All Saints Community Church- not so much a building, more a way of life

History of the Old Swan, Stoneycroft Area

(please- if you have anything to add or correct, please let us know ).

Old Swan started out as a junction of local roads and lanes and the major route between the ancient township of Prescot and the growing port of Liverpool. To the North is Croxteth Hall the home of the Molyneaux family, the Earls of Sefton, with the established village of West Derby and Castle site. To the East is Knotty Ash, Roby and Huyton. To the South is the community of Wavertree. To the West lie Stanley, Fairfield and Kensington, then Edghill, before dropping down to Liverpool.  Just to the north , up Green Lane is the little hamlet of Stoneycroft, hence our All Saints Church is linked to the name of Stoneycroft.

Early pubs were included the Old Swan, The Black Horse. on the  road from Liverpool to Prescot and beyond into Lancashire and London. Along the route , Farmers and drovers would herd their cattle and other livestock, travelling sellers would bring their wares ( how the top end of what is now Broadgreen Road was known as Petticoat Lane, and pack horse trains as many as 50 tied in line with panniers or baskets would carry grain or coal or anything that the growing port of Liverpool needed.

By comparison with much of England the development of Turnpikes in Lancashire was slow. The main areas of initial national growth being not unnaturally the development of the radial roads from London and, perhaps more surprisingly, in the Bristol -Gloucester area. The first Act to affect Lancashire did not come until 1724 and was for a section of the London -Manchester Road via Buxton (A.6).The first wholly Lancashire Act was in the following year, 1725, when Liverpool Merchants obtained an Act for repairing and enlarging the road from Liverpool to Prescot (A.57) after a wet summer affected coal prices. The petition for the Bill included the following passage:-“.the road from Liverpool to Prescot aforesaid is very much used in the carriage of coals to the towns of Wigan, Bolton, Rochdale, Warrington and Manchester and the Counties of York, Derby and other Eastern Parts of the Kingdom, in the carriage of Wool, Cotton, Malt and all other Merchants' Goods, whereby the several Parts of the said Road are so very deep and other Parts so narrow that coaches, wagons and other wheel carriages cannot pass through the same"

To improve the road or track for  reliable travel of mail coaches and goods wagons a Turnpike Trust was set up in 1726.
Liverpool Prescot Turnpike Trust details including tolls  

In time, Liverpool got more of its coal  and cheaply by barge after the construction of the Sankey canal from st Helens down to the Mersey in the late 1700s, and later still, the opening of the Liverpool Manchester railway  in 1831, revolutionised the carriage of  passengers and goods to and from  the East of Liverpool, in effect by passing Old Swan, but as Liverpool grew as a major port and town, Old Swan's location gave opportunity for local manufacturing industries, many of which have come and gone.
 Today many people have to  daily commute by bus, car, train out of Old Swan for work.
Edge Lane which runs through the All Saints Parish  has become a major corridor for cars and articulated lorries rushing in /out of Liverpool Centre and onto the M62 and the national motorway network.It is now the site of the next phase of local economic  development, with the  proposed Edge Lane Central scheme- see architects pictures below.  They promise not manufacturing, but employment  in major retail shops, restaurants and leisure centres , a new park on Mill Lane, a major Merseycare Mental Health Unit , in addition to the computer and call centres, offices and high tech businesses of Wavertree Technology Park.

   the major road junction bottom left is Edge Lane/ St Oswald St, Rathbone Road

This all seems a far cry from the Glassworks, Rope works, and Meccano of the past. A group of us based at All Saints church hope along with others, to collect memories , personal and family stories lest we forget, and also to look positively to the future, and ensure Old Swan is a place and community where hope, caring and support, for young and old can still be found as well as memories.      

Cattle Droving to the Stanley Market

A growing need for Liverpool and the busy  world-wide shipping  leaving the docks was meat and so the farmers from far away across Lancashire herded increasing numbers of livestock along the roads and lanes, through Old Swan , to the Abbatoir on Prescot Rd in Stanley for slaughtering.


tanley was founded as a market for livestock in 1830 by a private company in the district known as Old Swan and Stoneycroft.  On market days the local public houses were filled with drovers from the country.  Stanley Market was on a main corporation tram route and on the main road from Liverpool to the manufacturing districts of East Lancashire and Yorkshire.
  The site was acquired by Liverpool Corporation in 1901.  A new building for Livestock and an Abattoir commissioned by Liverpool Corporation was completed in 1931 and opened by the Earl of Derby. The overhead hanging rail system was to transfer carcasses quickly from the Abattoir to chill rooms.  
 Butchers could oversee the temperature at which meat they wished to purchase was stored at.  The Abattoir was separate from the Livestock Market and it is believed that the Abattoir closed in 1971.
In 1931 Stanley Market Tenant's included some of the leading banks, dealers in offal and butchers accessories and a cafe and the offices were let to firms connected with various branches of the meat trade.  There were meat inspector’s offices, a canteen and a lecture theatre.
 Animals arrived at the market by rail at  Stanley station , on foot or by road.
Stanley station was was opened in 1870 to take goods from Docks to Liverpool and was closed to passengers in 1948.
Christmas shows of dairy cattle, sheep, calves, pigs, poultry, bantams, pigeons and eggs were used to popularise the market.  The Abattoir closed in 1971 now fresh meat is purchased  from North West farmers using local abattoirs.

Well those hard working drovers had to have somewhere to rest afterwards, and so many public houses opened up along the prescot road and the area around the Old Swan.... to look after them ...and take some of their money off them!

  Useful web links

  page on history of Meccano,Frank Hornby and the Binns Rd Factory

page on the garnock and bibby ropeworks, st oswald st moved to Old Swan in 1860's supplying the ships of 'liverpool

pages on former st Oswald House flats on tesco site  do you remember the old flats?

 old swan history website  with loads of victorian and edwardian  pictures .

tram trip through Old Swan 1950's

old pics of Broadgreen road what can you recognise?

Why All Saints Church, Stoneycroft?

At this time, there were growing numbers of merchants and businessmen who want to move out of the overcrowded booming  Liverpool town centre in the 1860's and 70's

Public transport arrived in Old Swan

- the  horse drawn Omnibus travelling between the Town Centre and Old Swan and back

- The new successful  Railway, The Manchester to LIverpool Line ran through the market gardens at the bottom of Broadgreen Road   

The Great Experimental Railway of 1830

probably the best documentary ever on the trials and tribulations and determined success of the Stephensons, George and his son Robert, to build a long distance intercity railway between Liverpool and Manchester, a World First!

 With the help of 1000s of   Irish born labourers (Navvies or Navigators,  they excavated Olive Mount cutting into solid sandstone,, laid rails across Chat Moss over brush matting and a viaduct at Sankey, over another World first, the St Helens canal.

 Narrated by Bob Greasby and first broadcast on TV in 1979 as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the 1829 'Rainhill Trials'.

These transport revolutions transformed communication between Liverpool, its ocean docks and Manchester with its cotton mills and coal mines. The railway carried 450,000 passengers in the first year for a railway intended just to carry goods.

Locally the horse drawn omnibus that ran from Knotty Ash , through Old Swan along Prescot Road and on into the City Centre.

It all meant it was feasible to live in the outer areas like Old Swan and travel daily to businesses and offices 4 miles away in the Centre.

A development  of  25 large villas known as Oakhill Park was successfully built and occupied. These relatively wealthy people did not want to travel on Sundays all the way to St Marys Church in West Derby Village 2-3 miles away and so they got permission for a parish church on their doorstep.
 This created the opportunity for a local place for worship and fellowship which is All Saints today, alongside other local churches including St Oswalds Church on St Oswald St, a Methodist church in Greenfield Rd, which has only recently closed, a Salvation Army Centre on Prescot Rd and of course St Anne's, Stanley near the Market and St Paul's , Derby Lane.
 The location  and boundaries of All Saints Church as a Parish, within the Deanery or area of West Derby was agreed.  The foundation stone was laid in 1872 by Sir Thomas Fernor Hesketh. The architects were  TJ Berry and Sons and the  church building on Broadgreen Rd, was completed and consecrated as a place of  christian worship on the 4th March 1875 by the bishop of Chester.

 Rapid developments of Victorian Old Swan

There were Rapid changes  to Liverpool and the Old Swan/Stoneycroft during the Victorian Period

these included:

  •  Dramatic immigration from Ireland with the potato famine and brutal absentee English landlords  also wanting to clear their lands of crofting smallholders to develop more profitable sheep and cattle farming  . The emigration focused on the USA , and Australia passing through Liverpool, but many didn't make it beyond the docks.
  • Railway- 1830 the first commercial passenger railway in the World, engineered by George Stephenson and his own locomotive the Rocket won the Rainhill trials. The Liverpool to Manchester runs to the South of Old Swan built by merchants to reduce the price of carrying coal, quickly found people wanted to pay travel between Manchester and Liverpool in the morning, do their business and travel back that afternoon. The Worlds first ticketed railway created the World's first long distance commuters, and the first widely publicised railway casualty, in the death of William Husskison MP. It is said the rich influential landowners The Earls of Sefton and Derby lobbied to change the route off away from their lands. Nothing changes!  
  •  Horse Drawn Omnibus into Liverpool starting  abt1860. This enabled people to commute as well. To live in the Old Swan area and travel quickly into Liverpool Centre and, if you were rich, avoiding having to get your own horse and carriage out. If you were poor, avoid having to walk!
  • Turnpike road from Old Swan Prescot 1726 improving the rutted quagmire with the tolls collected.
  • Petticoat lane/ Broadgreen Rd
  • Stanley abbatoir
  • Stoneycroft-  part developed by Richard Radcliffe
  • Old Swan public House
  • OakHill Park
  • local industries included- Glass making on Mill Lane, Ropeworks on St Oswald St and Edge Lane,  Harry Coggins Borax works on Derby Lane,  Scraggs Tripe Dressers at no. 2 Borax St off Rathbone Rd, tram car sheds by Green Lane/ Prescot rd
  • later  came the Meccano kits and Hornby trains and dinky vehicles made in the factories of Frank Hornby 1863- 1936, Littlewoods on Derby Lane ( site of Borax works), Crawfords bicuits, Plessey, Eagle comic apparently  printed nearby. any other industries we have missed?
Old Swan Industrial and Commercial History
to be developed

Cunningham Nurseries- a major exporter of tens of Thousands of fruit trees to the Americas in the 19th Century. The family 

Old Swan social changes and challenges
to be developed

Hoult's Corner

Hoult's Corner Prescot rd/ St Oswald st early 1900's
built over Acresfield Quarry in 1840 demolished in 1939 for  road widening and St Oswald House

The same scene today below with even more road widening, the St Oswald flats  have come and gone , and a Tesco superstore in place.
Notice the traffic policeman replaced by computer operated traffic lights. numerous video cameras on poles and acres of parking for private cars.
let us know of your own memories or family tales 
we could scan and safely return any interesting pics you have to share.

An Old Swan of Large Houses and Farms

Highfield House

built in 1763 by a Mr Wakefield a Sugar Baker. It had a long driveway up from Prescot Road with a lodge either side, close to Baden st today. Finally demolished, the mansion became the site of Highfield school, now Broadgreen International School.

May Place, Broadgreen road

May Place near All Saints dates from the 18th Century and was a grand, rich mans house apparently built from the profits of capturing  Africans as slaves, taking them to forced labour  in America on sugar and tobacco plantations. Its since been a  girls reformatory school, a nursing home and now remodelled as a delightful housing complex for older people.



 Why Old Swan?

The Old Swan Pub named for the Symbol of the Walton family, the Swan.

The oldest hamlet or village in the area was Stoneycroft, centred on the junction of Green Lane and Lister Drive. Hence All Saints Church is linked to the name of Stoneycroft.

Today the area is much more widely know as Old Swan after the pub.

We hope to record information and pictures on how people lived when All Saints Church was built..


if you have any stories and pictures yourself let us know via the guestbook or by email. or see John Bruce Web coordinator.

We have the technology, we  can scan in already printed photos.. with a bit of practice.


please contact John Bruce on 0151 228 1635

We have just started a new seperate website and would value any contributions
Old Swan Then and Now


Community Web Kit provided free by BT