by Tony Haire

Caldy is a residential district south of West Kirby, on the western & southern flanks of Caldy Hill.  The district stretches part of the way across the flat land towards Thurstaston and along the line of the Wirral Way.

A hundred years ago, Caldy was a prosperous agricultural estate, centred on the old village. The building of the houses on farm land did not begin until the early years of the 20th century. Caldy’s present appearance is the result of careful development, controlled originally by Caldy Manor Estates, but reinforced by Local Authority Controls since the coming into effect of the Planning Acts in 1948, and particularly since Caldy became a Conservation Area in 1967.

Caldy was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, when it was called Calders, and belonged to Robert of Rhuddlan, a Norman who had taken it over from the Leofnoth, a Saxon, five years before the Domesday survey of 1086.

The Bartons

There were many changes in ownership over the centuries, until a family called Barton took over the estate in 1836.

The Bartons were landed gentry from Lancashire, but had originated from near Newark and became established as the Bartons of Smithells Hall Bolton in 1533. They were connected by marriage to the Stanleys of Hooton and the Leghs of Lyme Hall. In the early nineteenth century they back prospered in the cotton trade, before they moved to Caldy.

When the Bartons came to Caldy, the village consisted of a hamlet of farms and cottages, some of which had been built in the 17th century, and a few fishermen’s huts. They changed this into the attractive village which is now the centre of Caldy.

A public house, the Hop Inn used to exist in the centre of the village, in the house now called ‘Sunnyfold’. Every cottage was either rebuilt, or renovated. The familiar black and white cladding appeared on the sandstone buildings, as well as the ornamental chimney stacks, but the Bartons took trouble to ensure that the work matched the original character of the village.

Their own house, the Manor, was created by adding on to the Dower House farm over many years. They were a devout family, and originally worshipped at the Parish Church of St. Bridget’s in West Kirby, where they helped with the restoration and extension of the building, but in 1882 a chapel was incorporated into Caldy Manor, and the  present day clock tower shows the place where it used to be. In 1868 a school was built for children of the estate, on land now occupied by Caldy Church.

In 1891 Alfred Barton died and a cross was put up on the green to his memory by the villagers. He was the last surviving male member of the family, so the estate passed to a cousin’s husband the Rev. E A Waller. Alfred Barton’s widow, Ellen died in 1894, leaving money to pay for a new church in Caldy and Canon Waller arranged for the church to be built. The north aisle was erected on the foundations of the old school and the altar, some windows and other fittings came from the Chapel in the Manor. The Church of the Resurrection and All Saints was consecrated in 1907 and is the focal point of the village.

Caldy Manor Estate Company

The Caldy estate changed hands again in 1905, the Manor and its grounds being separated from the rest of the estate. The land was bought by the newly formed Caldy Manor Estate Co. who laid out the roads – Croft Drive, Croft Drives East and West, Millhey Road, Links Hey Road and Long Hey Road and sold off the large building lots, retaining control over the design of houses when they were built.

The trees planted in the gardens in the early years of development, are now well grown, and have contributed to a great change in the look of the Caldy district, which at the turn of the 20th century was open and windswept.

The first houses to be built had large gardens of two acres or more, but the size of the plots got steadily smaller, and in more recent years became a quarter of an acre or less. A fairly recent example of smaller house development is Caldy Green, which was built on the site of the Power House, and part of Caldy Manor Farm and its land.

Where the original plots of the Caldy Manor Estate were subdivided they had to be not less than one acre, or half an acre, depending on their position in the Conservation Area.

Caldy Manor itself has changed hands several times this century, becoming the Caldy Heart Hospital after the last war.  When the hospital closed it was converted into a retirement complex.

During the 1980s a variety of design and build executive homes were gradually built on Barton Hey Drive before the final parcel of land previously owned by Caldy Manor Estates became home to a small development of houses on Gleneagles Park between Barton Hey Drive and the Wirral Way.

Compiled by Tony Haire, from research by Jeanette Stephenson.

© Caldy Society & Tony Haire