The Margaret Beavan Special School is situated on the corner of Hayman’s Green and Almonds Green. It was designed and built in 1884 by Architect James Frances Doyle. The building was designed for the Latham Family as a private villa and was once called Eddesbury.
Today, this building stands unloved and uncared for, and another Grade 2 listed building is now at the mercy of the weather and vandals who have managed to gain access to the property from time to time. It was recently highlighted in a local newspaper that the main building narrowly escaped being fire damaged after a portion of the 1960’s extension was fire damaged in a suspected arson attack and as such, this building, although a Grade II listed building, is in poor condition and requires urgent repair work, together with clear instructions on who owns the building and what their intentions are to restore the building to its former glory.
This website aims to look at the history of the building, rare images both internally and externally, discover who owned the building during its life, and why, much like Sandfield Tower, is now abandoned for it to slowly fall apart. Should this be happening to Doyle’s earlier work? We think not!
For the overview of the history of the building’s architectural merits, we would like to turn to the overview by English Heritage who describe the building as:
School, formerly villa. Dated 1884, with late C20 alterations and additions. By J. Francis Doyle, architect, of Liverpool. Smooth red brick with sandstone dressings, tall clustered shaft chimney stacks and a Westmorland slate roof covering, laid to diminishing courses. Free Renaissance style.
PLAN: Irregular linear form, the main range extending north-east to south-west, with small wing extending south-westwards to form an L-shaped layout. FRONT (north-east) ELEVATION: 6 bays, 2 storeys and attics with advanced off-centre entrance bay. The doorway is set back within an open porch, supported by paired Tuscan columns rising from a tall plinth. Wide porch canopy with railed balustrade. Double 3-panel doors beneath semi-circular fanlight, set within moulded surround with strapwork enrichment. Above, set back from doorway canopy, a tall 3-light mullioned window flanked by paired pilasters which support a moulded cornice band. Attic gablet with segmental pediment to apex.
Advanced gable to left-hand end with tall ground floor 4-light mullioned window, and with 3-light windows to upper floors. To right and left of entrance, recessed bays with wide crenellations to parapet. To right of right-hand set-back, a gabled bay with oriel window to first floor, above 3-light window. End bay set back at attic storey level. Right hand end return with secondary stair windows. Set-back service bay to right-hand end. REAR (south-west) ELEVATION: Main range with advanced bays at bays 1 and 5. Left-hand bay with wide Dutch gable and 1:2:1 window to ground and first floors, separated by narrow pilasters.
Set-back centre bays, with centre doorway with 4-centred arch headed surround now enclosed within late C20 covered way. Above doorway, stepped 4 light mullion and transom stair window, flanked by 2 and 3 light windows to each floor. Advanced canted 2-storey bay window with crenelated parapet to bay 5, with gabled dormer set above. Lower 2-bay service range to left with C20 covered way to front links with hipped roofed single storey range extending south-westwards with advanced wide centre bay, altered late C20 with insertion of glazed double doors. Remodelled south-west gable.
INTERIOR: Spacious stair hall with square panelled walls. Substantial turned baluster stair with moulded handrail and carved newel posts with elaborate finials. Wainscot panelling to flanking staircase walls. Room with canted bay window with elaborate ribbed ceiling plaster and sculpted plaster frieze. Marble surround and decorative tilework to hearth and sculpted plaster overmantel with broken pediment. Panelled room to south-west end of main range with panelled inglenook within which is set a massive stone hearth surround with carved mantle cornice and heads to jambs. Other rooms retain original fittings, including stone hearth surrounds, decorative hearth tilework and timber panelling. The building was listed as Grade 2 in 1998.
James Latham was born in 1830 in Scotland Road, Liverpool to Henry Latham and Sarah Tatlock and was baptised on the 6th May in St Michael’s in the Hamlet, Toxteth.
In 1851, he was listed as living as a Lodger in New Hall, West Derby.
On the 23rd October 1854, he married Caroline Roscoe in Poulton Lancashire and in 1859, they had a son Gerald, and in 1861, a daughter Georginne.
In 1881, James Latham, his wife Caroline, his son Gerald, and his daughter Georgina were living at 7 Haymans Green in West Derby. James was listed as a General Produce Broker and worked, together with his son, out of 4 Parana Buildings, 17 Tithebarn Street.
Eddesbury was commissioned by the Latham Family as their private villa and James Francis Doyle took on the contract to complete this building between 1884 and 1885. They moved in straight away into their grand Villa and enjoyed the building, a stone throw from their previous address.
However, their residence in Eddesbury was to be short lived. From 1885, they lived at the address till the death of his wife Caroline in October 1890. Faced with life without her, he moved back to the family address of Heatherlea, Haymans Green and died only a couple of months later on the 16th December 1890. James Latham was buried Walton on the Hill. The family census for the son Gerald shows him living back at the Haymans Green address and thus Eddesbury was abandoned by the family at this point.
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From Left to Right: 1 - James Latham's Baptism Certificate from 1830. 2 - The 1881 Census for the Latham Family showing them living at 7 Haymans Green, West Derby. 3 - The marriage certificate of James and Caroline, 1854. 4 - The 1889 Census for Eddesbury. 5 - The Probate records of James Latham who died in 1890.
After Eddesbury was abandoned by the Latham family, it appeared to stand empty for a few years until the Cunningham family moved in. The earliest reference to the Cunningham family living there is the 1894 census. But first, we would like to like to explore more about the Cunningham family, and more so of Danson.
Danson Cunningham was born on the 18th April 1841 in West Derby and was baptised in Holy Trinity church, Wavertree on the 6th of January 1842. James Cunningham (Father) and Danson (son) are listed in the 1851 census living in Larkfield Terrace, Wavertree. James was listed as a Cotton Broker at the time. In 1856, his mother (Anne) passed away.
The 1861 census shows James (Father) and Danson (Son) having moved up in the world and living in one of large properties in Sunneyside behind Princes Park. We then move to the 1881 census to show that Danson had then moved to 31 Falkner Square and appeared to be house sharing at the time.
In 1884, Danson marries Augusta Amelia (nee Irwin) in Dungannon, Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Augusta was born in 1863 in Dungannon.
Then the family grew with the birth of James Cyril Cunningham (1886-1954), and sadly in the same year, his father James died. In 1887, the birth of Tom Eric Cunningham (1887-1974), the birth of Robert J Cunningham (1889-1933), the birth of Saib A Cunningham (1890), and the birth of Jack Armande Cunningham (1891-1956). In 1891, the family are still living at Falkner Square.
In 1894, we see the first confirmation of Danson living and or owning Eddesbury as listed in the 1894 Kelly’s Directory. (Image on the left is Danson Cunningham).
In 1901, we see Danson being listed on an incoming passenger list from New York to Liverpool. Perhaps this was for business reasons? A further review of the 1901 census confirms that he was living at Eddesbury with the family and several servants.
In 1905 he takes a couple of years out of the UK and travels to New York from Liverpool on the SS Baltic with the family. Could it be that life in America wasn’t suitable as he returned with the family in 1907? However, we must look at the 1911 census which shows the greatest level of detail for the family. We see that he is still living at Eddesbury with his family, sons, but also an entourage of people including two nieces, a Governess, two visitors (!) and many servants. This would have been the greatest time for Eddesbury with a full and compete household!
In 1915, Danson Cunningham of Eddesbury dies on the 10th June 1915 at Tunbridge Wells. Was he visiting family, on business or looking to move elsewhere? His address was still listed at Eddesbury at the time. Probate to his widow and two others, his estate at just under £100,000. Danson Cunningham was buried at All Saints Childwall, Liverpool. The 1920 census shows Danson's son, Robert still living at Eddesbury.
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From Left to Right: 1 - 1851 Census. 2 - 1861 Census. 3 - 1901 Census. 4 - 1911 Census. 5 - 1911 Census. 6 - Family Grave at Childwall Church