The Quarry and Mount
At the end of the 16th century, three quarries provided raw materials for the construction of the growing town of Liverpool. One was located at the top of Brownlow Hill, one near Park Road, and one at the top of Upper Duke Street. A chasm was excavated from present day Upper Duke Street (to the north), down to Upper Parliament (to the south), with Hope Street lying to the east. The quarry provided material for the construction of the Old Dock (which opened in 1715), the Town Hall, and several other significant public buildings.
There are frequent references to the illegal quarrying of stone in the Liverpool Town Books. For example, in 1572 the stone-mason John Knolles was fined for quarrying stone without licence:
“Item, wee present fineable John Knolles for gettyng ashler stons in the quarrel, not havyng license of mayster maior and his brethren" (Liverpool City Corporation 1572, p.60)
The hill to the west of the quarry, used as the spoil heap, was known as Quarry Hill or Mount Zion. In 1753 it was ordered that under the direction of Mr Alderman Trafford, Mr Pole, and Mr Bailiffe Cunliffe, “the Public Walk leading from Duke St. towards Quarry Hill be repaired and gravelled, and a foot walk be made from thence up to the said hill” (Bailey 1916, p.103).
Between 1767 and 1768 during a time of high levels of unemployment, the mayor Thomas Johnson, “with a desire to relieve the suffering of the poor, and a wish to see the hill more sightly” encouraged the Corporation to hire unemployed workers to level the hill (Bailey 1916, p.102). A public walk was laid out with a recreation ground behind, and the northern portion of the hill was leased for the construction of houses. In 1771 John Callender was to be allowed £20 a year “to look after and take care of the North and South Public Walks, finding all trees, gravel, labourers’ tools and all other things relative” (Bailey 1916, p.104).
St James’ Church was built nearby in 1774-1775, and correspondingly the walk was renamed St James’ Walk. Mount Zion later became known as St James’ Mount.
Enfield wrote in 1774:
Among the public places the Terrace, at the south end of the town, called St. James’s Walk, deserves to be mentioned. It is upon an agreeable elevation, which commands an extensive and noble prospect, including the town, the river, the Cheshire land, the Welch Mountains, and the sea. It is of considerable length, and much improved by art. Behind this eminence is a stone quarry which plentifully supplies the town for every purpose of building; there is found here a good chalybeate water, which appears upon trial to be little inferior to many of the spaws.
In 1777, the land containing the windmill and premises at the north of the hill was purchased by the Corporation from Mr Drinkwater. There was concern that if it were to be purchased by others, the land might be used for something “detrimental” to the Public Walk. These premises included a tavern kept by John Bridge called St James’ Coffee House which had opened in 1775. Two bills for meals at the coffee house are shown below.
The idea of the so-called Mount Zion being a location of a public house was unacceptable to some. A clergyman wrote in 1779 (Bailey 1916, p.104):
The Mayor and Council in a dreaming fit,
To slight the Scriptures and show their wit,
The name of Zion, sacred seat of Heaven
To this unhallowed common walk have given.
Fond of impiety, behold a shrine,
They’ve dedicated to the god of Wine,
And, to excite our admiration more
See “Bottled Beer” recorded o’er the door
But thou, who answerest the poor man’s prayer,
Protect the innocent, and guard the fair,
And if thou canst forgive, forgive the Mayor!
The mount is described in the 1820 edition of 'The Stranger in Liverpool':
The gravelled terrace, which is 400 yards long, and kept in excellent condition, is artificial ground, raised considerably above the level of the street below, and, owing to the elevated situation of that part of the town, affords an extensive and interesting prospect. Behind the terrace is a shrubbery, with gravelled walks, kept in good preservation. It is a favourite and agreeable resort for people in the middle rank of life, and is open every day, except Sunday. The buildings opposite the entrance are now private dwellings, but formerly were occupied as a tavern. The whole belongs to the corporation, and is supported at its expense, for the accommodation of the public.