Court Hey Park is an ideal place to unwind. The park is popular with local walkers and families. There is a bowling green and cricket wicket, both with active clubs keen to welcome new members. Whitefield Cricket Club, situated in the park, is one of the oldest sporting clubs in Merseyside first established in 1902. There is an orienteering course around the park and copies are available from the Parks Office.
There are so many things to do in the Park, from a simple walk amongst the trees, sitting in the Old Rose Garden or games on the playing fields.
For children, you may just want to kick a ball or cycle, but there is a playground to help burn off the energy, followed by a visit to the Cornflower Cafe in the National Wildflower Centre. The play area has also won an Editor’s Choice Award in the annual Local Government News Street Design Awards, after being praised for its unusual and imaginative design.
In its woodland setting, the £167,000 playground is a winning combination of unique quirky features – including a seated platform and train with carriages – and more traditional playground equipment.
Designed and developed by Knowsley Council’s Leisure and Community Services in partnership with 2020 Knowsley, the play area opened in 2004. Since then, it has proven a huge success with local families and visitors from all over the country who flock to Court Hey Park to visit the National Wildflower Centre, the Sunken garden, Victorian walled garden and stable buildings.
The Friends of Court Hey Park
The Friends are also based here and they have a meeting room in the old stable block with wheelchair access from the Centre courtyard. The Friends meet on the first Monday of the month at 1.30pm and discuss their activites and projects. Please check the events page for the friends 'History Talk'.
The park can be traced all the way back to 1783 when it was a farmer's field forming part of the Lord Derby Estate. The grounds were acquired by Robertson Gladstone (1805-1875) who was elder brother to the four times British Prime Minster William Gladstone.
Robertson Gladstone married Mary Ellen Heywood-Jones in January 1836 and the mansion house, Court Hey Hall, was built the same year in the sixty acre walled estate. The Hall was originally sited at the end of the drive near where the circular car park and play area is. The hall was a large L shaped sandstone house with stable buildings, rose garden and a lodge at the corner of the lane in the north west of the park. The entrance drive has been re-aligned but the original gate posts can still be seen on the perimeter with Roby Road.
Robertson Gladstone was a Director of the Liverpool to Manchester railway, which opened in 1830. When the railway was renovated it was necessary to replace the stone sleepers used for the track. These sleepers had once been traversed by the famous Rocket steam engine and the newer heavier locomotives were damaging the track. The Gladstone family purchased the stones and used them to line the edge of the main driveway toward the stable buildings and they are still there today. One can actually see the holes and indentations made for the metal plates securing the rail.
Other original features that remain are the rose-garden, stables and walled garden. One of Gladstone's six sons, Walter, lived at Court Hey until his death in 1919. J. Bibby and Sons a cattle food manufacturer bought the estate, and established an experimental poultry and cattle foods farm. The company developed the park as a Centre for sport and recreation. During the Second World War the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Foods requisitioned part of the estate as a quarantine station.Football, tennis, bowls and cricket became familiar sights around the park while the hall was used for ballroom dances, billiards and other social activities. Recreation continued alongside a printing business, which was established in the grounds in 1923. From the late 40's Liverpool Pembroke, an Athletic and Cycle Club also used Court Hey Park as a base until redevelopment forced them to move in the 1960's.
The hall and grounds fell into disrepair and in 1951 the company sold the estate to Huyton-with-Roby Council. The hall was demolished in 1956 and part of the land sold to Vernons Pools and then a housing estate which is now called Grangewood/High Beeches Estate. The original entrance to the Vernons factory runs alongside the Eastern side of the estate.
Gladstone Roots Project site
Opposite the playground is a site of great importance to the Friends of Court Hey Park. Thanks to £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund this is where you can find the re-built footings of the Gladstone Mansion house that once proudly stood until it's demolition in 1955. The friends worked with Knowsley Council to create a project that involved many members of the local community and schoolchildren in an archaeological dig in 2007 supervised by Liverpool Museum Field Archaeology Unit. Web site.
Knowsley Green-Space Rangers Service
Knowsley's Rangers manage the countryside sites in the borough for everyone to enjoy. They involve communities in their local environment and bring environmental education programmes to local schools and colleges. The Ranger Team also delivers an annual programme of public events and activities that include natural history walks and talks, sporting activities and park events that help local people to gain enjoyment from their parks and open spaces.
For general enquiries about Ranger activites in Court Hey Park, forthcoming events and school activities please contact the Huyton Green Space Ranger now based within the Friends meeting room. Telephone: 0151 443 3114.
The BioBank Service is based in the Victorian stable block and is the Local Records Centre for North Merseyside. It is the central co-ordinating body for the management of biological data in the area, supporting the biological recording community and promoting wider participation in conservation. The centre promotes the North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan and wider participation in conservation through education, community involvement. Tel: 0151 737 4150