Oxford Street Maternity Hospital is well-known to generations of Scousers – after all, a fairly high proportion can claim to have been born there since it opened in the 1920s. Now demolished and replaced by apartments, its memory will live on in countless photographs of newly-born babies with their proud parents. Today’s post adds another layer to the changing face of that historic area – a memory that has long been erased from everyone bar a few local historians. The idea of almshouses doesn’t quite fit with the emerging Liverpool but, in 1787, the Corporation of Liverpool decided to erect almshouses ‘in lieu of others formerly created for charitable purposes’. Picton, as always, provides the background. ‘Liverpool is not distinguished like Edinburgh, Warwick, Coventry and some other towns, by munificent foundations for charitable purposes handed down from mediaeval times, In this respect the borough is remarkably poor … The earliest almshouses of which there is any record stood on the south side of Dale Street, near the Old Haymarket … We have no record of any almshouses in existence before 1684, when twelve were erected by David Poole in Dale Street … In 1787, by arrangement with the various trustees, the amshouses in Shaw’s Brow, Hanover Street, and the Haymarket were taken down, and a new range, concentrating the whole, was erected by the corporation beyond the summit of Mount Pleasant, in the midst of a rural district.’
The almshouses served their purpose until about 1911, when they were demolished to make way for the maternity hospital. Their existence must have been somewhat of a financial drain on the Corporation, particularly since the Workhouse had been built on its doorstep.Like many other anachronisms, the almshouses, which had no great architectural merit, had no further use and even their vaguely antiquarian appeal cut no mustard. The area was no longer a rural outskirt of town but heavily built-up – so, once again, photographs provide a window on our past history.
Thank you for all the kind words about the new Fotolore site. Keep on checking it out – new images are being added every day.