1824: Liverpool and its Environs, by William Swire

This is a map of Liverpool as it progressed into the 19th century – perhaps its most important period for shaping its later history. Look at it as a companion to the (more detailed) Gage map of 1836. The later map is only 13 years younger, but it shows how quickly the boundary of the built up town was moving. In a sense this map shows Liverpool as it left its ‘town’ stage and became a city.

It’s one of many maps to show the river at the bottom, giving the impression of looking into the city from the water. This is appropriate, as it reflects how many people will have seen Liverpool for the first time. I can imagine them pulling out these maps as they step off the boat, and make their way into the streets, from the Strand eastwards!

It’s an attractive map, with a simple but elegant North arrow in the bottom left, and a series of seals around the edge: the Trustees of the Liverpool Docks; the Corporation of the Liverpool Exchange; the Corporation of Liverpool. The last of these uses the ‘pigeon-and-twig’ depiction of the liver bird, derived from King John’s seal of an eagle.

The map has two useful Reference tools: one is a list of districts, named after saints, while the other is a list of numbered landmarks. These include chapels and churches, as well as the post office, the Lyceum and the Lunatic Asylum (the future site of the St Georges Hall). These are listed alphabetically, and their grid squares shown, so it works as a mini directory to find your way.

Finally, there is ‘A Mapp of Leverpoole 1720’ in the bottom right. This shows the town almost exactly a century earlier, no doubt trying to emphasise the growth and progress of this ambitious place to the map’s purchaser.

Liverpool in 1824

Swire’s map shows us a a few interesting facts about Liverpool at this time. The docks stretch from Queens Dock in the south to the ‘Intended North Dock’ on Waterloo Road. This would become Waterloo Dock in 1834, and Gage’s later map shows expansion has delivered Clarence Dock (1830) while charging headlong ever northwards.

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal reaches the edge of town, but goes no further. The canal flowed as far as it could into the dense industrial north of Liverpool as it could. From this time onwards, more and more of the canal would be subsumed within the built-up fabric of the city as its docklands and industry grew.

Everton is still a separate village at this date. There are large houses in this fashionable district, with long gardens. Then as now the village affords wonderful views over the river. It was a bit of a ride into town, but wealthy merchants and indistrialists would have enjoyed the cleaner air, as well as a convenient place to wach for their own ships coming up the river.

To the south east of the town Mount Vernon Hall sits in rural fields, with street names relate to it stretching away to the south. Interestingly, the Botanic Garden sits in splendid isolation, and would have been an idyllic getaway for those with the time and money to travel out of the hustle and bustle.

A hand-coloured version of Swire’s map can be seen on the Gillmark Gallery website.

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