THE history of a Wirral school's sixth form building has been uncovered by students who turned detective for a special research project.

Outwood House was built in the grounds of St Anselm's College, Birkenhead in the 1860s.

During a two-year project by the school’s Heritage & Historical Research Society it was also discovered that its creator, Halsall Segar, developer was a direct descendant of William the Conqueror.

Students have also created a video which takes you on a tour of the building, which is open to visitors during Heritage Open Days in September each once a year.

A book, The Outwood Story, is available.

Bill Iveson, a former pupil who is now a chair of trustees for the school of the Edmund Rice Trust, told the Globe: "The research has created a real buzz and has brought extra life and zest into the college.

"It's a very, very important house and the students value it immensely.

"It has been described as the most a magnificent Victorian house in Wirral; as good as any campus in place on Oxford.”

The building's foundation stone was laid on June 5, 1862 by Catherine Segar, wife of Halsall Segar, a Liverpool corn merchant and first owner of Outwood.

It was sold to Joshua Milne Heap, a wealthy Liverpool rice miller in 1872 and was the family home for more than 50 years.

Outwood was bought by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1931 and two years later St Anselm’s College was built in the grounds.

The building was bought by the college’s Edmund Rice Trust in 2011 and became the Sixth Form Centre.

A walk through takes you back to the time when it was a family home.

There is a barrel-vaulted vestibule, central hall with glazed skylight, three-tiered staircase and cantilevered landing, dining room with large sideboard and mirror above, the stunning drawing room with hand-made copper light features, orangery, billiard room and master bedroom. 

Attached to the building is a courtyard, and the original coach house.

Fifty students worked on the research project.

One was awarded a place at Cambridge University, reading history, helped by his research work.

Among them was A-Level student Nathan Kirby, 17, from Upton.

He told the Globe: "It was a fascinating project to be involved in.

"I am very interested in restoration and think Outwood House is a marvellous building.

"The Heaps had a shipping line and there was a ship called the Melanope, of which there are legends of mystery, tragedy and romance.