The previous examples might seem to stray a little from the core subject, but I think it is useful in highlighting the mindset which was emerging as modern ‘business Liverpool’ took shape, with tenants and landowners alike aware of the growth of the town. It also highlights the kind of man we are dealing with, so when Moore complains at losses from Molyneux’s business practices, and his care for the good of the town, we should take this with a pinch of salt.
Moore had a brief victory as the Moss Lake Brook was unblocked to flow again to the North, though the victory was short-lived and unnecessary. Within thirty years of writing the first wet dock was built on the inlet, the course of the stream up through the Town ( up the current Paradise Street and Whitechapel) was filled in and built over, and peat was no longer needed as fuel. In an ironic reversal of fortunes this was followed by a period when the course of the brook was deliberately flooded just North of the square to provide a reservoir and clean water for Liverpool.
I stated that the importance of the lands Abercromby Square sits on goes back to the sixteen hundreds, but if you’ll allow me a moment’s indulgence, more technically it actually goes back to the 1300s: And the first granting of the Corporation estate. Well, to be absolutely accurate the history actually goes back further to the point when the area was known as ‘West Derby Fen’, but speculation on that point is in my chapter on Liverpool’s origins.
The great common above the town had always been a source of fuel, but the locals had their favourite spots to dig. The cynic might suggest that some planning was involved, and the outcome intended, but in 1309, Edmund Crouchback, the Earl of Lancaster, was fed up with villagers digging peat out of his Toxteth Park hunting estate ( the lands later granted to Lord Molyneux). As nefarious peat digging was almost impossible to police, especially given the lack of a police force in the fourteenth century, the easiest solution was to offer an alternative to the Burgesses of Liverpool.
So, for the princely sum of one silver penny a year, six Cheshire acres on the upper East side of the pool ‘adjoining the Mill Pond of the village of Liverpool’, namely over today’s Faulkner Street and Abercromby Square to Brownlow Hill, and ending to the East just shy of the current Grove Street, and to the West just above Hope Street, were granted to form the first part of the Liverpool Corporation Estate. This also then marked the boundary with Edge Hill and the borough of Everton.