Wavertree Gardens

Walk down alongside Wavertree C.of E. School's playground fence, turning right to reach the old sandstone boundary wall which now separates the park from the Prince Alfred Nursing Home. Follow this wall round as far as the electricity sub-station, then leave the Mystery through the gate to your right. You are now standing alongside Wavertree Gardens, one of the few surviving examples of Sir Lancelot Keay's tenement blocks. Built in 1935, the 72 flats were designed to house families displaced by local slum clearance in Pye Street, Hills Place and other similar 'courts' off the High Street.

Lancelot Keay was Liverpool's Director of Housing from 1925 onwards, and also City Architect from 1939 until his retirement in 1948. He initially specialised in producing very attractive, low density suburban estates, but during the 1930s the scale of the rehousing problem, together with a new system of government grants, encouraged him to increase densities. Keay designed a number of tenement blocks - all euphemistically named 'Gardens' - some of them, like this one, neo-Georgian but most of them in a modernistic style inspired by Continental architects. In 1935 Wavertree Gardens was visited and admired by delegates to the 14th International Housing and Town Planning Congress. Now, however, the block is sadly neglected, and its future is uncertain.

Before entering the High Street, look down beneath your feet. You should be able to make out different types of stone: sandstone blocks on the outside and smaller granite setts in the centre of the path. This is a - probably unique - reminder of the days of horse-drawn trams in Liverpool. Wavertree Gardens was built partly on the site of the Liverpool Tramways Company's depot and stables, and the granite setts were laid between the tram tracks so as to avoid the road surface being eroded by the constant clatter of horseshoes. This is a feature which could so easily be lost during the course of 'improvements' to the footpath.

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