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Remaining Architecture

Despite two 'World Wars' and the poor decisions by Liverpool's planners in the past, much of the architecture that makes the city the envy of many others, remains. There are many buildings the city has to be proud of, these are just a few.

Municipal Offices
1869 – New Municipal Offices
For some years after the merging of the various public bodies in the Council, the different departments continued to occupy their old offices, situated in different and distant parts of the town, until the great inconvenience, growing year by year in proportion to the increase of public business, compelled the centralization of the buildings. The result was the erection of the Municipal Offices. The architect at the time said, "the new building has frontages to three streets 60 feet wide, and a reserve of land to a fourth street of equal width, on which, at some future time, it is not impossible that a new council chamber (not included in the arrangements of the present building) and other
buildings may be constructed". Its general arrangement is that of a quadrangle of some 4,800 square yards, with domed pavilions at the four corners, and a tower about 210 feet high, rising out of the north front. A wide corridor runs round the building on each floor, and in each of the four internal angles are placed, in direct communication with four main entrances, stone staircases, on each landing. The offices on the ground and first floors are considered to be of equal value, and are so treated architecturally, the corridor being groined in brick and plaster, and, together with the staircases, lined with a rich tile dado, while the whole of the joiners’ work, such as doors, skirtings, and window-linings, is of wainscot oak.

1878 – The Exchange Art Galleries, Liverpool

Commercial art galleries for Messrs. Agnew & Sons, published in The Building News, September 20th 1878. Agnew & Sons were prominent art dealers, with premises in Manchester and London with an International reputation. A prominent site at the junction of Dale and Castle Streets, the building has a chamfered corner. Built in red brick with terracotta ornament, the building stands today intact as designed.

1754 -Town Hall

The town hall was built between 1749 and 1754 to a design by John Wood the Elder replacing an earlier town hall nearby. An extension to the north designed by James Wyatt was added in 1785. Following a fire in 1795 the hall was largely rebuilt and a dome designed by Wyatt was built. Minor alterations have subsequently been made.

Oriel Chambers

Oriel Chambers is a tall, elegant office-block, its framework picked out in nail-headed stone mullions which frame the delicate cast-iron windows which give it its name. It would do credit to an architect of the present generation:  in fact it was completed in 1864 by a virtually unknown architect, Peter Ellis Jnr (1804-1884), who for his pains was virtually laughed out of the profession. The Builder pompously dismissed it out of hand: 
“The plainest brick warehouse in town is infinitely superior as a building to that large agglomeration of protruding plate-glass bubbles in Water Street termed Oriel Chambers.  Did we not see this vast abortion (which would be depressing were it not ludicrous) with our own eyes, we should have doubted the possibility of its existence. Where and in what are their beauties [sic] supposed to lie?” Ellis’ obituary in the Liverpool Daily Post (October 24th 1884) describes him as an architect and surveyor “held in high esteem by the members of his own profession” without mentioning a single building or design.

1903 - Royal Insurance Building

The building was constructed between 1896 and 1903 as the head office of the Royal Insurance Company. The design was the result of a competition won by James F. Doyle. The assessor for the competition was Norman Shaw, who was retained as an advisory architect for the project, but it is uncertain what part he played in it. The building is constructed around a steel frame, and is one of the earliest uses of this technique. The building was refurbished and reopened in 2015 as the 'Aloft Hotel' The buldings exterior has been totally refurbished and the interior reatains many of its original features.

1802 - The Lyceum

The Lyceum was a gentlemen's club in Bold Street, Liverpool, England. It also housed Europe's first lending library, and in later years was pressed into service as the city’s head post office. The colonnaded front looks out onto Bold street. A side entrance to Liverpool Central station is to the right. The Neo-classical building was designed by architect Thomas Harrison of Chester and was built between 1800-1802.

The club's founders, members of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society – who included several of Liverpool's abolitionists (notably William Roscoe) wanted to establish an alternative meeting place to the often rowdy merchants’ coffee houses. The Lyceum also became home to Liverpool's subscription library, founded in 1757. This is believed to have been the first circulating or lending library in Europe. There were 888 members of the Library in 1814.


Liverpool Records Office Archives
Liverpool Central Library
English Heritage

Robert F Edwards

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