Liverpool Botanic Garden, Edge Lane

The long-delayed Edge Lane developments, constructing an Eastern Gateway to Liverpool by 2007 / 8, are about to start. What a pity, then, that the historic Wavertree Botanic Gardens located just by the intended new route (and initiated in 1803 by no less a person than William Roscoe) are in such a state of neglect.

Today (Monday 8 May 2006) is expected to see the first major initiative in the Edge Lane ‘Eastern Approaches’ development.
There have been many delays in getting this work done. Housing and other contested issues have kept the plans from becoming reality for many years; but this is not the time to rehearse those matters again.
So yesterday I decided to take a look for myself at the Botanic Gardens which were originated in 1803 by William Roscoe, near Abercromby Square in the city centre, and have since 1830 been situated alongside Edge Lane.  Would there, I wondered, be a place of peace and tranquility in this under-recognised park, which might offer refuge from all the construction and inevitable chaos of the road works?

Nowhere to go?
Sadly, the Botanic Garden isn’t any more a place you’d want to visit. I saw several locked and chained entrances (only one way in or out), some scarily secluded corners, and many piles of shredded wood where shrubs had been – but no flowers. There’s a budding laburnum-arch walk (to another chained gate) which shows promise for later in the week, and a cherry tree lined path outside the walled garden, by the former Littlewoods Building. That, however, is about it.
Maybe Liverpool needs to look more to its green image as well as its brownfield regeneration. With all the current disruption, surely local people deserve somewhere nearby where they can take their families, relax and feel safe? Already, there is concern because the ‘step’ between the two sides of the highway is not expected to be evened out – which will mean that it continues effectively to be impossible for people north of the dual carriageway to reach their park. To say this seems short-sighted would be a kindness to those responsible.
Other cities such as Edinburgh (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: see photo right, and below *) and Birmingham show us how we could value plants and gardens.

Let’s hope we’ll value our green heritage too, by 2007/8. Otherwise, our expected visitors as we celebrate our 800th anniversary in 2007 and the European Capital of Culture 2008 will have to speed down the smart new Edge Lane past a sorely neglected vestige, rather than a wonderful living part, of our proud civic history.
* You can see another larger photo here: Early Summer In Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

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Posted on May 8, 2006, in Liverpool And Merseyside, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Sustainability As If People Mattered and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Richard P. Astridge

    Can anyone tell me if the statues of Tam O Shanter and Souter Johnny have been restored? Certainly in 1972 these were intact. A book on Liverpool by Richard Whitington Egan has two plates of the statues, and very fine they look too. However, my last visit,albeit some years ago, met with the disgrace of legs and heads smashed off both statues. Surely it would be easy for a Scuptor to at least approach what was there before from old photographs for example. It is depressing thought indeed that such a major city as Liverpool, has not yet restored them. I hope they have by now. I must return and see.

    Richard Astridge

  2. Elaine Rosenberg

    Hello John and Hiary – loved the pics thanks Hilary. Made my day! John – hello, we must have been posh as we had a bathroom and I’m pleased to say the old home still looks pretty good! I hope we will visit again and I’ll be very interested to see the Museum of Life. I’m tracing my family history so I am interested in my ancestors and I shall be sure to look up TWGPP. The only relative that I’m aware of died at Ypres and I believe their name is on the Menin Gate. I should like to visit there one day. I have recently visited our War Memorial in Canberra – if anyone is coming this way I would recommend the War Memorial and Canberra in general – our capital city of course.The have a wonderful Floriade there too.

    • Hi Elaine

      We had to go to the public washing baths in Kensington. Later we moved to Cantril Farm9Now Stockbridge Village in West Derby). I remember I used to write to a Dutch girl and she asked if I lived on a farm. So I had my photo taken on Lord Derby’s estate. If you go to Ypres you’ll cry. I visited there and Arras where my grandad was killed. I visited his grave and left flowers. On certain occasions at Ypres, after the Belgian firemen play the Last Post a Scottish piper plays ‘Flowers of the Forest’. Being on the actual battlefields where all those boys died is an awesome and sad event. But it should not be forgotten.

      I went to Clint Rd school then Brae St, and later Edge Hill. Brae St is a brand new school now. My sister -in -law lived in Adelaide Rd.
      John.

  3. Hello again Elaine. You may like these pics of Sefton Park, taken for this blog last Spring?

  4. Elaine Rosenberg

    I am heartened to hear that the Park is in line for a make over – I’m also pleased to know of the work carried out at Sefton Park – another favourite place my family and I loved to visit. We lived in a terraced house in Kensington with no garden whatsoever. My mother was from the country and valiantly tried to keep a window box alive in the tiny backyard. Our home in suburban Adelaide to which we emigrated seemed like Paradise in comparison. I will look forward to reading posts on this page and hope that the city fathers hurry up as bringing glory back to this park will bring a light back into the lives of people in my old home town. “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever”

    • I lived in Bremner St,off Clint Rd. If you had a bathroom you were posh. Now all those house are gone and new estates in their place. Though I don’t think kids were as happy as we were, despite all the clouts we got. Liverpool now is more appreciative of the arts and its architechtual buildings. The new Museum of Life you will like at the Pier head. It is the worlds first museum dedicated to one city, and very good. I was there last week again. I do wargrave photography so that keeps me busy, so the Kings Liverpool Reg’t in 1914-18 interested me. If you have a reletive killed in one of the wars just contact TWGPP. They’ll have a photo of their grave.

  5. Many thanks, as we continue our discussion, to all who have contributed comments and information to this thread.

    I started this post almost six years ago now, but there’s still work to be done and I know that the City Council is scheduling more progress as soon as possible. Hopefully when I next go with my camera – maybe when the laburnum arch is in full blossom? – things will look once more as some of you recall.

    It’s lovely that so many people want to share their recollections, views and knowledge about of this green jewel in the heart of our city. Thank you once again!

  6. Elaine Rosenberg

    It’s nearly 5 years since I visited the Botanic Gardens and scattered a few of my parents’ ashes. They used to court there before my father joined the Army and was subsequently sent to Egypt – Mum and Dad were separated then and wouldn’t see each other for almost 3 years. I hope that the LCC is working hard to restore these gardens to their former glory. A city like Liverpool should have as many beautiful green spaces as possible for this generation and those to come. Elaine Rosenberg nee Rogers in beautiful Brisbane. RIP Denis and Joan.

    • Dear Elaine,
      The park will be restored to its original beauty. But with the recession it will be delayed a little. Sefton Park and Stanley Parl already have and at Sefton Park the Palm House is also a conference centre below.
      J Hurst.

  7. Paul Reynolds

    I can remember visiting my granparents in Bremner street in the late 60’s and early 70’s as a kid and going to Bob Smiths Corner shop and buying a couple of Mars Bars for a Shilling.
    Me and my Brother loved playing in the Botanic Gardens, cannot ever forget the staues of Tam O Shanter and Jonny Souter, if they are still there.
    Can also remember many snowy mornings by the Littlewoods Factory sledging down the hill by the Littlewoods factoryIn/and Botanic Gardens.
    It’s sad to hear the gardens are near derelict, but then again all Politicians only spend money in and around london in the posh areas.
    All the best Paul Reynolds

  8. Tony Siebenthaler

    I’ve just been reading through these posts, as well as going through the work that Jil Bradley did last year around the botanical heritage in Liverppol.
    Are there any groups or initiatives looking at highlighting the city’s role in botanical and horticultural fields and/or, more hopefully, actively engaged in restoring some of the city’s gardens?
    I would also be very interested if there are any folk out there seeking to undertake new gardens.

  9. Margret Strachan (nee Murray)

    I remember when as a child walking in the Victorian Gardens on a Sunday in the early 50s. It was a beautiful place with all the flower gardens and walkways. We used to sit in the round covered (what we thought was a bandstand.)
    Then we would head over to the swings near Wavertree Rd end. The field just over the low wall was not well kept in those days. there was always large pools of water during the Spring time, with old Bike tires and empty bottles left to float in it.
    Still, wonderful memories. Shame, it is all gone to seed.
    All things change it seems and not only for the good.
    We lived on ”Flaxman St” which has long gone.

  10. THOMAS MADELEY:- GARDENER at Liverpool Botanic Gardens in the early 1800s???
    I came across an article which stated that Thomas Madeley , my great x 4 grandfather was a gardener at the Botanic Gardens, Liverpool. This would have been in the early 1800s.
    Has anyone seen any records to corroborate this?
    Thanks
    June McCarthy

  11. GARDENS IN LIVERPOOL JOIN IN CAPITAL OF CULTURE CELEBRATIONS
    Opening date: Sunday 29th June 2008
    Two superb private gardens previously unseen by the public, plus ninety city allotments, will open their gates to for the first time as part of the celebration of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year 2008.
    The garden of the University of Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor, Drummond Bone, has previously only been seen by the select few at Graduation garden parties. The large garden in the Toxteth area of Liverpool boasts a rare collection of old shrub roses, a grand formal terrace, grape vine and mature shrub borders. Contact Vivian Bone: 0151 728 8375
    Nearby is the new and developing garden of one of Liverpool’s old merchant houses, Park Mount, overlooking Sefton Park. Here gardener Jeremy Nicholls has been creating a glorious garden using vibrant colours and adventurous planting combinations, with some surprises and many rare plants.
    Contact: Jeremy Nicholls 0151 733 8205 / 07802 676242
    The ninety allotments in Sefton Park will show how well a city plots can provide fruit and vegetables of the highest quality, offering inspiration to other city gardeners. The site includes many interesting community facilities and a plot adapted for disabled gardeners. The site has featured in national TV and film productions – see the ‘Bread’ shed where Lilo Lil held her trysts on plot 89. Contact: Giulia Harding 0151 727 4877
    All the above will open their gates for charity on Sunday June 29th 2008, under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme.
    Sefton Park Palm House will be at the centre of the celebrations with rare and unusual plants for sale, musical entertainment and afternoon tea, and demonstrations from the National Association of Flower Arrangers. Contact: Rosemary on 0151 726 9304.
    Admission is £4.00 with tickets available at all four venues on the day.
    Contact Information:
    Christine Ruth, Press Officer, National Garden Scheme, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester. 0151 727 4877 / 07740 438994

  12. After visiting the gardens today with my 4 year old granddaughter I had to leave after walking about 10 feet into the gardens after being approached by 3 unleashed dogs with 3 different owners each owner telling me ‘It’s ok it won’t harm you’, while a 4th person was throwing a stick for his staffordshire bull terrier dog again unleashed.
    We then proceeded to the play area at Wavertree Road end having to stay on the path so as to avoid dog fouling on the grass.
    Please clean this place up and be more assertive with the dog owners as this could be and was such a nice place to visit with children.

  13. My great-grandfather, Henry Watson Taylor (born Westmorland), worked in the Liverpool Botanic Gardens from the 1850’s until shortly before his death in 1907, aged 92 (no pensions in those days!).

  14. it needs doin up! are children are fallin playing football and end up with glass stuck in them!. were all the flower beds like it used to be ? and the council needs to put lights in there too.
    have u seen how dark it is in the night! its very creepy i hate walking past of a night time. anyone could be in danger if they go in of a night. anyone could be lurking behind the trees and they wouldnt see them!

  15. its a hole and always will be as long as we keep getting [such] council leaders ..

  16. I recently visited Botanic Park on my visit to the UK. I grew up in Kensington but emigrated to South Australia with my family in 62.
    My late parents Joan and Denis Rogers used to court in the park in the late ’30’s and I thought it would be fitting to scatter some of their ashes there. My Mum Joan was Joan Huntington and some older folk might remember Hunty’s bread of Edge Lane; my Dad Denis Rogers worked for C Latham Holmes Chemist.
    I hope the park survives, I was pleased to find a nice spot for the ashes – it was important to me to take them back to where it all started. They were happily married for 60 years and had two children, 5 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild.

  17. Julie Roberts nee Sharp

    I used to live in Botanic Road. I was born there in 1961 and left in 1967. I had the most wonderful childhood there, and the park was the ONLY place I ever wanted to go. We used to visit the botanical gardens, play on the swings in the childrens playground, have picnics on the acres of green grass and yes, although I am ashamed to say, play in the railway sidings. The best memories of my childhood were from long summers with my friends in Botanic Park. I sincerely hope that in this our 800th year the city council can do something to bring it back to the people of Liverpool. What a showcase it could be. We could take on apprentices, have competitions to design gardens etc so much.

  18. Birmingham’s botanical gardens are pay per visit, and this seems like a good idea to both get investment, pay for staff and keep something worth visiting – and it is worth the fee.

  19. I have many memories of Botanic Park when I was a lad in the mid 60` and early 70`s. It was well kept and had many areas for playing football with the railway sidings to one side and Edge lane to another.
    At the top of the park stood (still does in some guise) the splendid looking Littlewoods building. I recall the large letters “Littlewoods above all” across its frontage, sadly its no more.
    In the middle of the park was a beautifull walled victorian garden with the most beautifuls flower, plants, bushes and trees finished off with a central pond filled with fish, catfish and sticklebacks I do recall!
    Yes I had many wonderful long summers there and broke a few bones climbing up trees ha ha.
    In the 21st century I dont this type of park reappearing, especially in Liverpool, due to the current way society choses to behave.
    It would be interesting to hear of anyone elses memories around Botanic park no matter how many years ago.
    I lived in Bremner street which was opposite the park around the corner from Botanic Road which ran alongside the park………great memories.

  20. yeah botanic gardens could do with doin up a bit
    who owns the park is it liverpool council????
    . . . . . . .
    [Answer: Yes, I think the owner is LCC]

  21. Hi I walked around Botanic park the other day and youve got to say its a mess, but like all of Liverpools other parks theve all gone down the pan, gone are the rose gardens nice paths and lawns.
    Dovecot park can best be described as a field, it used to have bowling greens, lake,shelters toilets (yes toilets) childrens theatre, flower beds.
    So that begs the question were has all the cash gone to maintain these parks?
    You cant blame people for not going in them, theres nothing to see and they can be forboding places.
    Peter Bell

  22. as a girl i played in the park it was full of life
    on a sunday my granmother would met her friends in the gardens they would sit for hours chating while we children played in the sun houses thst was after the second war i was told before the war it was very beautiful but to me it was still beautiful i even remember the park plicemans name it was mr dempsey

  23. The trees/plants need to be rearranged in a maner that it does form an enclosed space ie. you can’t see inside or outside. It needs to be a more open space that is inviting and can been seen, no nooks or cranies for neferious activities.
    Get one of those celebrity gardeners to do a makeover and get some PR for the place.
    I’m sure its busy at the weekends for football, and locals walking thier dogs.
    …thats right I’ve never been in it, its just full of boding (yes boding is a word it was used in a Terry Pratchett novel by the talking dog Gaspod)

  24. I would like to think that the gardens could become a resource for local people to enjoy but will not the new widened Edge Lane and its associated developments create an even greater barrier between Kensington and Botanic Park than already exists?

  25. My girlfriend and I took a walk around Botanic Gardens some months ago. It is still a beautiful place but there was a terrible feeling of foreboding about the place. With no one else seemingly around and all but one entrance firmly closed, we felt isolated, vulnerable and distinctly uneasy.
    What a shame considering the enormous potential it has. What a shame that this could not have been the site of the relocation of the botanical collection.
    I hope something comes of the site and will do all I can to assist in whatever capacity.

  26. If you need encouragement, come and look at Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden: Wide green lawns and all sorts of trees, a huge rockery with waterfall, a mature Chinese garden, wide herbaceous border, many specific beds, huge hothouse with tropical and desert plants, a study centre, a thriving cafe and much more…. [See http://www.rbge.org.uk/rbge/web/index.jsp%5D
    I’m not boasting or anything, but it is such a lovely place to visit that I hope you will one day have something like it.

  27. Perhaps even more disgraceful is the status of the Liverpool Garden Festival 1984 site, which as far as I know, has no legitimate access at all.
    Who is now responsible for it, and what if anything, are they doing about it?

  28. Th Botanic Gardens have the potential to provide Liverpool with an unrivalled ‘gateway’ into the heart of the metropolis. Desperately sad how it has been allowed to fall into an almost derelict state.
    There is the opportunity to integrate the botanic gardens with the redevelopment of the spectacular art deco Littlewoods Building. If they take the opportunity provided by the clearences further west along the route to build Parisian style (massing and scale, not aping designs) apartments onto a true boulevard then the magic of visiting to Liverpool would be complete!
    Liverpool has a lost heritage of horticultural and botanical excellence and the Botanic Gardens could be a major asset in reviving the city’s role in these fields again.

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