The Palm House - Sefton Park, Liverpool

The Palm House
Sefton Park
Liverpool, Merseyside, L17 1AP
0151 726 9304

A much-loved focal point of Liverpool’s Sefton Park, the Palm House boasts a long and rich history. Designed in the tradition of Paxton’s glass houses and built by the Edinburgh-based firm Mackenzie & Moncur, it was gifted to the City of Liverpool by newspaper proprietor Henry Yates Thompson in 1896.

Overflowing with a magnificent collection of exotic plants, along with several bronze and marble statues depicting famous explorers and naturalists, the Palm House was an instant hit with visitors. It remained a popular attraction until the dark days of World War II when -- amid fears that the panes of reflective glass would act as a guide for passing war planes -- it was painted with grey and green matt oil paint.

The muted shades may have denied the city’s airborne enemies the benefit of a guide, but the change of colour did not manage to save the Palm House. In 1941, a stray bomb landed nearby and shattered the majority of the glass panes.

Save the Palm House

The Palm House was re-glazed in 1950 at a then-extortionate cost of more than £6,000 and once again became a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike. Over the next three decades, however, the structure suffered a slow decline. Safety fears forced its closure in the mid 1980s and the Palm House was under threat for the second time in its 90 year history.

It was the determination of local residents who saved the Palm House this time round. In 1992 a public meeting was held to plead for its restoration and present officials at Liverpool City Council with the aptly named document ‘Save the Palm House’ - a petition with more than 5,000 signatures.

Return to Glory

Driven by cross party support for the restoration campaign, the City Council launched ‘Sponsor a Pane’ - an innovative fundraising initiative which brought in almost £40,000. Bolstered by the generosity of the local community, organisers of the original ‘Save the Palm House’ petition registered the ‘Friends of Sefton Palm House’ charity. This later became known as the ‘Sefton Park Palm House Preservation Trust’.

During the late 1990s, despite the fact that the panes were still not glazed, a number of events were held in the Palm House - primarily to test possible uses for the house in the future.By February 2000, a further £2.5 million had been raised from sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund. These funds enabled the final restoration of the Palm House and the subsequent return of the statues to guard a brand new collection of exotic plants.

The Palm House continues to stand proud in its suburban parkland home; a piece of iconic Liverpool architecture with its future secured as a spectacular venue for events ranging from private weddings to public concerts. The Sefton Park Palm House is open daily to the public although hours of admittance may vary depending on the busy event schedule.

Comments 6 comments

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

That is a beautiful building. I enjoyed reading about it and viewing your fine photographs. Thanks!

merseyblue profile image

merseyblue 6 years ago from Liverpool, UK Author

Hi James, thanks for taking the time to read my hub! I'm lucky enough to live just off Sefton Park so am there pretty much every day and I never ever get bored of having a look :)

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Very beautiful building, they have a few (not to take from the Palm House's glory) but they have a few smaller similar versions in Chicago, my daughter and I would go there to escape winter sometimes.

Thanks for the limited Liverpool tour! Liverpool was the first British city besides London that I learned about when I was a boy, after reading, "The Love You Make"!

merseyblue profile image

merseyblue 6 years ago from Liverpool, UK Author

Hi Ben, thanks for stopping by! I'll be sure to take a look at the Chicago versions :) There's more to come in my series of Liverpool hubs so watch this space!! x

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Beautiful structure! There is a gorgeous conservatory of similar style in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Different but interesting and made primarily of glass are the 3 Garden Domes in Milwaukee's Mitchell Park of which I have written a hub. You are fortunate to live so close to such a beautiful structure. Loved the photos! Thanks!

merseyblue profile image

merseyblue 6 years ago from Liverpool, UK Author

Thnaks for stopping by Peggy, have just been over and read your hub about the Garden Domes, I would love to see them! My little girl loves the Farm House (as she calls it!) SO much, I think it's probably because the security there know her and let her ride her scooter round when it's not busy :)

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