Liverpool Parks
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One of the 6 Calder Stones today

One of the 6 Calder Stones today

“Spring” at the Four Seasons Gateway

“Spring” at the Four Seasons Gateway

Postcard of the Calderstones. 1907

Postcard of the Calderstones. 1907

Historical Background
The parkland was once part of the 1583 acre (640ha) expanse of the ‘Manor of Allerton’ until about 1726 when this estate became fragmented through sale. The area now known as ‘Calderstones’ passed through various owners until 1828 when the old farmhouse was replaced by the present Mansion House.

The Calder Stones are six Neolithic sandstone boulders remaining from a dolmen which was disturbed in the vicinity of the present park in the early 19th century. The Stones were relocated by Joseph Need Walker during his ownership, becoming a gateway feature to the eponymous estate.

In 1875 the estate was acquired by Charles MacIver for £52,000. The new owner was a Liverpool shipping magnate who, along with his brother David, had joined Samuel Cunard in establishing the ‘British and North American Royal Steam Packet Company’ – later better known as the Cunard Line.

A legacy of this heritage is the tree collection, particularly those of North American origin probably introduced to Calderstones through trading links abroad. Calderstones was sold by the MacIvers to Liverpool Corporation in 1902 for £43,000 and formerly opened as a park three years later. By the outbreak of the First World War, the Calderstones Estate had been augmented by the 13ha Harthill Estate to produce the present 51ha area which for some time thereafter was known as Calderstones and Harthill Park.

The inter-war years saw two major landscape improvement initiatives undertaken, both Government supported unemployment relief schemes. The construction of a broad avenue in 1931, later dubbed ‘Jubilee Drive’ in 1935, from the Four Seasons Gateway (1928) through to the existing path which led to Yew Tree Road. The second major development was the construction of the park boating lake, opened in April 1933.

A later innovation was the construction of an open-air theatre at the rear of the Mansion House supporting ‘holidays at home’ in a period of post war austerity. By 1964 Calderstones Park and the former Harthill Estate in particular, had assumed the mantle of Liverpool’s (third) Botanic Garden, with the establishment of a new glasshouse complex, summer house/veranda and defined areas of themed outdoor planting.

The botanical importance of the park encouraged further horticultural improvements such as the creation of a Japanese Garden by park apprentices in 1969, and the introduction of a ‘bog garden’ linked to the artificial lake.

More recent initiatives have included working with Mersey Forest in the Bluebell Recovery Project and supported by Radio Merseyside’s appeals some 2,000, bluebells were planted by local children on woodland fringes. Another notable event, earlier in 1998 was the development of a new, and much improved, children’s play area in memory of Linda McCartney. The opening was attended by Paul McCartney who also planted a commemorative tree for Linda. A further introduction in 1998 was the Text Garden planted as part of the ‘Artranspennine’ programme.

The park today
Calderstones Park has long been revered as ‘Liverpool’s most beautiful park’, a status notably enhanced by the Botanic Garden designation in 1964. A vast range of outdoor plantings combine to ensure horticultural interest throughout the year, most markedly in the feature garden areas.
The Park is the venue for the Liverpool International tennis Tournament in mid June and the popularity of the Park is evident all year round and is sustained by a good level of facilities, attractions and events.