THE BEGINNING

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22 verse 6

These God-given words are inscribed on the memorial stone of the Mission, laid by John Blyth on the 24th Apri11878. The small stone is set near the ground, to the left of the front door of the Church, and its relative insignificance is out of all proportion to the inspired vision of the founder of this Christian work and the gigantic task John Blyth and his co-workers were ready to accept and fulfil for their Master.

This however was not the true beginning of the Sunday School and Mission Activity in Wellington Road in the old Township of Wavertree. Mr. Blyth in 1869 opened his home, 'Mill House' Wellington Road, to the children of this country district and formed the first Sunday School.

It is not easy to realise that in those days this was an area of farms, nurseries, imposing residences occupied by wealthy merchantmen and notable personalities, humble cottages, and possibly, in 1869 a windmill. I have not yet been able to ascertain whether this windmill existed at that time, but the Ordnance Survey Map for 1840/1845 records the 'Wellington Windmill', the Mill House and the cottages known as Mill Row. All these were sited on what is now the Bisley Street Area and nestled close to a new railway embankment carrying the first railway from Edge Hill to Garston. The embankment at the time of this early survey did not carry the number of railway tracks that there are today and the Wavertree Station had not then been built.

I cannot say exactly when Mr. Blyth took over the Mill in Wellington Road, or whether the windmill still existed. It would, however, be fair to presume that the building of the railway embankment affected or reduced the windpower to the Mill and thus rendered it somewhat useless.

Gore's Directory of 1860, although not including the streets of Wavertree in its record, refers to one, "John Blyth, foreman miller, of 5 Sandown Lane. " Then in 1862 there is "John Blyth" Confectioner of Wavertree Road". This part of Wavertree Road was in the Township of Wavertree and extended from what is now the Botanic Road area and park, to Wavertree Green (near the present Clock Tower), and was later renamed Picton Road after Sir James Picton. More about Sir James later.

The Directory of 1864 records - "John Blyth, Provender dealer, Wellington Road, Wavertree", and in 1865 "John Blyth, miller, Wavertree Mills, Wellington Road, Wavertree". Mr. Blyth's business evidently prospered and in 1871, in addition to his mills in Wavertree, he is recorded also as a corn merchant with an office in 27 Back Goree, down near Liverpool's waterfront and in the heart of the commercial centre of the town; Sometime before the Ordnance Survey of the I 880's, the windmill had ceased to exist and the map of 1893 shows that substantial mill buildings had been constructed. Mr. Blyth's home, Mill House, adjoined the mill and had quite a large garden, which bounded on to Wellington Road. Opposite the front of Mill House was a terrace of some twelve or thirteen cottages, at a right angle to. Wellington Road, (somewhere near the line of Bisley Street), extending to the flourmill which nestled against the railway embankment. Mr. Blyth apparently owned one or more of these cottages.

Unfortunately, I have not been able, so far, to discover anything about the size or style of these mill cottages. Sufficient for us is that having opened his home to the local children, Mr. Blyth found the need for a Sunday School greater than he had foreseen and soon his accommodation was inadequate to meet the increasing attendance. He transferred the school to one of the cottages that, ere long, proved too small, so a further cottage was added to the accommodation in order to continue this successful work.

God was indeed using and blessing this endeavour to the extent that in 1874 the attendance for the year totalled 6342 with a weekly average of 132, and the following year the corresponding figures were 7649 and 159. There was a slight drop in attendance in 1876 but the figures surged to 8336, with a weekly average of 170 in 1877. This was to be the year of decision concerning this great and growing work.