IT WAS one of the most elegant mansion houses in south Liverpool, home of Alfred Holt, founder of the famous Blue Funnel Line.
The shipping magnate had the house built to his own design so that he could be close to his brother George, who lived across the road in Sudley House.
Today, Crofton, in North Sudley Road, Aigburth, is desperately in need of a facelift with paint peeling from its wall and crumbling masonry giving an air of dereliction.
Once horse-drawn carriages would have gently journeyed along the driveway to the elegant finely carved entrance pier of the stucco-finished house in grand Italianate style. House servants and stablemen would have been on duty to tend to the needs of the family and their guests.
From the upper tower, Mr Holt would have had commanding views of the River Mersey, able to watch the arrival of his ships from journeys to the Far East.
The days when Liverpool was the premier port city of the British Empire have, like Crofton, faded into the annals of history.
But if housebuilder and developer John Beckett has his way, the main house dating back to the mid-1800s, will be restored to its former glory.
It will be divided into luxury apartments, some costing as much as £500,000, giving 21st-century citizens a chance to share in the limelight and the history of a bygone age.
Mr Beckett is passionate about local buildings and their importance to the local landscape, which is why his company, Darby Macy, specialises in breathing new life into old houses.
If the council planning committee on Tuesday backs his £7m scheme, Crofton will be transformed into 12 flats. Stables on the estate will also be converted, a pig-sty restored and new lodges built in the extensive grounds. In total, there will be 28 new homes created on the site.
Original plans three years ago would have seen a series of three-storey blocks built in the grounds. After widespread opposition, the scheme was refused.
Then there were more than 400 objections, but the new applica-tion has been supported and wel-comed by local people. Only 10 letters of objection have been received and planners are recom-mending approval of the plan.
One objector described Crofton as the jewel in Aigburth’s Con-servation crown. English Heritage has given its endorsement to the scheme.
City council planning manager Nigel Lee says the scheme will pre-serve the historic character and archi-tectural qualities of the relatively unaltered Crofton mansion. The Crofton estate, which is unlisted, represents some of the last remaining significant historic assets in the Aigburth part of the Mossley Hill Conservation Area.
Mr Beckett said: “Following our previous planning application, we held public meetings and spoke at length with the planners. We now feel we have come up with a terri-fic scheme to provide quality homes in a stun-ning, historic environ-ment. If we win approval, we hope to start work within three months.”
larryneild - ICLiverpool