THE HISTORY OF OUR GREEN SPACES
No.5: ALDERMAN JOHN VILLAGE GARDENS
Between Escor Road and Headbourne Close, on the eastern side of Gateacre Park Drive, is a public open space which used to be the site of Jackson's Pond (marked as 'Cistern Pit' on 19th and early 20th century Ordnance Survey maps). This was a popular place for local - and not so local - youngsters to visit, to enjoy fishing and raft building (and, occasionally, ice skating in the winter). The pond was fed by the spring or well - in Well Lane - that, probably, gave Childwall its name.
The public open space was first designated in Liverpool Corporation's Town Planning Scheme No.2 in the 1930s - the same document that led to the construction of Gateacre Park Drive. Its official name is Alderman John Village Gardens; though there is no signboard currently displayed, and some sources call it 'John Alderman Village Gardens' owing to an error on Google Maps.
The open space was named after a man called John Village (1888-1964), who was a prominent member of Liverpool City Council from the 1930s onwards. He is listed in the 1911 Census as a 'Motor Car Driver, Taxi Cab', living in Harrowby Street, Toxteth Park. By 1919 (Gore's Directory of Liverpool) he was a 'taxi-cab proprietor', his garage being at 104 South Street on the other side of Princes Road. In 1931 - by which time he was listed as a 'director', living at 2 Menlove Gardens South - he was elected as a Conservative Councillor for Wavertree.
Councillor John Village was Chairman of the Parks & Gardens Committee in 1944/45 and the Road Safety Committee in 1946/47. In 1949 he was made an Alderman, which was a title awarded to well-respected Councillors, enabling them to serve on the Council without having to be elected for a particular ward. By then, his profession was described as "a company liquidator specialising in the construction industry" and he was also connected with various Liverpool estate development companies.
Jackson's Pond was filled in around 1966-68 - presumably for public safety reasons, as many hundreds of houses and flats (both Council and private) were being built nearby in that decade. The ground remains boggy, yet in 2015 it was on the list of green spaces being considered for development/ sale by the City Council. Fortunately this proposal (reported in our January 2015 Newsletter) was soon abandoned, and the open space - which has direct links to the Sustrans Loop Line cycle path - remains as a well-used and appreciated local amenity.