Garston is famous for its old market, sporting heroes, industries, medieval history, the river that ran through it, war heroes, an old village, mills, war memorials and shops – the list goes on. Below are a few examples of the rich and varied history of Garston complied by Mike Axworthy from Garston District Historical Society.
1. In 1783 Peter Baker, a Garston Joiner, built a ship ‘The Kent’ on Garston Shore. He applied for a license to become a legal pirate, his brother in-law became captain of the ship. On their first voyage they captured a French ship, ‘The Carnatic’. It had £35,000 pounds worth of diamonds on board (worth millions today). Peter Baker was now a wealthy man, he bought Garston from Liverpool and in 1796 became Lord Mayor of Liverpool.
2. In 1909, the British ship owner Sir Alfred Lewis Jones died. On his death bed he said ‘I will bequeath £10,000 to build and run a new hospital in Garston’. His family requested it be named after him (now South Liverpool Treatment centre – the shiny silver health centre in Garston Village which still has the original Alfred Jones entrance in its garden area). His ‘Elder and Fyffes’ shipping introduced the first bananas to North of UK (through Garston). He sent staff out to give away handcarts of bananas to popularise this strange fruit.
3. In 1920 four women from Garston Swimming Club were chosen to represent Great Britain in the Olympics. They went on to win a silver medal in the 4 x 100yds relay race. This was a great achievement, firstly as this was a male dominated period in history and secondly females had to train as well as earn a living. Garston Baths was also famous for its dance floor which was laid across the pool, among the bands to play there were the Beatles.
4. The first hospital in Garston, on top of Kettle Nook, was the fever hospital, reflecting its position as a port. There was a fear of diseases being brought into Garston on the ships. The fever hospital was an attempt to isolate these cases. Garston also had an accident hospital in Granville Road, reflecting the growth of the docks and industry in Garston resulting in many accidents.
5. Garston Infants School stands on the land that was once Red House Farm. White house Farm was not far away. Garston had a vineyard famous for its grapes, now Vineyard Street. Chapel House farm became Liverpool Airport and the farmhouse its first control tower. Aigburth Hall had a grange going back to the Cistercian monks, this grange part of which is still there, is the oldest inhabited private dwelling on Merseyside.
6. Garston Bowden Road library (1909) is an Arts and Crafts designed library, known as a Carnegie Library. Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish man, was an engineer who made his fortune in America, paid for many libraries in the UK. Garston Reading Rooms 1861 – is an example of how local people built Reading rooms in a attempt to bring education to working people, the building would have – books, magazines, lectures and self improvement classes.
7. Garston at one time had 93 miles of railway sidings, it also had two stations – Garston, in Woolton Road, and Church Station in Church Road. Also serving Garston was Cressington Station, built in the private estate of Cressington Park. It was said (and is true) – you cannot travel into the centre of Garston without going over or under a railway bridge.
8. Garston held a carnival which included street floats, novelty bands, dance troups, bonny babies, sports competition and a fairground. It had 2 cinemas as well as a theatre. Garston was famous for street parties to celebrate National events, such as Royal weddings, Victory in War and the Golden Jubilee. It had a May Queen and dancing around Maypoles. There were massive crowds for the Queens visit in 2000 and for the Pope in 1982.