William Walker, 1st Baron Wavertree
William Hall Walker, 1st Baron Wavertree (25 December 1856 – 2 February 1933) was a British businessman, art collector, and an important figure in Thoroughbred racehorse breeding. He was the son of Eliza Reid of Limekilns, Fife and her husband, Sir Andrew Barclay Walker (1824-1893), a wealthy brewer born in Ayrshire who expanded the family business to England and moved to live in Gateacre, Liverpool.
Thoroughbred horse racing
Although he began racing horses, William Hall Walker is best remembered as a breeder and the person who introduced English racing to the Aga Khan III.
Irish National Stud
In 1900, William Hall Walker purchased the lands around Tully, Kildare town in County Kildare where he established a highly successful stud farm. He acquired a number of foundation mares that led to the breeding of such horses as Prince Palatine and 1906 Epsom Derby winner, Minoru.
Between the years 1906 and 1910, Walker created a Japanese garden that is acclaimed as the finest of its kind in Europe and today is a major tourist attraction.
In 1916, William Hall Walker gifted his stud to the British Government for the purpose of founding a British National Stud. In 1943, the newly formed Irish Government acquired the property and the Irish National Stud Company Ltd. was formed. Currently, the Irish National Stud property consists of 958 acres (3.88 km2) and is home to some of Ireland's leading stallions.
The National Stud
In 1916, William Hall Walker gifted his entire bloodstock to the British government with the idea of creating a National Stud. As part of the arrangement, the government acquired his stud farm in Ireland that became the basis for both the Irish National Stud and The National Stud of the United Kingdom now located in Newmarket. Wavertree House at the National Stud and its Wavertree Charitable Trust is named in Walker's memory.
William Hall Walker's father was an art collector who donated the Walker Art Gallery to the city of Liverpool. He would acquire a substantial collection of his own, among them the painting View of Killarney with the Passage to the Upper Lake by William Ashford (1746-1824), one of Ireland's leading landscape artists. In 1933, William Hall Walker bequeathed the Walker Art Gallery a sizeable part of his paintings collection plus £20,000 to help the museum with its renovations. In addition, he donated a number of paintings from his collection of sporting art to The National Stud which are on display at Wavertree House.
Politics and the Peerage
In 1900, William Hall Walker was elected as Conservative Party member of parliament for Widnes. He served until resigning on 18 August 1919 and then on 27 October was created 1st Baron Wavertree, a title granted in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. On his death in 1933, the barony became extinct.
In his honor, the Lord Wavertree Cup is offered in English FA football. His widow, a direct descendent of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was also an avid sports person who sponsored lawn tennis tournaments and offered the International Tennis Federation a trophy that was declined but later was initiated as the Davis Cup.
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