When an anonymous traveller arrived at Liverpool Railway Station in 1860 it’s fair to say they were unimpressed when they commented; “The only thing remarkable in Liverpool is its Benevolent Asylum”.
Our writer, however, soon finds another redeeming feature stating; “Whatever prosperity Liverpool enjoys is mainly owing to the enterprise and energy of a single individual, Mr. Atkinson, of Collingwood. This gentleman has done all in his power to advance the interests of the town and district”.
What really caught the traveller's eye was Atkinson's piggery, which was probably one of the largest of its kind in the colony at the time.
He goes on to say: “A piggery which he possesses, about a mile and a half from Liverpool, and at a short distance from the Campbelltown line, is the most complete thing of its kind in the colony.
“Generally there are upwards of 500 pigs in it. Each sty is numbered, and it was quite delightful to observe the manner in which some of the obese tenants of these pig palaces basked in the sun, and turned up their snouts at their visitors.
“In the outer yard is a large brick well, covered so as to be almost airtight, in which are kept slops, etc, on which to regale the swinish multitude. The whole affair is as complete as could well be imagined, and must have been erected at considerable cost”.
James Atkinson's vision for an industrialised Liverpool, however, was cut short by insolvency and he was forced to sell much of his property and belongings in 1865.
By 1880, the piggery had already become the “old piggery” on a map and it seems to then drop off the pages of history.
Who knows what became of the piggery, but the location by the river was deemed suitable for the building of the Liverpool Power Station in 1951 and has since been transformed into the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.
Our traveller from 1860 would not recognise Liverpool stepping off a train today, apart from the 'Benevolent Asylum' which still stands.
He may be disappointed not seeing the piggery, but he might be quite pleased biting into a pulled pork roll at the Powerhouse's Bellbird Cafe, once the location of a “pig palace”.
Glen op den Brouw, president
Liverpool Historical Society