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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Chris Moore CBE, Secretary of the Hoylake Conservation Area, gives an insight into the value of our built heritage and what the Conservation group aims to achieve:


I have always taken a great interest in form, shape, texture and balance. If I had my time over again I might well have chosen to study architecture. As it is, I just take pleasure from the buildings, their characteristics, style and their relational spaces that is there to see in abundance here in our town.

Fine doorway and balcony to Civic Building

“Fortunately, many of these buildings have endured to leave us with some splendid houses of great stature and grand style…”

An elongated, coastal ribbon town with its principal features separated, Hoylake’s history as a farming, fishing, seafaring and inn keeping town is still clear to see. The King's Gap is so named as it was from this location that the 10,000 strong army of King William III sailed for Ireland in 1690. Unsurprisingly, there are obvious connections to our maritime heritage – Hoylake being a derivative of ‘Hoyle Lake’, the pool where sailing vessels waited for the tide before sailing up the Dee to Chester or venturing further afield. Elsewhere, the influence of Lord Stanley of Alderley, a major land owner in the area, is evident in the names of established roads and the style of some of the remaining buildings. Many other buildings date back to later Victorian and Edwardian times and reflect the taste, wealth and status of residents as the town developed more as a spa, golf course and commuter town. Fortunately, many of these buildings have endured to leave us with some splendid houses of great stature and grand style along Meols Drive and Stanley Road while the gradual expansion of smaller, often terraced houses along the road network and facing the coast are no less distinctive and have a charm of their own. All in all, the variety of buildings from large to small, detached or terraced, makes for a wonderful mix of housing to suit families of all kinds – with good road and rail links and many leisure outlets.

The most dominant buildings are the Lighthouse and Keeper’s Cottage in Valentia Road, St Hildeburgh’s Church at The King's Gap and Hoylake Chapel near the roundabout which are all Grade II listed. But there is a wealth of other buildings which a keen eye can look for and appreciate. Such as:

  • The Quadrant at the south end of Market street with its fine sandstone facade and the ornate decoration of the balcony to the Former Urban District Council Town Hall
  • The Grade II listed former bank on the corner of Market Street and Alderley Road
  • The cobbles and seclusion of Jessie’s Yard and the Old Smithy of 1882 opposite
  • The old fishermen’s cottages in Back Sea View and Lake Place where The Lake and the Plasterer’s Arms are still plying their pub trade much as they did a century or more ago
  • The many cobbled passageways between the terrace houses where horse and cart would have supported residents and traders
  • The former Lifeboat Station on North Parade now the home of the Lifeboat Museum
  • The walls at North Parade showing where the old Hoylake swimming pool used to be
  • The wonderful texture and appeal of many sandstone walls, road setts and pillars dotted about

But we should not forget more recent buildings. You might be surprised to learn that the Hoylake railway station is also Grade II listed as an acknowledged example of the utilitarian, art deco style of the 1930s. At King's Gap, set amongst a variety of residential properties (of which the most recent flat developments are less than inspiring!) is the interesting and distinctive Church of Christ Scientist – a welcome visual departure from the more usual, traditional style.

So - look about you and remember to look UP as that’s where some of the most interesting features can be seen. Look at the buildings, their construction, their roof lines and chimneys rather than keeping your eyes focussed at street level.

We could all do more to protect as well as enhance the considerable legacy of our built environment, its distinctive appearance, its dignity, style, space and character. We are extraordinarily lucky to live and work in Hoylake. The more we appreciate the town’s heritage and the quality and range of our buildings the more we can add to the pleasure of being here.

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