Lowlands, a Grade II listed Victorian mansion in Haymans Green, West Derby, was built in 1846 by Thomas Haigh, an architect and builder from Liverpool. Some of his work can still be seen at Edge Hill Station and at Marks & Spencer in Church Street. By 1861, he had relocated to Gambier Terrace, Toxteth Park and another family had moved to the newly-built house.
By 1891, the Withers family had taken up residence at Lowlands and they would remain here for many years after building a substantial extension. The head of the household was Thomas Randles Withers, the son of Richard Withers, a broker, who lived at nearby ‘The Uplands.’ Thomas, also a stockbroker, entered his father’s firm (R. Withers and Son) in about 1877 and soon became a prominent figure in broking circles. He was elected a member of the Stock Exchange in 1881 and was deputy chairman from 1887 to 1890, and chairman from November 1890 to April 1894.
Withers was involved in several charitable organisations and was a supporter of the Children’s Infirmary and the Blue Coat School. He was also president of the West Derby Cricket Club and became a county magistrate in 1891. On his death, in 1899, the flag at the Islington Courthouse hung at half-mast.
Lowlands remained in the family until after the death of his wife, Margaret, in 1930. Many of the nearby houses were in the process of being demolished but a neighbour, Alderman Ernest Cookson, recognised the importance of Lowlands and purchased the house, saving it from demolition.
After bomb damage to India Buildings during World War Two, Lowlands was used by the Inland Revenue, before being sold to the West Derby Community Association in 1957.
It then became home to the Pillar Club where young people would go to drink coffee and listen to music. Many bands of the time played there including The Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers and Billy J. Kramer. The most illustrious of acts to perform at the Pillar Club, however, was undoubtedly The Quarrymen – the group that would eventually become The Beatles. George Harrison, as a teenager, frequented the club, practising his guitar skills with the Les Stewart Quartet. Indeed, Harrison was sitting in the coffee bar of the club when he made the decision to get back with The Quarrymen.
The club closed down in 1966 due to ‘rowdiness’ but has recently found a new lease of life thanks to a £1.2 million renovation project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fun, other charities and individuals.
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