South Liverpool : Toxteth
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The Moss Lake and associated brooks on the
Yates and Perry Map of 1768 ...
Brooks from the South of the Moss Lake and Lodge Lane
An unnamed brook left the Moss Lake at its southern edge near the present Women's Hospital on Upper Parliament Street. It flowed down past the Welsh Presbyterian Church on Princes Road, near which it joined up with another stream from a source near the northern end of Lodge Lane at the highest point of Toxteth. It flowed on to near the junction of Park Road and Northumberland Street. Just before Park Road was Mather's Dam, which created a small pond. There were another dam and pond, together with two windmills, on the other side of Park Road. These ponds were also used for swimming by children and for drinking water.
From there the stream headed in a more northerly direction to emerge into the Mersey near the bottom end of Stanhope Street. On this stretch there was a brewery on the site of the present Cains brewery building. Robert Cain acquired this in 1858, although the surface stream had disappeared by then, and rebuilt it in its present form in 1887. However, the brewery continued to extract water from the subterranean aquifer (reputedly a substantial lake) until its closure in 2013.
Just before the brook reached the Mersey, there was a further dam, Jackson's Dam, with a tidal water-mill and a much larger reservoir. By the time of Sherriff's map of 1823, the Moss Lake and most of its south brook had been built over, although the Lodge Lane tributary and Mather's Dam are still shown.
... and on Sherriff's Map of 1823
The Dingle and Dickenson's Dingle on the Yates and Perry Map ...
Knott's Hole and environs in 1893
The Dingle c.1900
Dingle Point and Knott's Hole c.1900
The Dingle Brook and Knott's Hole
After The Pool, probably the most famous of Liverpool's lost rivers was the Dingle Brook with its outlet near Knott's Hole. It gave its name to the adjacent district and, along with the surrounding wooded dell (The Dingle), the area was a famous local beauty spot for centuries. Knott's hole also provided an occasional sheltered landing place for crossing the Mersey when rough weather prevented the use of the Pier Head.
The source of the Dingle Brook was close to the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth on Dingle Lane and Park Road. It may have been a bit further north - the Yates and Perry map is not very clear. It ran through the grounds of the Turner Home and the allotments to emerge into the Mersey slightly inland from the current roundabout on Riverside Drive and Promenade Gardens.
In the first half of the 1800s, the area was occupied by wealthy merchants with their grandiose mansions. At this time, Smith's Stranger's Guide to Liverpool by Alexdander Brown (1843) records that:
  The Dingle is a sweet romantic dell, in the neighbourhood of [Prince's Park], and is the property of Joseph Brooks Yates Esq., who in the most generous manner opens it to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays [...] during the summer [known locally as 'Dingle Days']. It is a delightful retreat, extending to the river, having all the diversity of hill and dale, wood and grove, tastefully laid out in shady and winding walks, with numerous arbours and rustic seats.  Few persons in Liverpool are aware of the beauty of this romantic spot [...]. Admission is gratuitous, visitors only being required to enter their names in a book at the lodge, to prevent improper persons gaining access to the ground. 
The Ordnance Survey map of 1893 makes it clear that the area described as 'Knots Hole' on the Yates and Perry map was actually two little rocky coves separated by the headland known as David's Throne. Dingle Brook emptied into the southerly one of these, the other being Knott's Hole proper. To the north was Dingle Point and nearby a cave known as Adam's Buttery. A drawing of about 1800 (see on the right) well captures this beauty spot. It depicts the idyllic tree-lined rocky coves looking west over the Mersey past Dingle Point towards the rural hills of Wirral. By 1907, Robert Griffiths could still write in The History of King John's Royal & Ancient Park of Toxteth:
  [...] one is confronted with one of the most beautiful glens in this part of the country. [...] On either side the verdure-clad embankments rise to a height over-capping some of the hoary trees with which the the whole of the slopes are covered.  [...] The deep solitude is broken only by the gentle murmur of the Mersey water, the joyous note of the feathered songsters, secure in their lofty homes, or the whirr of the martin’s wing as it hastily rises from its covert amid a little cloud of summer dust at the unusual sound of a stranger’s footfall.
However, by 1859 the stream was already drying up because of building higher up, and some rather pretty verses penned by William Roscoe entitled The Nymph of the Dingle bemourn this fact. In 1919 the whole estate was bought by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and redeveloped as oil jetties and storage tanks. The upper part of the dell was filled in for allotments shortly after. In the 1930s, a wall was built across the shore and the area used as a rubbish dump. After World War II the rest of the bay was filled in with building rubble from bomb damage, subsequently covered over by landfill waste dumping. The landscape was reshaped into gardens in 1984 for the International Garden Festival, for which a partial restoration is being planned at the time of writing.
... and on Sherriff's Map
The Dingle Outlet, David's Throne, Knott's Hole and Dingle Point in the 18th century
The Dingle Outlet, David's Throne, Knott's Hole and Dingle Point c.1800
Knott's Hole and David's Throne c.1890
The Dingle outlet with David's Throne (left) c.1900.
Dickenson's Dingle and St. Michael's Church c.1820
The remains of Dickenson's Dingle in Prince's Park
Dickenson's Dingle
Dickenson's Dingle was the name of the valley and the brook that once flowed through it until it was dammed upstream in 1842 to form the lake in Prince's Park. Its source was just to the north of the lake, near the junction of Lodge Lane and Ullet Road (both ancient roads - see the maps above). The course of the valley is still clear where it leaves the lake in Prince's Park and also in the marked dips near the end of Ullet Road and in Aigburth Road near the Shell petrol station (the latter once known as Dempsey's Hollow). It then passed just to the west of St. Michael's church to enter the Mersey at the present Riverside Drive by the ruins of the Priory, where the waterfront was then located.
The name came from John Dickenson (born c.1787), a local resident who presumably rented the land from Lord Sefton. There were fisheries along the shore here at that time and on the bank of the dingle near the subsequent railway bridge there was a cave used as an ice house to store the fish. Besides fishing, Dickenson had a warrant to claim anything washed up on the shore, which in the 18th century had included boats, cotton, timber and a whale.
The outflow of Dickenson's Dingle into the Mersey seems not to have been as picturesque as that of the Dingle Brook, but further upstream it was certainly beautiful. A drawing of 1820 (see on the left) shows a truly idyllic scene, worthy of John Constable's attention, downstream from St.Michael's in an area then known as Cain's Fields, with the newly-built church tower reflected in the peaceful, tree-lined waters. Griffiths wrote in 1907 that:
  Almost within living memory [...] the placid verdure-fringed lake in Princes Park was a running brook flowing onward down the deep declivity in the park, crossing what is now Ullet Road, the deep valley which runs behind the gardens in Alexandra Drive, through the dip in Aigburth Road, the ravine at the bottom of Dalmeny Street, entering the Mersey through the gorge in Cain’s Fields.
The establishment of Prince's Park spelt the end of Dickenson's Dingle, which was largely filled in and built over by the 1890s. The gorge into the Mersey was filled in with rubble from the Brunswick Tunnel in about 1850.
Dickenson's Dingle and the ice house (right) in 1907
The lake in Prince's Park
Acknowledgements and Further Reading
Two authors have written extensively and interestingly about the brooks in this area: The Dingle: Digging into the Past by Gerry (The Dingle) and The Priory and the Cast Iron Shore by 'Glen Huntley' (Dickenson's Dingle). I am indebted to them for some of the material here. My thanks to the former also for the black and white photos of Knott's Hole and David's Throne and Dingle Point and Knott's Hole, and to the latter for that of Dickenson's Dingle and the ice house. The black and white photos of The Dingle and The Dingle outlet with David's Throne are from Dingle Glen in Old Photos by 'Dazza'. The drawings of The Dingle Outlet, David's Throne, Knott's Hole and Dingle Point and Dickenson's Dingle and St. Michael's Church are from The History of King John's Royal & Ancient Park of Toxteth by Robert Griffiths (1907). The engraving of The Dingle Outlet, David's Throne, Knott's Hole and Dingle Point in the 18th century is from The History of Liverpool, 1810.
This is a non-commercial website that is intended entirely for research and educational purposes. If I have unintentionally breached copyright with any images, I hope that the copyright owner will tolerate my usage in the present context, otherwise I will remove the material. Modern colour photographs are by the author.