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Left: Crown Street Station was located on Crown Street, Liverpool, England. It opened on 15 September 1830 as the Liverpool passenger terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first public passenger line. The architecture is attributed to George Stephenson.  The station was accessed by a 291 yard long single track tunnel from the deep Edge Hill Cutting to the east, sometime known as the Cavendish Cutting.  

 

Below left: The Edge Hill cutting, just to the West of the existing Edge Hill station, still preserves abundant evidence of the original features of the 1826-30 construction. It leads to three tunnels, the 'Stephenson' tunnel to Crown Street (1829 date Stone at far end), a tunnel to Wapping Goods Station, and the wider, 1846 Crown street tunnel. Thanks go to Scouse Times for the Video.

WELCOME TO EDGE HILL'S HISTORY PAGE

 

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The History of Edge Hill can be addressed by James Stonehouse and his Recollections of old Liverpool -

 

"It does not require a man, to be very old to remember the pleasant appearance of Moss lake fields, with the Moss Lake Brook, or gutter as it was called, flowing in their midst. the fields extended from Myrtle-street to Paddington and from the top of mount Pleasant or Martindale's hill to the rise at Edge-Hill.  The brook ran parallel with the present Grove-street, rising some-where about Myrtle-street. In olden times, before, coal was in general use, Moss Lake fields were used. as a “Turbary,”. Sir Edward More, in his celebrated rental, gives advice to his son to look after “his turbary.” The, privilege of turbury or. “getting turf.” was valuable one and was conferred frequently on the burgesses of towns paying scot and lot. I  believe turf, fit for burning, has been obtained from Moss lake fields even recently. Just where Oxford-street is now intersected by Grove street, the brook opened out into a large pond which, was divided into two by a bridge and road communicating between the meadows on each side. the bridge was of stone of about four foot span, and rose above the meadow level. The sides of the approach were protected by wooden railings, and a low parapet went across the bridge.

 

Over the stone bridge the, road was carried when connection was opened to Edge-Hill from Mount pleasant and Oxford-street was laid out. When the road was planned both sides of it were open fields and pastures. The first Botaic, Gardens were laid out in this vicinity; they extended to Myrtle-strreet, the entrance Lodge stood nearly on the site of the Deaf and Durnb Asylum. In winter the Moss Lake Brook usually overflowed, and caused a complete inundation: On this being frozen over fine skating was enjoyed for a considerable space. The corporation boundary line  was at this side of. the, brook. In summer the volunteers sometimes held reviews upon these, fields, when all the beauty, and, fashion of the town turned out to witness the sight. At this time all the land at the top of Edge-Hill called the Greenfields, On part of which Edge-Hill church is built. Mason-street was merely an occupation lane. The view from the rising ground, at the top of Edge-hill, was very fine, overlooking the town and having the and the Cheshire shore in the background. Just where Wavertree-lane as it was called, commences there was once a large reservoir, which extended for some distance towards the Moss lake fields, Brownlow-lane being carried over it.

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One part of Edge Hill's remarkable history has never been told; indeed, one of its secret wartime duties has been hidden for over six decades.

 

Of course everyone knows about the role that this great port played in the Battle of the Atlantic, and how Hitlers Luftwaffe mercilessly pounded its buildings and its citizens.

 

However, few will now recall that very soon after Dunkirk, one Liverpool firm was already helping the Allies prepare for a Second Front that was still years away.

 

"After the War Was Over" is a most fascinating publication, and its content is unique! In over 200 images, it uses hitherto classified photographs of outstanding large format quality to present a view of the secret goings-on around Wavertree and Edge Hill.

 

Here, in bombed-out factories and on waste ground around Smithdown Lane, Overbury Street, Crown Street, Queensland Street and Falkner Street, a vast fleet of military vehicles were erected in great secrecy.

 

In this Map of 1768, Edge Hill is not a named place. Chetham's Brow is the place name for Edge Hill (which the name was then used at the end of the 18th Century. Note the Moss Lake Fields at the bottom of the map.

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In this Map of 1838, Edge Hill is well structured with direct links from other area's of Liverpool. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway is now established and this was the time that Edge Hill was 'the' place to liverpool as the Gentry took accommodation from Joseph Williamson, the 'Mole of Edge Hill'.

 

In this Map of 1838, Edge Hill is well structured with direct links from other area's of Liverpool. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway is now established and this was the time that Edge Hill was 'the' place to liverpool as the Gentry took accommodation from Joseph Williamson, the 'Mole of Edge Hill'.

 

 

Today, the area of Edge Hill is best known for Joseph Williamson and the amazing Underground Tunnels which were built between 1805-1840. The area still retains the village feel around St Mary's church and derelect properties are making way for new builds - some for the better, some in a backwards step.

 

 

Joseph Williamson was born on the 10th of March 1769 and came to Liverpool to seek his fortune. He found work with the tobacco & snuff firm of Richard Tate based in Wolstenholme Square.

 

This was a family business and when when Richard passed away, his son Thomas took over the firm. Williamson must have been successful both in business and in work relations as he married Thomas' sister, Elizabeth at St Thomas' Church Park Lane.

 

Joseph Williamson moved in to Edge Hill in 1805 in one of the Mason Street houses. A large and spacious house but with little room for a garden, he began to construct archways of about 20 ft below (where literally the 'Edge of the Hill' stopped) and ordered his workers to build brick lined archways to support gardens and orchids above.

 

Williamson, having retired on a good sum then ordered his workers to literally 'excavate and tunnel through the bedrock' to create cellar systems, passageways, tunnels and strange underground locations.

 

Over a 35 year period, Williamson's workers made a labyrinth of enormous size, to which no complete map has ever been found.  The main tunnels area are from Highgate Street down to Smithdown Lane.

 

Fifth Left: Mason Street. A Watercolour by H. Magennis. This is showing the old headquarters of the 2nd Lancashire Artillery Volunteers, 1888. Williamson’s house on left edge of the picture. Today, Magnet's warehouse is the location of this once fine building. More importantly, the largest tunnel under Mason Street is located under this area. The Great Tunnel is larger than the current 'Banqueting Hall' cavern which is situated under Williamson's House.

 

Sixth Left: A view of Mason Street. Williamson's house can be seen directly above the figure in the road.

This road was a well known area for the Gentry and included noted names such as James Martineau, Dr Raffles, Thomas Tipping, Thomas Moss and Cornelius Henderson.

 

Seventh Left: Long after Williamson passed away, we see a view of a rather run down Mason Street showing Williamson's house again to the far right of the picture. Gone are the grand buildings and the Gentry, the area declined in to back to back cramped housing. Only the facade of Williamson's House remains to this day.

 

Eighth Left: We see Mason Street as it is today. The Facade of Williamson's House is still there over 200 years since it was built. Although lots has changed above ground, it is below the surface that has stood still for 200 years.

 

 

Above left: In an undated view, we see Smithdown Lane complete with Ramsbottom's Chimney.

This Chimney was to draw out all of the smoke from the railway tunnel before it became a cutting.

 

 

 

Left: A photograph from the 1960's showing the same view. The shops have now disappeared and the flats are now in place. Smithdown Lane is home to the Heritage Centre for the Williamson's Tunnels.

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