Eddesbury has stood there since 1884, built for the Latham family, and then owned by the Cunningham family. In 1930, we learn that the building was finally commissioned as a special school as the following report appears:
The cry of Liverpool schools for Liverpool teachers was raised at the Liverpool Education Committee, this afternoon. Mr J. Williams opposed a recommendation that a vacancy for a head teacher at Eddesbury Lodge Special School should be advertised in the same manner as for Underlea School, to which a lady from Plymouth was recently appointed. He contended that those Liverpool teachers who had left the ordinary schools and qualified for these special schools should have a better chance of promotion.
Alderman Richardson said that it was essential to secure the best teachers available. The Chairman – If you go in for inbreeding of teachers you will never get any new ideas at all. These are new schools of a type entirely different from any of our existing special schools. Mr Sydney Jones said it did not follow because they advertised that an outsider would be appointed. The recommendation was confirmed.
The Margaret Beaven Special School was used from 1930 up to 2004 when the school closed. There have been alterations to additional buildings in the grounds, and the grounds themselves, but we do not concern ourselves with the later editions to the property and are focusing on the original 1884 footprint.
The school was closed in August 2004 as part of the wider changes to special schools from the City Council’s think tank. They stated that the changes were part of the city council’s Special Education Needs (SEN) strategy for inclusion. It believes these schools may be better off amalgamated with the mainstream system, but insists the inclusion agenda has been set nationally and is advocated by the Government and schools inspectorate Ofsted.
Therefore when the building was closed in 2004, what was the plans for the property? As it was owned by the City Council, what did they plan to do with the building?
It seems that it laid empty for a couple of years until it was partly used as a film set for the Children's programme Young Dracula.
It shows that the building was still in good condition at the time. Certainly it had been dressed up with new wallpaper etc but still appears to be in good order. Was the building to suffer the fate of many other local buildings and once filming finished it was yet abandoned again?
The building, much like Sandfield Tower was left abandoned again in 2006 and there appears to be no records of anyone living at the property, or the building being used or commissioned at all for any purpose. What was the reason for this? Was the building in need of restoration at that time and the council didn't want to spend money on it, or did they have plans to bring this back in to service? It appears that nothing was done to the property for many years and such was the height of the trees from the main road, the West Derby Society asked for these to be cut back so passers by could see the stunning building.
It is very true that one cannot see the building from the main road as it is hidden from view. It is a frustration that buildings like this are so much in the public eye, yet it would take a keen eye to see this building behind the trees.
In 2016, the City Council confirmed that they had sold Eddesbury to a private party. It was not stated whether this building was put out for tender on the market or whether this was a private deal. The sale price was £710,000 and was sold on the 6th July 2016. Further research into the buyer of the property shows that it was a C & P S Limited and their registered address is on the Isle of Man. It is interesting to note that C & PS Limited also own the former Manweb Sports Ground in Thingwall Road.
What information did the City Council provide to the new owners in order for them to take on a listed building? Did the council sell this not knowing the intention of the new owners or did they have a specific stipulation on what the property was used for as part of the sale?
It appears that although the sale took place, nothing has been done on the property at all. Each time urban explorers have gained access to the building, more and more of the building appears to have been tinned up, with windows and main doors showing a metal covering. If the sale of the property from the city council of a Grade 2 listed building took place, what has since happened to this building?
THE PRESENT BUILDING
We therefore fast forward to the present day and sum up the following:
The building ceased to be used as a School in 2004. It was owned by the Council until 2016 when it was sold to a private business. Since then the building has deteriorated further and urban explorers (and youths) and now entering the property. This is not just some abandoned house in the middle of nowhere, this is a Grade 2 listed building in the heart of West Derby built by one of the most famous architects of the day, James Francis Doyle (Designer of St Barnabas Church, White Star Line HQ and the former Royal Insurance Building to name but a few).
We (Maelstrom) have personally been involved in a 20 year campaign to save Sandfield Tower (Gwalia) a stones throw away from Eddesbury. And yet while Eddesbury is in a far better condition than Sandfield Tower, it too will follow the path of Sandfield Tower if this building is not saved.
I have recently written to the Townscape Heritage Initiative Manager at Liverpool City Council who is my point of contact for Sandfield Tower and has carefully guided me on the update on Sandfield Tower. I have also e-mailed the Mayor (Joe Anderson) and asked the following questions:
1 - Can you advise what the reason for the City Council gave for not re-using the building after it was last used for the Special School?
2 - Can you advise whether the sale of the building went out to tender? If so, what details do you have (sale booklet etc) of the tender of this building to market?
3 - I have not been inside the building and have no intention to do so (Sandfield Tower had no side garden wall and no front window...) but I have pulled plenty of images from the net from the usual urban explorer's pages. One page shows a plan of each level of the building from Liverpool City Council's Planning Office - it's a massive poster size document showing each floor's footprint. I've looked on the Planning for the City Council but cannot seem to find one. Can you provide me with a copy so I can understand the layout of the building more?
4 - With the building having been sold to a private owner, and yet is still Grade 2 listed, what have the council done to highlight the state of the building in any official documentation as part of Liverpool's listed buildings? If the City Council have sold this to a private individual and it is clearly now in a poor state, have the council looked towards a CPO of the building, and when was the last time the council contacted the owner on the upkeep of the building?
I have also e-mailed Historic England, Save Britain's Heritage, and am also in the process of e-mailing the councillors for the ward that Eddesbury sits in to understand what they have personally done to highlight the plight of this building.
Given the rich history of the property, I call upon the City Council to write to the owners of the property and give clear understandings that a Compulsary Purchase Order will be made on the property if nothing is done with the building. We are now, where I was 20 years ago with Sandfield Tower and that was intact. If we are to fast forward 20 years with Eddesbury, I fear that yet another building will become literally more than a folly.
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