Calderstones Mansion is a Grade II listed building set in 124 acres of stunning public parkland. Once the home of Cunard shipping magnate Charles MacIver it is now set to be transformed by The Reader Organisation into an International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing
The park began as the private estate of Joseph Need Walker who purchased the land in the 1820s. Walker removed an old farmhouse which was previously on the site and began construction of his neo-classical mansion house . Taking his inspiration from the prehistoric rock-art covered monument near the boundary of his land he named his new home 'Calderstone House'.
Calderstone was the home of Walker's family from 1828 until 1875 when they sold it to its most well-known resident Charles MacIver. The name MacIver carried the greatest respect in Liverpool and indeed across the world, for it was widely acknowledged that Charles MacIver and his brother David were the men who built the reputation of The British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company - better known as The ‘Cunard’ Line.
MacIver moved to Calderstone House when his days of active involvement with Cunard were coming to an end however he could not totally remove himself from links to the sea importing numerous North American pine trees and other foreign species - many of which still grow in the park today.
The house stayed in the ownership of the MacIvers until 1902 when it and the estate were sold to Liverpool Corporation. The Corporations maintained the integrity of the estate, keeping its ha-ha, extensive stableyard, walled gardens and domestic buildings unusual in a public park.
The house became home to the Liverpool Parks and Gardens Department and part of the mansion became an elegant tea-room. Many visitors through the doors of the mansion today recall being taken as children for tea and cakes.
In the 1940s with the shadow of war looming over Britain, Calderstones became a hub for the governments ‘Holidays at Home Scheme’ encouraging people to use their local amenities rather than wasting precious fuel travelling across the country. Variety shows, bands, plays and comedians regularly entertained the war-weary Liverpudlians and the events proved so successful that following the war a purpose built art-deco open-air theatre was built at the rear of the house. It’s designer was believed to have been renowned city architect Sir Lancelot Keay.
In the 1970s the building largely closed its doors to the public and became council offices. The house remained like this until January 2013 when The Reader Organisation won preferred bidder status with the aim of restoring the house safeguarding it for the future.
The plans include creating a bistro, community and conference spaces, restoration of the outdoor threatre and a new home for the ancient Calder Stones themselves.
Credit to Doone Rush Photography.
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