Memories of old Saughall Massie

Elsie Sarginson (nee Boardman) was born in The Cottage in October, 1907. She was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Boardman and following her marriage to James Sarginson she lived on the edge of the village in Garden Hey Road for over 60 years. Elsie returned to live at The Cottage with her daughter in 1992 and stayed there until she died at the grand old age of 96 in December 2003. Fortunately Elsie had a remarkable memory so she was able to pass on anecdotes about the village families and buildings before they were lost for ever. (The details below are Elsie's memories as told to the website editor who therefore is not responsible for any inaccuracies.)

Someone from those early days, walking the village now, would find much of it unchanged. Whilst some big changes have taken place, namely at Poplar Farm, other buildings must look very much as they did in the early 1900's and we can see that in the gallery pictures. In West Kirby Road there was White House Farm (no longer there. The site is occupied by 'Manana'), Prospect Farm, Ash Tree Cottage, The Cottage and Ivy Cottage - so only one difference although Ivy Cottage has had extensive renovation and probably looks in much better condition with a new thatch and wall than it did in those far off days. The barns at Prospect Farm too have been converted into dwellings although retaining their old appearance.

In Saughall Road the White House was originally the village pub, then divided into two cottages next to the Saughall hotel, both of which were demolished around 1929. An old lady called Betsy Salisbury lived in one and her nephew, George, was the horseman at Mutch's Farm. He married Alice from Hoylake and they had five children - Arthur, Nellie, Joseph, Tom and Maisie and a dog called Punch! As a child Joe used to sit on the doorstep sewing and he eventually became a tailor and lived in Overchurch Road with his mother.

There was the Saughall Hotel which was run by the licensee, Mrs Maelor, who had six children. The licence passed to Ann-Jane when her mother died. They had several cows and sold the produce from their garden as well as running the hotel. William Burrows, from Liverpool, became the next Licensee in the 1930's. He was married and had 4 children, Billy, Jimmy, Leonard (?) and Hilda. Mr & Mrs Burrows lived at the hotel for many years until their retirement when they moved to Ash Tree Cottage.

Brookfield Farm was situated on the far side of the bridge by the brook and was demolished in the 1950's. Little is remembered about the occupants except that a family called Davies lived there and prior to the farm's demolition, the occupants were called Coxon (or possibly Cockson).

The (other) White House is still there on the corner, Poplar Farmhouse is still there although no longer a farm. The barns have been demolished and replaced by two detached houses and the farm yard is now Poplar Farm Close with five houses leading down to the Arrowebrook. The old stable/granary has also been converted into a dwelling. (See the sketch of the old stable and farmyard by Grace Horne on the Conservation Area page)

Further down the road can be found The Elms, formerly called The White House (there were quite a few....) and Diamond Farm whilst in Garden Hey Road there were The Gardens and Beaconsfield Cottage.

White House Farm

Walking back to White House Farm at the top of the road. The Mutch family lived there in Elsie's day and Herbert Mutch (the son) continued to run the farm after the death of his parents. He married Emily Broster, from Prospect Farm, and their niece Nancy Meadows (nee Broster) helped in the house. After Herbert & Emily had died, White House Farm was bought by a Mr & Mrs Wilding who demolished the farmhouse and built the bungalow "Manana" in the grounds in the 1950's. Rumour has it that the farmhouse was always under threat from traffic anyway as it had been built right on the edge of the lane. The farm stables were bought by Ron Broster, who lived in Ivy Cottage, and worked the adjoining land. Some years later he sold them and after a short spell as a riding school it was again sold and converted into the house now called White House Barn.

Prospect Farm

The Brosters lived at Prospect Farm (see the pictures on the Gallery) with their four sons: Thomas, Henry, Richard, Joseph and their four daughters including Margaret, Emily and Polly. When Mrs Broster died in 1900 the youngest son, Joseph, aged 19 and the eldest daughter Margaret took over running the farm. They were known as Uncle Joe and Aunt Maggie by the village children. Emily married Herbert Mutch, Polly married a policeman and became Mrs Elwood and another daughter married Mr Davies from Brookfield Farm - they ran a dairy in Hoylake.

Joe Broster married his cousin, Edith Broster, whose parents ran Broster's Bakery in Hoylake. Edith's brother, Jack, came to deliver bread in the village three times a week, using a horse-drawn bread van. Uncle Joe and Aunt Edie were considered great characters and the village children were always welcome at the farm. Joe particularly loved to tease them and he could use "colourful" language at times. The children helped with the animals, in the fields and they liked to carry lunch or tea to the men working in the fields up Bannaker Lane. The farm supplied milk to several homes in the village which would be collected each evening after milking.

In 1946 Joe retired and they both moved to The White House (next to Diamond Farm) and renamed it The Elms as there was a row of elm trees along the roadside boundary of the garden. His nephew then moved from the White House to Prospect Farm where their descendants, Iris, John and Philip Broster still live making Philip the sixth generation of Brosters to live there.

Ash Tree Cottage

Ash Tree Cottage was also owned by the Vyner Family of Studley Royal near Ripon, Yorkshire. The residents were invited to buy the properties in 1951 when many of the village houses were in poor condition and did not meet the Wallasey Corporation's new standards for dwellings. Running water had only come to the village in 1920 and sewage had been disposed of by running it through channels alongside the street and down into the Arrowe Brook by the bridge. Allegedly the locals often called it "Smelly Bridge"! The effluent was then washed down in the brook and deposited on the field at the back of Diamond Farm. Considering that many of the villagers also used the Arrowe Brook as their water source before being connected to piped water in the 1920's, they must have been of a robust constitution.

Prior to 1914 a Mr & Mrs Richard Smith with their large family lived in the cottage. He had several cows that he pastured in a little croft along the "Meols Stretch" during the day and at night they stayed in the patch of ground in front of the cottage. Their son Richard married one of the daughters from Poplar Farm in the village and they farmed Old Hall Farm in Greasby. Another son farmed in Hoylake. Two of the daughters went to sea and the last daughter at home, Polly, became a housekeeper at Stanneylands in Wilmslow.

In 1914 Henry Broster, his wife and six children moved from Ivy Cottage to live at Ash Tree Cottage. Henry was married to Emily Godwin who had lived at The White House (over the road) before their marriage. Their children were William, Margaret, Esther, Jane, Bess and Emily. Esther married a Mr Booth from Newton and became headmistress of the village school in Greasby which later became the new Greasby Junior School in Mill Lane. Jane married Frank Lee, a farmer's son from Upton and they farmed at the junction of Moreton Road and Birkenhead Road, next to the Stonehouse Bakery. Before the 1939 war, Henry's brother Richard, uncle to Mollie and Bess, moved to live at Ash Tree Cottage with Mollie. He was the horseman at Prospect Farm, where he grew up. Mollie was a dressmaker and she had a wooden building, painted green, in what is now the front garden, where she did her dressmaking. It was referred to as "Mollie's bungalow". Among her clients were Ann Moon, who became the last Lady Leverhulme, the daughters of Sir Ernest Royden from Hillbark, the Oakshott daughters from The Salacres, Upton and the daughters from Arrow Hall. The Oakshotts and Ann Moon used to come on horseback! Mollie bought Ash Tree Cottage from the Vyner Estates in 1951 and when she left it was bought by the manager of the Saughall Hotel, a Mr William Burrows, who saw out his retirement there.

The Cottage

The Rent Book shows that in 1846 Robert Vyner of Studley Royal, Ripon was the owner of The Cottage and his new tenant that year was John Davies. The rent then was £9.00 per year, reduced in 1853 to £8.00, in 1874 to £6.00 and in 1876 to £4.00 per year. Rents were collected twice yearly by a representative of the agent, Denton-Clarke of Chester.

In 1880, John's son William Brassey Davies took over the tenancy, paying rent of £6.00 per year and this figure remained until 1901 when the water rate of 10 shillings per year was added. This was probably when water was brought to the village from the West Kirby pumping station on Grange Hill. Previously water had been collected from the Arrowe Brook. William lived at The Cottage with his wife Betsy until his death in 1911.

Both Saughall Massie Village and Bidston Village were formerly part of the Vyner Estates until in 1951 the properties were offered for sale to the tenants.

William Boardman, son of a cousin of Betsy, used to visit The Cottage when he was young and in 1904 he and his wife, Elizabeth, and baby son William came from Everton to live with William and Betsy. On the death of William Brassey Davies, William Boardman became the next tenant, still paying £6.10 shillings per year. William and Elizabeth had four more children, all born at The Cottage. Elsie (1907 - 2003), James (1910 - 1973), Harry (1912 - 1946) and Edith (1913 - 1994). The couple lived there until their deaths in 1959 and 1972 respectively. As an aside, his own father Thomas, had lived with another son in Garden Hey cottages. When he died in 1918 his funeral was in West Derby and it took all day as the horse drawn hearse had to travel to Liverpool on the luggage boat!

In 1951 when the Vyner Estate properties in Bidston and Saughall Massie were offered for sale to their tenants, Elsie (now Sarginson) bought The Cottage from the now owner Clare George Vyner and in 1982 it passed to Elsie's daughter and her husband - Kathleen and Neil McMullen.

In its original state The Cottage comprised two living rooms at the front (a living kitchen and parlour) and a back kitchen at the rear. Up very steep stairs there were three double bedrooms. The adjoining Ash Tree Cottage had two rooms at the back and one at the front so the two houses fitted together like two "L's". As a child Elsie remembered oil lamps and candles for lighting, an oil stove in the back kitchen and a big range with oven and hob in the living kitchen for cooking. The brown sink with a brass cold-water tap was in the back kitchen, a boiler with a fire below was situated in the outside shed for laundry and the "privy" was down the garden. When gas came to the village, as far as the Saughall Hotel, Elizabeth Boardman had paid for it to be brought from there to The Cottage so that the family could have a gas cooker and gas lights. Electricity was installed about 1945.

Following William's death in 1959 the house was "modernised". The rear bedroom was partitioned to make a small bedroom and bathroom with bath, basin and toilet and the luxury of a hot water system! In the kitchen the old brown sink was removed and replaced by a smart sink-unit. A porch was built at the front to keep out the cold winter winds that made the house so cold when the front door was opened.

When the McMullens took ownership the house was again extended. The old pig sty with hen-roost above had to be demolished so the rear garden could be accessed. The old wooden shed with its brick boiler was also removed to make way for the new lounge and two bedrooms above. Else moved back to the home where she was born in 1992 and lived there until her death in 2003.

Like several homes in the village years ago, the garden was used for growing flowers for market and fruit from the pear and damson trees was also sold.

William tended the garden and grew scabious, forget-me-nots, peonies, campanulas, Michaelmas daisies, asparagus fern and others flowers to sell. These would be picked and bunched by whoever was willing and packed into large baskets (or skips) to be collected with others in the village by Platts, the removals and carriers in Moreton. They would take them to the market in Queen's Square, Liverpool. They called to collect the baskets twice weekly in the summer, returning the baskets at their next visit. Other houses in the village that grew flowers to send to market or local shops were Ash Tree Cottage, Ivy Cottage, The Elms and The Gardens. The gardens at the back of the Saughall Hotel were also used to grow flowers and vegetables for market.

The White House

Mr & Mrs Massey and their two daughters lived there (1800's). The older Massey's and one daughter died, leaving Polly. She married their lodger, Mr William Jones from Neston and they had 3 children, Charles, Dorothy (Dolly) and Vincent. Vincent was in the Royal Engineers during WW2 and sadly died in Greece, on 24 April 1941, at the young age of 26. His name is carved on the Athens Memorial "Remembered with honour - in memory of Sapper Vincent William Jones, 3 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers." A very long way from home.

Children living in the Saughall Massie area had to go to school in Meols - walking along the lanes in all weathers. Steve Jones has kindly sent us information about Vincent Jones (above) and also this picture of his Grandmother, taken at their school, on Empire Day whilst the picture of his great-grandmother, Mrs Amson, shows her feeding chickens with the younger children.

The Jones' sold the produce from their land to local greengrocers (possibly in Upton) and delivered it in their pony and trap. To get to the bottom of their garden (where Applegarth is now located) they had to cross a deep ditch. They also kept several goats there.

At one time Mr Kirkland, the Minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church of Scotland, took a room at The White House several times a year on Sunday evenings to hold a short service. Beforehand he would go round, inviting the villagers to attend. Gertie Wilkinson, from Diamond Farm, played the little organ. The lads from the village sat on the back row and the village children were amused at the way Mr Kirkland spoke (with a Scottish accent) and they giggled at the faces he pulled when he was addressing them. Edie Broster (from The Elms) said she believed several Hymn Books were found when the old house was demolished. Mr & Mrs Hill were the next owners of The White House, moving here from Halifax as Mr Hill had injuries sustained during WW1 and needed a gentler climate. He became a local postmaster and and had a smallholding. During their time the house was demolished and the present White House was built, the current owners being Mr & Mrs C Hill (son of the previous owners). It is interesting to note that German prisoners of war were billeted in the area during WW1 and two of the old trees in the garden were planted by them.

Mr Chris Hill has told us that at one time "The White House" was called "The Hall". He says that in 1953 the internal plumbing consisted of a single cold-water tap at a kitchen sink (a Belfast sink) in the lean-to area and a drain from the sink. Before that date water had been collected from the Arrowe Brook or rainwater butts. A WC had been constructed in around 1920, outside, beyond the corner of the building. In April 1953 an architect was engaged to bring the house up to the required standards and the gable wall at the east end was removed. The true structure of the building was then shown. The lower 4 feet of the walls were two leaves of stone with brickwork above. There was no foundation of any kind - the stone was laid on clay at ground level. The stone was not held by mortar but by wedge shaped pieces of stone, held in place by clay pushed into all crevices. Due to the damp and the bowing of the walls, the building was condemned as the brickwork had also crumbled, with damp affecting the timber floor and joists.

Opinion had it that the original stone base possibly dated from 1323 and would have been either roofed with thatch from the height of the stone or a low wall of timber and wattle added to the stone base and roofed from there. Wattle & daub had been found during the demolition. (The reference to 1323 was that a "tenement" in Saughall had been granted to a relative of Hamo de Mascy - although a settlement at Saughall Massie probably existed as early as 1207 when four bovates of land were confirmed by Ranulf, Earl of Chester, to William, son of Gerard, described then as "Sahum in Wirhallia'.) The bricks for the White House had been hand made and were of varying sizes from 2.5 inches to 4 inches thick and from 8 to 11 inches in length. It was thought that they were made on site by local labour and fired in a charcoal-burner type kiln by the use of charcoal produced in the surrounding woodland. The house has now been returned to its original footprint by Mr & Mrs Hill.

Poplar Farm

Following his father and grandfather before him, Mr Joe Wilkinson was the tenant of Poplar Farm from 1900. He was married, having met his wife on holiday in Blackpool, and they had three children. His elder brother took over the tenancy of Diamond Farm when his uncle, Mr Jones, retired. Also living at Poplar Farm was an old gentleman called Mr Fleming and "living in" were the horseman, Bill Harris, and the maid, Jinny. They eventually married and moved to live with her uncle, William Godwin, at Ivy Cottage. At one time an apprentice farmer, Tom Dean, from Wallasey, lived there too. In later years the farm became very run down and was taken over by Norman Robinson, a nephew of Joe. Norman married Mary and they had three children, one of whom - John - now lives in the farmhouse.