Postcard of Greenbank Park Old English Garden. Early 1900s
Greenbank House the home of the Rathbone family. (Date unknown)
Postcard of Greenbank Park Fountain. (Date unknown)
The area was the former home of the Rathbone family, philanthropists through
two centuries. The family acquired nearby Greenbank House (left) in 1787 as
a holiday house and remained there until 1940. Gradually it became their permanent
residence and a venue for many distinguished visitors to Liverpool who ‘had
some special opinion to propagate or philanthropic scheme to advance’.
In 1897 Liverpool Corporation entered into an agreement with Mr. Rathbone
to purchase the piece of land, part of which is now Greenbank Park for the
sum of 13,000.
The agreement required the Corporation to maintain this land as open space
or recreation ground for the general public, ‘but they shall be at liberty
to let off the whole or any part of the said land to cricket or other clubs,
and to use the lake for boating, skating or other purposes.’ In case
the Corporation was to develop the land, they were charged with maintaining
a roadway or pathway to allow public access to the lake and to prevent as
far as possible the destruction of trees.
The park boasts the dual distinction of having the first of the Old English
Gardens in Liverpool’s Parks, and the first Boating Lake. The walled
garden is all that remains of their estate on the park. Now laid out as an
Old English garden, it contains a memorial tablet to the late Mr. Michael
Kearney, the former Deputy Chairman of the Parks and Gardens Committee, who
originated the idea of its design. This garden, once famous for its herbaceous
borders is being restored to reinstate its former appeal.
The park today
The highly accessible park incorporates a good range of features, including
a lake, children’s play area and recently restored walled garden in
an attractive compact setting which provides a more intimate alternative to
the nearby grandeur of the more celebrated Sefton Park.