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REVEALED: 'Woolton woods is ours to build on'

New claim that aristocrat sold land for £10,000 to Liverpool Corporation

Written by . Published on February 6th 2015.

REVEALED: 'Woolton woods is ours to build on'

THE woodland in Woolton village at the heart of a battle over a new school was sold – not given for free – to Liverpool City Council, it was revealed today.

Ahead of a weekend visit to Woolton Woods by the family of the late Colonel Sir James Reynolds, the city council issued a statement saying the council paid £10,000 to Sir James, equivalent to £390,000 at today’s prices – for Woolton Woods.

Lady Charlotte Reynolds, grand-daughter-in-law of Sir James, will be arriving in Woolton on Sunday to unveil a plaque in the woods to mark the birth, 150 years ago this month, of the war hero and philanthropist.


The plaque to be unveiled on SundayThe plaque to be unveiled on Sunday

In a statement the city council said: “We are delighted that Lady Charlotte Reynolds is unveiling a plaque to honour Colonel Sir James Reynolds. He sold the land to the council in the 1920s for £10,000, equivalent to around £390,000 today.

“We are acutely aware of the woodland's valuable history, which is why we are proposing to grow and augment the woods as a result of the new St Julie's Catholic High School development with additional land.

“The school's trustees have kindly agreed to open up large areas of previously unused woodland which will be made available to the public for the very first time. This sensible compromise will enable us to meet the needs of 1,000 young people and their families in Woolton, with new education facilities suitable for modern generations, and more accessible green space in Woolton Woods than there is now.”

1-PH-Jreynolds 001-040215-1The Colonel

The city is in possession of the deeds of the land gift and the price paid, and has had legal experts to study the terms of the deed.

Plans have been published to use an area of the woodland, around five percent, to enable a replacement school for St Julie’s to be built. In return a much large area of open space currently within the school grounds, will be opened for public use, essentially extending the area of woodland.

Campaigners in Woolton have been waging a vigorous campaign, supported by local resident and former Brookside actor Simon O’Brien, to try to halt the loss of any of Woolton Woods.

Sir James gifted the land for the use of the public "for generations to come" and the campaigners will continue to argue that his wish was for the land to remain forever as open space. 

The council has got it wrong, says camapigner

This Land, Which The Council Wants To Buld On, Was, In Fact, Gifted To The Coty, Says Campaigner Sue CarmichaelThis land, which is at the centre of the plans, was the land gifted to the city by Col Reynolds, says camapigner against the scheme, Sue Carmichael

ARCHITECT Sue Carmichael, one of the Woolton Woods campaigners against the new St Julie's school, said the city council has got it wrong.

"Records from the council's own minutes show that Colonel Reynolds specifically gifted, without payment, the 10 or 11 acres of Woolton Woods facing the High Street.  The rest of the Woolton Woods estate of more than 40 acres was sold to the corporation for £10,000.

"It is clear that Col Reynolds bought Woolton Woods for £12,000 from Mr Holbrook Gaskell and by gifting the 10/11 acres in front of the High Street as a donation to the city, and selling the remainder of the 52 acre estate for £10,000 he was actually £2,000 out of pocket.

"As well as being properly minuted in the council records of 1917, it was widely reported in the Liverpool Daily Post at the time.

"The council should study the records and amend their statement accordingly to reflect that the area of land we are concerned with was specifically donated, free of charge, by Col Reynolds for the recreational benefit of the people of the city."

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

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2015.

As the land was clearly gifted to the people of the city, presumably the Mayor and his Council will now withdraw their plan to build on Woolton Woods. Taking a gift and selling it to someone else is basically... theft.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 9th 2015.

hope nobody puts your Christmas gifts on ebay this year.

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2015.

In a statement the city council said: “We are acutely aware of the woodland's valuable history, .. From The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury, Thu 3.3.1917. (City Council Column): COLONEL REYNOLD’S GIFT Sir Charles Petrie proposed acceptance of Colonel J.P. Reynold’s offer to present to the Corporation ten acres of the estate known as Woolton Woods as a recreation ground. He expressed the indebtedness of the Council to Colonel Reynolds for his valuable gift. Mr. Harrison Jones said that by his generous gift Colonel Reynolds had opened up the prospect of the Corporation getting possession of the whole of Woolton Woods. Alderman Mather, as an old Woolton resident, remarked that the gift would be a great boon to Woolton as well as to the whole of Liverpool. Alderman Hartley Wilson said Colonel Reynold’s princely gift would be much appreciated by the poor people of Woolton at whose doors the new recreation ground would stand. The Motion was agreed to. It took me 5 minutes to find this (and other relevant articles) in the British Newspaper Archive - how can the council not be aware of this?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Katie54February 6th 2015.

It just shows what a shambles they are. The latest of a series of half-baked proposals without proper research that they've come up with in the last few years. One of the reasons why we've lost out on several funding bids. It's hard not to conclude that McElhinney's drastic (and self-serving) cull of senior officers in 2010 was a bit too drastic. And that the ones who are left aren't really worth their princely salaries.

Mirna JuarezFebruary 6th 2015.

Dear Anonymous Please could you post this article here: www.facebook.com/…/… All of our members in and around Woolton need to be aware of this. Save Woolton Woods has known all along that this land was gifted but the council doesn't want to hear the truth.

Mirna JuarezFebruary 6th 2015.

This is what it says about Woolton Woods in the Council's own archive index: "The 22 hectare site was purchased from the Gaskell family in 1917 for £12,000 by Col James P Reynolds of Dove Park (Reynolds Park), who was the last owner of the property. Col Reynolds sold most of the estate to Liverpool Corporation, but dedicated the 10 acre strip of land fronting Woolton Woods on the north easterly side at High Street to be used as a recreation ground for local people, in recognition of the privilege he felt in living in a beautiful residential district for over 50 years of his life." See this link: archive.today/…/ZKm5m… So, this clearly indicates that the land was sold at a discounted price of £10,000 to take into account of the special gift of the 10 acres on High Street, which is the land the Council wants to build on.

John BradleyFebruary 6th 2015.

Not all of it was self serving, people like Chris Walsh benefited from it very nicely, made redundant, now re-employed to mishandle complaints, when he is not committing perjury.

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2015.

There's none so blind as those who do not wish to see.

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2015.

Did anyone actually say it is ours to build on? If so who was it?

7 Responses: Reply To This...
drilldrillFebruary 10th 2015.

Joe said on Sep 10th 2014. 'I have seen a QC, a QC and we are entitled to build on the land. Now this at the very least is open to challenge. But what it is certain is that Sir James did everything he could to keep this land countryside for the people forever. What is certain too is that the Corporation bought the land with ratepayers money not their own. Just as Joe is going to spend 20 million of our money, not one penny of his to build the school, although we face savage cuts. And he is going to give away a few million quids worth our land to the Sisters of Notre Dame who accept it although it is 'stolen goods'. And although the school can built on site he is desperate to break the covenant solely so he can build Redrow with his mate all over the city. And Archbishop McMahon says...nothing, too busy looking the other way.

Katie54February 10th 2015.

As for "I have seen a QC.......", this doesn't mean much if you don't know what info the QC was actually given, as external legal advisors base their advice on the information given to them. The Council has form for providing inaccurate and/or incomplete information (Cherie Booth re McElhinney, Ernst&Young on the LDL refresh, etc. etc.).

AnonymousFebruary 10th 2015.

This QC. It wasn't Arsehole of The Bailey by any chance?

John BradleyFebruary 10th 2015.

No it was a bottle of port.

Rich RubyFebruary 10th 2015.

Not even that, it was a very cheap bottle of fortified 'British wine'...

John BradleyFebruary 10th 2015.

Was apparently still is www.amazon.co.uk/…/B0058HU6DQ…

Rich RubyFebruary 10th 2015.

As drunk by tramps.

Mirna JuarezFebruary 6th 2015.

To find the item in the council archive, go to: archive.today/ZKm5m…

EditorialFebruary 6th 2015.

This update from LCC... "We have already taken legal advice and are satisfied that the agreed sale price of £10,000 and associated documentation signed in 1921 does not differentiate between the land facing the High Street and the remainder of the site. The council paid the market value for the land at that time."

Katie54February 6th 2015.

1921?? According to the archives of the Liverpool Daily Post, the road section was gifted to Liverpool Corporation in 1917, and according to the link above (Mirna Juarez), the Council used to think they bought the remainder in 1920. And bought the Camp Hill part in 1921. You have to wonder who the lawyers were and what documents they actually looked at.

Susan CarmichaelFebruary 6th 2015.

Larry's right about land gifted by WW1 hero Sir James Reynolds DSO along High St. But Im NOT AT ALL against St Julies School - I wish it every success( as do all the SWW group),. But it simply can and must be built on its own land; the footprint is smaller than the existing school so there's ample space for well planned phasing.

Judith PattersonFebruary 7th 2015.

They are aware, but don't care, what does that tell you?.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2015.

The Archbishop will surely insist that St Julie's be rebuilt on site. The Catholic Church could not condone the taking of a gift.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 8th 2015.

Yes that is so much worse than child abuse.

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