The School for the Blind

Continue along Church Road North, until you are standing opposite a pair of tall, ornamental metal gates set between stone piers, about 100 yards before the traffic lights. This was at one time the main pedestrian entrance to Wavertree Hall (or 'Hamilton Hall' as it is referred to on the 1851 Ordnance Survey map), an old mansion whose site is now occupied by the Royal School for the Blind. The 'gates' are, in fact, incapable of being opened. They were installed in 1986 as a reminder of the similarly-ornate gates which stood here until they rusted away and were removed in 1955. Through those gates, it was said, the daughter of the house had eloped with the coachman one night, and as a result her father, in sadness and disgust, had ordered them to be permanently locked. So it was that, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, that entrance to Wavertree Hall was never used; and the present 'phoney' gates continue that tradition!

The School for the Blind building dates from 1898, having been paid for largely by an anonymous donor (thought to have been Miss Mary Louisa Hornby, a cousin of the Hornby sisters of Sandown Hall). The architects were Messrs H. & A. P. Fry of Liverpool. The old Wavertree Hall - not, it seems, considered at the time to be a building of any great interest - was completely demolished to make way for it. The Liverpool School for the Blind had been founded in Commutation Row, by Edward Rushton, as long ago as 1791. It was the first school of its type in Britain - second only to one in Paris - and by the 1890s was well-established in Hardman Street, Liverpool. The Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act of 1893 made a new building necessary, and the Wavertree site was decided upon. The 'Royal' prefix was authorised by the Queen in 1966.

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