The Picton Clock Tower

The Picton Clock Tower - at the junction of Childwall Road, Church Road North and the High Street - has been a local landmark for over 100 years. It was presented to the people of Wavertree by Sir James Picton in 1884, having been designed by him as a memorial to his wife Sarah, who had died in 1879 after fifty years of happy marriage. Picton was a prominent local resident. Born in Liverpool, the son of a timber merchant, Picton became a well-known architect and surveyor. He moved to Wavertree in 1848, having designed and built himself a house - Sandy Knowe - in Mill Lane.

James Allanson Picton was a prominent member of both the Liverpool Town Council and the Wavertree Local Board of Health. In Liverpool he was Chairman of the Libraries Committee for almost forty years. As a mark of respect, one of the main library buildings was named after him in 1879, and two years later he was knighted by Queen Victoria in recognition of his 'high attainments and public services'. As well as being a linguist and seasoned traveller, Picton was a keen student of local history. His two-volume work entitled 'Memorials of Liverpool' remains one of the leading reference books on the city's buildings and personalities.

In order to begin the walk, you should cross - with great care - on to the central roundabout, and stand by the base of the clock tower. The inscription facing Church Road North reads 'Time wasted is existence; used is life'. It is difficult to think of a more fitting epitaph for Sir James Picton himself, who packed so much activity into his 83 years. Facing the High Street is another inscription, recording the dedication of the tower to 'his beloved wife Sarah Pooley'. After fifty years of marriage Sir James still seems to have referred to his wife by her maiden name! Before the days when everyone had watches or radio sets, the villagers of Wavertree would tell their children to 'go and see what the time is by Sarah Pooley'.

Sir James Picton deliberately chose this spot as the site for his gift, so that the clock could be seen by as many people as possible. It was the very centre of the old village. Before the Clock Tower was built it was the site of the 'Big Lamp', marking the parting of the ways for travellers to Old Swan, Childwall and Gateacre.

The above is an extract from 'DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE',
. © Mike Chitty 1999.
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Page created by MRC 20 February 2000.