Prince Alfred Road

On reaching Prince Alfred Road, turn left out of the High Street. Cross the end of Pye Street, which is the side turning just beyond the petrol station. Across the road is Wavertree C. of E. Primary School. This was originally built in 1867 as a so-called 'National' school, the founding body being the National Society for the Education of the Poor according to the Principles of the Church of England. This was before the days of State education for all. The architect was Edward A. Heffer, whose use of coloured brickwork is typical of the period.

Having walked past the school and its new playground, cross Prince Alfred Road and go through the gap in the railings opposite No.33, on to the green expanse known as 'The Mystery'. Turn round and you will see an interesting variety of old houses fronting on to Prince Alfred Road, many of them - such as the cream painted block of private flats, once a row of five houses known as Hope Terrace - having unobstructed views over the park.

The present-day Wavertree Playground - better known as the Mystery (or 'Mizzy' for short) ever since it opened to the public in 1895 - was once the grounds of a large house known as The Grange, which stood alongside Prince Alfred Road just 100 yards or so from this point. From 1852 onwards this was the residence of a wealthy Liverpool merchant, the Irish-born Samuel R. Graves. When Graves moved from Falkner Square to Wavertree - and when he became Liverpool's Member of Parliament in 1865 - Prince Alfred Road was called 'Cow Lane', a reminder of its origins as one of the old farm tracks leading out of the village. Not exactly a prestige address for one of Liverpool's leading citizens! Graves must have been very pleased when, in 1866, he played host to Queen Victoria's second son - Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh - and the Local Board agreed to rename Cow Lane in honour of the prince's stay. (Older Wavertree residents remember the time when the C. of E. School was nicknamed 'Cow Lane College'). Prince Alfred was visiting Liverpool to lay the foundation stone of the Myrtle Street Children's Infirmary and to open a new dock entrance ('Alfred Dock') on the other side of the River Mersey.

Samuel Graves died suddenly of a heart attack in the Euston Hotel, London, in 1873, aged 54. He was obviously a much-respected MP, for on the day of his funeral all business ceased in the centre of Liverpool for two hours, and the funeral itself, at the Toxteth Park Cemetery in Smithdown Road, is said to have attracted a crowd of 50,000 mourners. There is a statue of him inside St George's Hall.

The above is an extract from 'DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE',
. © Mike Chitty 1999.
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Page created by MRC 26 February 2000.