The Speke area was developed primarily in the 1930s as part of Liverpool’s southern expansion and has become Merseyside’s largest concentration of manufacturing activity and the engine room of the Liverpool economy. It hosts clusters for pharmaceutical and automotive businesses and is a centre for international companies including Jaguar Land Rover and its principal suppliers, Chiron, Novartis, Eli Lilly and many local companies.
This established a strong industrial base, together with excellent transport links, providing the right context for new businesses investing in the area.
Speke Hall and its estate, which are in the ownership of the National Trust, lie to the south-east of the site. The Hall is a fine Grade 1 Tudor timber-framed building. The grounds are screened by woodland and hedges to the west and north, which largely enclose the site. The Hall and the estate are a major historical feature of the area.
Speke Airport itself was one of the earliest airport developments in the UK, and was in use from the 1920s until 1986. Construction of the aerodrome complex began in 1935. As Liverpool had been the principal port for transatlantic liners, so the city fathers planned for an airport of international significance.
The need for larger, faster planes led to a new runway being built, and the terminal and control tower became redundant. The relocation of the airport to the present site, some two miles to the east of the old airport, was completed in 1986 when the old terminal closed. Three principal buildings survive from the early 1930s – the terminal and the two hangars which are listed Grade II*. The buildings form landmarks on the southern approach to the city and have been refurbished to provide the Crowne Plaza Hotel and David Lloyd Leisure Centre and the headquarters of Shop Direct Group.