Mike Royden's Local History Pages




Neville King


My early years were spent on the Larkhill estate - a large development of Liverpool Corporation housing built in the years following the end of the First World War. 1 went to Roscoe school on the estate, played in Larkhill park and joined the library at Larkhill mansion. Muirhead Avenue was quite close with its broad tree lined driveway in the central reservation and, at its Tuebrook end, there was a pair of impressive sandstone gateposts.

At an early age I knew the school had en named after some Victorian worthy named William Roscoe, who ever he was! The park, with its two ponds, I was told, was on the site of old clay pits. I didn't know to whom the mansion had belonged until some years ago I saw, on a 19thc map the name of 'A. Heywood' printed alongside it

But who was he and what did he do? What was the story behind the mansion which was eventually demolished in the 1960s?

This is an attempt to answer these questions about an area which had such an influence on my early life and of which I had little perception at the time.

Initial Findings

I found that Heywood's, during the l9thc was bank in Liverpool and that on the corner of Castle Street and Brunswick St. in the centre of Liverpool was a branch of Martin's Bank (now Barclays) called 'Heywood's branch'.

Larkhill. mansion and it's estate had been bought by Liverpool Corporation at the end of WWI to develop a new concept in municipal housing that was very advanced for its time. But what of the Heywood's?

Family Origins

Nathaniel Heywood was 'vicar of Ormskirk church during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period and an ardent support of the Cromwell cause. On the restoration of the monarchy in 166O he was out of favour with the crown and under the Act of Uniormity was ejected from the living in 1662. He had 2 sons, Nathaniel junior and Richard.

The younger of the two, Richard emigrated to Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland where he became a successful merchant. He had no children of his own but "adopted' his brother's son, Benjamin, who was brought up in Ireland. And married Ann, the daughter of General Arthur Graham of Armagh. Benjamin had 2 sons, Arthur and Benjamin who were to return to England and become 'merchant venturers' and establish banks in Liverpool and Manchester.

Merchants of Liverpool

On arrival in Liverpool in 1731, Arthur served a 5 year apprenticeship with John Hardman a merchant of Allerton Hall and M.P. for Liverpool in 1754. Ten years later, in 1741, his younger brother, Benjamin followed and became apprenticed to James Crosby a merchant and Mayor of Liverpool in 1753.

The two brothers set up as merchants and became experienced in the 'Africa trade' which meant they also became involved in slaving. They also engaged in privateering and had. their lettersr of Marque. Arthur initially operated his business from premises in Lord Street where he is also lived where, exactly we don't know. This was the normal practice at the time. Later in the l8thc as merchants became extremely wealthy and aspired to a status in society, they acquired their estate 'in the country' and built imposing mansions to rival their peers. The Heywoods would be no exception. Their next move was to two adjacent purpose-built houses. In Hanover Street, where again they lived and worked from the same premises.

Heywood's Bank

It is clear the two brothers had been acting as bankers while carrying on business as merchants, prior to 1773, when they formally established Heywood's Bank. For some time, other merchants who respected the two brothers' integrity and business acumen, had been entrusting their surplus money to them. This was before the concept of public banking as we know it had been established. The Banking element of the business moved to premises in Castle Street in 1776.

There was an unsuccessful attempt by the brothers to establish a branch in Manchester 1784-6, but in 1788 Benjamin parted company with his brother and with his two sons, Nathaniel and Benjamin Arthur, set up a separate bank in Manchester which became Heywood Brothers & Co. Arthur continued in Liverpool as Arthur Heywood, Sons & Company. Seven years later, in 1795, the founder died, aged 78. His sons, Richard and Arthur [II], and his daughter's husband, Hugh Jones, successively became senior partner and eventually in 1842 John Pemberton Heywood, grandson of the founder became the prominent figure in the bank for 35 years.

Many prominent figures and companies were customers of Heywood's, including the Earls of Derby, William Brown the great Liverpool benefactor, the Booth shipping line and the Borough of Liverpool itself.

On the death of John Pemberton Heywood in 1877 a 'Mr. Arthur Heywood [Ill] became senior partner. Despite his name he was not a descendant of the founder, but a bank clerk from London who had risen through the ranks from clerk to manager and then to partner. However, I suspect he was probably distantly related.

In 1883, now the sole surviving partner, Arthur Heywood (ll) sold Heywood's Bank to the Bank of Liverpool Limited for the enormous sum of 400,000 (into day's value between 25 and 40 million pounds). This was quite an achievement for someone who had started in such lowly circumstances. And so ended the Heywood private bank after l0 years. However, the name lived on as the Castle Street branch of Martin's Bank who subsequently absorbed the Bank of Liverpool.

Where did thev live?

The Town houses

Arthur Heywood I lived in Lord Street and first built himself a house in Hanover Street. Benjamin, his brother, built one next door. Their neighbour was William Moss, another Liverpool banker, whose house today is the Hanover Hotel. Alas, the Heywood's houses have long since been demolished. Arthur's son, Richard [I] moved into the premises 'over .the shop' at the bank in Castle Street in 1776. This was a necessity for security reasons at a time of high risk of civil disturbance and minimal law. and order.

Lark Hill

In 1776, Richard bought the house and estate of 'Lark Hill' from Jonathan Blundell, the colliery owner and merchant, who had built the house eight years earlier in 1768. He lived here until his death in 1800 and, having no children, it passed to his brother, Arthur [II], the A. Heywood on the map. From the 1906 map it is evident the estate was extensive and included a wooded area with 'fish ponds'. This was the Larkhill Park of my youth. A pathway lead from the house to the fish ponds. In 1835 the location was described as 'Club Moor Pits'. These were formerly either marl or clay pits for agricultural use or possibly brick making.

Arthur [II] died in 1836, again without issue, and the Lark Hill estate passed to Elizabeth, the daughter of his elder brother, Benjamin. In effect the owner was Hugh Jones, her husband, who was already a partner in the bank.

On Hugh's death in l842 the house passed to their son Richard Heywood Jones, and in 1871 to his son Benjamin Heywood Jones who was still living there in 1900. It was in the 1880's the new imposing entrance gates and lodge at Tue Brook were constructed. The coach drive, built on a curve up to the house, was about 600 yards long. Before this time the only entrance to the house was from Larkhill Lane, later to become part of Queens Drive-a far less imposing entrance through an area which encompassed the estate buildings and stables.

Norris Green

In 1830 Arthur [Il] built 'Noris Green' which on Bennisons map of 1835 is described as New Hall reached by 'New Hall Lane, which is now Townsend Avenue leading to Broadway.

On his death in 1836 it became the property of his elder brother's son, John Pemberton Heywood [11]. This house and its grounds was auctioned off in 1894 and demolished in 1931 during the development of further municipal housing between the wars.

Originally located in Hanover Street, the bank moved to 7 Castle Street about 1776. Owing to the road widening scheme for Castle St. a new building was built on the new road line on the corner of Brunswick Street and opened in 1800. This is the present Heywood's branch of Barclay's Bank who absorbed Martin's Bank in 1975. Martin's had previously taken over The Bank of Liverpool who had bought Heywood's bank in 1883.


Having found most of the answers to my questions, I recently visited the site of Larkhill mansion for the first time since the early 1960s and found that the house had not been totally demolished. The outer walls have been preserved for about 2 feet above ground level and the inside filled to form hard tennis courts, alas, very neglected.

My next quest is to find out more about Jonathan Blundell, why he chose the Larkhill site for his home and why he left after only 8 years.

Neville King (Feb 2000)


1. 'Arthur Heywood, Sons & Company 1773-1883' (1949) pub. by Martins Bank, Heywood Branch, Brunswick-St. Liverpool.
2. Chandler,G. 'Four Centuries of Banking' vols. l & 2 (1968) Batsford.
3. Hughes, John, 'Liverpool Banks & Bankers 1760-1837' (1906) Simpkin, Marshall.
4. Presnell, L.S., 'Country Banking in the Industrial Revolution' (1956) Oxford University Press/Clarendon Press.
5. Cooper,J. & Powers, D., 'The History of West Derby' (1986)
6. Maps:
Bennison's map of Liverpool 1835
O:S. 1/2500-scale 1906 edition
7. 1881 census returns

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