James Philip Reynolds was born on 17th February 1865, the son of a cotton broker. Census records show his place of birth as Wallasey, but the family’s home at the time of his birth was Hillside House, in Acrefield Road, Woolton L25. This was an era when the cotton trade could bring rich rewards and James Reynolds was to accumulate considerable wealth from the business which had been founded by his grandfather.
After his marriage to his Dublin born wife Elizabeth Roskell, known as Leila, the couple lived at Elm House in Halewood Road, and Fernlea in Quarry Street, Woolton, before buying the Dove Park estate in Woolton in 1907. Following a serious fire in 1921 the Dove Park mansion remained empty for some years and in 1929 the estate was bequeathed to the city to become the Reynolds Park we know today. James Reynolds had a variety of other homes including the prestigious Levens Hall in Cumbria, and Llanerchydol Hall in Powys. After the fire in Dove Park his Liverpool home was at 12 Abercromby Square L7, the only one of his residences still standing. James and Leila Reynolds had eleven children.
Like many wealthy Liverpool families of the time Reynolds was noted for his philanthropic works and his was probably the most prominent Roman Catholic family in the city. In his autobiography the architect Charles Reilly recalled his friendship with the Reynolds, begun when “the young and beautiful wife of Sir James Reynolds” attended his first public lecture. Reilly described ‘Jimmy’ Reynolds as “healthy, prosperous and golf-playing” and apparently less than enthusiastic about the intellectual guests his wife entertained, whom he referred to as her ‘corpses’. Amongst these corpses were the poet Lascelles Abercrombie, Professor of English Literature Oliver Elton, and the Irish Linguist John Sampson. Reilly designed the Yew Garden and outdoor dining area at Dove Park.
Despite being over-age, as a Territorial officer, he chose to serve in France during the First World War and as commander of the West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, received the Distinguished Service Order.
After his retirement from the family business, he turned his hand to politics and was elected as the Conservative M.P, for Liverpool Exchange in 1929. He was re-elected in 1931 but died in office a year later. He was buried in St. Mary’s churchyard in Woolton.
Reynolds was knighted in 1920 and made a Baronet in 1923. The title being hereditary, the 4th Baronet (his great-grandson), James Francis Reynolds (b.1971), is a British record producer, mix engineer and musician who has mixed, produced and written songs for such artistes as Paloma Faith, Snoop Dogg, Gorillaz and Calvin Harris.
Another musical link to the Reynolds family is via the Liverpool band the Wombats. They recorded a song called Reynolds Park, harking back to lead singer Matthew Murphy’s youthful excursions into this bucolic oasis in the midst of Liverpool’s suburbia
This was James and Leila Reynolds first home after their marriage. It was demolished in the 1960's.
The Reynold's home standing in what is now Reynolds Park.
Reynold's main Liverpool residence after the fire at Dove Park. It is now part of Liverpool University.
Reynolds' wealth is well illustrated by the two country homes which he possessed. Levens Hall (left) near Milnthorpe in Cumbria and Llanerchydol Hall (right) in Powys.
Notwithstanding his wealth and position James Reynold's grave in St. Mary's RC churchyard in Woolton is a modest, poignant memorial. The three crosses commemorate their three children who died in infancy, Charlie (aged 7), Mamie (4) and Hermione (18 months).
There is a Wikipedia entry but this is quite basic. I found a contemporary biography in Liverpool and Birkenhead in the 20th Century: Contemporary Biographies. [W T Pike 1911] but this book (an invaluable source which I found in Kernaghan's Bookshop in the Bluecoat) is not easy to come by.
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