Was the Conservation Statement supporting demolition at best inaccurate?
UPDATE: History now completed – Link
Having survived for two hundred years entombed by surrounding buildings St Philip’s is no more. The bulldozers finally came calling.
St Philip’s was one of three churches in Liverpool designed by Thomas Rickman and constructed by John Cragg proprietor of the Mersey Iron Foundry, in which cast iron was used in new and innovative ways. The church opened in 1816 and closed in 1882 before then being enclosed by other buildings, most latterly Atlantic/Hardman House (a full history will follow). The arguments for and against saving these later buildings is for another day.
I am now in the process of researching another ‘short-history’ of a lost Liverpool building, but the immediate question in this instance, based on the evidence strewn about us, has to be however ‘was the Conservation Report supporting demolition and the planning application at best inaccurate?’
You can read or download here the full Conservation Statement which was submitted to support the controversial planning application, and draw your own conclusions. Within it you will read:
5.4 Much less survives at St Philip’s. Were St Philip’s to remain in its original state, it would probably be listed Grade II*. For although no impression of the interior survives to allow a definite judgement to be made, it is probably safe to say that the church would never have compared in terms either of innovation or aesthetic quality with St George or St Michael. What survives of St Philip’s today, however, is so little that any significance it has is almost entirely historical. The only physical features of value are the fragmentary section of the west window (in a modern and inappropriate setting) and the in-situ hood mould. These are features which would not lose what significance they have if they were removed and reset either on site or elsewhere.
The evidence to be seen on the demolition site, some set aside some on pile heaps, seems to suggest otherwise:
At this point in time it is unclear what the developers intentions are with regard to these important relics from one of Liverpool’s most historically important churches. We must hope, were possible, they are restored and put on display along with interpretation boards sharing the history of the church. This could be within the Museum of Liverpool, or a suggestion has been made that they could perhaps form part of a public sculpture within the grounds of the contemporary ‘Bombed Out Church’. Perhaps something within the grounds of the planned student development…as long as fully accessible to the public!
Liverpool Council have been informed of the finds.
“The three cast iron churches erected by Cragg in Liverpool mark an extraordinary episode in church building, and are chiefly remarkable for their pioneering use of cast iron” – Conservation Statement