In the nineteenth century, Liverpool was second city to London, yet the wealth of its merchant classes is often ignored in local histories. I am as guilty as most of the others, finding the desperate poverty of most of the city’s population a more rewarding area of study. The huge disparity between the richest and poorest is today being played out against a background of bankers’ bonuses and is perceived largely as a London v the rest of the country. Back in 1890, Liverpool had a significant number of these ‘fat cats’ and the outer fringes of the city were dominated by the estates of merchants and landed gentry.
The Earle family was one such example. Having sold their extensive land of the Spekelands estate, which is where Earle Road is today (St Dunstan’s church was built by the family of the site of their family home), the Earle’s decamped to Allerton Towers (adjacent to Allerton golf course).
The Earle’s are probably best remembered for the statue of General Earle outside St George’s Hall. General Earle died in Sudan at the Battle of Dulka Island when storming the Height of Kerkebam in 1885. His brother, Sir Thomas Earle, lived at Allerton Towers until his death in 1900 and the family moved out to Sandiway, in Cheshire, soon after.
Allerton Towers was a rather dull mid-Victorian villa which was demolished in the 1930s. The orangerie and stable block have survived – although they are in a poor condition. The land is owned by the Council and is one of the city’s finest small parks.