In 1906, Alderman WB Bowring gifted the Roby Hall estate “to the inhabitants of Liverpool” to become one of the first municipal parks in the UK. In 1913 the first Municipal Golf Course in the UK was established at Bowring Park. Today, historic Bowring Park and Golf Course stands as an important local park and key sporting facility serving the community of Huyton-with-Roby and surrounding areas. Located on Junction 5 of the M62, the park is a significant gateway into the Borough of Knowsley.
Roughly covering an area of six football pitches, Bowring Park features:
- Open parkland
- Play area
- Community and Visitor Centre
- Historic Gardens: the former gardens of the Roby Hall estate
- Bowring Park Golf Course: an 18 hole Golf Course lying south of the Park itself
Milestones in the History of Bowring Park
1760: John Williamson Esq, Mayor of Liverpool, acquired the estate.
1761: Williamson built a new Roby Hall, together with many associated buildings including a walled garden, coach house and stables block.
Roby Hall has a succession of owners and occupiers throughout the 19th century, including Richard Edwards Esq. (c1829), Edward Moss Esq, and the last occupant, William Pilkington Esq. of the glass making and colliery owning family.
1906: Alderman WB Bowring acquired the estate to gift “to the inhabitants of Liverpool” as one of the first municipal parks in the UK. The Deed of Gift was signed on 12th June 1906.
1909: a stop for the Liverpool Tramway was established, which increased access to the park.
1913: the park became the location of the first municipal golf course in the UK
1921: The ‘Olde English Gardens’ formally opened, a conversion of the original estate kitchen gardens into a formal municipal gardens setting.
World Wars I & II: Bowring Park and Roby Hall were commandeered for war service. During World War II, much of the park, including the gardens, was given over to growing food The park was also used as a refuge from the heavy bombing of Liverpool during the blitz of May 1941.
1957: The Liverpool Tramway closes. Around this time, Roby Hall fell into decay and, alongside a number of associated buildings and structures, was demolished.
1973: The M62 was built splitting the park in half. The construction of Roby Road (main access from M62 junction into Huyton) also isolated a section of the park. The gardens and remaining original buildings fall into dereliction, though the Golf Course continued to operate.
1989: The Friends of Bowring Park became an active force in conserving and promoting Bowring Park’s heritage.
1997: Knowsley Council became corporate trustees of the Bowring Park Trust that owns the site.
2011: Mack Golf Ltd leased the whole site to provide a long-term management and sustainability model for the Golf Course and park.
2016: Received £1.8m of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for restoration works and activities at the site.
Bowring Park boasts a proud heritage predominantly dating back to the Georgian Period. Its archaeology, history, natural and built environment all add to the importance and value of this community park. Some of the key features that remain within the park and define its heritage value are:
- Formal Gardens: These include the following:
- Walled Garden and Potting Sheds
- Dell (Sunken Garden)
- Terrace Lawn and Ha Ha
- Buildings: including The Coach House and Stables Block – now used for the Visitor & Community Centre and the Golf Course Reception and Clubhouse
- Parkland Landscapes/Vistas: including a rich stock of veteran trees showcasing the original landscape layout of the estate
- Local Wildlife Site: covering the western side of the Golf Course including valuable grasslands and a pond habitat
- Other Features: original stone pillars and walling; foundations of the original buildings (two gatehouses (Roby & Liverpool Lodges) and the original footprint of Roby Hall itself (currently used as the Car Park for the site).
Lost Heritage Features
Over the years, many original estate features have been lost but are recorded in documents and images relating to the Park. These lost features include:
- Roby Old Hall: lost soon after 1936 according to historic maps.
- Roby Hall: The 1761 Hall fell into disrepair in the 1950s and was demolished at this time.
- Gatehouses: Roby Lodge (Eastern Entrance) and Liverpool Lodge (Western Entrance).
- Potting Sheds: The original potting sheds were replaced in the 1950s – a section of these were demolished in the 1990s.
- Greenhouses/Vineries: originally around the Walled Gardens, no greenhouses or vineries stand within the Park today.
- Landscape Vistas: obstructed by the opening of the M62 motorway and Roby Road in 1973.
- Northern Boundary: altered when Roby Road was built in 1973. A remnant portion of the park now lies north of Roby Road, and is now known locally as ‘Nanny Goat Park’. Knowsley Council secured ownership of this land in July 2014 with the intention of incorporating the land back into the Park and safeguarding the original heritage features under the restoration project.