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(The) Quinta, Greenheys Rd, Liverpool

21 Greenheys Rd in 2014

Halfway along the north side of Greenheys Rd, just as the road sweeps into a curve, a white stucco house stands back from the road, partly concealed by trees. Now converted into apartments, no. 21 Greenheys Rd was once known as The Quinta, which means 'Country House' in Portuguese. It was built between 1861 and 1870 by a fruit broker called James Carter Houghton, who named it as a nod to the elegant Portuguese country estates where he did so much of his business.

James Houghton and the many Ellens: From Madeira to Liverpool

James Houghton was part of Liverpool's close-knit network of fruit merchants with strong connections in Portugal. Born in Liverpool in 1831, at the age of 22 he married Ellen, the much older widow of his fellow fruit merchant Richard Dart, who traded with the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores. The 1861 census records the family at 119 Parliament St, when the household included James (30), Ellen (45) and their two Liverpool-born daughters Ellen F (3) and Ellen A (1), as well Ellen's five children with Dart: Richard (21; later owner of Terceira House in Sefton Park), William (20), John (18), George (15), and - yes - another Ellen (12). All the Darts were born in London except for George, who had been born on the island of Madeira.

By 1870, when young Ellen Grace Dart married Madeira-born James Waddell, the Houghton family had moved into The Quinta (Liverpool Daily Post, 30 Apr. 1870: 7). On the night of the 1871 census, James Houghton is recorded as living there with his wife and two daughters (all called Ellen) and a granddaughter, Eliza (7). They were not to stay long; in 1877, Houghton put the house up for sale and moved back to his wife's home city of London. The sale particulars in the newspaper give a good sense of the house, including its 'vinery in full bearing,' which - like the extensive glasshouses, marked in crosshatch on the map - may have included plants and fruits gathered through the family's Portuguese connections:

Quinta 1893

PRINCE’S PARK – THE QUINTA, 21, Greenheys Rd, standing in its own grounds of about 2000 yards land. Was built and has been occupied ever since by the present owner, and is perfect in its arrangements for drainage and ventilation. Contains, one basement, good cellars and a kitchen; on ground floor, dining and drawing room, each about 20 feet long by 20 wide, vestibule and entrance hall, morning room, and kitchen with scullery, pantry, etc. A staircase of excellent proportions leads to the bedrooms, which are few but large, and with a small outlay another suite of bedrooms can easily be added. The outbuildings consist of conservatory, fernery, vinery in full bearing, three-stall stable, double coachhouse, harness room, loose box, and manservants’ rooms. Can be viewed, between eleven and one o’clock and three and four, by ticket, on application to Mr Roberts, at Messrs JC Houghton and Co, 3, Victoria Street (Liverpool Mercury, 25 Jan. 1877: 2).

The 1881 records that the tenant of The Quinta was Syrian cotton merchant Pamelia [?] J Ralli; by 1891, he had been replaced by William Coltart Cross, a Toxteth-born 'agent, chemical & general broker'. The Quinta retained its Portuguese name until at least 1893, when it appeared on that year's Ordnance Survey map (left), but by 1901 its Portuguese associations were lost, and it has since been known simply as 21 Greenheys Rd.


Image of 21 Greenheys Rd: 
Plan of The Quinta ©Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2015). All rights reserved. (1893).