Civic Trust Visit 9th August 2016

WALK IN ROCK PARK CONSERVATION AREA
Your first challenge in visiting this interesting area is to find it. The building of the Rock Ferry by-pass in the mid-seventies left it isolated and stranded next to the Mersey, like a beached whale.
Those, who do find it, return time after time for its atmosphere and to eat at The Refreshment Rooms.
There are even rumours of families returning to its beach with their buckets and spades.
The views over to Liverpool are second to none. It was this connection to Liverpool, which began its development.
Long gone are the Rock Ferry and New Ferry boats to Liverpool, although some members could remember using them in their youth.
Long gone are the Royal Rock Hotel, the Olympian Gardens, the Bath House and the New Ferry Hotel.
The New Ferry pier has vanished and the Rock Ferry Pier is derelict.
We were exploring the remnants of Rock Park Estate. This was an exclusive gated development of housing built between 1836 and 1850. They are all now listed.
A row of plots was available facing the Mersey. There was then an inner and outer ring of plots. The plots were sold speculatively and many of the resulting houses were rented out. One of the area’s most famous tenants was Nathaniel Hawthorne when he was American consul in Liverpool.
What is particularly interesting about the area is the variety of housing styles. It is unlikely that any actual architects were employed in the construction of these homes. No overall style was insisted upon. What you have here is an amalgam of Victorian taste in housing. All the owners of the estate stipulated were the number of houses on a plot and the height of the house. Certain trades were not allowed to be practiced in the area.
The mid-1970s creation of the by-pass literally tore the centre out of this historic estate. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s domed and gabled house was one of the casualties. In Pevsner it is described as an act of vandalism.
We can only thank Su Taylor for a thoroughly informative tour and inviting us into her back/front garden. We had the privilege of also visiting the garden of two of our members.
The walk and visit to The Refreshment Rooms can be done independently.
Account of visit written by Karen McKay

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A group of members with Su Taylor                                       Carriagefolks’ entrance to a house
in a Rock Park garden leading down                                       in Rock Park. One of the multiple
to the Esplanade and Mersey.                                                   styles of doorway on the estate.