HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT of 'Arnehowe'
Although there is evidence of human occupation in Wirral since Mesolithic32 times, particularly in the north, the earliest evidence of human activity at Oxton comes much later in the form of a Neolithic33 polished stone axe. This was dug up in 1951 in the grounds of Westridge (off Ingestre Road). A metal axe, which was recovered from the sports field of Townfield Primary School, Noctorum Way, suggests the area may also have been occupied during the Bronze age.
Pre Norman Conquest
A hoard of coins found during quarrying in 1834 on Arno Hill suggests Roman occupation of the area in the third century. Whether this was an entirely new settlement or the continuation of an earlier prehistoric settlement is not known. Medieval There is evidence of a separate settlement at Lingdale and at Arno Hill. A document dating from the reign of Edward III (b 1312, d1377), dealing with an
enquiry into the question of encroachments into the Forest of Wirral, reports that a Richard de Oxton was called to account for having in his possession a quarter of a rood of land in Oxton, near Arnehowe
A hoard of Roman coins was found in 1834 by workmen in The Arno Quarry. Unfortunately most of them disintegrated when touched, but a few survived and were later identified as of Antoninus (AD138-161) Marius (AD 268), and Victorianus (AD268-270). It was suggested and is widely believed that the third century dates are a likely time for the burial of the coins, since this was known to be a period of political turmoil in the Roman Empire and the identification of a further coin to the time of Hondurius (AD395-423) was probably incorrect, being as it was more than a century later. From there small size they may be considered as Semuntio or Sextilae. The find was reported in the Liverpool Mercury on 31 Jan 1934, as follows. “That last week whilst some workmen were removing the surface of the land on The Arno Hill in the township of Oxton, for the purpose of obtaining building stone they were surprised by the appearance of a quantity of small coins amongst the rubbish, the greater part of which proved to be so completely decayed as to easily rub to powder between the hard fingers and thumbs of the quarrymen. They, however picked out what they considered to be a few farthings and scattered the rest among the loose soil. The coins saved, from having been only 18 or 20 inches under the surface, are so decayed as to render it difficult to establish to what period some of them relate. The most distinguishable have the heads of Antonius Honorius and Marius Victorinus. The coins are in the possession of Captain Colquitt, R.N. (Later Rear-Admiral Cloquitt, who died in 1847), The Arno Hill where the coins were found gives the most perfect idea of a Roman encampment. The hoard would appear to have been deposited in the ground during the troubled period which marked the close of the dominion of the so-called “Thirty Tyrants” probably in the reign of Aurelian or that of Claudius Gothicus A.D. 268 -275”.
Arno Hill as it was then locally known - had already been a popular place of recreation for Oxton folk for some years before its official transformation into a 'Recreation Ground'. The site was a former stone quarry owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury that had been left to return to its natural state after quarrying had finished towards the end of the 19th century. A number of public-spirited local residents felt strongly, though, that it should be made into a proper park rather than be built over much like the rest of Oxton at that time, and in 1900 they leased the site from the Earl of Shrewsbury for 15 years. That The Arno was created, we have to thank, therefore, Mr Edmund Taylor (Merchant & Ship Owner, Wirral Lodge, Mount Pleasant), Miss Catherine E. King (Point of Ayr, Ingestre Road) and Mr George Wilson (Ship Owner, The Hermitage, Ingestre Road) for their foresight and concern.
In 1910, the Earl of Shrewsbury (Major Charles Henry John Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury, 5th Earl Talbot and 20th Earl of Waterford (November 13, 1860 - May 7, 1921), was a British peer. ) advised Birkenhead Corporation that he was willing without charge to hand over the deeds of The Arno (and The Little Arno) if the Corporation would agree to plan a 'Recreation Ground' on the site - and maintain it. His offer was accepted and the total cost of converting his disused quarry into a formal park was £1,106 8s 9d (£1,106.43p) - at that included £182 to build the stone wall and provide gates on Storeton Road. But by far the most expensive cost was the laying out of the Rose Garden. At £679 8s 8d (£679.43p) it was at that time,quite a substantial amount of money. The Little Arno, by comparison, cost very little to lay out. The site was the garden of a former house that stood on Mill Hill. This simple little park cost only £108.75p to create.
TheArno was officially opened as a 'Recreation Ground' on Saturday 30th March 1912.