Upper Frederick Street, Toxteth, Liverpool
Upper Frederick Street Today
We visited Upper Frederick Street on the evening of 2nd August 2003, the setting sun was giving the buildings and the trees an enhanced red glow.Most of Upper Frederick Street has changed completely since
1832, the City end of the street is a very pleasant estate of houses and bungalows, all overlooked by the towering Anglican Cathedral – which can just be seen top centre of the picture of The Queens. The first picture shows a modern house with the street name ‘Upper Frederick Street’ affixed to its wall.
The modern Upper Frederick Street in Toxteth is a very pleasant place to live but in 1832 it was very different; the western end of the street (nearest the city centre) seems to have been dark tenements and courts with the buildings packed together so tightly that some rooms had no daylight at all, whilst the eastern end seems to have been slightly better with rows of tall terraced housing. This public house (since closed) was approximately at the eastern extent of Upper Frederick Street, where I believe Alexander Ralston, my 3x great grandfather, lived in 1832.
Toxteth is regarded as the oldest part of Liverpool as it is home to the oldest docks, such as Canning Dock and Salthouse Dock. Although the waterfront has changed recently, there are still a number of old warehouses is this area. This church, the Church of St Vincent De Paul, stands on higher ground, above the newer housing, looking very solid but also rather stark and seeming more in tune with the occasional old public house and the remaining old warehouses than with the houses further down the hill. (2003)
Alexander Ralston lived in Upper Frederick Street in 1832, he was a Block Maker, a trade associated with shipbuilding, his neighbours were mostly tradesmen – from grocers to sail makers – in this street which is only a short walk from the (then) busy and thriving Salthouse Dock.
The Queens was at the other end of the street, nearby are blocks of flats (probably 1960’s) which replaced older housing and which are now boarded up and the area appears to be ready for more modernisation. It is easy to imagine how The Queens was once a busy, thriving establishment with a large local population and daytime working population with a need to slake a thirst and socialise.
St Vincent De Paul – this large, early Victorian Church stands on a corner of Upper Frederick Street. Whilst there is no connection with the Church and our families, The Church of St Vincent De Paul was very important to the large Irish population that migrated to Liverpool in the 19th century and who settled in Toxteth because of its closeness to the docks and to employment. Toxteth was really a very cosmopolitan area with seafarers and their families from all over the world lodging in the tenements in Upper Frederick Street and the neighbouring streets. The city end of the street is very close to the Chinese quarter, the oldest Chinese settlement in the country.
The Presbytery of St Vincent De Paul, which is on the corner of Upper Frederick Street and Hardy Street, is built of a red brick, contrasting with the paler brick of the church itself. This picture shows the effect of the evening’s sunset on the brick walls.
A Drive to Liverpool
On a lovely summer’s day in 2003 mum and I drove to Liverpool and found the ‘new’ Upper Frederick Street, curvy streets instead of straight, attractive new houses with pretty gardens instead of rows of tall and dark old Georgian houses and tenements and warehouses. Instead of sailmakers and blockmakers, we talked to two lovely ladies, neighbours, retired, watering the flowers in their front gardens as the sun began to set, and they confirmed that we had found Upper Frederick Street and, yes, it was all new. And I loved their accents, the lovely clear and precise Liverpool accent that my mother had when she was younger (and which I often caught in odd moments) and that I remembered from my grandmother and great aunt Millie. I heard the same accent in the restaurant at M&S in Church Street, Liverpool, about three years ago, and it always makes me feel like I’m home. Home to my ancestral city, where I also lived and worked for four years in the 1970s.
Life in 1832
Upper Frederick Street is in the Toxteth Area of Liverpool and is close to the Southern Docks. The northern end of the street is close to Paradise Street and the city centre and the housing was mainly tenements and courts – or slums.
The southern end of Upper Frederick Street (furthest from the city centre) seems to have been slightly more prosperous. The Liverpool Poll Book of 1832 records approximately 30 of the families living there because the gentleman of each household was eligible to vote in the Parliamentary elections. The occupations of these gentlemen include shipwrights, sail makers, block makers, tailors, butchers, grocers and a wealth of other professions.
Upper Frederick Street has another claim to fame as the birthplace of the Public Wash House. Initiated by Kitty Wilson, who understood that cleanliness was the key to improving the health of the people; Upper Frederick Street was the home of the first Public Wash House in Great Britain.
Liverpool Street Names
Named after Thomas Masterman Hardy captain of Nelsons flagship at Trafalgar
St James Street
Said to be derived from St James Church, Toxteth
Please remember that the information on this website is only accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief. If any of the information is relevant to your own research, please double-check the sources.