgerow delimiting fields
near the boundary or even the ancient Park boundary.
boundary now heads back towards Smithdown Road, not following any lines
evident within the present street pattern. It runs behind
(and thus encloses) the old Refuse Destructor site and bisects the site
of the old Tram Car Sheds on Smithdown Road before, with one final
right-angled turn, it rejoins Smithdown
Road. The boundary now follows the line of Smithdown Road to what is now called Smithdown
Place (the old tram and bus terminus) which was called Wavertree Nook in 1765.
This is the junction with Church Road and Penny Lane, (shown
It is the course of present Penny Lane which the boundary now follows, placing one
side within Toxteth, and this association continues past the
Dovedale Road junction to just beyond where Alverstone Road joins
Penny Lane (outside of the Park boundary). The boundary veers at
right angles and cuts in half Fallowdale, Grovedale and Olivedale
Road - one half of each of which thus falls within Toxteth whilst
half remains outside. Past Olivedale Road and before Barndale Road
the boundary makes another right hand turn, to pick up a trace
of an old stream valley which is visible on the 1905 map. It
is now running parallel to Penny Lane and knowing this, the line
can be traced on the 1765 map - there was indeed a small
stream feeding from one or two ponds. The boundary follows
the line of this stream-bed, parallel to the lower portion of
Penny Lane, across the cricket field. It crosses Mossley Hill
Road where a marker stone, shown on the 1905 map and earlier, still
exists (left). The boundary here runs close to the present line of Queens Drive in
Mossley Hill and parallel to Ibbotson's Lane. The depression
in the fields can still be seen as, for a while, the boundary is following
part of the Brook system again. There is even a trace of the stream
still visible above ground here especially in wet weather.
the boundary leaves
the brook (or the present course of the brook here, through Sefton
Park) and makes on final turn towards the south, following Aigburth Vale,
close to the line of the present Victoria Road and Ashfield Road until the
present Aigburth Road (originally Park Road) is reached.
boundary and the brook rejoin here and the brook passes under Aigburth
Road in a culvert before re-emerging (right) within the present
The boundary then runs along the line of the old stream
fancifully called the River Jordan by the puritan settlers of the
This line approximates to Otterspool Road
although the boundary is a little to the east of this.
The waterfalls, Waterlily dam and the Otters Pool itself are
no longer, but the boundary is still there and goes more or less
straight down until it again reaches the Mersey. In these latter reaches, contours reflect the historical course of the stream, which in turn defined the original
Here Toxteth finally finishes
and Aigburth, which is a part of Garston begins, although the old Parliamentary boundary returns back to Parliament
Street, within the Mersey itself. (no doubt to capture floating
voters. (well you can get too serious sometimes)).
Today, the combined water of the Lower and Upper Brooks leave Sefton Park boating lake via a culvert which takes the stream under Aigburth Road. In former times the waters descended Bunnell's Brow and ran on through the low lying garden of Brooklands. (Housing has recently been erected here but as a child I remember this as a rough, but open, area where chasing butterflies was an innocent pastime well worth the four mile round
The stream emerges on the left of Otterspool Park gates. Within recent historical times, the stream ran into the large 'Otter's Pool' shortly after entering the present Otterspool Park, it then ran into a second pool, which was possibly tidal in parts as it gradually widened into the creek visible on most maps of the era. Before the water was checked upstream, and then further slowed by the creation of the Upper Pool, this was a lively brook with well-known cascades.
In 1207, the stream formed the southern boundary of King John's hunting estate of Toxteth Park.
The area enclosed by the entire toxteth boundary is substantial and takes in not only the area once thought of as Toxteth but also Sefton Park, Princes Park, parts of Wavertree, Mossley Hill and the whole of Dingle
and St Michael.
It leaves out large parts of Liverpool 8 as well as all properties on the far side of Parliament, and Upper Parliament, Streets which fall into different areas, largely Canning and partly Edge Hill.
Although Toxteth appears, at first sight, to take in part of Aigburth, this is not
the case. Toxteth includes the whole of St Michaels, which is not, and never has been, in Aigburth - it is totally contained within Toxteth. The
district of Aigburth proper
actually begins where Toxteth stops, at the Osklesbrok. Only
at present-day Otterspool does Aigburth start and it
is completely contained within Garston.
Despite attempts to airbrush
away the name of Toxteth, all of the new waterfront developments which run from Queens Dock through Shorefields to Dingle and on to Otterspool are contained with the boundaries of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth.