Knowsley Heritage walks

Heritage walks in HuytonKirkbyKnowsley VillageCrontonHalewood and Prescot.

Knowsley Heritage walks

Heritage walks around six of the borough's conservation areas have been developed in partnership with the Merseyside Guides to raise awareness of the forgotten past, and to discover something about what makes Knowsley a special place to live.

Walking tips

  • If you are completely new to physical activity, or have any concerns about your health, you should check with your GP before you make any major changes to your activity levels
  • If setting off alone, make sure someone else knows what route you are taking and what time to expect you back
  • Take some water for your walk
  • All the heritage walks are different; some of the rural walks are less suitable for those with limited mobility
  • Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather
  • The walks take between 30-60 minutes

PDF of all Knowsley Heritage walks

Huyton Heritage Walk

Huyton is of ancient origin and is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 as Hitune, possibly meaning ‘High Town’. Over the centuries it has been owned by several notable families: the Lathoms, the Stanleys (family name of the Earls of Derby), and the Molyneux-Seels. At one time the area was heavily forested and later became agricultural.

The introduction of the Turnpike Trust in the early 18th century resulted in the building of a road from Prescot to Liverpool, and the world’s first passenger railway from Liverpool to Manchester in the 19th century brought further change. The branch station opened in Huyton in 1872, making Huyton a popular location for a number of villa estates.

In the mid 20th century further land in and around Huyton was developed to address the demand for housing from the overflow population in Liverpool’s urban areas.

The route:

  1. On Archway Road, once known as Sandpit Lane, you can see the Grade II listed Railway Bridge. When the foundations were being dug for the bridge the remains of a vessel were found, probably Viking in origin.
  2. On the right hand side of Blacklow Brow used to be the Ewanville estate which extended from the bottom of Blacklow Brow to The Rooley. Ewanville was the home of the Beecham family, founders of the famous pharmaceutical firm. One member of the family, Sir Thomas Beecham, was a world famous conductor. The house was demolished in 1933 to make way for the housing that can be seen today.
  3. The Rooley used to be a small pathway until 1897 when it was adopted as a public road. The name derives from ‘Roolowe’ which was recorded in a document from 1343.
  4. The Queens Arms has an interesting history. It was once the site of a row of shops patronised by servants from Knowsley Hall who would travel by horse and cart. It was also a lodging house that accommodated the workers building the railway.
  5. Huyton railway station was initially called Huyton Gate and is one of the original stations on the historic Liverpool to Manchester line. Royalty came frequently to this station when staying at Knowsley Hall and it was customary for the stationmaster, in top hat, to greet them and precede them out by walking backwards.
  6. Huyton Hall was at one time a successful girls' school, Huyton College, founded in 1894. The college motto was ‘Fideliter Fortiter Feliciter, (Loyalty, Pluck, Cheerfulness).
  7. The Orchard is a gently curving, tree lined road with a variety of imposing residences built for colliery owners, ship owners and merchants. It was one of Huyton’s wealthiest developments. Greenhill was the home of Lord Cozens-Hardy and Beaconsfield had 2 tennis courts, an orchard, playing field and gardens set in four acres of land.
  8. In St Mary’s Road are many fine houses, and the deeds of some strangely forbade the “curing of kippers”, “strawberry garden parties” and “traction engines”. Of interest are numbers 20 and 22 and number 58a, an old coach house and number 60a, old stables.
  9. Huyton Hey Manor was originally a farmhouse dating from 1670 and is Huyton’s oldest surviving secular building.
  10. Victoria Road, part of another of Huyton’s conservation areas, has the character of a Victorian suburb and contains some grand houses, for  example Newlands and Hollinside. Also of note is the Grade II listed Huyton Reformed Church built in 1890 and influenced by Truro Cathedral. Park Hall, the original Congregational church, is also Grade II listed, of neo - gothic design and built in 1856 with stone from Huyton quarry.
  11. The statue is of Harold Wilson of Rievaulx who was Prime Minister of Britain and Labour MP for Huyton for 33 years. Tom Murphy was the sculptor.
  12. Whilst the 19th century saw much development of villa dwellings in Huyton, modest terraced housing was also provided. Examples of which are the mock Tudor cottages along Blue Bell Lane and the houses on Derby Terrace and Stanley Road.
  13. Huyton Cross was erected in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  This was once the village green and was a popular spot for cock fighting and bull-baiting. This was eventually stopped by the vicar of St. Michael’s Church who erected the original cross in 1819 to prevent such activity.
  14. St. Michael’s Church is Grade II* listed and dates back to the 12th century and over time has been altered and extended. Inside the church is an early Norman font, a chancel screen dating from 1460 and a 14th century effigy of a priest, probably John de Winwick. The gateways, both listed, are constructed of stone with wrought iron piers and dated 1765.

Kirkby

Recorded in the Domesday Book as Cherchebi, Kirkby was one of six manors held by Uctred, the thane.  In the mid C16 it passed to the Earls of Sefton who remained the predominant landowners until they sold the land to the Liverpool Corporation in 1947.

For the first thousand years of its existence, farming, and its related occupations, was all Kirkby knew, and up until the 1920s produce was still taken by horse and cart to the markets in Liverpool.

In 1884 the Liverpool, Bolton and Bury railway came to Kirkby and with it the development of the Victorian suburbs to accommodate the businessmen who commuted to Liverpool for work. Kirkby retained its rural feel well into the C20.

More significant change came in 1935 when the East Lancashire Road was built, and later, in 1940 12 farms were taken over by the Ministry of Defence to build the Royal Ordnance Factory, a major employer in the town. Industrial growth continued into the 1960s when the Kirkby Industrial Estate was built.

The population of Kirkby exploded in the 1950s and Kirkby New Town was born to meet the demand for housing from Liverpool.

The route:

  1. Construction of the present St Chad’s Church began in 1869 and was built on the site of an earlier chapel, probably Norman. It was designed by Paley and Austin, renowned Victorian architects and built from red sandstone quarried locally in Melling and Kirkby. Its most treasured possession is the Norman sandstone font, striking in appearance with its ring of carved figures around the basin with a double row of serpents, one with three heads, representing the three enemies of man.
  2. Millbrook Park, Millennium Green. Follow the footpath through the park, an area of natural beauty and host to a range of habitats. Follow the date line, mosaic designs inlaid in the footpath, depicting Kirkby’s history.
  3. The earliest reference to a mill on Mill Lane was in the 13th century and a mill and pond are clearly marked on a map of 1769.  The mill, demolished in the 1950s was used to grind corn and wheat and saw timber from local woods. Mill Dam Lake was popular for boating and swimming with both local people and day trippers from Liverpool. At one time there was also a waterfall.
  4. The name Deerbolt has interesting origins. Sandstone for building came from small quarries known locally as Delphs. Deerbolt or Deerbough Delph was an early 19th century quarry disused from the 1870s.
  5. Mill Lane Cottages were built c 1885 from brick and locally sourced sandstone. Notice the decoration on the gables.
  6. North Park Road and South Park Road are both designated conservation areas. The two short tree-lined avenues were developed after the coming of the railway and the impressive villas reflect the status of their owners, for example Waverly House and Ivylea. Waverley House dominates South Park Road and is Grade II listed, built of brick, with stone dressings it has a large square tower of three storeys with a pyramid roof.
  7. Two groups of semi-detached cottages dating from 1911 have the Molyneux Cross set in the wall. In the 17th century the powerful and wealthy Molyneux family owned Sefton, Kirkby, Tarbock and Toxteth and many other parcels of land around Liverpool.
  8. Opposite James Holt Way were the Cocoa Rooms. Built in 1735 it was used as a café and hired out rooms on the first floor for meetings. By the 20th century it had become a general store.
  9. Sefton Cottage is Grade II listed and built from materials typical of the area.
  10. The Weeping Stone, originally shaped like a cross, was found by excavators working on a new housing estate in Kirkby.  It was a stopping place used to  rest the coffins during the funeral procession, hence the origins of its name, the Weeping Stone.

Knowsley Village

Knowsley Village, once owned by the Earls of Derby, is documented in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is considered to be one of the best village cores in Merseyside.

Today it is still predominantly rural and retains a character reminiscent of pre-war England. Knowsley Village conservation area, designated in the 1970s, is typical of a historic village with a village green at its centre. The parish church, village hall, school, the Derby Arms hotel, and the estate workers houses are an indication of the influence of the Earls of Derby. Since the Second World War, several housing estates have been built to accommodate the growing population.

The route:

  1. The Derby Arms was built in 1900 and the first tenant was James Hornby. It bears the crest of the Stanley family, the Eagle and Child, and the motto of ‘Sans Changer’, meaning ‘Without Change’.
  2. After passing the Old Post Office, opened in 1895, you come to the almshouses, originally named Countess Mary’s Bungalows. They were built in 1883 for retired estate workers, who had rules to abide by and were issued with a uniform to wear! Note the plaque in memory of Frederick Arthur, the 16th Earl of Derby.
  3. The village shop is typical of many of the buildings in Knowsley. It was built in the 1880s from local brick and sandstone. The slate roof tiles are also a typical feature.
  4. The Grade II listed church of St. Mary the Virgin was built in 1844 by Edmund Sharpe of Lancaster, with the Derby Memorial Chapel, designed by E.G. Paley, being added in 1871.  Paid for by the 13th Earl of Derby at a cost of £20,000, the church was added to by the later Earls. Its lavish furniture and fittings reflect the great wealth of the benefactors.
  5. Around the picturesque village green, also known as Maypole Green, you can see a variety of buildings including the village hall built in 1897. The village hall is still active, hosting meetings and exhibitions. The Memorial Cross commemorates the men lost in the First World War and the village green may have been the site of the smithy of William Woods in the 1780s.
  6. Along School Lane are some of the oldest buildings in the village, including Maypole Farm, which dates from 1772. The cottages and farms were once the homes of the Earls of Derby’s estate workers.
  7. The School House, now Millbrook Restaurant, was built in 1845 by the 13th Earl of Derby. The first school mentioned in Knowsley was founded by Margaret Beaufort, who was the second wife of the first Earl.
  8. Walking along Tithebarn Road you will see some of the finest houses in the village. Knowsley Vicarage was built around 1885 and is Grade II listed. It is constructed in red brick, terracotta and sandstone. Many of the local houses built at the same period share characteristics of the vicarage including tall chimneys and jettied windows. Further down are the housing developments of the 1960s and 70s.
  9. Shop Road includes both 19th Century and more recent buildings, one of which stands on the site of Knowsley Village Clubhouse and bears a plaque to reflect that history.

Cronton

Cronton, whose Saxon name Crawenton means ‘Settlement of Crows’, is a small village that appears in the Norman document the Testa de Nevill. The conservation area has some outstanding buildings in various architectural styles ranging from the impressive manor house, Cronton Hall, to the localised architecture of local sandstone and brick.

Arable land surrounds the village and Pex Hill, an attractive wooded recreational area, stands on the land around and including the site of a 17th century sandstone quarry.

There was once an important tool-making industry in Cronton, pre-dating the Industrial Revolution. It seems likely that files were made here, probably for use by the clock and watch makers in Prescot. Later the tools were used to finish off and re-sharpen the drawing dies used in the Warrington wire works. The last of these small workshops was on Upton Lane, finally closing in 1926.

The route:

  1. On the village green you can see the war memorial and the Cronton Stocks. The stocks are believed to date from the Medieval period and are unusual as  they have five holes.
  2. The Unicorn public house dates from the 18th century and was formerly called the Horns Inn.
  3. Follow the footpath sign, adjacent to house number 337, and walk through the open fields towards Penny Lane. You will cross a bridge over Tue Brook, a common name for a small stream, often man-made, that drained farmland.
  4. Town End Farm is a Grade II listed building of red sandstone and half-timbered at the rear. Although a stone bears the date 1705, it is thought that  part of the building dates from 1560. It suffered neglect in the 1950s when it was used as a lodging house for transient agricultural workers.
  5. Where Smithy Lane meets Hall Lane is the Medieval Cronton Cross. Cronton did not have a burial ground and the cross may have been a stopping place   for funeral processions on route to Farnworth Church.
  6. Cronton Hall is a fine example of the ‘Queen Anne’ style of architecture and dates from the early 1700s. The gate posts at the front of the hall are Grade II listed and the two square stone piers have tall slender urns on the top and wrought iron gates. Cronton Hall itself is surprisingly unlisted.
  7. Alongside Cronton Hall is Lyme Tree Court. Here you can see some renovated 18th and 19th century brick barns and a stone coach house which is built around a cobbled courtyard.
  8. Sunnyside Farm is Grade II listed, built in brick and dates from the early 17th century. It is a rare example of cruck construction, of low proportions with pig sties to the side. Town End Cottages, opposite, are also worth looking at.
  9. Pex Hill is a small hill, 67 metres high. During the plague years wooden cabins were built there and plague victims were left to die then burnt,   cabins and all! Follow the well trodden paths across the heath land to the top of the hill. From here, on a clear day, you can see the Clwydian Hills of North Wales, Hope Mountain near Wrexham and Liverpool’s two cathedrals. 

Please note

The Cronton walk will not accommodate wheelchairs or prams.

Halewood

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Halewood changed little over the centuries. In the 1700s it had a cottage industry of weaving, four tool and parts makers, two tanneries and two alehouses, the Cock and Trumpet and the Eagle and Child. The area remained predominantly rural until the mid 19th century and the introduction of the railway. From the mid 1950s onwards, large housing estates including tower blocks were built, and the population had increased ten-fold by the 1970s.  In 1963 the Ford Motor Company came to Halewood and production began with the Ford Anglia; the very first car off the production line has been preserved at Liverpool Museum.

Halewood also boasts a pet cemetery on Higher Road with over 560 graves. One of the earliest dates from 1922 and commemorates a cat called ‘Bonar’. The largest grave is for ‘Blackie’, a horse who served in the Royal Artillery during the First World War.

The route:

  1. The first railway station in Halewood opened in May 1874 and was situated in Bailey's Lane. It was reached by a ramp close to the Derby Arms. The opening of the railway gave local residents not only the opportunity to travel but also a wider choice of occupations other than farming. The  old station closed in the 1950s but the cottages built for the early railway workers can still be seen.
  2. The Derby Arms public house we see today was built in the 1930s, but the original was built over 100 years ago. There was a field at the back of the pub that served as a venue for celebrations such as Empire Day and for days out by parties of children from Liverpool coming to enjoy the  countryside.
  3. Hollies Cottage has had a variety of uses. It was formerly a blacksmiths and a private school run by a Miss Hilton and Miss Hancock. They were the aunts of William Grace who ran Court Farm. The school was attended by the children of wealthy parents who would take their children to   school in a pony and trap. At one time there was also a weighbridge situated here.
  4. The Eagle and Child built around 1750, is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in the village. It has been greatly altered but some of the original building remains. The Crosby family ran the pub for many years and also ran the adjacent blacksmiths and coffin makers.
  5. These four late C19 black and white Tudor style cottages retain much of their original character. Number 1 was once the home of Misses Alice and Lizzie Jump, former teachers in Halewood.
  6. Court Farm Wood is a public green space occupying the former site of Court Farm. Of interest is the pond and old wall. Follow the footpath sign for Cartbridge Lane.
  7. St. Nicholas Church was built from  sandstone from Woolton and Huyton quarries and opened in 1839. It is Grade II listed in the Gothic style with 21 stained glass windows, 17 of which were designed by William Morris.  The church was altered in 1841 and the tower with bells was added in 1883. The churchyard contains the graves of many notable people including William Imrie of the White Star Shipping Line, owners of the Titanic.The rectory at the back of the church has a late Georgian frontage with its original patterned windows.
  8. In 1842 St. Nicholas Church school was opened at a cost £300 on land given by Lord Derby. In 1847 a second school was built so boys and girls could be taught separately.  Originally lit by candles, then paraffin lamps, it wasn’t until the 1920s that they were wired up for electricity. The school closed in 1989 and was converted to residential properties. A former pupil was John Hilton Grace, born on 21st May 1873. After going to Cambridge University to study mathematics he found fame as a mathematician. He died in 1953 and is buried in the family grave at St. Nicholas Church.
  9. The land for the Hilton Grace Recreation Ground was donated by William H Grace who ran Court Farm in memory of his youngest brother who died in a punting accident in Surrey.

Prescot

Prescot is one of the oldest towns in Merseyside and it is believed that an early Christian church was established here in the 7th century. In medieval times Prescot was a thriving market town and the ecclesiastical centre of a large parish covering much of south west Lancashire.

The 18th century brought considerable changes to Prescot and the continued growth in a number of craft industries created one of the earliest centres of the Industrial Revolution. These craft industries were concentrated around watch making, tool making and the potteries, resulting in Prescot’s increased prosperity. The town also had close links with Liverpool’s expanding overseas trade and as a result became an important coaching centre on the Lancashire Turnpike System.  As the old trades disappeared other industries replaced them and during the 20th century BICC was a big local employer, utilising the highly skilled watch making workforce. Prescot once had an unusual tradition known as the Perrying Ceremony. It involved the officers of the Court Leet throwing heated pennies from the windows of the Town Hall into the market place below. People would then scramble to pick them up. Whilst you’re walking the Prescot trail look out for Stone Street, officially the narrowist named street in the country.

The route:

  1. St. Mary’s Church is the only Grade I listed building in the borough of Knowsley, and dates predominantly from 1610. The church contains a number of items from earlier buildings  including a C15 vestry, intricate woodcarvings, panelling and an Anglo- Saxon font. The tower and spire, added in the late 1720s are thought to be the work of a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren.
  2. Vicarage Place is a fine example of a Georgian street. Number 10 Vicarage Place dates from the early 18th century and has some attractive Victorian cast iron  railings and gateposts. On the front of number 8 can be seen the Coat of Arms of Kings College, Cambridge, originally on the Town Hall of 1755. In 1445 King Henry IV granted the Parish and Manor of Prescot to his newly established college in Cambridge.
  3. The church of Our Lady Immaculate and St. Joseph was built in 1856-7 and designed by the architect Joseph Hansom. Hansom became famous for  inventing the ‘Hansom Cab’.
  4. West Street has dwellings of various dates including an attractive Victorian terrace (no.s 12-20) and number 4, which still retains a watch makers gallery at the rear.
  5. The Clock Face public house, Grade II listed, was originally called West End House. It was built in the late 18th century as a Dower House for the widow of the Earl of Derby.
  6. The Sun Inn dates from 1798 and is said to be the oldest public house in continuous occupation in Prescot. In the 1840s it was a coaching inn and for a short time it was the Excise Office.
  7. Prescot Museum is a handsome brick Georgian townhouse dating from 1776, originally the site of the local cock fighting pit. During the 19th century it became Parr’s Bank and later the National Westminster Bank before opening as a museum in 1982.
  8. In the late 19th century the Prescot watch making industry was collapsing and in 1889 the Lancashire Watch Making Company was formed. They built a warehouse and specialist workshop known locally as the ‘Flatiron Building’ and various local watch making companies were bought out and the workers employed here.
  9. Along Ecclestone Street is evidence of Medieval Prescot, of note is number 30. Interestingly, the right hand gable is genuine 17th century and the left hand side is a 20th century copy. Some of the other shops, behind their modern frontages have remains of 17th century building.
  10. Prescot War Memorial, sculpted by Walter Gilbert and Louis Weingartner, shows a young army officer holding a gun, standing on top of the tall Portland stone pedestal. It is unusual because the date plaque shows that it was unveiled in 1916, two years before the First World War ended.