Kirkby Towntrail


This town trail of Kirkby starts at the Council Offices (WFN9) in Cherryfield Drive. These offices were built in the late 1960s on the site of Kirkby Hall Farm (KB4) which was one of the largest and oldest farms in the area. The actual farmhouse is now the site of Kirkby Swimming Pool (KB230) and across the road from the Pool is St Chad's Church (WFN14). The present church was built in 1871, replacing an earlier chapel dating from 1766. The Church interior includes a Norman baptismal font dating from the 12th century and some attractive stained glass windows (KB219).

Continuing up Kirkby Row, one of the oldest highways in Kirkby, we come on our right hand side to an old sandstone dwelling, Sefton Cottage (WFN17). The use of sandstone is a good indication of an old Kirkby building. Further along stood the Post Office (KB43), the site is opposite Holy Angels School. At the top of Kirkby row is the junction with Whitefield Drive (formerly Shaw Lane), and Glover's Brow. Turning into Glovers Brow we pass an old cottage before crossing the bridge over the railway line.

The present modern station building is to the left of the bridge, the original station (KB107) and ticket office being on the right hand side.

Continuing along Glover's Brow, we pass the Railway Hotel, part of which used to be a coal depot. There are then four houses, Inglehurst, Stanley Villa, Pemberton Villa and Homer Lea.

Further on is another Public House, the Carter's Arms (WFN25) We now come to the junction with North Park Road and Mill Lane, some of the properties (KB24) in North Park Road date back to the 1860s. During the war some 200 houses were built on the Park Estate as accommodation for workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory (KB80).

We now turn right into Mill Lane passing as we do so an old building known as Woods Garage and until fairly recently the last remaining smithy in Kirkby (WFN26), this view has barely changed since the early 1900s (KB346). Mill Lane as its name would suggest was the site of a cornmill. The watermill stood until the 1950s and the mill pond and dam, restored (KB69) in the 1960s, can still be seen. Mill Lane now becomes Boyes Brow and this then joins the junction of Bank Lane. Turning right into County Road we pass over the railway bridge. To our left, between the railway line and Ruffwood School (KB232), used to stand the waterworks (KB186) with its distinctive water tower, said to have been modelled on towers at Warwick Castle. This building was demolished in the 1960s but gave its name to the Tower Hill area of the town.

County Road was originally called School Lane (KB50) and the old Church of England school (KB31) was situated on the junction with Old Rough Lane. This school, pulled down in the early 1970s, was erected in 1806, and until the 1950s was the only school in Kirkby. From County Road we turn right into Park Brow Drive. Until the 1880s, at the corner of Park Brow Drive and Bullens Road, stood a cross, locally known as the Weeping Stone. In days past local Catholics were not allowed burial in Kirkby and the procession would halt here on the way to Gillmoss. The cross, which lost its cross-piece in the 19th century, now stands, as an obelisk (WFN16), in St. Chad's Park. Continue to the end of Park Brow Drive and then turn right into Broad Lane, another of the old byways, and then right again into Bewley Drive, formerly called Cat Tail Lane.

It was at Pear Tree Farm, just passed the present Leeside Avenue on the right hand-side, that in 1861 Robert Atherton (KB9), the 'Ploughboy Poet', was born. Atherton, a rather eccentric man, was vicar of Bolnhurst, Bedfordshire for a while before leaving the church. He sustained himself by wandering the country, performing readings of his poetry. He returned to Pear Tree Farm and died there in 1930. Another clergyman, this time far more eminent, was also born at this farm. Peter Augustus Baines was born here is 1786, eventually entering the Roman Catholic Church and taking holy orders. He rose to become Domestic Prelate to the Pope in 1825 and consecrated a bishop in 1829. Continue to the end of Bewley Drive, crossing over Valley Road, the A506, onto Whitefield Drive. This road runs through the Westvale area and up to the Station. On the left you pass Kirkby Sports Stadium (KB92/20) which was opened in June 1964 by local MP Harold Wilson.

Further along Whitefield Drive, at the junction with Ingoe Lane stands an old stone structure known as the Pigeon House and originally used as a dovecote (WFN11). Just behind this structure stands Whitefield House (KB168), built in 1703 and one of the oldest remaining buildings in Kirkby. Retracing your steps to Whitefield Drive, previously known as Shaw Lane, continue towards the railway station and turn right into Kirkby Row to complete our journey back at the Church. At the end of your tour why not take the chance to relax in St Chad's Park (KB92/90),where you will find the ancient obelisk.

(figures in brackets are reference numbers of photos in the main site)





Please send comments or information requests to <webmaster@history.knowsley.gov.uk>
All pages copyright © Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council 1998