Garden Suburbs, Garden Cities and Garden Villages were being developed around Britain in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. What were they? Why were they being built? Who were they for?

Even more interesting for us in Liverpool is to find out why one such Garden Suburb was to develop in Wavertree. Let’s read on and find out……

The idea came from a Victorian belief in progress and to foster equality between the classes. Evil slums and overcrowded working-class terraces needed to be replaced by new suburbs, built in a new way. Building on cheaper land meant housing costs could be kept lower. Also, technological advances in the use of gas, electricity and electric appliances meant fewer servants were needed and the Tenants would have more time for club activities, hobbies, sport and education.

Liverpool Garden Suburb develop on the lines made familiar by examples of
Co-partnership Housing at Ealing, Hampstead and elsewhere. In 1982, Bedford Park was the site for the first Garden Suburb. Then in 1901, Co-partnership in Housing was launched in Ealing (Near Bedford Park) and the Garden Suburb idea was established further.

This extended throughout the country and of which Liverpool Garden Suburb affords a most conspicuous example.

Garden Suburbs

Ealing (First Co-partnership Estate 1901)
Hampstead, North London (1909)
Letchworth, Hertfordshire (1910)
Anchors Tenants, Leicester
Liverpool Wavertree (1910-1914)
Glyn Cory, Cardiff
Fallings Park
Nast Hyde
Northwood and Ruislip

Garden City


Garden Villages

Port Sunlight

9 February 1910, the Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants (Ltd) were registered to help plan a future for suburban housing for people of Liverpool. Their aim was to meet the needs arising out of the housing problem within Liverpool and to provide attractive houses on the outskirts of Liverpool, with gardens and open spaces. The land area selected was between Broad Green, Wavertree, Childwall and Woolton. The land was part of the Marquis of Salisbury’s Lancashire Estate. 185 acres were leased from the Marquis of Salisbury for a term of 999 years. On 20 July 1910, the Marchioness of Salisbury laid the foundation stone of the first house in Wavertree Nook Road. The first phase was built by 6 November 1911. 126 houses were laid, with 100 completed and inhabited.


The sponsor of Liverpool Garden Suburb was Henry Vivian (Politician). He applied ideas of the co-operative moment to the provision of housing and was linked to the Ealing and Hampstead Garden Suburb projects.

The architects were Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin. The first area of the Wavertree Suburb was laid out by Raymond Unwin. He had earlier discussions with Lord Leverhulme, George Cadbury and Lutyen about housing and street plans. Between 1906-1911, Unwin and Lutyen collaborated on Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Sutcliffe completed Luyten’s buildings in Hampstead after he was called away to build New Delhi. Sutcliffe took over the Co-partnership Tenants Housing Society in 1910. He laid out the rest of the Liverpool Garden Suburb Estate and was responsible for the design of ALL the houses.

Many planners presented their plans and ideas to a competition held in 1911 (set up by Lord Leverhulme’s finances). The judge was Unwin. Henry Vivian presented the prizes to the young planners.

Unwin and Vivian brought the ideas to Liverpool. Unwin himself went on as consultant to similar schemes in Chester, Cardiff, Manchester and Leicester.


These important aims were considered for construction of the Liverpool Garden Suburb, Wavertree and to make living there advantageous.

 To provide attractive and spaced out housing accommodation on the outskirts of Liverpool, amid surroundings which conduce to both health and pleasure for people with ‘moderate’ means.

 To build 1800 houses within a satisfying environment (though only managed quarter of that total in the end).

 To secure a higher type of social life among the members of such communities.

 To prevent the deterioration of the districts in which they are placed.

 Enhance a “fresh-air” lifestyle.

 As far as possible existing trees and hedgerows would be persevered. Many new trees would be planted.

 Each house would have a good sized garden which the Tenants would be encouraged to keep in very good order and bright with flowers.

 On the estate, every road would have its own characteristics with open spaces within reach of all.

 Introduction of many up-dated labour saving arrangements to solve the question of a servant (e.g. electrical appliances).

 Convenience of commuting to and from Liverpool City Centre.



Open Spaces:

They included children’s playgrounds, football pitches, cricket fields, bowling and tennis lawns, recreation greens e.g. Fieldway Square, organised games e.g. hockey.
All were very well used by the Tenants.


Attractive. Many with different features. Tenants were able to consult on decorations, interior colours, fittings. The houses were well spaced out with only 10 to 12 houses to each acre of land against 40 per acre in many parts of Liverpool. Attached cycle sheds and coal bunker. Indoor parlour, living room, scullery, larder, upstairs bathroom and toilet (unusual in 1912!) with hot water tank, at least three bedrooms. More privacy. Labour saving electrical appliances. Gas and electric. Back boilers to heat water tanks.

First two houses built were semi-detached, Wavertree Nook Road.
Mixture of styles: Cotswold: Medieval, Queen Anne, Wealden.
Materials: roughcast, brick, half timbering, tile hanging, chimney stacks, dormer, bay, casement windows.

Insistence that external paintwork be either black or white.
Sutcliffe attempted to design each house differently. Maybe an extra door, skylight, keystones, feature gables.

Unwin popularised Cul-de-Sacs because less road meant less money to be paid.


Many front gardens are now parking spaces for cars. Gardens separate houses from roads. Attractive. Trees encourage birds to rest. Terms of lease  all privet hedges must be trimmed to a height of three feet! Back garden to grow vegetables and hang out the washing. Garden Suburbs named after them.


made available for shops, postal pillar boxes and a school.

Develop Social Life:

As well as the Open Space activities, there was the Club House on Thingwall Road. This held a variety of meetings such as choir, horticultural society, women’s guild, magazine club, Parliament Debate Society, Reading Room, Dancing, Junior Club, Billiards and Snooker, Concerts, Children’s Sunday School and Sunday Adult School.

The Liverpool Garden Suburb Institute was there almost 200 years before the Suburb itself. Originally a farm building. It was then used as a school for the children of the new suburb before Northway Junior Mixed and Infant School was built in the late 1920’s (having been promised in the plan).


The land area chosen for the Liverpool Garden Suburb was most appropriate because it had convenient local transport. One side of the estate adjoins Broad Green Station (LNWR), an eight minute walk away. The Broad Green to Lime Street 10 minute journey cost 1s 7d return in 1914, with a special workmen’s weekly cheap rate of 1s 6d or £3 16s Od per year. Trains ran from 6.00 am to 11.30 pm. The East side of the estate was bounded by the Southport and Cheshire Railway line with its Childwall Station within a few minutes walk.

Also, the new Queens Drive roadway was under construction through the estate. In 1912, the Edge Lane Drive provided fast electric tram service to Liverpool Centre for only 2d. Journey time of four minutes with trams running from 5.00 am till 11.00 pm. In the early days of the Suburb, trams left from Picton Clock (Wavertree High Street), an eight minutes walk from the estate. This was one of the main reasons for starting the Suburb at that end.

The residents also had Roby Golf Course and Calderstones Park within half an hour’s walk away.


The first semi-detached villas in Wavertree Nook Road had rents of £21.00 per annum. Other annual rents cost from £15.00 to £60.00 per year. Nook Rise seemed to have the cheapest rental of eight shillings per week, including rates. Other evidence suggests that weekly rents went from 8s 8d to 9s 3d, plus 5s a month for rates, plus a season ticket on the LNWR at 1s 6d a week. (All in cost about 13 shillings a week).

INHABITANTS: (Gore Directory 1915)

Clerk. Civil Servant. Salesman. School Teacher. Bank Manager. Joiner.
Ship’s Steward. Tram depot Supervisor. Tailor’s Cutter. Printer. Motor Driver. Churchman. Musician. Journalist

Half the inhabitants list NO occupation and therefore more likely to have

Liverpool Garden Suburb at that time had fairly ordinary lower middle-class/upper working-class Liverpudlians.


About their new artistically designed modern dwellings: -

“There is a new interest and zest in our lives. We feel we are partners in a social experiment full of promise for the future and that in helping to build up an organised community, we are makers of History”.

“18 months ago, we were living in an ordinary house, crowded with our neighbours. In front were spiked iron railings, while at the rear was a tiny back yard surrounded by six-foot brick walls and overlooked by the windows of the next row of houses. Now, what a change! For the same rent we are living in an artistically designed dwelling where light and air have free access, with electric light and every modern comfort at hand. At the front and rear we have gardens with scent and colour and vegetables. We are surrounded by congenial friends and a vigorous social life. Our children have the free run of the playground where they can live the open air life free from the dangers and contaminations of the streets. We have voting power to elect the Tenant’s Council which manages the social affairs of the Suburb. We have received our dividend upon our investment of Loan Stock, and are looking forward to an increased return as the estates develops”.

Second Phase:

Two years of the Liverpool Garden Suburb was celebrated on 29 June 1912 with the Tenants’ Council organising the Children’s Summer Festival on the Estates Green. The Garden Suburb social life was inaugurated on 1st July 1912.

On Sunday 16 July 1912, the Surburb was visited by a party of distinguished Germans (Mayor, Town Councillors, Architects, Town Planners and Businessmen who were making a Town Planning and Housing Tour of Great Britain). They were very impressed with the Wavertree Garden Suburb.

Third Phase:

4 July 1914, a Festival was held on Fieldway Green to commemorate four years of the Suburb.

The third phase of construction began in the Summer of 1914. Although there was a declaration of war with Germany, 6 August 1914, work continued on the houses until December 1914. Then it stopped, never to begin again.


The end of the First World War brought enormous inflation in building costs. Sutcliffe find it too difficult to continue building. Only about one quarter of the estimated 1800 houses that had been originally planned were ever to be completed.

With this sudden halt, the temporary shops in Wavertree Nook Road (a newsagent’s, hairdresser, fish and chip shop and a co-op store) became a permanent feature. They gave present day Liverpool Garden Suburb a small-scale village like quality.


 1994-1995 The Liverpool Garden Suburb Study by Cornelius Kavanagh
Liverpool Library rare book sequence.

 Gores Directory

 Liverpool Garden Suburb Souvenir Book
July 1910-July 1914

 Available from Bookshops:
DISCOVERING HISTORIC WAVERTREE VILLAGE AND GARDEN SUBURB by Mike Chitty. Published by the Wavertree Society 1999 ISBN O 9536441 0 3


Some Early Recollections of Liverpool by Augustine Birrell.
Liverpool Henry Young & Sons Ltd. 1924


Birrell’s memories
Born Olive Lane, Wavertree Village, 1850.
Wavertree pronounced WARTREE in those days.

1850’s Wavertree had a coach drawn by four horses, with a guard who blew a long tin horn. Took the villagers into Castle Street.

Wavertree Village Green had an old-fashioned LOCK-UP in the middle.
Nearby was a deep WELL cut in old, red sandstone. Legend on it in Latin. Whenever anyone closed his heart against the cry of the poor

Suggest further reading from:
by Mike Chitty, Wavertree Society 1999
ISBN O 9536441 0 3