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A walk back in time, Waterloo 1891

The Waterloo Walk: By Barry Miller
Waterloo district of Widnes in 1891


Starting off in the Waterloo pub, managed by Irishman Walter Lenehan and it is from there that we continue going left off Barn Street where we find three ‘missing' streets: North Street, Hope Street and High Street.


A total of approximately 220 people lived in these three relatively small streets in a community where, unusually for the period, the majority were NOT Irish. The remainder came from Poland, Wales, Scotland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and various parts of Lancashire and Staffordshire.

We assume the streets were demolished circa 1900 to make way for the ICI acid-filling plant and loading bay on one side of Barn Street. Adjacent to Barn Street was Water Street, encircled by Sankey Street and further up, Albion Street. All of these streets where off Waterloo Road.
A total of 340 people lived in these streets. In this area were two pubs, the Hutchinson Arms in Sankey Street, and the Stonemasons in Water Street. There was also a 'beerhouse' in Barn Street, while further up, opposite the National School, was... another pub, the Albion!

This area was the core of the Polish / Lithuanian community. Attached is a list of some of the people who lived in the area at the time which were difficult to pronounce, I would have dreaded being a postman in those days! The list, all from Barn Street or Water Street reads:

Joseph Kaloutski, Martin Mattinkerevitch, Joseph Runnedvitch, George Sneovtski,
Stash Sveroski, Joseph Dermic, Ernest Maroffski, Adolph Kenovitch, Ludwig Nesski, 0 Bormistavitch, Stanislaus Sonetz, John Britritka, Anthony Dunbavitch, Martin Jacouski, Stanelous Bassick, Anthony Yermonlovski, Dominick Dovitshi, John Ganz, John
Mercewye, Jacob Brazowsi, Tony Pellousiy, Charles Prenowski.

We continue from there up the path from the bottom of Sankey Street, to 'the cut,' negotiating a maze of railway lines, along the towpath and up to the iron bridge. Crossing the bridge to the other side of the cut we come to the 'old marsh.' There is a small row of five terraced houses there, where live 23 people comprising two families from Widnes, two from Wales and one from Manchester. And, on the end - surprise, surprise - an-other pub, The Commercial Arms, where the publican is Joseph Welding with his wife Sarah, who are from Warrington.

Coming out of the pub, up to the old marsh pier head, we carry on up the towpath, passing the lime works and the chemical works on the left and across the cut on the right we find Gossages soap works. At the end of the towpath we come across three cottages and the locks from the cut to the Mersey. This small block of land, between Widnes and the cut, was called Spike Island and, in the early 1950s and before, was a notorious venue for `pitch and toss'.

But, back to 1891 and the three cottages.

The first was occupied by John Knott and his wife Jane. John was the dock master and came from Lingham in Suffolk.

In the second cottage lived John Fox who was pier master and hailed from Blacksail, Suffolk. Also living there were his wife Mary Fox, their son-in-law and daughter-in-law Robert (a cooper) and Liz Crossley, and their niece Ellen Scott, a dressmaker.

In the third cottage lived Joshua and Ann Large and their four children.
Joshua was a file maker, his son a commercial clerk, and daughter Emily was
also a dressmaker. They were all from Widnes and also employed a domestic
servant, a girl named Mary Dale, aged 14, from Sutton.

Our next stop is the Swan Hotel , but to get there we have to temporarily step into West Bank territory across the locks from Spike Island, up the steps, along the pathway and exit at Short Street, off Mersey Road.


To our right is Gossages shop and offices (now the Catalyst Museum) from where we cross the road and (reluctantly) pass The Vaults pub at the top of Church Street ('not in Waterloo' ), on the right of it is Gossages Soap Works and on the left, just before the Swan Inn, is the then St Mary's Church and graveyard.
The church, this was to remain open for 15 more years or so while the new St Mary's was being built down West Bank.

We continue then down Lower Church Street to The Swan and back into Waterloo territory. The landlord here is Joe Dixon who hails from Embleton in Cumberland. After a brief sojourn there we go down to Lower Church Street to Dock Road On the right, though, building work is in progress on St Patrick's Church and, across the road, St Patrick's school. Also on the left is waste ground and the back of houses in Bridge Street and further down, 'you've guessed', the Arch Hotel, affectionately known as 'The Slutch 'Ole'. You could be forgiven for asking for a pint of cider here as Dick Luxton, the landlord, came from Exeter in Devon.

Out of the Arch we turn down Dock Road and first right is Dock Street, both aptly named as most of the occupants are workers from West Bank Dock and Widnes Dock. On our left is Hutchinson Trustees' estate a railway line is behind the fence. On our right is Pear Street. Venturing down Pear Street - houses on both sides and densely populated - we come across the penultimate pub, the White Star Hotel.'

Turning back up Pear Street to Waterloo Road on our left is The Globe chemical works while on the right is waste ground. At the top of Pear Street, where 244 people live, are five houses on the right hand side.

Continuing the journey, we turn back down Waterloo Road towards Milton Street with Gossages on his right, waste ground on the left and the back of the Globe factory. we then turn, past the grocer's shop on the corner, down Milton Street where 188 people live although houses are on both sides for only half its length. Carrying on, towards West Bank Street, we now have the Globe works on our left while on the right is a boiler works. Now we're in West Bank for the final leg (and pint) of this nostalgic journey back in time.

We cross the railway crossing, between Milton Street and Pitt Street and first right is Pitt Street, the final street to complete the tour of Waterloo. There was only one side to Pitt Street and it was probably the most densely populated, 260 people in all, once again, 90% of them of Irish descent. I pause as I pass No.33 (where I was born) Shall I knock? No! My time has yet to come. A John and Ann Moon and five kids live here at the moment.
So! Up to the George Hotel we go. `A Pint of Mild, landlord, please' Served promptly by John Andrews from St Helens. Then, I thought, .should I have another one?' Why not! 'One for the road, landlord.' `You from round here?' he enquired. 'I said no, just passing through' Well, I couldn't say I'd come back from the future, could I? He'd have probably thought I was drunk.
'I must have dozed off then. When I woke up I was back in 2001. The George was gone The houses all gone. The church they were building, four pints ago, gone - after christening, marrying and burying thousands of people.

'The whole Waterloo community, vanished, replaced by factory units. Only (most of) the street names remain intact, thanks for taking time to read this virtual tour of 1891.

26 Comments:

Chatty Kathy said...

Very interesting information. did not know these streets and pubs existed. would love to know where Grove Street was in 1901. cannot find any information regarding this. Thanks

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Anonymous said...

Would be interested to know where the "Railway Hotel" was ?

Anonymous said...

Would be interested to know where the "Railway Hotel" was ?

Anonymous said...

My Great Great Grandfather Samuel Thompson owned the Railway Inn. It was located bottom of the brow up to Ditton Junction Station. I believe it was also called the Junction Hotel? James Thompson, Samuel's son had the George Hotel.

Anonymous said...

My Father was the Landlord of the Railway Inn, I remeber the Widnes Rugby Team comming past with the cup in 1964, it was knocked down in 1983 I think, I would love to see a photo of the place because we have none.

Anonymous said...

My great grandmother Eliza Ramsbottom amd her the husband walter a policeman lived at21 Hope Street in 1894 before moving to Kent street and then Widnes police station- so this was all very interesting Lynda Giller

Anonymous said...

I lived with my family in dock st, mam was a cleaner dad was a docker.both sets of grandparents lived in pear st.we moved away in 1956.

Ron C said...

Went to the old national or the Nash as it wa called I was always down there with my mate Percy Gill who lived in Cromwell St The Headmaster was Sconny Hughes followed by Frank Barton Overlooking the school yard was house owned by a man called Jos who had a horse and cart He was later killed along with a couple of kids he was giving a ride to by a Crosville bus outside where the steel works called The Brom Ron C

Janice said...

Fascinating stuff. I was particularly interested in the Lithuanian names - not one is spelled correctly. LOL. The imigrants were illiterate, at least in English, and the Census takers could not understand the names so put them down phonetically. some were a jolly good try. It plays havoc withthose of us who are researching this. My family have about 10 different names!
Great account though and helps me picture how it was then.

David Whelan said...

That was brilliant Barry i could listen to stories like that all day. Id love to hear what it was like in Halton View back then.

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Anonymous said...

My grandfather, his brothers and sisters, and his mother and father all lived at 82 Pear Street in 1911. The Glovers. I can't find it on Google maps though. It doesn't appear.Found information on Ancestry.

Anonymous said...


My family originated from Lugsdale Road - my grandmother Catherine Moran had a shop there and my mother lived in the house next door this would have been in 1920/21 - I have a piece of jewellery that originated from the Pawn shop which I think was in Ann Street - I believe where my parents lived was around where the Pentecostal Church is now

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