The Dingle: digging into the past

Dingle Vale allotments

In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation…
– TS Eliot, Four Quartets

There’s always a sense on city allotments of the ‘fields beneath’ – the land as it was before it was urbanised.  Gillian Tindall explored this idea 30 years ago in The Fields Beneath, whose title was prompted by an inscription above the door of a Victorian terrace house in Kentish Town: ‘The fields lie sleeping underneath’.  But here, on our recently-acquired plot on Dingle Vale allotments in the south end of Liverpool, that feeling of being close to ancient land seems especially strong.

The allotments stretch along both sides of the railway line that runs southeast to Aigburth and Garston, and here disappears into a tunnel under Shorefields school to emerge at Brunswick Dock.  The plots tumble down the sides of a fairly deep declivity that, with a little bit of research, I discovered was the Dingle – the once-picturesque valley that ran down to the Mersey at Knott’s Hole, and which gave its name to this part of the city.  The photo below reveals what it looked like around 1900, when it was a pleasant destination for a country ramble.  The allotments came in 1923, and this is the view across the valley now: the Dingle ran down to the Mersey to the left, the railway line is to the right.

This land was once part of Toxteth Park, established in the 13th century for the recreation of King John when he visited the castle he had erected in the settlement to which he had granted the privileges of borough and seaport in 1207.  The Domesday Book records Toxteth (Stochestede, the stockaded or enclosed space) as still being possessed by Bernulf and Stainulf, Saxon thanes, even after the Conquest.

The Dingle was one of four ‘lost’ streams that flowed through Toxteth Park to join the Mersey. The Dingle stream rose in the higher land around the present High Park Street,  flowed down what is now Park Road past the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, passed through the grounds of the Turner Home and the present allotments, before entering the Mersey at Knott Hole behind a rocky outcrop known as Dingle Point.  This was a rural area of rolling hills and isolated farmsteads until comparatively recent times, as revealed on Perry’s map of 1768.  It was only in the second half of the 19th century that the regiments of terraced streets that characterise this area now began their march along Park Road.

As late as the mid-19th century the Dingle was still a rural area of large houses, vast gardens, babbling streams and a long beach on the Mersey known as Jericho Shore that stretched from Knott’s Hole at the mouth of the Dingle towards Garston in the south east.  Smith’s Stranger’s Guide to Liverpool described the Dingle in 1843 as:

A sweet romantic dell…It is a delightful retreat, extending to the river, having all the diversity of hill and dale, wood and grove, tastefully laid out in shady and winding walks, with numerous arbours and rustic seats [see the 1821 drawing at the head of this post].  Few persons in Liverpool are aware of the beauty of this romantic spot, which is certainly a rare acquisition for the neighbourhood of a large town.  Admission is gratuitous, visitors only being required to enter their names in a book at the lodge, to prevent improper persons gaining access to the ground.  The Dingle, in Park Road, is two miles from the Exchange, and is passed by an omnibus from town eight times a day.

In 1841 Thomas Kaye added this detail:

The projecting land around the place forms the western end of a sweet romantic dell, well known by the name of the Dingle, a favourite pleasure resort of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who have liberty of access to it at stated times and under certain restrictions, by the permission of the public-spirited proprietresses, the Misses Yates, by whom the grounds are kept in a good state of cultivation.  The upper part of the tower of St. Michael’s, Toxteth Park, appears peeping through the rich foliage of  the trees arising from the Dingle.

The ‘Misses Yates’ referred to in that extract were Anna Marie and Jane Ellen Yates.  The two days a week on which they allowed the public access across their land to the Dingle in the 1830s and 1840s, before there were any public parks in Liverpool, became known locally as ‘Dingle Days’.  It was their brother, Richard Vaughan Yates, who owned the estate (marked in red on the 1847 Dingle Tithe Award map, below). The property fronted onto what is now Aigburth Road (then known as Park Lane), on the site now occupied by the Turner Nursing Home and the old Shorefields school building. The site occupied by the allotments today is marked in green, as is the location of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth. [Click on map to enlarge.]

Richard Vaughan Yates was the man who financed the first public park in Liverpool – Princes Park. Yates was a wealthy iron merchant and philanthropist who, ‘desirous…that a place of healthful and pleasant recreation should be secured for the people’, paid the Earl of Sefton the hefty sum of £50,000 in 1842 for the land and employed Joseph Paxton to do the landscaping.

The Yates family eventually sold their estate to Charles Turner, a shipowner, M.P, and first chairman of the Dock Board (Mersey Docks and Harbour Board).  After he died in 1875 at Dingle Head, the home he had built on the estate, his widow gave £40,000, with an endowment, to establish the Turner Home to provide accommodation and residential care for chronically sick men and boys.  The Home, named in memory of her late husband and their only son who had died in his twenties, was built in the grounds of Dingle Head and opened in 1884. Robert Griffiths in his  History of Toxteth Park described it as a ‘princely monument…. an ideal home of rest, nestling peacefully in the seclusion of shady bowers….. remarkable for its chaste picturesqueness…. the material used, red sandstone…..’.

The Yates family were Unitarians, the dissenters with roots in Toxteth Park since the early 17th century.  In 1823 the Yates family sold the nearby estate of Dingle Bank (outlined in blue on the map above) to the Cropper family, who were Quakers well known in Liverpool throughout most of the nineteenth century for their philanthropic works.  James Cropper was a wealthy shipowner whose firm, Cropper, Benson & Co., formed in 1799, carried mail and passengers as well as cargo between Liverpool and America.  At one stage the company was making £1,000 per day profit.

Cropper built three large houses at Dingle Bank for members of his own family, and Dingle Bank Cottages on the shore for estate workers.  These buildings can be seen on the detail from the 1906 Ordnance Survey map below.

These watercolours, painted in 1893, depict the views from Dingle Bank across the Mersey to th Welsh hills, and southeast along the Jericho shore towards Otterspool and Garston docks.  The site was one of outstanding natural beauty and was the subject of much envy. The land sloped down to the River Mersey, looking south away from the docks up the Mersey where it broadened out into a great lake with shining islands of sand at low tide. One contemporary commented that it was ‘like living in the country and at a very interesting seaside place at the time, with the shipping and yacht racing and yet within a couple of miles of the centre of a huge town’.

The Croppers had made the grounds of Dingle Bank’s even more exquisite with a walk around the property which followed winding paths lined with Japanese plants and trees and crossed a wooden bridge. Several arbours with seats were placed along the walk overlooking the sandy beach of the Jericho shore, where, according to a contemporary account, ‘peace and tranquillity could be found in the beauty of the surroundings’.

James Cropper set up a ragged school on Miles Street, just off Park Road, which provided teaching in moral and elementary education to pauper children.  He was deeply involved in the campaign against slavery and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin visited Dingle Bank on a tour of England.  She was overwhelmed by the welcome she received there and from other dignitaries of Liverpool, and found the beauty of Dingle Bank captivating.

Other visitors to Dingle Bank were  the feminist Josephine Butler, the novelist Mary Augusta Ward and her uncle, the poet Matthew Arnold, who died in Dingle Lane in April 1888 while visiting his sister, Susan Cropper.  He was running to catch a tram to the Pier Head to meet his daughter, who was visiting from the United States.  There’s now a primary school on Dingle Lane that bears his name.

James Cropper’s son, John was also committed to the anti-slavery movement and attended the first World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840 which attracted delegates from America, France, Haiti, Australia, Ireland, Jamaica and Barbados.  He was the subject of a poem, Dingle Bank, by Edward Lear:

He lived at Dingle Bank – he did; -
He lived at Dingle Bank;
And in his garden was one Quail,
Four tulips and a Tank:
And from his window he could see
The otion and the River Dee.

His house stood on a Cliff, – it did,
Its aspic it was cool;
And many thousand little boys
Resorted to his school,
Where if of progress they could boast
He gave them heaps of buttered toast.

But he grew rabid-wroth, he did,
If they neglected books,
And dragged them to adjacent Cliffs
With beastly Button Hooks,
And there with fatuous glee he threw
Them down into the otion blue.

And in the sea they sway, they did, -
All playfully about,
And some eventually became
Sponges, or speckled trout: -
But Liverpool doth all bewail
Their Fate; – likewise his Garden Quail.

Despite the encroachment of city streets and industry (note the petroleum storage tanks on the 1906 map, above),  Dingle Bank remained secluded and intact until 1919 when the whole estate was bought by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and all the buildings were demolished to make way for the Dingle oil jetties and petroleum storage tanks.

As early as the start of the 19th century the stream that had once flowed down the Dingle had long since dried up, prompting William Roscoe to compose his fanciful poem, The Nymph of the Dingle:

Stranger, that with careless feet
Wanderest near this green retreat,
Where through gently bending slopes
Soft the distant prospect opes ;

Where the fern, in fringed pride,
Decks the lonely valley’s side ;
Where the white-throat chirps his song.
Flitting as thou tread’st along :

Know, where now thy footsteps pass
O’er the bending tufts of grass,
Bright gleaming through the encircling wood,
Once a Naiad rolled her flood.

If her urn, unknown to fame,
Poui-ed no far extended stream,
Yet along its grassy side
Clear and constant rolled the tide.

Grateful for the tribute paid.
Lordly Mersey loved the maid ;
Yonder rocks still mark the place
Where she met his stern embrace.

Stranger, curious, wouldst thou learn
Why she mourns her wasted urn ?
Soon a short and simple verse
Shall her hopeless fate rehearse.

Ere yon neighbouring spires arose,
That the upland prospect close,
Or ere along the startled shore
Echoed loud the cannon’s roar.

Once the maid, in summer’s heat,
Careless left her cool retreat,
And by sultry suns opprest,
Laid her wearied limbs to rest ;

Forgetful of her daily toil,
To trace each humid tract of soil,
From dews and bounteous showers to brine
The limpid treasures of her spring.

Enfeebled by the scorching ray,
She slept the circling hours away ;
And when she oped her languid eye,
She found her silver urn was dry.

Heedless stranger ! who so long
Has listened to an idle song,
Whilst trifles thus thy notice share,
Hast thou no urn that asks thy care ?

The poem was very popular and for many years a statue commemorating the water nymph stood in an ornamental alcove on the rocky outcrop above Knott’s Hole (the white columned shelter with a domed roof visible above the tree-line in the watercolour above). According to Robert Griffiths writing in 1907 in his essential History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth,  the statue had by then been moved to the grounds of the Turner Memorial Home where it could be seen ‘damaged by some vandal in a deplorable manner’. There is a probable copy of it in the Walker Art Gallery.

The five views (above) of Dingle Point and Knott’s Hole around 1900 reveal a landscape that is still rural, with the shoreline as yet unchanged.  In the top photo is the rather odd sight of a tennis court set in the middle of the dell.

However, by the time Robert Griffiths published his History of  Toxteth Park in 1907, the city was encroaching. Herculaneum Dock had appeared to the north, marking the expansion of the docklands along the Toxteth waterfront. Inland were rows of terraced houses and the old lanes of the area had been developed into the road pattern with which we are familiar today.  The Dingle was now spanned by a viaduct carrying the railway line. Griffiths wrote:

Standing beneath this viaduct and looking towards the river, which is here just hidden from view by a bend in this ancient watercourse, one is confronted with one of the most beautiful glens in this part of the country…On either side the verdure-clad embankments rise to a height over-capping some of the hoary trees with which the the whole of the slopes are covered.  Leading up through the gnarled and bent trunks on each side of the ravine are the moss-covered remains of the ancient ‘Wishing Steps’. …The deep solitude is broken only by the gentle murmur of the Mersey water, the joyous note of the feathered songsters, secure in their lofty homes, or the whirr of the martin’s wing as it hastily rises from its covert amid a little cloud of summer dust at the unusual sound of a stranger’s footfall.

The photo above shows the Wishing Steps at the time Griffiths was writing.  The 1821 drawing at the head of this post shows the valley from where Griffiths was standing in 1907.  He remarks that the rustic summer house had been burned down one 5th of November a few years previously ‘probably, it is thought, by a gang of roughs’.

In the early 1920s, the dell under the railway viaduct was filled in and the land was allocated to allotments. But part of the Dingle remained green. By this time, the land behind where the photographer stood  had been allocated to the allotments, while an area stretching down to Knott’s Hole (seen on the 1908 OS map, below) was still part of the grounds of West Dingle, the large house on the hillside built for Joseph Yates in 1824, but since 1897 converted as the House of Providence, a home for ‘destitute women’.

Up to the 1930s, the view from West Dingle was still picturesque, with the valley stretching down to the low cliffs at Knott’s Hole.  But then a wall was built across the shore, and the area became a rubbish tip.  After the Second World War, rubble from buildings in the city centre destroyed by the blitz was used to fill in the valley, and once the level had been raised the whole area became an extension of the the oil and petro-chemical site seen on the 1906 OS map of Dingle Bank earlier.  The oil terminal heralded the complete transformation of the landscape of the lower Dingle, beginning with the infilling of the shoreline down to Otterspool.  By 1949 gas storage cylinders had been built behind the pier. By this time, too, the houses on the hill, including Dingle Bank, had been demolished.  More gas storage cylinders were built in the period up to 1960 and the long beach of the Jericho shore was reclaimed for building land.  By 1964 the beach had totally disappeared.  By the 1980s the whole area had been filled with household waste.

Then came the Thatcher era and the social and economic devastation of the city: the docks were already in decline as trade moved elsewhere, while the deepening crisis, rising unemployment and inner-city tensions led to the Toxteth riots in 1981, which focussed national attention on the social and economic problems facing Liverpool.  The arrival of Michael Heseltine, Thatcher’s ‘Minister for Merseyside’, began a new phase for the Dingle. The International Garden Festival  in 1984 was an attempt to spark regeneration in the area. Whether or not it was a success, it completely reshaped the landscape.  The area of landfill waste was developed into extensive gardens. Where once the shaded bay of Knott’s Hole opened out on the Mersey, the Garden Festival Arena now stood.

On the aerial view (above) the line of the original Dingle stream has been marked in deep blue, and the original shoreline in light blue – showing the extent of the infilling along the shore since the early 20th century, and especially in the preparation for the Garden Festival.  When the Festival was over, the Dingle waterfront once again became neglected, as no long-term future for the site could be secured, though new housing that now backs on to the allotments was built at Knott’s Hole, while Riverside Drive, the new waterfront road to Otterspool, was another legacy of the Garden Festival.

Last September it was announced that work would soon begin on redeveloping the site, with the Chinese and Japanese gardens being restored, as well as the lakes and associated watercourses and the woodland sculpture trails. The developers also announced that they still intend to build the 1300 homes planned for the site ‘as soon as the market conditions allow’.

Dingle Point (seen above in a photo from around 1890) was the most southerly part of the Dingle.  Remnants of the sandstone cliffs of the Point can still be seen near the roundabout on Riverside Drive close to the Britannia Inn (below).

This stretch of shoreline is remembered by older Liverpudlians as the ‘Cast-Iron Shore’ or ‘Cazzy’, a reference to the cast iron (used in the construction of St. Michael’s church) forged at the Mersey Foundry, a vast site on Grafton Street that was operative through the 19th century.  The Cast-Iron Shore is referenced in John Lennon’s lyric for the Beatles’ Glass Onion and recalled in ‘Norra Lorra Otters’, by local poet Justine Tennant:

I’ve never seen a otter
Down at Otterspool
I’ve rode me bike
An flown me kite
An even bunked off school
Burrive never seen a otter
On the banks of Liverpool
I’ve never seen a otter
Down on the Cast Iron Shore
Me ma’s seen one around der
but long before the war
No, I’ve never seen a otter
Cos, ders none der any more!

Standing on the cast iron shore,
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet.
Looking through a glass onion.

We can no longer wander down the wooded valley of the Dingle to the Cast Iron Shore, forever blocked off and buried.  But if you’re fortunate to have an allotment in Dingle Vale, you can still sense the old landscape, see the birds wheel and the trees bend, dig deep into that old earth:

Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.

- Earth, Derek Walcott

The black and white photos in this post are from Liverpool Records Office and originally appeared in a post by Darren White on YoLiverpool forums.  The two 1893 watercolours of Dingle Bank appeared in the guide to the Liverpool International Garden Festival, 1984 and were posted by Darren White on YoLiverpool forums.

See also

60 thoughts on “The Dingle: digging into the past

  1. Fascinating study. Is there a reference to the Dingle Naiad having a penchant for gold and silver and being associated with a local hill or high point please?

    Many thanks!

  2. Very reading. I was looking for photos of the cazzy when we used to go down with a drink ect and have a picnick. Then a paddle in the water. Climb the cliffs then home for tea.

  3. I’m really interested in the poem by Edward Lear, it is said the poem is about the man John Cropper, who is said to be generous and caring yet the poem makes him sound like a criminal,

    ‘But he grew rabid-wroth, he did,
    If they neglected books,
    And dragged them to adjacent Cliffs
    With beastly Button Hooks,
    And there with fatuous glee he threw
    Them down into the otion blue.’

    I was wondering if you knew the reason behind this,
    Thanks

      • Okay thanks , I’m doing a project about it at college and i couldn’t find an analysis for the nonsense poem, i wouldn’t want to interpret it the wrong way.
        do you know any more about John Cropper?

    • Good post. I have visited both Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres. I am convinced there is undocumented prehistory all around the broadly Dingle-Toxteth area especially the elevated ground. It maddens me the way modern industrial society treats the past which is our heritage. The Calderstones are now out of their original context which would be crucial to a deeper understanding of them. I am a ‘fan’ of Avebury stone circle which the Establishment refuses to restore, despite the fact that a dozen huge standing stones have been detected in place where they were toppled and buried in the 14th century. The Establishment literally sits on these and does nothing, it makes my blood boil.

  4. Thank you so much for your help,
    This information will be very useful in my project, I’m getting really into researching the Family and Dingle Bank and when I found this website I got very excited.

    Thank you again!

  5. I am sitting in Melbourne reading one of the most interesting descriptions concerning the Dingle, that I have read.
    Nostalgia may be playing a large part of the appeal but it is easy to see that a lot of effort, and I suspect fondness, for the area has gone in to this web page.

    I really enjoyed reading it.

    An ex resident of the Dingle, Bowman St. to be exact, which is no more.

    • Hi John Pinto

      Are you the John Pinto who we shared our George Street, Paddington house with us in the early seventies? Frank, Ricky, Alleyne, Dennis, Maria, Jane, Jimmy and Margo et al often wonder where you went, but we all lost touch?

    • Hello John, it is indeed a very evocative description, what fantastic memories it stirs. Gosh it must be 0ver 35 years you’ve been in Oz! Do you know Liverpool at all when you visit! Geraldine Owens

      • Geraldine,

        I have been back to Liverpool about ten times and I even contemplated returning there in 2011. After a lot of soul searching I could not bring myself to returning to the cold grey skies of England. On my last visit though, which was in 2010, I saw a revitalised Liverpool which cheered me up, the Pierhead area in particular impressed me with the new museum. I was also saddened to see the general level of violence, and angst in so many of the younger generation though. Australia has its issued to, but nothing like Europe appears to be going through, but I am a glass half full person so I know Liverpool and its people will come through it.

        Good luck.

  6. Re reading this today, I am reminded how recent the changes have been in, for example my streets [Allington and all the other terraced streets] which are only just over a century old. Within the living memory of many people the ancient shape of the shoreline around Dingle and Otterspool stiil exist. The landscape of the post Garden festival period is only really very recent and quite a dramatic change to this little strip of shore line.
    I also recall in a previous life [1970 when i was student] in a flat on Aigburth Rd [beside the petrol station] looking from my top floor window I could just see the ESSO [i think] petrol storage tanks above the houses and trees. Presumably they loomed over our allotments where the tall row of trees now provide a barrier of sorts between us and the new houses. Some of your correspondents have refered to Avebury and other nearer to home ancient stones. In my first Liverpool life [early 1950s in Armitage gardens South Liverpool, the “Robin Hood Stone” stood beside my primary school, Booker Ave. It had been moved (!!) from its place in the field that had become football fields sometime earlier[1920s?]. Just as the villagers of Avebury used stones form the circle. In their defence, the Jam magnate [Keiler?]who bought the land and presumably the village, demolished a number of houses that had been built with the ancient stones and moved them back into place, so it does raise questions about our “preservation” of ancient monuments. Are they all in the places where they were set thousands of years ago. On the other hand, it is only in the 20th Century that we managed to preserve Stone henge, as it had been scheduled for all sorts of desecrations, I think during WWI and more recently.

  7. I have no knowledge whatsoever of the location under discussion, I have only been to Liverpool once in my life, to see a Paul Nash exhibition at the Liverpool Tate. I could have spent a month marvelling at the show which was excellent but only had a fraction of a day and a train ticket home.

    But I have a gut feeling that there is something profound going on in terms of prehistory all around the Dingle area including Toxteth and so forth, just a gut impression, I could be wrong.

    With regard to Avebury, this is the premier neolithic monument in Britain. It is a national disgrace; without Keiller stepping in during the 1930’s there would be practically nothing to see today. The locals had been dispatching the stones since the fourteenth century and the circular berm ditch was being utilised as the village tip. So much for ‘English Heritage’ pre-Morven Institute style.

    Keiller restored about half of neolithic Avebury before his funds were exhausted and his health later broken. This coincides with a megalomaniac beginning a long and bloody world war in Europe.

    Avebury was then bequeathed to the nation and has been in mothballs ever since, this state of affairs is called a ‘moratorium’. At least a dozen buried standing stones from the main circle – lying beside their original sockets – have been detected fairly recently which Keiller didn’t know about. There will be and are plenty more (there for the looking) and what happens? Nothing. The powers-that-be almost literally sit on them and refuse to do anything. So we have come full circle, from neglect and vandalism to restoration, back to inaction, stagnation. I personally view the buried stones as a perpetuation of the cultural vandalism which caused them to be toppled and buried in the first place, there is no excuse for leaving these monoliths buried beneath the earth.

    Archaeologists have actually uncovered buried stones at Avebury, about 10 years ago an extension of a megalithic avenue was confirmed after being documented (and subsequently dismissed) 300 years earlier by William Stukeley, (1687-1765). Yes, they uncovered these stones and then, guess what? They buried them again. The shades of the eighteenth century fundamentalists who toppled and completely destroyed many of these stones must have been patting them on their backs and cheering them on all the way.

    This is how we treat the premier monument of the British Neolithic, we spade it under. The buried stones tell us nothing. We learn nothing. Archaeology slumbers on in dusty museum cases and over fading texts in somnolent reading rooms.

    Is this the way forward for British prehistoric archaeology?

  8. Ric, interesting posting. I spent a week in a cottage, Churchyard cottage in the centre of Avebury Village, facing the church and graveyard, a three summers ago. It is an idyllic village as you know. Walking through there in the early morning or late evening is very atmospheric. Although if you only visit during the peak period in the midday,in the summer it seems overwhelmed with tourists [not on a par with Stonehenge or the Tower of london]. I visited in the period after the Glastonbury festival and there were hippy travellers caravans in various corners all round Avebury and the surrounding hills. There were also some strange things, a bit creepy, in the middle of a field, when I took a wrong turning along a foulstinking track [rotten vegetation i think] the remains of a fire, a small circle of stones and four/five burnt out spectacle frames and a bit of a plastic doll. Reminded me of the League of Gentlemen scene of the burning of a firemans helmet and a policemans helmet. Sadly my camera battery had just run out.
    The lanes and tracks around there give you the feeling of the communication links of hundreds and thousands of years ago.There is a section of the old Bath road which looks just like I imagined,the 18th century Bath road [coach wheel ruts and all]would look like. The “Here-path” is a military road I think of the Saxon period, and looks like it.
    I read recently that some of the cottages built with Avebury stones experienced strange events. I had a perfectly happy and peaceful week alone, in my [rented] cottage, looking out onto the graveyard, under the racket of hundreds of rooks [or crows] who gathered every night on the Church tower, in a relatively large cottage with four or five bedrooms etc. But had i been of a nervous disposition….

  9. Hi Bill,

    I hope we are not tresspassing on the Dingle page :-o but it is all grist to the mill it seems, in terms of the Calderstones et al.

    The hippies mean well but can do silly things with camp fires and so forth. It really is down to the National Trust to advise and if necessary gently educate here: I fear they do neither though in this particular context, or clumsily so, and so alienate.

    I envy your surroundings at Avebury, I once spent a night at the Red Lion. The rotten vegetation odour was possibly the ‘winter borne’ which as its name suggests is a winter/spring watercourse which dries out in the summer, and hence the smell. These are the headwaters of the Kennet River (ancient place name)

    The Old Bath Road you mention possibly followed the western megalithic avenue, the ‘Beckhampton Avenue’, which Stukeley believed terminated in a stone circle on a low hill called Knoll Down. This is denied by the majority of contemporary archaeologists. However I have been up on Knoll Down and seen flint debris there, I am certain Stukeley was correct. The Beckhampton Avenue had been 98% destroyed by the time of the 20th century, only two stones still visible. There are still only two stones standing there, many more discovered underground though.

    Yes it is a lovely village (do any locals at all now live at Avebury? I interviewed a true villager a decade ago, now sadly passed on), but there are relatively vast areas of featureless green there now nibbled at by only sheep, beneath which unique megaliths lie. These stones deserve to be up in the open air I feel, where we can all see and admire them, they are our heritage after all, and precious little if anything can be learnt from them buried a metre or more beneath the surface.

    Ric

  10. Ric, interesting points you make, is the Red Lion the pub on the corner, by the bus stop, well populated on summer evenings from all around. I guess many of the houses are not lived in by the locals, there are a few cottages to rent in Avebury, I was lucky to get “Churchyard”. I think the winter, cold, clear and a dusting of snow, would show up the markings on the fields and the ancient trackways , not to mention the lack of people.

  11. Hi Bill,

    The Red Lion is in the centre of Avebury village, on a sort of staggered (no pun) crossroads. The best way to look for field marks is from the air. Early morning or late evening is good with plenty of strong sunlight which brings the landscape to life. Periods of drought are good, such as now, because earth covering megaliths dries out and bleaches faster than the surrounding soil. I think light snow can be revealing as well. Alexander Keiller was a pioneer and champion of aerial photography. The king of trackways at Avebury is of course the Ridgeway. Maybe one day its course over Salisbury Plain will be excavated but currently that is all MOD land

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ridgeway

    An equvalent nearer your neck of the woods would be Sarn Helen I presume?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarn_Helen

  12. Jim,

    Yes I am, and I also sometimes wonder what happened to everyone as well.

    I met Glynnis once in Sydney, many years ago. I supected that it was very probable that the majority of you had returned to live in England.
    As you can see I ended up in Melbourne after spending a long time in Sydney. To be more exact I split my time between Melbourne and a rural property I have in South Gippsland.

    Rather than clog up this excellant web site contact me on pinto.john95@gmail.com, and I will elaborate.

    Regards

    John

  13. As a relative newcomer to the Dingle area, I was amazed at the content found on this site. It has really fuelled my thirst to get to know the history of the area better. At the moment a I’m engaged in a Local History course at the “Florrie” (Florence Institute) in Mill Street and am finding it absolutely inspiring. Thanks a lot. Malcolm

    • Thanks, Malcolm. I’m glad you’ve found things that interest you here. Who is running/teaching the inspiring course at the Florrie? (I must visit sometime, now that the building has been refurbished).

  14. How fascinating, my late grand father died in Dingle Mount on return from backing out in the U.S. I don’t know why. I wasn’t expecting beautiful paintings, prose and poems. And really enjoyed the sweep of Dingle history. Thanks so much.

    • I’m pleased you enjoyed the post, Marilyn. Did your granddad grow up in the Dingle? And, what was he doing in America – backpacking? Thanks for reading.

  15. As a child in the mid 70s, I used to play on the tip and what was the ‘Cazzy’, from Otterspool to the old jetty. I was sure that I had seen a small area of beach and cliff one day, when I was at the edge of the Mersey looking down. When I found this blog I thought it could be Knotts Hole but the dates don’t fit. The beach stuck in my head because by 1975 the whole area was pretty grim (but a brilliant playground).
    You have inspired me to write my first blog, about The Priory Woods. I’m sure there’s nothing new to you but I found some plans in the University of Liverpool Archive that show The Priory and The Grange that may be of interest. Thanks!
    http://wp.me/s2XyHv-7

  16. Gerry,
    I’ve enjoyed this website for several months, so my reply is long overdue.
    My family were living in Toxteth 100 years ago and knew the Cassie Shore well. As a child in the 1950s I too remember it, although by then it was in its final years. My memories have led to a lifelong fascination with the area, and since the ’70s I have collected a lot of info, pics & research. I also saw those sections of cliff at the 1984 Garden Festival, and took a couple of snaps before the Riverside Drive was built.
    The shore was also captured on film in “Dangerous Youth” although by then it was in its final days and a shadow of its former self.
    Thanks for all your hard work in setting up this website for all to enjoy, and I hope you don’t mind if I make one small criticism: The photo referred to as “Dingle Point around 1890″, is in fact a view of the “Rock of the Dingle” (the promontory separating the two glens, called “David’s Throne” by the Puritan settlers) taken c.1905. You can also see this promontory in the “Mouth of the Dingle” and “View from Dingle Point” pics. Dingle Point itself had a footpath and a fence, with a flagststaff at its very tip, and I have a couple of postcards showing this in the early 1900s.

    Thanks,
    Ken Roberts

    • Thanks, Ken. Some fascinating memories there! I was interested in your reference to ‘Dangerous Youth’ which I’d never heard of before. I found this description of the film online: ‘Brutal Liverpool gang leader becomes a rock n roll star then ends up in the Army. The Dingle Boys are a menace to the district! British teen idol Frankie Vaughan sings, “Isn’t It a Lovely Evening?” and “These Dangerous Years.”‘ I’d like to see that – couldn’t find anywhere to get hold of it, though.

      • Hi I recently bought a copy of ‘Dangerous Youth’ on E. Bay and they were still selling them a few weeks ago – great film of where I grew up in the Dingle. Gillian Baxter

  17. Hi Gerry,
    re. Dangerous Youth (aka “These Dangerous Years” 1957), you can get the film on ebay for a few quid. The picture quality is not brilliant (and the Dingle Boys are hardly brutal by today’s standards!), but there are some fascinating scenes including the South Dingle Oil Jetty and the top of St.Michael’s Shore, not to mention some old Dingle Streets. Frankie actually runs down to the jetty and on to the shore later in the film.
    By this time the Jericho Shore was being filled in up to Fulwood Park, and you can glimpse this in the background.
    My eldest brother still remembers the Fulwood Steps down onto the shore, and I have a 1934 photo from the LRO showing the steps and the old river wall. You can see the same spot now on Google Earth, where the path leads through from Fulwood Park to Riverside Drive,

    Cheers,
    Ken

  18. Here’s an old postcard c1904 showing Dingle Point from St.Michael’s Shore. Knott’s Hole is off to the right, and the flagstaff can be seen at the tip of the Point.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointc1904_zps301c3cf2.jpg

    A copy of a postcard at the Liverpool Record Office, showing Dingle Point in the early 1900s, with the fenced footpath on top, and the flagstaff at the very tip.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointearly1900s_zpsc778fdea.jpg

    Ken Roberts

    • These are really evocative images, Ken. Thanks so much for sharing them. Do you know anything about the flagstaff – what it was used for, when a flag was raised?

  19. Glad you got the pictures Gerry, I could’t get them to show up on this forum.

    Re. the flagstaff – I believe it was for a warning flag, hoisted at high tide. The waters around Dingle Point were very treacherous, appearing to be deep at high tide, but in fact the shoals were only a few feet below, which was ok for the nobby boats that beached on the Cazzy Shore, but when larger ships began sailing up river, they had to steer well clear.
    I presume it was set up in the late 19th Century by the MD&HB who must have employed a man to toddle off down the footpath to unfurl the flag. It is marked F.S. on the 1893 OS Map, but was obviously taken down when the Oil Jetty was built.

    Ken

  20. Thanks, Ken. Interesting bit of local history there. I’ve taken the liberty of editing your earlier comment so that the links to the photos appear as clickable links. Well worth a look, folks!

  21. Thanks Gerry, I’ll have to try that with another couple of pics. You can see where the Dingle Alcove once stood, up on the level part of the headland.
    There is still a link with this vanished past – the beautiful marble sculpture of “Psyche at the Well” (Benjamin Edward Spence c.1864) in the Walker Art Gallery, is a later version of Spence’s vanished “Nymph of the Dingle” that stood in the Alcove, and appears to be identical to Spence’s other sculpture that once stood in Stanley Park, on a pedestal that displayed Roscoe’s famous poem “The Nymph of the Dingle”.
    There is a sketch of this sculpture, featuring the Nymph holding the urn which contained the waters of the Dingle, in Griffiths’ History of Toxteth.

    Ken

  22. Hello Gerry,
    I’m pleased to say I’ve won the original rare picture postcard of Dinglr Point on Ebay, much better than my old copy, so in due course I’ll be scanning it to replace my copy, using the same link.
    In the meantime here’s some more pics from the Record Office:

    This shows the cliffs over the upstream side of Dingle Point at high tide, c.1905, with Knott’s Hole to the right. The group of children up on the cliff can also be seen in some other photos featured on this website.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointampKnottsHolec1905_zps4ccfc169.jpg

    A view of the Cazzy Shore south of the old river wall at St.Michael’s, 1925, with nobby boats awaiting the next tide.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/shoresouthofStMichaels1925_zpsba3cd861.jpg

    This is Jericho Shore at Fulwood Park, 1934, the lower end of the Cazzy. Access was via steps through the river wall, to the left. On the extreme right can be glimpsed the end of the Otterspool river wall, behind which tipping was taking place (the Otterspool Prom was opened in 1950.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/JerichoShoreFulwood1934_zps58e4025d.jpg

    Ken

  23. Hello Gillian,
    Glad you liked the film. Some of the scenes were shot in the Yates Street/Corn Street area, and some of the old houses are still there, with the long raised terrace & steps. I was born further afield in the Lodge Lane area, and our old street has completely gone,

    Ken Roberts

  24. Small world Gerry – a friend of mine with local history interest (especially St Michaels-in-the-Hamlet) sent me this link – I was impressed even before realised was by you! Love to Rita

    • That’s Liverpool, Joel. Good to hear from you, if only in cyberspace. Hope you and the family are all well and that you’re surviving the shenanigans at college!

  25. Hello Gerry and all commentators
    I’ve just moved back to Liverpool (Toxteth) after 44 years away – mostly in Australia. I’m enjoying discovering and rediscovering what I left behind. Thanks so much for this site.

    • Thanks, Patricia. You must be staggered by how the place has changed (the people are still as warm-hearted as they ever were, though). Where else does the bus driver get a ‘thanks’ or ‘cheers, mate’ from people getting off?

  26. Hello Gerry,
    Here’s a couple of snaps taken at the 1984 Garden Festival, showing the surviving section of the cliffs above Dingle Point, complete with oil stains from the storage tanks that once stood atop on Dingle Bank. The main footpath of course is now Riverside Drive.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointcliff1984GardenFestival1_zps610a9b6e.jpg
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointcliff1984GardenFestival2_zps86c48a9d.jpg

    This a view looking across the site of Dingle Point itself, where the flagstaff stood at the tip. This is now deeply buried under the patch of brown soil in front of the Britannia. On the extreme right can just be seen the edge of the cliff.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePoint1984GardenFestival_zpsa9d272b7.jpg

    • Great stuff, Ken. Thanks for sharing these – your Photobucket sequence is great for showing how the Gardens spread over the shoreline below the Dingle cliff. I must identify the location next time I pass along Riverside Drive. Thanks again.

  27. Hi Gerry,
    Glad you like the pics. Here’s some more I hope will show how the area has changed.
    This is the Dingle Point cjiff c2006
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointcliffc2006_zpsf57b967c.jpg

    And the same in a 2012 Google Earth view
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointcliff2012_zps507f71ee.jpg

    This is part of a 1982 aerial view from the Festival official guide book. The base of the South Dingle Oil Jetty sits right on top of the tip of Dingle Point where the flagstaff once stood, and there is a storage tank base just behind. The cliffs can be seen curving down towards the bottom of the view, with the remains of the oil storage farm on top of the cliffs on the site of Dingle Bank. The Knott’s Hole shoreline is in the top left of the view. http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointampKnottsHole1982_zpscdca0fd0.jpg

    The same area in 1984. The circular feature just below the middle of the Festival Hall is the former base of the storage tank by Dingle Point, so the tip of the Point would be just lower right from this. The cliffs can still be seen curving down towards the bottom of the view. The site of the Oil Jetty is marked by the white patch in the river wall at bottom right of the view. The site of the Knott’s Hole shoreline is marked by the semi-circular area to the left of the Hall.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointampKnottsHole1984_zps0ad24a4c.jpg

    The site of Knott’s Hole in 1988, buried deep below the yellow teepee.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/knottshole1988_zps03f83459.jpg

    The same area in a 2012 Google Earth view.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/siteofKnottsHole2012_zps73faa986.jpg

    Cheers,
    Ken

  28. Hi Gerry,
    Yes, a desolate wasteland, a tragedy, railed off from the public. The aerial photo was taken in Jan 1982, so only 2 yrs 4mths to get the whole thing up & running. We didn’t think it was possible!
    Re. the 1988 photo, the big yellow striped tepee stood over the area where the Dingle Stream entered Knott’s Hole., so I’ve had a go at a “Then Now” composite pic 1905-1988-2012. I tried to get as close as possible to the original viewpoint. See what you think…..
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/KnottsHole1905-1988-2012_zpsb42be9d5.jpg

    This one is from a 1936 aerial view, and show Knott’s Hole still intact.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/DinglePointampKnottsHole1936_zps321903cc.jpg

    This is from a 1945 RAF aerial survey, and shows Knott’s Hole buried under landfill, but with the outlines of the glen still visible. At this time my older brothers used to play on the Cazzy, while my dad was away in the RAF.
    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m253/springy_01/KnottsHole1945_zps736161c8.jpg

  29. Stunned by this article. Having lived in the Dingle for 24 years, I visited the Dingle Vale allotments for the first time today and was lucky enough to have a kind person let me in – where I went crazy with my camera. It shouldn’t matter, but I really would like to know: who is this fascinating Gerry? What’s his family name?

    Nicholas (Hancock!)

    • Thanks, Nicholas, I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and looking round Dingle Vale allotments. Cordon is the family name – we’re on plot 33.

  30. hi, thanks for the memories, I have always found the area very interesting, I spent fourteen years in this lovable area before leaving for the green fields of Childwall, can remember going down the cazzy steeps with sand on them, passing a type a gate come fencing, that may have been six feet high, with my mam and brother and sisters and cousins, we would go crabbing in the rock pools by the high wall or cliff side, I am not sure and a paddle in the Mersey, then come back with muddy feet and legs, then try and wash it of in the rock pools, then we would go up the bank to seat on the grass for a picnic, of dairylea, ham an cheese and to wash it down with a drink of vimto that mam had got from a shop in park hill road, then we would watch about half a dozen lades jump on a very long thick rope that had a large knot on the end of it, that was hanging from an old oak tree, they would swing out across the wall, which they, had great fun doing, then on the way home, we would pass some cottages with flowers in a bucket for sale, pass the station then down a alley way, pass the allotments then on past the swings on the right, Dingle vale on the left as we moved on , then at the top we would if we were very lucky, get a ice cream from Richards I think that was the name, what taste.

  31. I was wondering can any of your readies remember a sand .sand stone wall that ran down the back of badminton street, later to be removed a large brick wall built in its place, which is still there today. can any one tell me the year it was built, I think it was built to keep us kids away from the oil jetty’s, I can remember a narrow road cut into the sand stone, that may have ran down to a police mans hut on Grafton street, also there would be a water tank just over the wall, which we had a couple of swims in, till a gang of use got scabs on our legs and arms and other parts of our body’s, we all lived in the shore field street

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