In 1897 Thomas Bater with his business partner William Schofield Williamson purchased the residual estate of Hoole House which stretched from Hoole Road to Hoole Lane and from Hamilton Street to Park Drive. Their purchase was very significant in terms of the layout of that part of Hoole which we know today.
Thomas Bater was born in Barnstaple, Devon and by the age of 19 was farming 250 acres of prairie in Canada from which in 1887 he was exporting cattle to Liverpool and Birkenhead. He returned to England and built a successful business in the livestock and meat trade at the Woodside Meat Exchange. He made frequent trips to the United States to negotiate deals with ranchers and in 1904 was President of a festival in Birkenhead for all those concerned with the foreign meat trade.
In 1896 the Rt Hon Claude Hamilton Vivian, who had inherited Hoole House and its estates from his great aunt Martha Hamilton in 1893, succeeded to his family's seat at Plas Gwyn in Anglesey. His estate of some 96 acres was sold by auction, the House and 61 acres being bought by Mr Edward Thomas of Denbigh. Within a year Mr. Thomas sold Hoole House to Mrs Elizabeth Potts of Hoole Hall and the remaining land to Messrs Bater and Williamson who seized the opportunity to invest in the rapidly growing residential development which was taking place. They sold parts of it to adjoining property owners and builders and their names appear in the deeds of houses in Sumpters Pathway and Clare Avenue which were built by Henry Sumpter and Henry Crowder respectively; houses were built on Bater Avenue, a new road linking to Panton Road.
In June 1899 the remaining land which was named the "Vivian Building Estate" was broken into building plots for sale by auction. These included the 6.231 acres that Hoole Urban District Council wished to purchase for the provision of a public park and the Council had to negotiate terms with Bater and Williamson, whose initial conditions included an expectation that the Council would lay down surrounding roads, sewerage, gas and water mains, that certain entrances would be created and that activities in the park should be restricted so as not to cause a nuisance to nearby residents. These led to heated debate in the Council Chamber and numerous visits to the vendors' offices in Birkenhead. Eventually the deal was completed, and the first part of the park opened in 1904.
The other plots and groups of plots were sold to individuals including a Mrs Kennedy who eventually sold some of her land for the allotments and Thomas Smith, a farmer and Clydesdale horse breeder at Blacon Point Farm, who also sold land for the allotments. His son, Cecil Plumbe Smith, a partner in Walker, Smith & Way, Solicitors also purchased some of the land which the Council then acquired for the extension of the park and for the establishment of the playing field with covenants restricting their future use. Cecil Plumbe Smith who lived at Newton Hall and then Folly House also bought the land on which Lime Grove and surrounding streets were built, his name appearing in the deeds of property there.
Shortly after Thomas Bater's death in 1917 the name of Bater Avenue was changed, and it became a continuation of Panton Road.
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, October 2021, Hoole History & Heritage Society