See biography by A. Maitland (1971).
Until the 1930s, Speke was a small village with a population of 400; by the end of the 1950s more than 25,000 people were living in the area. Photographs of the village changing into the estate can be seen on the website of All Saints Church, Speke which was built by the last resident owner of Speke Hall, Miss Adelaide Watt.
From 1795 until 1921, the Speke estate had belonged to the Watt family; when the family died out, the estate was placed in trust. It was bought by the Liverpool Corporation in 1928 for £200,000; the Corporation's intention was to build a complete self-contained satellite town (this was at a time when the garden city movement was underway). The parish of Speke became part of the county borough of Liverpool in 1932, having previously been part of the Whiston Rural District.
Constructed between 1930 and 1933, by the start of World War II, Speke Airport was the second busiest in the UK. Retention of control by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in London postwar meant that it had lost its leading position in the UK during the 1950s.
The industrial rise of Speke continued until the mid-1970s, when an equally rapid decline ensued. The closure of the Bryant and May match factory was a noted example of these problems, as was the closure of the Triumph car plant. It has retained a large pharmaceutical plant however, which is currently owned by Novartis.
When the 2000 Index of Multiple Deprivation was published, Speke was revealed to be the second most deprived ward in England and Wales (out of 8414). Only Benchill in Manchester had a higher level of deprivation.
The New Mersey Retail Park was re-developed in 1999 from an older retail site. It houses many large retail and textile outlets as well as mainstream restaurants. The New Mersey Retail Estate is situated between Speke and Garston, directly opposite to the Old Liverpool Airport main terminal building, which is now a hotel complex.
Officially switched on on 15 December 2003, the Mersey Wave is 200ft long and 100ft high, equivalent to seven double-decker buses in length and 30ft taller than the Angel of the North at Gateshead. Designed by Peter Fink, the landmark is an illuminated sculpture comprising of two sets of six aluminium fins. Within weeks of installation it was removed due to its metal fins moving incorrectly in strong winds. The Mersey Wave was rebuilt in June 2005 and is visible from as far as Winter Hill, Horwich, Greater Manchester.
Recent developments in Speke have seen a multi-million pound Morrisons superstore, situated directly next to the A561 Speke Boulevard (locally known as 'The Ford Road'), which is located only metres away from the Mersey Wave.
Football Club:Speke South Liverpool, a local amateur football side, was originally founded at the Austin Rawlinson Sports Centre, Speke. However, late 2005 saw the club relocate a short distance away to Mossley Hill.