Kirkdale lies on the north side of the city, between Liverpool and Bootle. In the early 19th century the land was still mainly in agricultural use, and the principal settlement, a small village with the chapel of St Mary, lay in the south-east corner of the township. Even at this early date, however, before Kirkdale began to be absorbed into greater Liverpool, institutions - some charitable, some governmental - figured prominently in the landscape.

Purely local needs were served by two small institutions shown on the mid-19th-century Ordnance Survey map: in the south of the township, close to the fast-advancing front line of Liverpool’s expansion, was a small dispensary in Great Mersey Street which provided free advice, treatment and medicine to the poor; and close to St Mary’s chapel there was a small Anglican church school, built in 1814 to provide elementary education for a few of the children of the township.