Springfield Park Prescot Road entrance
The recent rebuilding of Alder Hey Hospital has drawn my attention to Springfield Park in a bigger way than for many years. The scale of the changes took me by surprise, and though I love the new building inside and out I’ve had a couple of wistful moments remembering being taken to the park with my granddad – bowling greens, swings, monument and all!
(Me and my brother got yelled at once by the bowls club for peering into the ditch to see where a bowl had gone!)
So it’s a familiar landscape for me, and what with having gone to Knotty Ash Village Hall playschool back in the mid 1980s it’s very bound up with my early life.
It’s also part of a historic area, being on the edge of West Derby and also on the main route between Liverpool and Prescot, and then on to Manchester. The old mail coaches would have flown past in their day, and the tram routes have left their mark in turn.
Today it’s a busy dual carriageway, which splits either side of the Village Hall and runs down one edge of Springfield Park. One particular detail led me to have a closer look at the old maps…
Springfield Park was once the grounds of Springfield House, one of many expensive and out-of-town properties built in this part of the city in the Victorian period. The obelisk, a monument to Nelson, was intended as a gift to Liverpool from one of its residents, a sugar merchant called Mr Downward, but when it was rejected (dismissed as a ‘half Nelson’ by some wag on the council) he decided to put it up in his own back garden, this being the grounds of Springfield.
In 1907 the park was bought by the city council for £14000, and it’s been a public space ever since.
The old maps
Overlaying the 1888 – 1913 Ordnance Survey with the modern satellite image (see above) shows us how the boundaries of Springfield House’s grounds match up well with Springfield Park. We can see the Nelson Memorial hadn’t moved between its initial placing and it’s pre-hospital expansion position (though the mark for the obelisk is feint in this image).
We can see that the northern lane of East Prescot Road is the newer one, cutting through the Park. We can also see that the long driveway to the park almost matches the modern pathway, arcing all the way to the road, and across the northern carriageway to the southern (the original course of the Prescot road).
And that’s why, when we look back at the Google StreetView photo of this location for September 2008 (before the construction crew moved in) we can see that the Park entrance inherited its placing from the original Springfield House entrance, and that there was a gap in the central reservation which is a direct descendent of the House’s drive! And by the looks of things, the new hospital will have an entrance on this site too, which is a satisfying conclusion to this phase of the place’s landscape history.