I took these photos this afternoon as the sun was beginning to set and cast long shadows at the end of a glorious autumn day. I’m a bit obsessed with this copse of pine trees and love the way the shadows fall in the late afternoon.

Sefton Park autumn 2009 2

Sefton Park autumn 2009 1

A bit further on, the setting sun glowed through the panes of the Palm House.

Sefton Park autumn 2009 4

Sefton Park autumn 2009 3

Time for a bit of history (from the Palm House Preservation Trust leaflet):

Sefton Park Palm House is a Grade II* listed building.  Liverpool millionaire Henry Yates Thompson, the grand nephew of the founder of Princes Park, gifted £10,000 to the city to build the Palm House. Originally opened in 1896, it measures 25m high on a base of red granite from the Isle of Mull. There are 3,710 flat panes of glass, all individually cut.

In 1939 the glass was painted in camouflage colours to avoid the reflection of moonlight guiding enemy bombers. However, in 1941 a nearby bomb shattered the glass, but left the main structure intact. It was reglazed and opened again in the 1950’s. In the1980’s a lack of repairs meant it was closed and threatened
with demolition.

Local residents organised a public meeting in 1991 with 800 people attending. The campaign led to a partial restoration and re-opening in 1993. In 1997 Heritage LotteryFund and English Heritage grants allowed for a complete restoration. Work began in Spring 2000, and the Palm House reopened on September 6th 2001.

The £3.5 million restoration involved, firstly, the City Council gardeners removing the collection of palm trees and exotic plants to their nursery. Then Shepley Engineers Ltd. of Cumbria dismantled and numbered the cast iron structure piece by piece. These were blast-cleaned and given five coats of protective paint. Only the main eight support beams remained in situ. After returning the iron sections, the glass was replaced. In Summer 2001, the building was re-planted with a collection of exotic plants

The statues

The eight external marble and bronze statues by French sculptor Chavalliaud represent world explorers and botanists. A protection coating of wax and resin keeps them in good condition. Clockwise from the main door:

  • Andre le Notre: 17th Century designer of the Versailles gardens and St. James’s Park. The first person to describe himself as a landscape architect.
  • Captain Cook: 18th Century naval explorer from Yorkshire, discoverer of New Zealand and Australia, the first European to cross the Antarctic Circle and explorer of the North West coast of America.
  • Mercator: 16th Century Flemish astronomer and geographer, invented the method of mapping the world by lines of longitude & latitude.
  • Linnaeus: 18th century Swedish botanist who devised the modern system of scientific names of plants and animals.
  • Charles Darwin: 19th Century evolutionist who devised the theory of natural selection in his work On the Origin of Species published in 1859, incurring the wrath of the Church and Victorian Society.
  • Christopher Columbus: 15th Century Italian explorer and discoverer of the New World in 1492. On October 12th, Columbus Day, American forces from Burtonwood used to lay a wreath at the statue.
  • Henry the Navigator: 15th Century PortuguesePrince who captured Ceuta in Morocco and colonised Madeira and the Azores.
  • John Parkinson: (1567-1650) Apothecary of King James 1. Best known for his book about plants and their medical uses.

Peter Pan

The Peter Pan statue has now been relocated outside the Pam House.

Peter Pan statue

This much loved statue by Sir George Frampton was commissioned by JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, as a gift for the visiting public to Kensington Gardens. This replica was commissioned by George Audley for Sefton Park and was launched with a Pageant attended by many thousands on 16 June 1928.

The statue used to be located next to the small lake near the Aviary cafe, until it was removed because of wear and tear from climbing children. There were also two small cannons, said to be off a Royal yacht and the Jolly Roger pirate boat. This was actually a modified lifeboat donated by the Cunard Line, to be followed by three other Jolly Rogers over the years.

The Peter Pan statue was reinstated in Sefton Park in 2005 following cleaning and repair by the Conservation Centre supported by European Objective 1 and City Council funding. It has now been resited sited alongside the Palm House.

Sefton Park autumn 2009 5

Sefton Park autumn 2009 6

Down by the boating lake a new boathouse and cafe building is going up.  It looks as if it will be a striking building, beautifully set against a drift of trees and constructed out of curving timbers, looking like an upturned canoe.

Boating on the lake in Sefton Park 1936

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