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Eddesbury in 1884

The former Margaret Beaven School is situated on the corner of Hayman’s Green and Almonds Green in West Derby, Liverpool. It was designed and built in 1884 by the noted architect James Francis Doyle and is Grade II listed.  

The building was originally designed for the Latham Family as a private villa and called Eddesbury. 
Today, this Grade II building has been severely fire damaged numerous times, lost the top portion of the roof and upper floors and stands completely unloved in its own plot. After a disastrous fire in July 2022, the building is heavily fire damaged. Most of the original interior has been lost and all of the upper attic rooms have been totally gutted with part of the roof collapsing in on itself.

This one fine mansion, an original 1884 noted James Francis Doyle designed Grade II listed building is on the verge of being lost. There is no protection over the missing roof. Why is this happening to one of Doyle’s finest buildings? He designed St Barnabas, Penny Lane. There would be an outcry if that had ended up in the same position!


Eddesbury in 2019

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.

The marriage certificate of James and Caroline, 1854.


Register of Municipal
Voters 1889

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 at 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.

Probate for James Latham


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.


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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Liverpool Corporation took ownership soon after and was named The Margaret Beaven School. Margaret Beaven became the first female Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1927. She also stood to be a Member of Parliament in the general election two years later. The school was well used and a noted building in the area. The building was finally listed by Historic England in 1998 for its architecture and the noted architect who had designed other buildings within the area including partly responsible for the former White Star Line HQ at 30 James Street.

The former school was closed for good in 2004 and the City Council had no use for it. The site had fallen into disrepair but at one point it was used for the BBC show Young Dracula. In 2016, the site was sold into private ownership. Sadly, nothing was done to the building, and it faced further vandalism attacks as well as small pockets of fire being started throughout the building on numerous occasions.

Flames ripped through the building in May 2018. Further attacks took place on the building, but the worst was to happen in July 2022. Someone had broken in yet again and this time caused a serious fire which would go on to gut the entire property. Four fire engines and aerial appliances arrived to find the building well alight. The fire service stayed throughout the night, but the result was terrible for the building. Most of the roof gone, the attic rooms completely gone with just metal beams showing what used to be there. Original fireplaces were completely gutted, and every part of the building blackened by smoke, as well as heavily water damaged from the water poured into it to stop the fire.

Even more frustratingly, after the fire was put out and the building was inspected, no further action was taken on the property or the owners to try and salvage any part of the building. Since the fire in 2022, it has stood there for nearly two years without a roof. And thus, any remaining part of the building’s original listed interior will be absolutely rotten and will probably have to be skipped.


Showing the main staircase at Eddesbury when it was a working school, and the damaged caused by the main fire. 


We see the main entrance and tower structure at the front of Eddesbury. As you can see, the top floor has completely gone, crashing down in to the first floor. It is by great luck that the gable ends have not collapsed. 


The video on the left shows Eddesbury before the main fire. The video on the right shows the devastation of the building and the upper floors. Despite this building supposedly being locked down and ultra secure, people are still accessing the building. Will there be another fire to finish the building off?


A listed Victorian mansion in Liverpool that was completed in 1884 will be converted into apartments in a multi-million-pound plan backed by a local heritage group. Developer Hassett Homes is to submit plans to the city council for the redevelopment of Eddesbury, a Grade II-listed mansion on Almonds Green in West Derby. The project will also see the redevelopment of three coach houses in the three-acre grounds.
Before submitting a planning application, Hassett is embarking on a consolation process with people living nearby. His scheme already has the backing of local heritage group Hassett Homes agreed to purchase the site from a private entity in 2020. It says it will submit its planning application in the autumn following consultation with local residents, which is now under way.
The new development will be called Danson Park and Hassett managing director Jamie Blennerhassett added:
‘This is a gem of a building with some delightful interior and exterior features that we will be preserving and enhancing. The generous grounds allow us to support the scheme’s viability with much-needed new homes whilst retaining views of the main house across re-instated landscaping. It will add considerable value to the neighbourhood and remove a source of anti-social behaviour’.

The Planning Application can be found here and Planning Approval was granted in February 2023, frustratingly, work has yet to start on weatherproofing this fine structure a year later and as seen on the above video, the interior is now in a shocking state. 

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