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Kirkdale occupies an area of flat land on the banks of the Mersey, formerly consisting of sand hills, for which this part of the Sefton coast is still well known.It is one of the oldest coastal settlements, Origins: from Norse kirk (church), and dale (valley / ‘road to’); therefore the name may mean “the road to the church”, referring to the road from Liverpool to its mother church at Walton-on-the-Hill. Picton recorded that in 1699, when a case was being made for Liverpool becoming a parish in its own right, separate from Walton, one of the reasons was that parishioners were being distracted on their way to church by the ale house in Kirkdale!A village so close to the ambitious and growing town of Liverpool could not expect to stay rural for very long.The old Moore Hall on the edge of town was already becoming surrounded by buildings as the 18th century wore on, and was altered and demolished to make way for road improvements from 1820 onwards.As Liverpool’s wealth increased, the richest merchants looked for room to build the large houses that would reflect their status in society.Kirkdale was one of the first areas to become a suburb, and a fashionable one at that.While Kirkdale was still an open landscape, a large gaol was constructed, incorporating a courthouse.Eyebrows were raised in Liverpool around the need for such as huge house of correction, which was said to be able to hold the entire population of Liverpool at the date it opened (1818).
Kirkdale Marsh lay to the north of here, while Beacon Gutter, a small stream running to the south of Blackfield House, formed the southerly boundary with Liverpool.
This was called Bank Hall, and the ‘Old Hall’, which gave its name to Old Hall Street, was left to the family’s Lady Dowager to live in.
The Old Hall continued in use until the 19th century, although it passed into the hands of the Stanley family as the fortunes of the Moores waned.
The 400 children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as religious instruction and useful trades like carpentry, shoemaking and needlework.
Eventually the buildings proved too small for the number of children needing to be taken care of, and new buildings were designed by Picton & Son.The layout used the fashionable model of the ‘Panopticon’, with two towers in the centre which each looked over its own wing.