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The building replaced the previous gaol, closer to the seafront, which had been described by the prison reformer John Howard as ” insufferably dirty, grimy and wretched”.In 1835 the court moved to Liverpool itself (eventually to St George’s Hall), but the gaol’s catchment area covered the whole of south Lancashire.
This would help explain the fact that there are no traces of an ancient church in the area, and only scant sign of an original village. In that sense the place name referred to a village sitting on the road between Liverpool and Walton, namely Kirkdale Road, which becomes Walton Road at the suggested old centre of Kirkdale itself.] Morley Street (on a site now occupied by football pitches) can be considered the next best thing to a founding village: it was the place where settlement existed before Liverpool engulfed the area, and can be seen on the early Ordnance Surveys.
Kirkdale Marsh lay to the north of here, while Beacon Gutter, a small stream running to the south of Blackfield House, formed the southerly boundary with Liverpool.
Kirkdale occupies an area of flat land on the banks of the Mersey, formerly consisting of sand hills, for which this part of the Sefton coast is still well known.
It is one of the oldest coastal settlements, Origins: from Norse kirk (church), and dale (valley / ‘road to’); therefore the name may mean “the road to the church”, referring to the road from Liverpool to its mother church at Walton-on-the-Hill. Picton recorded that in 1699, when a case was being made for Liverpool becoming a parish in its own right, separate from Walton, one of the reasons was that parishioners were being distracted on their way to church by the ale house in Kirkdale!
A stream ran between the two hills, from the suburb of Walton to the place where Canada Dock now sits.