March 27, 1897
A lecture, entitled “Local history and biography suggested by the names of some Liverpool streets,” was delivered on Thursday evening in the Picton Lecture Hall, William Brown Street, by Mr. Peter Cowell, chief librarian of the public libraries. This was the final Corporation free lecture of the present series.
The lecturer’s remarks were illustrated by lantern slides taken from Herdman and the Binns collection in the Library, many of which were artistically coloured.
Mr. Cowell described the town of Liverpool in 1650 as seen from a boat at the bottom of Water Street, contending that the emergences of the town from its obscurity was due largely to its natural advantages, being situated on the banks of the Mersey. The word “Pool” was familiar to all in his district, at once suggesting Wallasey pool, Bromborough pool, Otterspool, and Liverpool.
Only when ancient maps were inspected did they become impressed with the importance of our own “pool” as a convenient and sheltered haven, and a natural protection and defence in war on the south and east.
This latter advantage which the tow n possessed to the pool was fully illustrated when Prince Rupert besieged the town in 1644. The vigorous defence was due to Colonel Moore (of Bank Hall and the Old Hall), and these facts pointed to the origin of our present Tower Buildings (in Water Street), Castle Street, Old Hall Street, and Bank Hall.
The lecturer explained the intimate connection with the town of the Earls of Derby, Lord Molyneux, Thomas Stanley, Colonel John Moore, and numerous others, including Sir Thomas Johnson and Alderman Benn, whose memory lived in the names of Sir Thomas’s buildings. Sefton Street, Stanley Street, Moor Street, Moorfields, Benn’s Gardens, &c.
Another of the principal streets which survived from historic times was Chapel Street, so called from the Chapel of Our Lady and St Nicholas, which still existed, though with a difference in appearance, at the foot of that street.
The origin of Dale Street was interesting. The Moore family possessed large estates in Liverpool, one of their fields being called the Dale Field, which was in the line of our present Dale Street; hence the name.
Lancelot’s Hey was called after Thomas Lancelot, of whom Sir Thomas Moore wrote: “This fellow and his wife are two such idle people that they scarcely ever pay me rent or hens.” Speaking of John Hacking, after whom Hacking Hey was called, Sir Thomas Moore says: “John Hacking, a very honest man; use him or his children, if ever he hath any, very well; here is, belonging to him, in this street one house and a barn, with a back side, a pretty croft, all which is worth about £5 per annum.”
Drury Lane was so named from its association with the drama. Here our Drury Lane Theatre stood, and, though but the second playhouse erected in Liverpool, it was in the reality the first of any note, the one preceding it being an extremely diminutive place close by the Old Ropery-Tithebarn Street suggested corn and various other agricultural produce; other names thereabouts being not less suggestive when fields and hedgerows were characteristics of the locality, as instances Maiden’s Green, Love Lane, Lad Lane, Lancelot’s Hey, Hacking’s Hey, Tempest Hey, Rosemary Lane (now Fazakerley Street), Moorfields, &c.
One of our finest streets bore a name which must be a puzzle to most folk. That was Lord Street. The lecturer explained that when Charles 1 desired to raise money to carry on the government in opposition to the will of Parliament, he sold a number of royal manners with their fee-farm rents, tolls, and lands.
A company of London merchants bought those of Liverpool, which they sold again to Lord Molyneux for £450. In the end Parliament deprived Lord Molyneux of the memorial rights, and conferred them on our Corporation. On the restoration of Charles II, Lord Molyneux recovered the rights. His lordship afterwards wanted to build a stone bridge over the pool just where the present Lord Street and Church Street met.
To this our Corporation would not agree, because both parties claimed right of ownership of the land or more on the farther side of the pool. Ultimately our Corporation agreed to let Lord Molyneux build his bridge on paying them 2d. a year rent. The bridge was built, and a permanent way established over the pool calculated to develop the growth of the town.
The formation of Lord Street, or Lord Molyneux Street, as it was first called, followed.
In conclusion, Mr. Cowell referred incidentally to the beacon which gave its name to the present Beacon Lane, Everton, and in which it is supposed marriages were solemnised something after the romantic manner of Gretna Green.
The lecturer was cordially thanked for his interesting address.
(Liverpool Mercury: March 27, 1897)