A trip to Liverpool in picture postcards

St. John’s Gardens

St John’s Gardens stand in a former area of heathland known as The Great Heath, which continued to exist until the middle of the 18th century. As Liverpool grew, the land was built on, and towards the end of the 19th century, it had been completely developed.

The land sloped upwards to the east of the developing city and was exposed to the winds, making it a suitable site for windmills and for public lines to dry washing. In 1749 the city’s first General Infirmary was built on the site, followed by the Seaman’s Hospital in 1752, a dispensary in 1778, and a lunatic asylum in 1789. Industry also came to the site; in addition to windmills, there were rope works, potteries, a marble yard, and a row of lime kilns.

From 1767 the land towards the top of the slope had been the town cemetery, and in 1784 a church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist was built in the middle of the cemetery. By 1854 the cemetery was full, and the church was demolished in 1898.

Meanwhile, the other buildings in the area had been demolished, the industries closed, and St George’s Hall had been built, opening in 1854. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was decided to landscape the former cemetery.

The remains of most of the bodies were removed and buried elsewhere. The site was redeveloped and opened in 1904 as “St John’s Ornamental and Memorial Gardens”. The gardens were designed by the corporation surveyor Thomas Shelmerdine. In addition to the creation of flower beds, statues and memorials were erected in the gardens.