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Woolton villagers' big surprise as gentry land in woods

Campaigners fighting St Julie's plan welcome gathering of Reynolds clan for plaque unveiling

Written by . Published on January 28th 2015.

Woolton villagers' big surprise as gentry land in woods

VILLAGERS in Woolton are being given a boost to their "hands off our park" campaign, next month, when descendants of philanthropist Sir James Reynolds pay a visit to Woolton Woods.

Lady Charlotte Reynolds, accompanied by younger members of the Reynolds family, will unveil a plaque at Woolton Woods to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of ancestor Sir James Reynolds, in Woolton, in 1865.

The extensive woods were bequeathed to the people of Liverpool by Sir James around 1917, the year he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for his military work during World War One.

Now almost a century later, the city council wants to take a slice of Woolton Woods to enable a new school to be built to replace the existing St Julie's High School that overlooks the site.

Lady Charlotte and her husband, Sir David Reynolds, baronet and grandson of Sir James, have been briefed by leading villagers about the proposed scheme.

Members of the village community decided on a bronze plaque to commemorate the generous gesture of Sir James, who made his fortune as a successful cotton broker in Liverpool.

Organisers of the commemoration were taken aback when Lady Charlotte told them she and other family members wanted to come to Woolton for the unveiling ceremony on February 8.

1-Woolton Woods 3Earmarked: Woolton Woods with the current St Julie's in the background

Architect Sue Carmichael, one of the leading campaigners against the loss of land at Woolton Woods, told Liverpool Confidential: "We are delighted Lady Reynolds and family members will becoming to Woolton from various parts of the UK for what will be a memorable event.

"They are aware of our campaigning work, but have not asked them for any support. They simply asked us to keep them up to date with what was happening. One of the family members, the Hon Simon, has indicated he wishes to say a few words at the unveiling. We hope the visit alone will send out a message out about our lovely area of public open space, given to the people for their enjoyment for generation after generation. 

"You could say their visit, almost to the date of the Sir James's birthday is very timely for us.

"The council is saying the school project will only take five percent of land from Woolton Woods. But it will be like the equivalent of three full size aircraft carriers suddenly arriving on Woolton's doorstep. When the rise of the land is taken into account, the school building will be like an eight storey high tower block facing the high street, completely destroying the character of the village.

"Sir James and his family lived at Dove Park, now known as Reynolds Park. He saw active war service as a colonel in the West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and won several DSOs.

"I can't help feeling that when he returned to Woolton he wanted to make a gesture to the people around the area, from Liverpool to Widnes and beyond, by giving them a large area of woodland for them to enjoy in peacetime.

"He was a noted philanthropist, who became a Liverpool MP and High Sheriff of Lancashire. The Reynold's family were a significant Roman Catholic family at the time.”

1-Woolton Woods 2

Dove Park was also given to the city for the benefit of citizens, but in the 1920s the mansion house was destroyed by fire.

Sir James is buried in the churchyard at St Mary's in Woolton.

One branch of the Reynolds family runs one of the most spectacular mansion houses in the North West, Leighton Hall near Carnforth.

Plans for the new school are currently open for public consultation, prior to going to the council's planning committee.

The campaigners are opposed to the loss of any of the bequeathed Woolton Woods being taken.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Uncle JoeyJanuary 29th 2015.

I've never watched Toffs In The City and I never even knowed who this Kim Reynolds was. But I don't see what it has to do with dese outsiders coming in for five minutes, when I am faced with diffykult decisions every day over which birrov park I should flog next. Dey should keep der noses out. It's nottin to do with youse. Its a no brainer girl. Hang on....isn't de another park called Reynolds in Wooltin? Yiiiiiissssss........Hello is dat Redrow?

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2015.

There were more than enough schools in that area to give any child a great choice.One by one they were closed. To start wanting slices of other amenities to build another school beggars belief.Woolton Woods was a gift to the people of Liverpool from a geneous man. It was not a landbank for an inept mayor to cash in when his pot of money runs out.Say no to ANY encroachment on the city's sacred spots and lock that man up where he can do no more harm.

BeriaJanuary 29th 2015.

Why don't they build a school in the 'underused' scrubland created by Council planners nearer the city centre, around Park Road and Mill Street? The area needs regeneration of any kind.

Green TambourineJanuary 29th 2015.

We need a WILDLIFE FOODBANK!!! How are birds going to find FOOD in this WEATHER??? What's the MAYOR doing about THAT????

Mother SuperiorJanuary 29th 2015.

Why don't they use the brand new state-of-the art Parklands school in Speke which is standing empty?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Cathy LickJanuary 30th 2015.

Could it be because St. Julie's is a Roman Catholic School and the Archdiocese is pulling the strings?

Mother SuperiorJanuary 30th 2015.

I think that has everything to do with it, my son

Parish newsJanuary 30th 2015.

Uncle Joe should just TELL them to move to Speke. He tells everyone else where to go.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2015.

No one should have to move to Speke...the motorway's the only method of birth control round there

Judith PattersonJanuary 30th 2015.

Will see what the mayor thinks of that.

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