The township of Huyton is one of ancient origin. In the Domesday survey of 1086 the name of the settlement appeared as Hitune meaning literally ‘High Town’ and was held, together with the manor of Torboc (Tarbock), by a local lord named Dot. These manor lands were a portion of the area between the Ribble and the Mersey known collectively as the West Derby Hundred. The spelling of the township’s name varied from Hitune (1086); Houton (1258); to Hyton and Huyton (1292), the latter becoming the recognised spelling from 1300 onwards.
The focal point of Huyton is the historic Parish Church dedicated to St. Michael which stands (as many churches of this name), occupying high ground on a ridge and therefore visible throughout the township. There may have originally been a Saxon church on this site but a church certainly existed here in the 12th Century for it was granted to the Priory of Burscough, by Robert, son of Henry de Lathom (whose family are remembered by the present-day Lathom Road). The present church building is of medieval origin, which, despite having been subsequently altered over many centuries, retains notable features of various different periods. Within the church is an early Norman font found buried under the Tower in 1872. A second font of octagonal design and a rood screen, which date from the 15th Century, were added later. The list of past clergy begins with Richard de Walton who was rector in 1254.
In the 14th Century, the lordship of the ‘de Lathom’ lands including Huyton, Roby and Knowsley, changed to the Stanley family by marriage. In 1485, Thomas, Lord Stanley, became the first Earl of Derby, a title given to him by Henry VII in appreciation for the Stanley family’s support at the Battle of Bosworth. Also around this time the Harrington family acquired the tenancy of the manor of Huyton Hey by marriage. From that time the two families were to figure heavily in Huyton’s future.
The descent of the Harringtons remained supporters of the Catholic faith throughout the Reformation period. However, due to broken lines of descent, the manor of Huyton Hey passed to the Molyneux family, later becoming Molyneux-Seel through the female line. A portion of the Molyneux-Seel land namely Huyton Hey Manor farm on Huyton Hey Road, is the township’s oldest surviving secular building. Originally with a datestone of 1670, it was renovated and enlarged, and now houses a residential care home. Adjacent to Huyton Hey Manor is a small park area called Paradise, which was made into a children’s playground by the council after the land was donated by Lady Carr-Saunders (formerly Molyneux-Seel).
With changing industrial development during the 19th Century, the area of Huyton Quarry expanded rapidly. Quarrying took place here, as did coal mining; the area at various times boasted a coarse earthenware pottery, an iron works, a gas works, a blue works, an electric lamp works and later a chairmaking factory. Short streets of terraced housing were built throughout this portion of the township to accommodate the workforce.
Other places of worship appeared during the 19th Century. Park Hall the original Congregational Church in Huyton Hey Road, was built in 1856 with the attached school completed in 1861.
In 1890, a larger church at the junction of Victoria Road and Seel Road was built.
Similarly, the original Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Agnes of 1856, was replaced by a modern style structure completed in 1965.
Railway transport brought inevitable change to the area following the success of Stephenson’s Rocket at the nearby Rainhill Trials and the subsequent development of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway in 1830s.
Huyton Railway Station (formerly Huyton Gate Station) remains today a vital link in the local transport system. Following recent major refurbishment, the introduction of electrification to the local network and with all four rail lines now back in use, rail travel is as busy as it ever was but quieter and more efficient.
Although much of old Huyton village was pulled down in the 1960s to make way for road widening and a shopping centre, there are still buildings of note remaining within other parts of the township.
These buildings include Hurst House, built around 1830 (this building became a local golf club in 1905) and The Hazels, an impressive red brick house of 1764, which for many years was part of the C. F. Mott Teacher Training College on Liverpool Road. During the 19th Century it had also been home for members of the Pilkington family, the glass-makers of St. Helens. The C. F. Mott site was eventually redeveloped, with the Hazels now at the entrance to a large business park complex.
Liverpool College for Girls, Huyton (later known by its shortened name Huyton College) which opened in 1894 with just a small number of pupils, soon became very popular and in its heyday, had expanded dramatically from the central base containing the houses of Huyton Hall and Fernwood, located close to Huyton Railway Station, to having numerous boarders living in outlying Victorian villas in ‘The Orchard’ and St. Mary’s Road.
Many of these properties dating from 1850s were formerly occupied by merchants and ship owners. Sadly, Huyton College closed in 1993, the grounds now occupied by residential housing.
Other surviving large old buildings have been employed as residential homes for the elderly for decades, including Thornton Leigh in Huyton Lane and Yewtree, on Roby Road, now called St. Helena’s.
The Beecham family resided for many years in Huyton. Their estate encompassed the area now occupied by Blacklow Brow, The Rooley, and part of Tarbock Road. Their residence, Ewanville, was occupied by members of the family between 1885-1928. A few years later, the estate was sold and developed.
During the Second World War, some houses in the Jefferey’s Crescent area around Page Moss and the Coronation Drive and Reva Road area in Swanside were damaged by bombing which took place from late 1940, up to the ‘May Blitz’ of 1941 during which, a number of civilians were killed. Also, early in the war, an internment camp was set up in Huyton to house German and Austrian nationals who had been detained for fear of collaboration and spying. They were placed in unoccupied council housing at Page Moss where a number of streets had been fenced off with barbed wire. The internment camp at Huyton was only temporary with most detainees being moved on after a short period to Douglas, Isle of Man.
Huyton also had a Prisoner-of-War camp during the Second World War, located on King George V playing fields on Longview Lane. The camp remained open for a few years after the war with some former prisoners taking part in bomb-disposal work with the Royal Engineers. A small number of prisoners did not return home to their native country but met and married local women and settled locally.
Huyton’s population increased from 1930s when land owned by Lord Derby was sold to Liverpool Corporation, bringing in a large number of new residents.
Housing estates, mostly post-war, appeared over a wide area and this increase in population required changes to Huyton-with-Roby’s infrastructure. Redevelopment took place around the Derby Road and Archway Road area which included road alterations and the demolition of many old structures such as the old Infant School building and bank building, as Huyton Village was transformed into a modern town centre.
During 1970s, shopping habits changed dramatically around the country and in Huyton Village, Asda opened its large store at the north end of Derby Road on 8th November 1977 at a cost of £1.5 million. This trend of building larger and larger stores continued nationally and on 28th August 2005 Asda Wal-Mart opened its two-storey superstore off Huyton Lane, the former Asda store being demolished.
The visual change in Huyton Village is evident through a study of old photographs of Derby Road taken from 1870s – 1977 before it was pedestrianised.
As Huyton’s old buildings disappeared, new buildings started to appear including The Huyton Suite which was officially opened by Harold Wilson on 5th April 1975 and when the old library building in Westmorland Road was demolished, it was replaced with a new Huyton Central Library building at the top of Derby Road, officially opened by Lady Mary Wilson in April 1978.
The Derby Road library building itself was eventually demolished but a brand new Huyton Library and Gallery opened in August 1997 in Civic Way (officially opened in 1998), next door to the Huyton Suite (now re-named The Venue).
Another landmark to disappear was the Victorian period Nutgrove Villa in Derby Road. However, the Nutgrove Villa name lives on with the busy Knowsley NHS Walk-in Centre (built on the site of the old 1930s library building, Westmorland Road) which opened in December 2005.
Secondary education in the borough has been streamlined in recent years with the introduction of academy schools. In 2009 Knowsley Hey High School merged with Bowring Comprehensive School and under the Building Schools for the Future programme, a new school was built on the former Knowsley Hey site in Seel Road and named Huyton Sports and Arts Centre for Learning. In 2014, this academy school undertook a change of name and is now known as Lord Derby Academy.