Alder Hey and the Remains of War

Those of you trying to drive past Sainsbury’s on East Prescot Road in West Derby may have found themselves diverted around a police bomb squad. A suspected hand grenade was discovered in Springfield Park as work began on the new Alder Hey hospital.

There are conflicting reports as to whether this was a modern grenade or one from the First World War. Hopefully someone will clear this up at some point, but it gives me a good excuse to look at a brief period in Alder Hey’s history: when the grounds of the hospital and park were used as an American army camp.As you can see from the map, the park was a sea of barracks and tents, and stretched across both sides of the railway, still in use at this time. It’s said that the camp accomodated 10,000 troops, and would have taken advantage of the fact that the site provided a large open space for barracks next to the hospital which could provide medical assistance to soldiers brought back from the front to Knotty Ash.

Alder Hey hospital ('Camp Hospital 40') surrounded by the barracks of the American Rest Camp, opened on March 26, 1918

Alder Hey Hospital (‘Camp Hospital 40’) surrounded by the barracks of the American Rest Camp, opened on March 26, 1918

An interesting photograph has also come to light, showing the same scene as the map above. As well as showing Alder Hey Hospital and the American Rest Camp, you can see the empty fields to the north east (top of photo) which would be filled by reams of semi-detached houses in the 1930s. It also shows how Eaton Road looked at this time, narrower and edged by large trees. In 1918 this was the edge of Liverpool, and probably one of the most peaceful parts of the city.

Alder Hey Hospital, American Army barracks, and the green fields of Eaton Road

Alder Hey Hospital, American Army barracks, and the green fields of Eaton Road

2 responses to “Alder Hey and the Remains of War”

  1. Amanda Kay says:

    Thank you for generously sharing your research, which is invaluable in my own ventures into family/local history.

    I have recently discovered that my great-great-grandparents and family lived at Eaton Cottage which features on the maps and photo of West Derby/Alder Hey Hospital. My great-great-grandmother, Jane, and her daughter were laundresses and I’m wondering if they worked for Eaton House (although Jane is described as an employer in the 1891 census).

    I wonder if you have any information about Eaton House and Eaton Cottage or can point me in the right direction.

    With thanks,

    Amanda

    • Martin says:

      Hi Amanda,

      I’m so glad you like the site – it’s great that it’s helping your own research!

      Looking at the brilliant A History of West Derby by Cooper & Power (1982), there’s a little bit of information on Eaton House and Eaton Cottage.

      • Eaton House was a large house on Eaton Road, where the top of Agincourt Road now lies. It was built in the 1820s by Michael Gibson, a Manchester cotton merchant. Later it was owned by William Leeming, and then R.R. Heap (who owned nearby Blackmoor). The Heaps lived in Eaton House until 1921, and it was used as a convalescent home for children until it was demolished in 1933. That would be just before today’s houses were built.
      • Eaton Cottage was on Honey’s Green Lane. Built at a similar time to Eaton House, it was first owned by Francis Maxwell, a corn merchant. The land was sold by the 1935 owner, Mrs. Kent Green, for housing development. Eaton Cottage was just around the corner from Eaton House, on the north side of Honey’s Green Lane.

      I’m not sure of the ownership of Eaton Cottage when your ancestors lived there, but it was surely big enough that it might have staff. There’s a chance they worked at Eaton House, even if they owned Eaton Cottage. Houses could be sub-let (for instance, Jane could conceivably be a landlady).

      I’d be interested to know if you find out more!

      Best wishes,
      Martin

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