Friday, 26 March 2010

Grove House, Penny Lane

Dear Sir/Madam,
I have just discovered that two members of my family lived at Grove House, Penny Lane in the 19th Century - Andrew Kurtz and his cousin (and housekeeper) Julia Williams Turner.
Can you provide me with any history and/or images of the house, or direct me to someone who can assist ?
Steven Turner
Melbourne, Australia

Dovedale Towers (Grove House) Penny Lane Liverpool


  1. Dear Steven,

    Andrew Kurtz [1825 – 1890]. Kurtz lived in Grove House, Penny Lane; in recent years known as Dovedale Towers but now newly re-branded as a restaurant/bar/night-club, Alma de Santiago. He was the owner of the Sutton Alkali works in Saint Helens. His father who had been born in Germany, purchased the factory in 1842 and when he died four years later, Andrew Kurtz aged 21 inherited the factory. His father also called Andrew Kurtz1was born in Reutlingen, Germany, on 16 September 1781. He was the son of Erhard Kurz (or Kurtz) and Anna Barbara Schaefer. In c.1795 he left Reutlingen for Paris. His native town had been exposed to the disasters of war with France: trade was paralysed, his father ruined, and the homestead burnt. He studied in Paris for twenty years and became an operative chemist.

    He left France in 1815 with his companion Gay-Lussac. They were both interested in the invention of the manufacture of gunpowder. They crossed to England on 15 August 1815 and set sail for America. They arrived in New York on 17 December 1815 and in conjunction with a Dr. Bollman hoped to exploit Kurtz's invention. The venture was not a success and although he became an American citizen he returned to England on 14 May 1816.

    His first enterprise in England was to take a small chemical works at Thames Bank. The works were formerly in the occupation of the late Mr. Sandemann. Andrew Kurtz accepted the tenancy from Mrs. Susannah Sandemann (nee Wray) who he later married. In business in London he was mainly interested in soap boiling.

    In about 1820 Andrew Kurtz left London for Manchester where he lived and worked for about ten years. In business he turned his attention to the making of colours, and especially to the production of chromate potash. He then moved to Liverpool where his important operations were the manufacture of bichromate of potash and borax. He had works in Parliament Street, Sefton Street, Harrington Street and Greenland Street. In about 1842 he was compelled to become an alkali manufacturer and to take over a works at St. Helens. His firm was known as "The Sutton Alkali Works".

    Andrew Kurtz died on 31 March 1846 and his only child, Andrew George Kurtz (1824-1890), reluctantly took over the business. At the time of his father's death he had been studying law. He lived for many years at Grove House, Wavertree, which he shared with his cousin, Julia Turner. He later lived at Dovedale Towers, Liverpool. He also had a house at Penmaenmawr which he used in the summer. His main interests were in painting and collecting. He had a large gallery of modern paintings at Grove House which he regularly opened to the public. He was also involved with Liverpool's musical life and the Philharmonic Society. He died in 1890 at Penmaenmawr and both he and Julia Turner are buried at nearby Conway.
    Kurtz was primarily a patron of music, and a talented pianist with an extensive collection of original music scores by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. However he also collected pictures and purchased four from Frederic Leighton

    Grove House was later purchased from the trustees of the "Home for Incurable Children" as a new Parochial Hall for St Barnabas' Church and Sunday School . It fulfilled this valuable community function for many years before finally being sold in 1965 and is now called Dovedale Towers, a striking white building sited on Grove Mount Playing fields. In its glory days it was an early venue for the young Beatles, and a regular stop on some of the Beatles tours.


    Rob Ainsworth
    Programme Secretary/ Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

  2. Most disappointed to see that this beautiful building with so much history attached to it was closed on my last visit to Liverpool. I hope that since then it has been re-opened and cared for. Very distressing if it is left to the fate of the vandals and the elements. Liverpool council be proud of your heritage. It's bad enough that most of Edge Lane area has been demolished. I somehow don't think that the new buildings they are putting in place in the near future will stand the test of time and be there in a 100 plus years. Heartbreaking indeed to see that whole area destroyed after surviving wars etc. Save the Dovedale if this hasn't already happened...

  3. Situated on the world famous Penny Lane, Dovedale Towers was originally a rich ship-owner’s home and takes its name from a now demolished tower from which the River Mersey and its passing ships could be seen. It has since had a wide variety of occupiers and uses; it has been an orphanage, a Russian Embassy, Barney’s Dance Hall and various pubs. John Lennon and the Quarry Men played here on several occasions in 1957, it was also once a lodging for Freddie Mercury when he played with the Liverpool band Ibex and a launch pad for Derek Nimmo’s presenting career.
    More recently it has been a popular student pub and was most recently known as Alma de Santiago and the gastro-style pub Lief Restaurant & bar but on the 18th April 2008 the iconic Liverpool pub returned to its roots as DOVEDALE TOWERS


    Rob Ainsworth
    Liverpool History Society

  4. The mention of "Barneys" brings back memories of wartime when it was my favourite dance hall. As previously mentioned, it was at one time a church hall for St Barnabas.