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A Guide to Liverpool 1902


In 1902 the book, 'A New Illustrated Guide To Liverpool' was published by Littlebury Brothers. The book included many sketches of the period by Leonard Pattern. It has since been re-produced by Liverpool Libraries and Information Service.

The Guide Book , it invites us to look at Liverpool from a 1902 perspective when the city was looking toward the future.

Over the coming weeks 'Liverpool Picturebook' will re-produce extracts from the book for you to read. Beginning today with a description of the Lime Street area circa 1902.

In Lime Street

The chief Streets and Buildings of note in Liverpool City will be found within a comparatively small radius, and this fact will make sightseeing an easy matter. The visitor, if not coming by water, will enter Liverpool by one of the great Railway Systems, the three termini of Railway Systems which are conveniently close to one another, and each brings him to the centre of the City. If travelling by the North Western route, he reaches the very heart of Liverpool, and in leaving the Railway Station finds himself in the well-known Lime Street. If there is one Street in the City universally known surely it is this one. In the immediate vicinity of this thoroughfare, which forms the eastern boundary of Lime Street, we find many buildings of note, and from this centre, the scene of much life, streets branch off in every direction.

The chief object of interest will be the magnificent Hall dedicated to St.George, the Patron Saint of England, which stands up so grandly before us, and which has been described as “ Quite unrivalled, producing an effect of grandeur unequalled by any other modern building known.” Mr. Norman Shaw, R.A, has written, “ I have been all over the Continent, and I have certainly seen nothing finer in its way than St. George’s Hall, if as fine. Its simplicity makes it all the more impressive, and, whilst striking to the eye, the design is full of refinement, and in it we have a building for all time, one of the great edifices of the world".

The Hall was originally designed by Mr. Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, but was completed from designs by Mr. John Cockerell. We are told that the inscription on the brass plate, which was deposited with coins when the work was begun, is as follows, “ The first stone of this edifice was laid on Thursday, 28th day of June, 1838, being the Coronation Day of our Gracious Queen Victoria, under the direction of William Rathbone, Esq., Mayor of Liverpool.” The original designs contemplated two buildings, but the plans were re-considered, and a second foundation stone laid in 1841, from which the present building had its beginning. The building, which is constructed of a durable Derbyshire sandstone, in the Graeco-Roman style, was erected at a total cost of £333,000, and measures 500 feet in length. It was opened in 1854, some sixteen years having been taken in erecting it. Liverpool may well be proud of this architectural gem. It reminds one somewhat of the Palais de Justice at Brussels, though its style is more severe. Standing on rising ground, several feet above the level of the Streets leading west and south, it shows to great advantage from every quarter, and its exterior is extremely beautiful and imposing. The views obtainable from the pavement outside the Imperial Hotel, and on the opposite side near the entrance to the Lime Street Station, are perhaps the most pleasing. If we stand on Lime Street pavement, with our backs to the handsome Station of the London and North Western Railway, we get a fine view of the eastern facade of St. George’s Hall. This side varies greatly from the western front. Here we have sixteen fluted Corinthian columns, standing quite free from the walls of the building, resting on a handsome flight of steps, and forming a magnificent colonnade. The same feature is noticeable at the beautiful south portico, the pediment at this end of the building being supported by eight handsome columns, to which the eye is led up by a stairway 150 feet wide. On the western side the columns are quite plain and square in form, and there are no steps. The view of this facade from the Old Haymarket, which lies to the west, is most magnificent. To go more into detail, we notice the tympanum of the southern facade is ornamented by a fine piece of sculpture in Caen stone, the leading figures represented being those of Britannia, Mercury, Bacchus, and Apollo. On the eastern fa├žade we have also sculptured panels, by Stirling Lee, representing Commerce, Industry, and Justice.
The interior of the building next occupies our attention. Ascending the great flight of steps, and passing through a massive ornamental doorway a little to the left, we enter the Great Hall, which measures 169 feet by 74 feet. The floor, which is handsomely tiled, is almost hidden by a wooden covering, which is only removed on great occasions. The roof, 82 feet from floor to ceiling in the centre, is one long arched span, and highly decorated with numerous shields. On each side of the Hall we notice a Gallery, flanked by red granite columns which support massive arches. Light is admitted on the western side of the building. At either end are semi-circular windows filled with stained glass, the south window representing St. George slaying the Dragon, while the corresponding window at the north end has the City Arms with the motto “Deus nobis haec otia fecit. " (God has given us these days of leisure).

Standing in niches just under the marble balustrading of the Gallery are statues of prominent men. Most worthy, of attention are those of Mr. J. H. Mayer (the donor of the Museum) by Fontana, and Mr. Gladstone by Acton, on the right side of the building ; George Stephenson by Gibson, on the left side; and the Rev. Dr. McNeil, Dean of Ripon, by G. Adams, at the south end.

Organ Recital St Georges Hall
At the north end of the Hall we see the Great Organ, which was built Organ by the late Henry Willis, of London, at a cost of about  £8,000, and rebuilt and enlarged in 1898 at a further cost of over £3,000. This beautiful Organ, one of the finest in the world, is blown by an eight-horse power engine, and there is also a smaller supplementary engine for supplying the wind at high pressure. The instrument has four manuals, 100 stops, and 14 couplers and nearly 7,000 pipes. A bust to that prince of organists, Mr. W. T. Best, the first organist to the Liverpool Corporation, is seen in front of the platform. The present Organist, Dr. A. L. Peace, gives two recitals on Saturdays, at 3 and 8 o’clock.

The steps at the south end of the Great Hall lead to the Crown Court, which we enter through handsome brass doors. When a trial is proceeding the approach is guarded by two sentinels in mediaeval uniforms, and armed with halberds. This Criminal Court was the scene of the celebrated Maybrick trial.

Over the North Entrance Hall is to be found the small Concert Hall, 72 feet in length, which is well worth visiting. It is extremely pleasing in every  particular, and decorated with admirable taste. This Hall seats about 1,200 persons, and has a pretty Gallery running round it, supported by gilt figures. Retracing our steps through the Great Hall, we go out again on to the Colonnade. ' From this position, we see on the broad chained-in space in front of the steps, at our feet, the four massive Lions by Landseer. In the centre a statue by Birch of Lord Beaconsfield, and, on the left and right of this work, equestrian Statues in bronze by Thornycroft, that on the left being one of our late Queen, and on the right a statue of the Prince Consort. Right in front of us stands one of the most striking buildings in Liverpool, the North Western Hotel. This fine Hotel, built in the style of the French Renaissance, is from the Hotel design of Waterhouse, and took two years in building. It forms the frontage of the huge Lime Street Railway Station. One of the great roof spans, of which there are two, each measuring some 220 feet in width, is noticeable to the right of the hotel frontage.

At a short distance from the Hotel to the north side is situated the New Empire Theatre, which affords accommodation for 1,500 people. It is now worth while to walk round to the south portico of St. George’s Hall. In doing so we pass at the south east corner a statue by Birch, erected to the memory of a Liverpool hero, Major General Earle, of Soudan fame. At the base is an inscription as follows, "Major-General William Earle, C.B., C.S.I.; born in Liverpool 1833 : killed in command of Her Majesty’s troops at the battle of Kirbekan, in the Soudan, 1885. Erected by public subscription.”

St Lukes
From the top of the steps at this portico, and looking ahead through the great columns, we obtain a capital view of Lime Street, leading into Renshaw Street, at the extreme end of which the Church dedicated to St. Luke stands out prominently. In the immediate foreground the St. George’s, Imperial, and Washington Hotels are noticeable. Looking down Roe Street we see the Royal Court Theatre, which stands on the site 0f the old Amphitheatre. The present building, erected in 1851, is a handsome edifice.

A glance to the right and we overlook St. John’s Pleasure Garden, in which, near the Old Haymarket entrance, stands a statue of Alexander Balfour. The inscription reads, “Alexander Balfour, Merchant and Shipowner. Born 2nd September, 1824 : died 16th April, 1886. His life was devoted to God in noble and munificent efforts for the benefit of sailors, the education of the people, and the promotion of good works. This Statue, erected by public subscription, was unveiled on the 15th day of November, 1889.” In the centre of the Garden an unfinished piece of the ground points out the site of the ugly St. John’s Church, which has recently been demolished. An extensive scheme for the re-arrangement of the Garden is about to be commenced. Sites will be provided here for the statue to the late Mr. W. E. Gladstone, and the memorial to the Liverpool Soldiers who fell in South Africa. In the Garden, near the north-east corner of St. George’s Hall, is a new statue by George J. Frampton, A.R.A. and to William Rathbone, another of Liverpool’s departed philanthropists.

The view looking west is typical of Liverpool. We notice the tall chimneys in the distance ; the curious steeple of the offices Municipal Offices in Dale Street; the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross (by Welby Pugin), in Great Crosshall Street, said to possess the finest high altar of any Roman Catholic Church in the country; the tower of the Fire Station in Hatton Garden. The older houses of the Haymarket face us, and nearer, the pleasing exterior of the Pearl Insurance Office, which reminds us forcibly of a corner near Charing Cross, in the metropolis. At the circular north end of St. George’s Hall, an interesting group of buildings comes into view. We notice these at length in a future ramble, and for the present we will be content to mention the Wellington Column, 115 feet m height, in contrast to the long inscriptions on other monuments, this Column bears only the single word “ Wellington,” and the names of his most famous battles. The Column is a favourite spot for out-door meetings. The Statue of the Duke, 14 feet in height, was made from cannon taken at the battle of Waterloo. Near it is the Fountain, “Presented to the Town of Liverpool by Lieut. Colonel R. F. Steble, A.D 1877”; and at the north east corner of St. George’s Place stands the County Sessions House, with its pleasing composite classic frontage.


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