Mother Red Caps is undoubtedly one of Wallasey's most famous land marks. The old white-washed, short; stumpy
looking building was built by the Mainwaring family in 1595 on the river bank. It was a bold stone building with walls
nearly three feet thick. The house was known by many names over the century's, names such as the Halfway House,
the White House, Seabank Nook and several others.
The name Mother Redcaps came about in the 1700’s when a elderly lady in her autumn years was the owner and
proprietor of the tavern, and was well known for always wearing a red hood or cap. The tavern was frequented by sea
farer's and smugglers as it was well known that Mother Redcap was trustworthy and allowed contraband to be hidden
within the tavern, albeit im sure for a fee or cut of the profit. The activities of mother red cap over the years are well
documented and in essence, she provided the first bank service to appear in Wallasey. She would store goods and
currency within the building and sometimes even pay out prize money to the locals of which was be trusted to her as a
The actual building looked like no more than a small white cottage, although this was the image that she wanted to
portray, however inside it was a far different matter. Accounts shows that the front door was made of solid oak, five
inches thick, studded with square headed nails. The remains of the door, although much decayed, were found in the
cellar by Mr Kitchingman when making alterations in 1888. There were indications of it having had several sliding bars
across the inside, and slots were also found at the sides of the lower windows as though at one time strong shutters
had been fitted to them.
Immediately on the inside of the door was a trap door into the cellar under the north room. It would seem that by
forcing the front door, it would withdraw the bolt to the trap door, thus letting the intruder fall eight or nine feet to the
cellar floor, rendering them immobile at the very least. The way into this cellar was concealed by a rough wooden lid with
the remains of hinges and shackles at the sides and entry could be gained from the back of the staircase in the passage
from the south to the north room. Under the house stairs seven or eight steps led down into this cellar. If the front door
lid or trap were down, the visitor, unless he turned to the right or left into the south or north front room, would proceed
(there being no lobby) straight upstairs, and if anyone were in the cellar at the time he could run up the steps under the
staircase and get out at the back of the house, there being a narrow doorway at the top of the steps into the yard.
When the front door was open the entrance to the south room was a closed by it.
Behind the stairs was a door leading to the old kitchen at the back of the house and so into the open backyard. In this
yard was a well about twelve feet deep, dry and partly filled with earth. There seemed to have been a hole made at the
west side of the well, appearing to lead into the garden, but probably leading into a passage, to be referred to later.
There was a small stream of good water at the back of the house, which supplied the house and also the small vessels
that anchored off here. There was a primitive brew-house at the back, and even down to about 1840 the house was
noted for its strong, home-brewed dark ale. There was another large cave or cellar at the south end of the house;
indeed under the greenhouse (1930) it sounded hollow, and the coarse mosaic was laid on the top of large, flat,
sandstone flags placed over this hollow. This cavity was entered by a square hole with steps as though it were an old
dry pit well. Part of the yard was in reality the roof of a large cavern, composed of flagstones carried on beams.
On it stood a large manure heap, and a stock of coal and coal scales completed the disguise. This coal was supplied by
flats and was retailed to the inhabitants of Liscard and Wallasey. When the cave was used for the reception of any
goods that were better kept from the public gaze, the coals and a few odd barrels were manoeuvred so as to conceal
the cavity, and the appearance of any disturbance of the ground was obliterated. At the end of this cave was a narrow
underground passage (mentioned in some books as leading to the Red Noses) which led to a concealed opening in a
ditch that ran down from the direction of Liscard. It is probable that this tunnel joined the one from the old well in the
yard. The ditch was a deep cutting as far as a pit that was about halfway up what is now Lincoln Drive. At the edge of
this pit grew a large willow tree, with long overhanging branches which formed an excellent concealed look-out
commanding the entrance of the river. The trunk of this tree was sawn in sections in 1889, and when Lincoln Drive was
cut through the pit, the root was rolled down the hill to the garden where for twenty-three years it formed a rude table
in the summer-house. A cutting from this tree was planted by Mr Kitchingman in 1890 at the back of the house and grew
higher than the house itself.
The beams inside the house on each side of the fireplace were of old oak, but as some were too decayed to keep they
were removed; two, however, were retained. The one in the north room is quite sound, almost blueblack and as hard as
steel. The chimney breasts are of great area inside, and in the two ground floor rooms were cavities (near the ceiling
over the oak beams) with removable entrances from the top of the chimney breasts inside the flues.
In the south room there was a cavity hardly sufficient to conceal a person of more than small stature, the wall of which
had to be pierced when Mr Kitchingman made the small staircase to the studio. There were a few other small cavities in
the walls papered over where the sailors, it was said, hid their wages and share of prize-money.
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