Fazakerley Hospital or University Hospital Aintree as it is called today has had many names since 118 acres were bought by the City Council in 1898 for a mere £39, 915. Prior to the sale the land had been the Harbreck Estate which included a medium sized country house, farms and cottages. This map of 1828 shows the area which would become hospital land. As you can see, the area is starting to be developed but remains, on the whole, quite rural.
The 1828 map above shows Lower Lane and Higher Lane from left to right with Longmoor Lane on the left hand side between the two. The Moss Pits area is clearly seen off the top of Lower Lane with Fazakerley Hall further along Lower Lane to the right. Higher Lane takes a more meandering path as it does to this day with the more heavily shaded area possibly representing a border of trees surrounding Harbreck House. The lane then turns sharply and heads toward Long Lane. The path of the lane changed little over the last century until the building of Altcourse Prison but some elements of the past still remain such as the sandstone walls of the farm, the redbrick walls of the original hospital, the entrance to Everton cemetery, farm buildings trees and wildflowers.
Half way along Longmoor Lane is a path leading to Harbreck Cottages and out again on Lower Lane. Sadly, this path and many others like it are lost. Census records show a number of lanes that have disappeared from the area such as "Old Lane" and "Intake Lane" but it is impossible to say where exactly these were. The 1828 map indicates that a great deal of the property around the area was owned by Richard Leyland. This was Richard Bullin who assumed the name of his uncle, partner and benefactor Thomas Leyland.
The Leyland/Bullins family made much of their fortune as merchants in the growing City of Liverpool, including from the slave trade. Uncle Thomas Leyland was mayor of Liverpool three times and Richard once. Thomas was able to buy the grand Walton Hall from the family of another successful slaver John Atherton. Much has already been written about Thomas Leyland who had a step up the ladder with a lottery win and ended up in banking as Leyland and Bullins. This was eventually sold and then through various mergers ended up as part of a well-known bank.
Harbreck House seen above was part of the Leyland Estates in Fazakerley. It had an amazing history before it became part of Fazakerley Hospital. The house and grounds were let to various people by the Leyland family and their heirs over the years before eventually being sold to Joseph Walton, a wine and spirit merchant sometime around 1868.
The 1841 census shows that a merchant named John Davies lived in the house with his wife Charlotte, 16 year old Elizabeth Walton and 2 servants. The next record of a tenant is not certain; George Cram, a ships broker of Cram, Smith & Co., is recorded as living there in Gores Directory of 1845, however, the Tithe Schedule of this time records that a George Crane lives there. As the only George Crane with any Liverpool connections at this time lived in South Wales the likelihood is that it was George Cram.
Jaques Myers followed according to the 1851 census. Although already from a wealthy family, he made his living through importing /exporting cotton and other goods. He and his family stayed there till sometime after 1855 and before 1859. He may have moved away as his fortune grew to get away from the encroaching city. Wealthy people often moved their families away from the cities to protect themselves from the diseases which may have been brought here by the merchant ships they used to create their fortunes. It is ironic that the house and land would eventually be part of an isolation hospital.
The house was to have another notable tenant. Blockade runner Henry Lafone lived in the house after Jaques, but had moved out to nearby Long Lane by 1860. He appears to have continued to rent Harbreck Farm for a while after. Henry's life is very complex and interesting and will have its own page in the future on the Lost Liverpool blog.
The 1800's were a time of massive social change with tenant farmers and farm workers leaving the land and moving to the cities to find work. Liverpool was expanding at an immense rate. The River Mersey teemed with ships bringing goods and people from all over the world. The city was full of people, some natives, some heading off for a better life in the New World, many of them stopping in Liverpool as they could go no further through poverty or ill health. Scots, Irish, Welsh and English brought their families to live and work in the thriving port. Others came to escape the hardships of famine, often to find that life was no better here. Pubs, boarding houses and brothels filled the cosmopolitan streets. It must have been a dangerous melting pot of poverty, violence and disease as immigrants crammed themselves into cellars to find shelter in a city that could not keep up. The poor who moved here for a better life accepted that it was unlikely that all their offspring would reach old age.
Disease never went away, there would be times when it quietened down but it would return and spread quickly in the unhygienic conditions which existed at the time. Asiatic cholera arrived in Liverpool in 1832. Within the year 4,912 official cases were recorded, many weren't, as the stigma could ruin a family. 1523 people died in that year. 1849 saw another outbreak in which a further 5,308 died, accounting for 10% of the national figure. Further outbreaks took place in 1854 with 1,290 deaths recorded and 1866 killing 2,122 people. These figures don't include deaths from other diseases such as dysentery, fever and smallpox to name but a few.
Between January and June of 1847, 300,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Liverpool trying to escape death and destruction caused by the potato famine. Starving and ill they took shelter where they could, crowding into attics and cellars in horrendous courts with no sanitary arrangements. In escaping the terror of starvation they faced another - typhus. 5,239 people died of typhus that year with another 2,236 from diarrhoea and dysentery. Meanwhile other diseases such as TB, scarlatina, measles and many more continued to take their toll.
Life was harsh for many, but some people did what they could to help. Kitty Wilkinson understood the importance of cleanliness, allowing her neighbours the use of her boiler to wash infected bedding. Her actions led to the founding of the "wash house" Kitty also cared for orphaned children.
Agnes Jones was a prodigy of Florence Nightingale who worked at the Fever Hospital on Brownlow Hill. She contracted typhus while caring for the sick and dying and died herself from exhaustion on 19th February 1868.
George Beaumont, FRCS, is a little known hero. He was an assistant surgeon at the Liverpool Dispensary who died while carrying out his duties. He and another surgeon named Critchley were reported in the Liverpool Mercury of 1820 as falling victim to the deadly contamination of typhus. They were distinguished by "diligence and humanity in the discharge of their official duties" George Beaumont is buried in St George's Churchyard in Everton, forgotten by the city he gave his life for.
A figure who is well remembered for his efforts to improve the health of Liverpool people is Dr William Henry Duncan who practised in Rodney Street, taking on extra duties in the Liverpool Dispensary in Vauxhall Road, where he witnessed great suffering. He warned at the time that fever would continue while living accommodation was dirty and lacking fresh air. He believed in quarantining patients to remove them from the "miasma". The theory worked but for different reasons not known at the time. Dr Duncan was appointed as the first Medical Officer of Health in England and Public Health has remained a important facet of health care ever since, but his career was not without controversy. As part of his quest to clean up the city he enforced the closing up of cellars without contingency plans for the housing of the homeless, forcing many thousands onto the streets.
In 1849 the General Board of Health ordered the removal of persons from rooms where diseases appeared. Temporary hospitals were set up often too late; some of the sick were taken to the Workhouse spreading the diseases further amongst a susceptible population. Over the coming years and various epidemics it became apparent, although unpopular, that isolation of patients was as important as the need for social change. Fifty years later, the City Hospital Fazakerley was one of the hospitals built around Liverpool to cope with the ever-growing need.
The City Council bought the land in 1898 and opened up the Annexe section in 1901, which can be seen in the above aerial view. It contained 160 beds for smallpox patients and was intended as a temporary hospital until the larger City Hospital was built, however it was still in use in the 1950's. This temporary hospital consisted of a brick pavilion, four wooden pavilions, an isolation pavilion and discharge block, mortuary, coalhouse as well as other small functional buildings. Harbreck House was used as the nurses quarters and administration block.
It is difficult to imagine the small beginnings of such a vast institution. The 1901 census reveals that there was an isolation hospital in Higher Lane at this time, however, there were just 18 staff, all female, unmarried or widowed between the ages of 18 to 43 staying there that night caring for 25 patients under the age of 16. One of these people was the Matron Catherine Berry, a 32 year old single woman born in Liverpool. Tracing Catherine back through previous census gives a little insight into the life of the First Matron. In 1881 she was living with her father William, a general labourer from Ireland, and her mother Mary, a midwife, in Romeo Street Kirkdale. By 1891 she had chosen her career, perhaps influenced by her mother, and is recorded as an officer at the Mount Pleasant Workhouse. Moving away from the bustle of an inner city workhouse to a small hospital almost in the countryside must have been a big change for her.
Higher Lane is an ancient road which almost still follows the path of old field boundaries. Leave behind the Victorian houses at the beginning of the road, cross the railway bridge and you almost enter a time capsule, sandstone walls of old farms, large trees and as many wild blackberries as you could ever want. The course of the road has been changed by the building of the prison and its access roads but you can still see the red brick hospital walls and gateposts.
The Annexe is now lost forever under Altcourse Prison but a walk through the beautiful Bluebell Woods reveals some of the areas past.
Carved sandstone blocks lie carelessly scattered among the trees hinting at the earlier history of a grand building . Ivy and wildflowers have grown over paths which were laid out as part of the wealthy merchant's estate and in later years, where patients exercised. How different this must have seemed from the squalor of the inner city.
Fazakerley Brook, a tributary of the River Alt, meanders through the trees at the back of the hospital cutting under Lower Lane near the ambulance station. The old stone bridge is hardly noticeable in the rush of the present day traffic, but floods caused by heavy rainfall will quickly remind any passer-by of the natural geography of the area.
There was plenty of land at the Fazakerley site and five years later, the City Hospital was opened. This new hospital was considered to be state of the art in 1906, costing about £130,000. It comprised of nine ward pavilions and four isolation blocks for 350 patients with infectious diseases other than smallpox including 25 TB beds. It also had an administration block, kitchen block, nurses home, laundry, dispensary, mortuary, doctors house and porters lodge. Many of these buildings still exist today, known to staff as "the Old Site".
Facilities for staff were to be the best as they lived in, rarely going home. This postcard dated Jan 1st 1907 may have been sent by a nurse or patient to her sister in Walton. Not that far away but isolation meant just that. The views on the postcard show pristine new buildings and immature gardens. This was the City Hospital's first Christmas and New Year -there have been another 101 since and many of the buildings such as Aintree House remain in excellent condition.
A stroll around the north part of the hospital grounds shows the layout of the old City Hospital. Enter via Longmoor Lane and see the imposing Aintree House ahead of you. Just beyond the gateposts to the left and right are the medical superintendents residence and the porters lodge now used for other purposes. Aintree House was the original administration block with the kitchen attached and beyond that, the nurses home. The entrance contains two brass plaques from 1906, firstly, describing a brief history and the function of the hospital, and secondly, listing the members of the Port Sanitary and Hospitals Committee of the Council of the City of Liverpool.
Take a right turn at Aintree House and walk along the path to the end, you will eventually come to an example of one of the pavilion wards, sadly neglected and covered in graffiti.
At the back of Aintree House is the old nurses home with the kitchen block joining the two. The small building across the grass was the laboratory and dispensary (now Central Stores). There is a porters lodge and a mortuary situated on Lower Lane side which no longer exist. Many other buildings are still used but many have disappeared under much needed car parking space.
The following picture shows a birds eye view of the City Hospital,with Longmoor Lane in the foreground. This shows the layout of the site. The tall building at the back of the drawing is the "destructor for objectionable refuse" This is still recognisable today in the group of buildings now used by the maintenance department.
The picture above shows that the City Hospital ends behind what is now the maintenance department. A look at the map below shows that there was still plenty of land between the City Hospital and the Annexe available for expansion, however, the First World War would delay building and change the use of the hospital temporarily.
During the war years the hospital was renamed 1st Western General. Injured soldiers were transported via train to the Fazakerley Station. The Fazakerley Local History Group produced a book "Fazakerley through the Ages" which describes how a number of buildings in the area were used to accomodate troops and their families during this time, including a house on the corner of Garden Lane and Longmoor Lane which was used as a hostel and Queen Mary High School, which was a clearing house for patients.
Just before the beginning of the war, Liverpool Corporation rented 25 acres from the Hospitals Committee in 1914 for a temporary hospital for Infectious Diseases which was commonly known as "Sparrow Hall Hospital" after the farm of the same name which previously occupied the site. This was also used by the military for injured soldiers. Few pictures of this hospital exist, however, it's surrounding high red brick wall remained on the East Lancashire Road perimeter into the 1980's and is remembered by residents.
Annie was a resident of the area from 1938, when her family moved from poor housing in Scotland Road. In an interview, she recalled images from her early teens when she was unable to attend school. She remembered the large trees of the hospital grounds which overhung Long Lane and how beautiful this was to somone who had only known slums and overcrowding. She told how travellers would set up their summer camp every year just outside the west wall.
Some of the trees were retained and integrated into the Sparrow Hall council estate which was built later on the site.
There is little written about this small hospital, however, Gore's Directory for 1925 states that Miss B Roberts was the matron.
This temporary hospital would continue to be used until 1950 when the patients were transferred to Fazakerley Sanatorium and the land was sold to Liverpool Corporation for a token sum.
The next chapter will tell the continuing story of Aintree Hospitals with the building of Fazakerley Sanatorium 1920. Further reading about Hidden Fazakerley , the Myers Family and other stories about the area and family history can be found by going to my Lost Liverpool blog
Fazakerley Sanatorium was opened on the 8th October 1920 by Dr John Utting JP. It was built to house 245 pulmonary TB patients. TR & V Hooper's design was well chosen following a public competition, the buildings are still in use today as offices. The Sanatorium was built on a 60 acre site, part of the original 118 acres previously bought by the City Council in 1898. Building work had begun in 1914 but was delayed by the war.
The ground plan shown above comes from the opening brochure. It shows a lay out which has hardly changed. The centre cluster of buildings contained the administration block, kitchen, dining hall, lecture hall, consulting rooms and many more. The building has had many uses over the years, it was the School of Nursing during from 1990 to last year and is now contains medical records.
This picture above shows an unusual view of the Administration block taken from the lawns behind the old Male Pavilion now Training and Development. It hints at how beautiful it must have been in those early days. This must have been one of the first parts of the Sanatorium to be built as the date stone gives the date as 1915.
To the west of the central Administration block was the Nurses Home, many nurses will remember living there as it continued as a nurses home into the 1990's and then became the offices of Social Services.
This picture of the back of the Nurses Home is interesting as it shows the remaining concrete base to the fence which would have separated the Sanatorium from the City Hospital.
A nurse's life would have been very different from today. A hand written book which keeps the details of working life of Probationers at the hospital shows that many left after a couple of months. One young girl was "insolent and not interested" while another "did not return following a day out" Another 19 year old from Wrexham resigned because she "could not take lectures" while poor "AB" from Anfield had to leave because she was "undersized and not strong"
A Ward Sisters Register 1912 - 1932 shows that many nurses who stayed long enough to achieve promotion often moved around various isolation hospitals and many did military service. For example "EML" of Rock Ferry trained at City Hospital Fazakerley and the moved to Marylebone Infirmary in London. She served with the military from 1914 to 1919 and re entered Fazakerley on 8th June 1919. She then transferred to Netherfield Rd and was promoted to Night Sister. She is recorded as being "very good to all patients"
To the right of the Administration Block was the Children's Pavilion. This would have been on the site of Stoddard House. The brochure describes the Children's Pavilion as a single storey building , divided into small wards containing 1, 2 or 4 beds each and separated from each other by partitions, the upper half of which is of glass. The wards open through French windows to a veranda on the south side. On the north aspect doors open upon a corridor which connects the various wards with administrative offices and kitchens.
Opposite to the Nurses Home and the Children's Pavilion were the male and female pavilions with the larger nursing block in between. These three buildings are still in use today.
The picture above shows the female ward. Patients would be admitted to the Nursing Pavilion when they were too ill to care for themselves with men and women cared for on different floors. The building houses the Windsor Clinic today.
Detail in the plasterwork on this building reflects the feelings of a people who had come through a terrible war. The scroll says "God has given this peace to us"
The Male and Female Convalescent Pavilions were situated either side of the Nursing Pavilion and of a similar design. These were built to accommodate 80 males and 64 females. Balconies were placed at the ends with smaller verandas in front. Inside the larger wards accommodated 12 beds with ample washing facilities. The floors were Terrazzo. Red electric light bulbs over the doors and an alarm bell in the nurses' duty room indicated when she was needed.
On 17th October 1940 at 10pm the Male Pavilion, known as West Block, was hit by a 750lbs demolition bomb which exploded on impact. There were two casualties, one fatal. A second time bomb also hit simultaneously but did not explode until 9.30 the following evening. Information about the incident is scarce, however, Arthur Johnson, a reporter on the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo kept a secret diary which his son published. The book "Merseyside's Secret Blitz Diary" recounts that this was the third time bombs were dropped in this area and that the patients including children were evacuated. He also says that soldiers were evacuated but one was killed.
Looking at the building today it is clear to see where it was rebuilt in 1956.
In 1948, U block which housed two thoracic surgery wards and a theatre was opened - this collection of buildings has only recently been demolished to build a multi-storey car park.
The opening brochure states that "facilities for graduated exercise and employment are afforded in connection with various handicrafts established in wooden buildings and sheds situated within the hospitals grounds. Joinery and boot repairing for males, and sewing and knitting in the case of females, are carried out in the huts designed for these purposes. A poultry farm, shown above, was constructed in the main by the patients themselves, is situated within the estate boundary. Kitchen gardens provide the necessary exercise for a number of patients, both male and female"
The 1946 Kelly's Directory lists Miss A. J. Murray as the Matron of Fazakerley Sanatorium and Oliver F Thomas as the Medical Superintendent. At the same time Miss Rose Baines was the Matron of both the City Hospital and the Annexe, while Albert Ernest Hodgson MD DPH was the Medical Superintendent. Walter Vernon Swinscoe, the hospital engineer lived in Brook Cottage situated on Higher Lane, while Fred and Andrew Glaysher, the bailiffs for Harbreck Farm, lived in the "The Hollies" and "Red Beech" on Lower Lane. Harbreck Farm was still a working farm at this time and continued to be so for many more years. In 1957 it was run by one farm bailiff and 10 employees who also maintained the hospital grounds. During this year the farm produced potatoes, vegetables, fruit, hay, straw and corn. There was also the profitable Aintree Piggeries connected to the farm stayed open until 1961.
This amazing aerial picture taken around the time of site clearance to build the new Tower Block shows all the buildings mentioned - in the foreground the Annexe, Harbreck House with its heated walled garden to the left. In the middle of the picture a line of trees show the path of the brook with Fazakerley Sanatorium buildings above this. Above again shows the lay out of the City Hospital, then Lowerhouse Lane, the railway heading off towards Kirkby and then Aintree racecourse. The surgical block can be clearly seen to the right of the Sanatorium and then to the extreme right the cleared area.
A document called an Estates Terrier has been recently found. Apparently it is a register of the various legal titles attaching to properties owned or used by a person or organisation. It lists the properties which had been bought up over the years by the Hospitals Committee. Some of the documents listed date back to 1830's. Buildings such as Birch Tree House, Brook Cottage, Pea Hey, Holm Lea and many more are named as are the previous owners such as Leyland, Naylor, Elsworth, and Newbould to name but a few. The size of the land involved is given as are the dates of purchase.
The names of the hospitals were eventually changed, City Hospital and the Annexe became Fazakerley Hospital. The Sanatorium became Aintree Hospital. The Tower Block was built in the 1960's.