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Sunnybank
(Marie Curie Centre Liverpool)

So many of Woolton’s fine buildings have gone on to become something quite different from their intended original use. Henry Tate’s house in Acrefield Road went on to become The Royal Liverpool Babies Hospital. The house he had built for his daughter further along Acrefield Road, Aymestrey Court, was at one time a Special School and is presently the award-winning Woolton Redbourne Hotel. Woolton Hall was at one time the Woolton Hydro, a very up-market hotel, then the order of Notre Dame School for young ladies. The Hall is presently owned by John Hibbert and is available for private functions and wedding receptions etc. Robert Gladstone’s mansion on Menlove Avenue became a Remand Home whilst Gateacre Grange, Rose Brow, home of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, Bart, was, amongst other things, a Seaman’s Rest Home.

Most prominent amongst these homes, and others, is Sunnybank, the Marie Curie Cancer Care Centre, Speke Road, one of only 10 such specialist centres in the UK. Sunnybank, which started as the humble home to a chronometer and watchmaker, was purchased and used as an orphanage then a hospice.

Sunnybank
Joseph Penlington, a watch and chronometer maker, lived and worked at the cottage known as Sunnybank, Chapel Street, now called Speke Road, Woolton. The cottage was eventually sold by his daughter.

Police Orphanage
The idea for a police orphanage was first suggested in 1887. The project had the full support of the head constables of Liverpool and Manchester and Mr. Russell of West Riding, Yorkshire. Also, Archdeacon Clarke of Southport also gave help with the undertaking.

The orphanage was established as the Liverpool & Bootle Police Orphanage and the proposed financial arrangements were that each man would pay a five shillings entrance fee to the scheme and a subscription of one penny each week. The scheme was regarded as favourable given that it covered the northern counties, with no fewer than four thousand police.

The next task was to choose a suitable home and this was done in 1896 with the acquisition of Sunnybank, from Joseph Penlington's daughter, by the Liverpool & Bootle Police Orphanage committee who purchased the estate for the sum of £2,650. The orphanage was formally opened in October this same year by the Countess of Derby. After the opening ceremony the Countess inspected the orphanage and was later presented with a gold key, made by Elkington & Co, which bore the heraldic crest of the City of Liverpool encircled with the words: Liverpool & Bootle Police Orphanage, October 1896.

Marie Curie Centre
In 1957 the Liverpool & District Police Orphanage building was vacated and the property put up for sale. Liverpool City Council and the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation showed interest and the property was divided. The Council took the south plot and built a school. Marie Curie Memorial Foundation took the smaller north plot (including the building) and converted the home to accommodate 54 patients (later reduced to 30) to provide convalescence or long-term nursing care. The hospice retained Sunnybank as part of its title; Sunnybank Marie Curie Home, which opened in 1959.

The Orphanage building eventually became unsuitable for the ever-growing needs of the hospice and a fund-raising campaign was started to build a new Centre. The foundations of the new building were commenced in 1986, which were laid in the grounds at the rear of the existing building.

From 1987 onwards it was agreed that the name Sunnybank was to be phased out and from 1992 became, officially, the Marie Curie Centre, Liverpool.

Henry E Cotton, JP, Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, laid the foundation stone of the new Marie Curie Centre on the 14th June 1991.

When completed the building had two wards with 30 in-patient beds and in October 1992 the patients were transferred to the new building. The old building was demolished and the sandstone used in parts of the outer perimeter wall with the roof slates being reused in the gardens in the grounds. The remaining rubble was removed.

The building was formally opened by HRH the Duchess of Kent in 1994 making it, at the time, the 11th hospice in the UK established by the Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity. Since this date the hospice in Tiverton, Devon, closed its in-patient unit in October 1999...

www.mariecurie.org.uk
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Last updated :: December 2006
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