By Hugh Hollinghurst
Reviewed By Joe Coventry
Local historian Hugh Hollinghurst is not new to writing about buildings in Bootle but here he extends his purview to the whole of Sefton.
This Metropolitan Borough was set up after local government re-organisation in 1974. Stretching from Southport in the north to Bootle in the south, with a swathe inland from Formby across to Maghull, it contains enough architectural variety and historical, political and religious intrigue (lots of secret priest holes and secret services, in cottages, mansions or walled in private chapels), to make this book a worthwhile cause, even though at first sight the volume looks a bit slim.
As you would expect the main civic locations, like Bootle or Southport’s Town Halls, Parks and Gardens get a mention, as do prominent places of educational zeal and economic enterprise. Then there is the splendour of the likes of the Grand Halls in Crosby, or Ince Blundell; the latter not now in its original ‘country pile’ usage but still getting its moment in the sun.
Find outstanding churches such as the gothic style Grade 1 listed St Helens in the increasingly less sedate enclave of Sefton or St Andrews in Maghull, the grounds of which include what’s left of an ancient 13th century chapel and the resting place of a famous local model train maker; or read about iconic public houses like the thatched Scotch Piper in Lydiate, reputed to be Lancashire’s oldest hostelry circa 1320, it’s Grade II listed; or the famous Jawbone Tavern, (Why?), in what’s left of Bootle Village.
Alongside these sit images of advances in technological and industrial innovation or legacy; from windmill power in Crosby through redundant fire stations and tram sheds onto the advent of rail travel and the evolving Seaforth dock expansion’s demands on traffic infrastructure and the local environment.
Comprehensive as the book is there is still space to mention buildings no longer extant like Bryant and May’s Match Factory in Litherland destroyed by bombs in World War II, which left Linacre Mission over the road unscathed; or the remains of Lydiate Hall and Priory which fared less well after Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monastries edict in 1550.
Hollinghurst has provided lots of information here to digest and perhaps stimulate readers to go out and explore for themselves the rich but fading cultural history around them.
Go for it.