A Wonderous Space

Buildings can indeed be magical things, and if ever the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ was appropriate then it is in this context.

Such beauty may come from a buildings setting, its detail, its unique or architectural style, its concept, its history, or any combination of these. Of course buildings come in many guises and of course they have as many uses. When talking about beautiful buildings we will all have our preferences  though I am guessing what do not immediately spring to mind are concrete industrial warehouses. One local structure that could certainly challenge this perception however is the Tate & Lyle Sugar Silo.


The over-powering scale of this monument to Liverpool’s past sugar industry is itself enough to warrant a tag of ‘beauty’, but combined with its sweeping lines and symmetry, especially when empty simply challenges the senses.

I dare say the shear size of this structure will be one of the hurdles to potential future uses, more so being Grade II Listed, which owners Peel Ports will be pondering over. A music venue, an exhibition hall, a warehouse, an indoor sports facility, who knows? The Liverpool Waters and Liverpool2 developments will possibly provide many options?

I would hope at some point that Liverpool residents and visitors will have the chance to access this concrete wonder, perhaps Peel Ports themselves could use it to showcase their plans for the two projects mentioned?

English Heritage says of the building……. ‘Many people consider concrete to be an ugly and purely functional material. Its use in the soaring curves of this silo shows its possibilities and justifies the categorising of the structure as a Grade II Listed Building’………… They also have a superb ‘photo essay’ that  tells the story of the Silos construction, click the Link to read.

If you have any first hand tales of the Silos industrial past it would be great to hear from you!


About Liverpool1207

How can you not be fascinated by the history of Liverpool! "If Liverpool did not exist, it would have to be invented” - Felicien de Myrbach. liverpool1207blog.wordpress.com Liverpool UK #JFT96
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2 Responses to A Wonderous Space

  1. Mike Greenall says:

    Regarding Tate and Lyle’s dock silo, the first bulk sugar cargo arrived in Liverpool on the SS sugar Transporter in August 1952, Initially 5he sugar was grabbed from a ship’s hold and dropped into hoppers from which trucks were filled prior to transporting to Love Lane refinery.
    The advantages of bulk delivery were such that by 1953 extension of the sugar berths and construction of a storage facility were being considered. Construction of the silo began in 1955 and by December 1957 it was in operation.
    The advantages were a large buffer of raw sugar for the refinery and the ability to discharge ships regardless of the refinery requirements. The silo could hold 100,000 tons of sugar, approximately 40 days supply.
    The sugar was carried from the sugar berths, of which there were two, by conveyors up an enclosed bridge over Regent Road to the top of the silo tower, a brick building that stood approx 9 stories high to the right of the silo when viewed from the dock.
    Amongst other things, the tower housed the silo control room and the Servo Balans weighers. The silo complex could be controlled remotely from the control room panel, conveyors started and their speeds altered etc there was also a small telephone switchboard for contacting the crane drivers on the dock.
    The Servo Balans weighers weighed the sugar as it came off the ship. From the weighers the sugar was carried.up another bridge to the top of the delivery tower, a black structure clad in corrugated iron sheeting. This tower stood to the left of the control tower immediately in front of the silo itself.The delivery tower housed the delivery hoppers from which the bulk sugar wagons were filled.
    If the sugar was not needed at the refinery, a further bridge carried the sugar up and along the top of the silo roof to the centre point where it dropped onto a reversible shuttle band running on rails along the length of the silo roof in order to evenly deposit the sugar along the length of the silo.
    If sugar was required from the silo, a reclaim conveyor ran the length of the building below floor level to return the sugar to the delivery tower.
    I hope you find this of interest, I worked at the refinery from 1965 until its closure in 1981.

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