Old Swan is centred on the road junction between Prescot Road, running east to west, Derby Lane (from the north) St Oswald Street (from the south) and Broadgreen Road (from the south-east). It is named after a public house called the "Three Swans", which served the pack-horse route along Prescot Lane (now Prescot Road) during the 18th century.
The name was derived from the coat of arms of local landowners, the Walton family. The inn stood at the corner of Prescot Lane and Pettycoat Lane (now Broadgreen Road). The junction later acquired two more pubs, the "Swan Vaults" (now called the "Old Swan") and the "Cygnet" (now closed), while the original pub has been replaced by another, the "Red House" (now closed).
For Old Swan maps circa 1830's, St. Oswalds church does not appear until 1842. The first map, Plot 2473 is roughly where St. Oswalds church will be built. The Quarry is where Hoult's Corner was built.
The heart of Old Swan today is dominated by a large Tesco's and has lost its Village feel. The area is heavily used by cars especially with a new supermarket on the old college site, but driving through on a quiet day, one can still take in the original sights of the old Village.
St Oswald's with its fine spire at one end of Old Swan and the imposing St Paul's Church at the other end. St Oswald's Street can be found between Edge Lane and the 'centre' of Old Swan. Fr Maddocks built a school between his house and the street.
This, the present Parish Hall was St. Oswalds first School and it opened in 1845. Children came from the far end of of West Derby, from Knotty Ash and Wavertree. The School was divided into two parts by a wooden partition resting on an iron rail, the part nearest the street being for the boys.
There is no record of any teachers in the school for the first few years but in1850, in order to be sure of teachers for the children, Fr Maddocks did a very Charateristic thing, he invited the Sisters of Mercy, who had come to Mount Vernon in 1842 to come to Old Swan.
Liverpool was the first city to obtain an "Act of Parliament" for a local tramway service. The Liverpool Tramways Company got it's act in 1868 and operations started in November 1869 with 16 horse drawn cars.
These cars were double deckers seating 46 passengers and were built by John Stephenson of New York and George Starbuck of Birkenhead. Liverpool had one of the most interesting tramway systems in Britain which operated up until the 14th September 1957. After the second world war, the city of Liverpool foolishly decided to follow a fashion and abandon the tram in favour of buses.
The Sisters quickly became involved in the activities of the school which had been founded some six years earlier. They contributed in all aspects of the developing parish communty. Only three years later the school was so overcrowded that it had to be replaced by the building which now serves as a Youth Club. As the years went by the cemetery in Mount Vernon was filled and so a new one was approved on the site of the Old Swan Convent. Eventually all the Sisters from Mount Vernon were re-interred in Old Swan along with many other Sisters in the beautiful setting of the Convent garden. This cemetery contains a memorial to the Sisters who nursed the soldiers with Florence Nightingale in the Military Hospitals during the Crimean War. Two of the Sisters died while in the Crimea and the third Sister who volunteered for service there died after returning home.
Derwent Road existed, one side of Derby Lane, a few shops between there and Greenfield Rd and on to Stanley where was the then new Cattle Market. St. Annes Protestant Church was built in 1831 and on the east side of it were two or three little streets. The opposite side was occupied by farms. Opposite Green Lane there was a school called Salisbury House and from there, up to St. Oswald's St ( then Edge Lane ) there were a row of cottages with long gardens. Behind these and taking there names from the near by quarries were Rock Mount ( North and South ), Rock View and Rock St.Rock St. emerged into St. Oswald's St, parallel with it was Victoria Place and next to that was the Rope Works. On the Church side of St. Oswald's St there were a row of cottages, with long gardens which came up to the railings of the present Infant School.
Past the Rope Works there were the fields belonging to Elm House. Elm House stood between Elmshouse Rd and Edge Lane Drive. This description gives us an idea what the area was like around 1840. Opposite Gorton Rd in Broadgreen Road there were two or three cottages. In one of these, Fr Maddocks Lived. He said Mass for more than two years, every Sunday, in an outhouse and it is recorded that so great was the attendance that the windows were left open so that the cowds, kneeling outside on the cobblestones could hear mass. The land for the St. Oswald's Church was a gift from Mr. Edward Chaloner of Oak Hil House.
At the end of 1839 the foundation stone of the church was laid. The architect was the best Catholic architect of his day, Mr. A.W. Pugin, famous for his re-introduction of the Gothic style. The builders were the firm of Myers and took two years to build. It was opened on 4th August 1942 amid great rejoicing by Bishop Brown and a large congregation.
The spire (approx 165 ft) became a land mark for miles around and, unfortunately, a target for German bombing during the blitz. The main door was painted green as was customary in Pugin churches and the porch led to a winding staircase up to the choir and organ loft. After 1855 the bell pull on the left rang out the times of Mass. The side door facing south was also approached through a porch.
The 1842 church celebrated its golden Jubilee in 1892 and its centenary in 1942. For a long time it had become obvious that it was too small for the needs of the mid 50s. The expanding congregation flooded out often to the gates at the Sunday Masses and, despite the building of Christ the King 1925/6, St.Cuthbert's 1927/8 and St.Margaret Mary's 1931/2, the building itself would have to be extended if not rebuilt.(See Fr. Coughlan) Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was consulted and his decision was to widen and extend the church eastwards while retaining the existing porch, doorway and steeple. But the war intervened and work was suspended until peace time.
New plans were drawn up by Mr. Adrian Scott and in 1954 work began on the extension as the old church was taken down inside the old and all services continued as normal. It was blessed and Mass celebrated on 10th december 1956 by Dean Coughlan and, as Archbishop Godfrey was appointed the next Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the official opening was delayed until Archbishop Heenan had been installed as Archbishop of Liverpool and took place on the 2nd October 1957.
During the late 1970's Peter Halligan took it upon himself to take a "few" pictures around Old Swan, without realising, some 30 years later we'd all be enjoying the fruits of his labour.
Peter's collection of photographs are a great visual documentary of Old Swan.
The Green Lane - Prescot Road Tram / Bus Depot. Again, circa 1979.
Bibby Street - This street "WAS" unadopted, so the road was never maintained. The cobblestones were still evident in 1979
Looking along Prescot Rd, towards Green Lane from Old Swan. Nurseryworld and All Mankind were shops under the flats. Greenbergs, just along on the left, just after the carpet shop and the Gents Convienience. To the right is the Cygnet Pub.
Capturing the White House and The Red House. The road layout hasn't changed but the shop to the right of the White House, used to be their "Off Sales" !
Taken from the entrance to St Oswalds Flats, a view of St Oswalds Church, built in 1842.To the right of the church is the original school.