Village living: Woolton – A quaint village setting a stone’s throw from the city
Living in a city doesn’t have to be all bright lights and hustle and bustle. Venture out of Liverpool’s lively centre and you could set up home in a quaint village setting just a stone’s throw from the action.
If a hub of independent shops and eateries, sites steeped in history and a rallying community tick all of your boxes, here’s why you should head to Woolton.
Words by Natasha Young
The village looks particularly fabulous thanks to green-fingered Woolton in Bloom volunteers.
Established in 2001 as a means to bring the community together, the group has since been successful not only in garnering support from local residents and businesses, but creating national award-winning floral displays and staging popular events. Horticultural manager Kerry Peacock, said to be the “driving force” behind Woolton in Bloom’s flower-filled creations, has also been honoured for her efforts with a British Empire Medal.
“Every member of our little committee has a role,” says Barbara Mace, chair of the group which is always on the lookout for additional volunteers. “We have one person who does the money side and fundraising, and other people who produce merchandise like the calendar.
“We also have a stall at the farmers market every month and we have a lady who, every two years, organises the Open Gardens event.”
Approaching on 8 July this year, Open Gardens showcases stunning gardens and uses the Bishop’s Lodge as a focal point for stalls, crafts and this year’s addition of music, and also welcomes assistance from fellow community organisations such as the Women’s Institute to serve up refreshments.
“People come from all over for the event,” says Barbara. “We get a lot of people from outside the area and people who’ve been before always want to come back again because we add a couple of different gardens each time – there’s always new things to look at.”
“If you’re going to live in South Liverpool, [Woolton] is the best place to go because it’s an urban village so you get the best of both worlds,” says Vickie Anderson, owner of Woolton’s Liverpool Cheese Company. “You get beautiful leafy lanes and little Georgian cottages, cafés and a farmers market, but you’re a bus ride from the city centre.”
Arriva’s number 75 bus service will take you from the village directly to the city centre and, easier still, the commute is just 25 minutes via Menlove Avenue if you drive.
In true village style, quaint shops and historic attractions add bags of character to Woolton.
Built in 1926, the Woolton Picture House, for one, certainly puts the area on the map as the place to enjoy a big screen experience in the traditional way.
Liverpool’s oldest remaining independent cinema, the L.A.G. Prichard-designed building makes for a stunning change from modern multi-screen complexes and continues to delight film fans with the latest blockbuster releases.
And if you prefer to spend your spare time scouring boutique shops for trinkets you can’t find anywhere else, Woolton has the answer there too with the likes of the recently launched Hollomby’s on Allerton Road providing an Aladdin’s Cave of antiques and curiosities.
Matthew Street may be renowned as a hub of The Beatles’ musical history but venture out of the city centre and Woolton is filled with pieces of the legendary band’s past.
A fete at the village’s St Peter’s Church Hall on 6 July, 1957 proved to be a landmark moment, as John Lennon first met Paul McCartney. These days the church, which also has the grave of Eleanor Rigby in its churchyard, welcomes visitors from around the world to see the spot where it all began.
Another site of significance is Mendips at 251 Menlove Avenue, where John spent his childhood with his Aunt Mimi. Now taken care of by the National Trust, the semi-detached house is preserved and a hotspot for fans making the pilgrimage to see where some of The Beatles’ early music was written and practiced.
Then there’s the Salvation Army’s nearby Strawberry Field site, where a young John found peace and a place to play as a child, and it later inspired him to write the famous song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.
Strawberry Field has an exciting future ahead thanks to the Salvation Army’s approved vision to create a new visitor centre where people can learn about John and his connection to the site and explore spirituality. There’ll also be a training hub for young people with learning difficulties.
Whether you’re packing up a picnic to enjoy in the conservation area’s stunning 14-acre Reynolds Park, dining al fresco or stepping out for a sociable coffee, Woolton Village certainly holds its own on the food and drink front.
“People do seem to value having local independent businesses and I think it’s a selling point in Woolton.”
Independent traders including the Scotch Beef Shop butchers and Liverpool Cheese Company make it easy to shop locally for supplies and their produce has become popular with residents around the village and beyond.
Vickie Anderson moved to Woolton 12 years ago to set up the Liverpool Cheese Company which is fittingly based in a Grade IIlisted former dairy, and says the village has proven to be the “perfect” location from day one thanks to its high footfall of locals, foodies and day-tripping Beatles fans.
“People do seem to value having local independent businesses and I think it’s a selling point in Woolton,” she tells YM Liverpool.
“It’s the main shopping area for a much wider area – places like Tarbock, Halewood and Hunts Cross. It’s got a good nightlife as well but it’s quite a different place at night.”
The area has also drawn in celebrity chef and ‘Sunday Brunch’ host Simon Rimmer, who breathed new life into The Elephant Pub in 2014 to relaunch it as Elephant Pub & Bakehouse, and also launched the neighbouring American-style eatery Liberty Tavern.
“When we first came to look at the Elephant I couldn’t believe what a lovely village Woolton was,” recalls Simon. “Great houses, a cheese shop, a butchers, a church where The Beatles played and friendly people.
“Since we opened we’ve been welcomed with open arms by all the locals and in return we’ve hosted firework parties, carol concerts, summer fetes and even taken 50-odd customers away to reintroduce the Elephant Charabanc from years ago.
“Woolton is a great place to have a business and, I’m sure, a great place to live.”
Once a month Woolton Village is also a top spot to pick up quality fresh produce from traders who have grown and reared it themselves, as a farmers market sets up on the second Saturday from 9am-2pm.
According to Rightmove, homes in Woolton’s L25 postcode sold at an average price of £259,714 in January 2018, with the majority being semi-detached and detached properties.
The area features an abundance of large family homes, combining converted character-filled properties and period cottages with newer builds which are sympathetic to the area.