by Ava Soe

In November 2010 the Wavertree Society held a meeting, the theme of which was 'The Future of Wavertree Garden Suburb'. A former resident who had moved to another Garden Suburb (Brentham) in the south of England had re-visited Wavertree after 25 years away. His conclusion was that "the conservation rules seem to have lapsed, cheap characterless changes seem to be spreading ..." and that, in short, "the magic has gone". We asked present-day residents whether they agreed, or whether the special character of the area is still attracting newcomers. One of our members - Ava Soe of Southway - has written down her story:

It was love at first sight, when I spent the weekend in Wavertree Garden Suburb. By 1997, this oasis in a city had been in existence for some 87 years. But on that February day, it looked clean, green and unlike anywhere I'd ever seen, as a place where 'ordinary' people lived. On Saturday, I was driven around the Sefton Park and Woolton areas. But on Sunday afternoon, I was taken on a walking-tour down Southway, into Nook Rise, then Wavertree Nook Road, Thingwall Road and Fieldway, and a love affair began.

I can't explain why I was instantly enamoured. Perhaps my instant captivation was down to the fact that I was a devotee of the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris (and the Arts and Crafts movement) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. As I broadened my understanding of these 19th and 20th century titans, I enjoyed learning about their life and times. But previous to my Garden Suburb visit, that ethos, and those days, seemed far removed from 'real life'.

To encounter a modern-day community, living in an environment which, to me, epitomised the concept of a latter-day Arts and Crafts 'Good Life', seemed surreal. But after several visits, it became apparent that 'ordinary' people did indeed live in these lovely houses and with my naïve enthusiasm to buoy me, I set about formulating a plan so that I, too, could move to the Garden Suburb. There then followed several episodes worthy of an Ealing comedy, when on hearing that a house might be coming onto the market, I would regularly make a 50-mile dash from my home in Wardle, to try to get a 'look-in' at the property up for sale. Very few houses became available during this time, but when they did, invariably they would be too small, too expensive, or I anticipated problems with parking because properties were in popular cul-de-sacs.

continued . . .

The view from Miss Ormerod's house,

(Photo by the late Jim Hart)

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