1 – Coleman’s Fireproof Depository – Park Road
2 – Kansas Building – 52 Stanley St
3 – Royal Liver Building
4 – Shipperies pub and the Old Fire Police Station – Durning Road
5 – St Cyprians – Edge Lane
6 – Tate & Lyle Sugar Silo – Husskison Dock
7 – The Oratory – Anglican Cathedral/Upper Duke St
8 – The Produce Exchange – Victoria St
9 – Martins Bank – Water St
10 – former Royal Liverpool Seaman’s Orphanage – Newsham Park
11 – Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse
12 – Joseph Heaps Rice Mill
13 – Wellington Rooms
14 – Littlewoods Building
15 – The Arcade, Lord St
16 – The Cotton Exchange, Old Hall St
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17 – St. Andrew’s Church, Rodney St
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Jump to: Long Lost Buildings of Liverpool
1 – Coleman’s Fireproof Depository Park Rd.
Coleman’s Depository were established in c1875 initially as ‘cart owners and furniture removers’, progressing to providing fireproof storage for furniture, pianos, and also strongboxes for property deeds and jewelry.
The building which still stands at the corner of Park Road and Northumberland Street was built c1900. The four storey building was built of red brick and cast iron, allowing for maximum storage space at minimum cost. There was also a cellar and lift.
A map of 1863 by John Dower shows there still to be a stone quarry on the plot on which the current Depository stands, and no buildings are listed here in Gores Directory up until 1902 when Coleman’s Depository is first listed at 37A Park Road as ‘furniture remover’. It is hard to establish therefore why the current building has the legend ‘Rebuilt 1900’ on it.
The ‘Established 1875’ date may well refer to the business conducted/listed for Edward L Coleman – furniture remover, at Depository 6 and 8 Overton Street (1901 Gores Directory)
The proprietors were George Coleman & Sons, later Mr. Edward L Coleman. The Coleman’s appear to have come from Bedminster, Bristol (Somerset until 1831) prior to 1861 when the census lists them at 3 Jackson St, Toxteth with George shown as a ‘porter’.
They clearly started from more humble beginnings as;
- 1861 – George is shown as ‘porter’ living at 3 Jackson St (was off Mill St) with his wife, daughter and 2 sons. The census document suggests that they live in the ‘potato stores and coal yard room only’
- 1871 – George now listed as ‘railway porter’ living at 63 Edgeware St
- in 1879 being listed as Coleman Edward L – ‘cart owner’ of 52 Rupert Hill (Everton)
- in 1880 ‘cart owner’ at 26 Guthrie St. (was off Upper Baker St)
- in 1881 Census at 6A Overton St as ‘furniture removers’,
- in 1883 as ‘packers and furniture removers’ of both 6A and 8A Overton St.
- in 1891 Edward is living at 6A Overton St with his wife, 2 sons, daughter, and a servant
- 1901 at 49 Edge Lane, Edward now lives with his wife Louise, a daughter, a son, a nephew, and a servant called Matilda Greenhalgh.
The 1900 building date does ring true as The Liverpool Mercury on 4th Sept 1899 carries the following advert:
OFFICE Boy (smart) Wanted at once; age 14; reading; neighbourhood Edge Hill preferred – Apply Coleman’s Depository, Overton street, Liverpool
The 1902 Gores listing also includes a rather grand advertisement:
You will note some differences in the wording of the ceramics compared with recent pictures but this may just be down to the graphic artist. The ‘Rebuilt 1900’ legend is also not included. In advert above 49 & 51 Edge Lane are listed as ‘other establishments’
Apart from housing a number of mobile phone masts the building has been out of use for several decades since it was ironically set on fire during the Toxteth Riots of 1981.
Some interesting research I did for new owners Hoax, including the founding of the famous John West Foods – of salmon fame!
1908 – 11 Aubrey Thomas
What can you say about this iconic masterpiece, which for many locals and visitors alike is the symbol of Liverpool. Always a welcome site, and for me personally a marker on my many runs when the Liver Birds give me that little extra will power to reach my goal.
The Friends of Royal Lyver have a great site covering the history of the building and The Royal Liver Society
4 – The Shipperies pub and the old Fire Police Station on Durning Road
These two buildings stand next to each other on Durning Road as defiant ‘isolated’ monuments to the late Victorian era, slowly being enveloped in the 21st Century. Hopefully however it is this new 21st development that will provide the breath to bring renewed life to these lovely old buildings.
Both buildings sadly suffered from much vandalism and fire damage in recent years.
History of the area
The Edge Hill area was developed in the early nineteenth century with large Victorian villas for merchants escaping the smoke of the city and extensive pleasure grounds. Later in the century the area was laid out as a grid-iron of streets of densely packed terraced housing for working class families. The area suffered decline from the 1960s, with changes of ownership /tenure, shifts in social housing provision, the relocation of students, and market failure. As with many parts of Liverpool there is now much regeneration taking place.
The Fire Police Station was built in 1884. It provided an engine room (initially for a hand cart) and parade room for officers of B Division of the City Police Force (who had responsibility for fire fighting), with living accommodation on the first floor for the Police Constable and his family.
In 1883 a tender was received from, Edmund Gabbut for £1589.00 to build a station at Durning Road. This was accepted and the Station opened in January 1884, it was connected to Central Fire Station by telegraph on opening. Two horse drawn escapes were purchased from Rose of Manchester, one 60-foot, cost £89 10s, and one 80-foot, cost £100, both self- supporting.
- In 1900 it became a ‘hose reel & ladder station’ manned by Police Auxillary Firemen.
- Upgraded 16/06/1925 to full brigade status with a Dennis-Tamini Pump Escape No 6
- 1955 – extended with an additional bay to house another pump
On the evening of 28/29th November 1940 the first Fire Brigade men to arrive at the tragic Ernest Brown Junior Technical School bombing in which 164 people perished, were from the Durning Road Station
(extracts from: ‘Liverpool’s Finest – The History of the city’s Fire Brigade’ – Gavin F. Brassie. Trinity Mirror North West)
The station closed in 1976 and was converted into tyre fitting garage. It has been empty since 2003 and severely fire-damaged. In 2009 the City Council implemented emergency repairs and mothballed the building.
The Shipperies public house was probably built to provide refreshments and overnight lodgings for visitors to the International Exhibition of Navigation, Travelling, Commerce and Manufacture (known as the Shipperies Exhibition), which was held at the Exhibition Hall on Edge Lane in 1886. It had had many licensees in the early years, before coming into the control of Peter Walker and Robert Cain and Sons in 1903, and thus part of the Cain Brewery portfolio in 1911. Cains thrived into the 1960s / 70s, but a series of brewery buyouts led to the disposal of much of its property in the 1980s / 90s, with the Shipperies being sold off as a free house and continuing to trade upto 2010.
This three storey building with steeply pitched roof ornamented with gables, has decorative bands of red and yellow pressed brick. The main entrance was on Durning Road, at the street corner however, an angled doorway sits beneath a heavily moulded pendentive cantilever carrying the corner of the building and looking, no doubt intentionally, something like the prow of a ship.
In 1992 Pub landlord Pat O’Rourke and regular Paul McGann hit the headlines when they launched their own real-life soap ‘Lifeboys’ (the nickname for the pub regulars). At the time landlord, Pat O’Rourke 50, said: “We were cheesed off with watching soaps that are nothing like real life. So the four of us sat down and wrote our own”. Apparently the episodes were shown in the pub lounge.
The pub also featured in the 2007 film Across The Universe in which the music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist. You can see the clip here:
The Grade II listed fire station and historically significant pub are to be brought back into use for sale to first-time buyers. Riverside has been granted £250,000 funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to redevelop the buildings
5- St Cyprians on Edge Lane
St Cyprians Church Edge Lane was built 1879-81 and is one of those buildings that you wish could speak and tell you of all they have seen… The architect was Henry Sumners, who designed the church to seat a congregation of 850. The foundation stone was laid on 3rd Sept 1879 by Charles GROVES Esq. whom had been a key figure in the creation of the church. The church was consecrated by the Right Revd. J. C .Ryle, Lord Bishop of Liverpool, at 3:00pm on July 27 1881 having cost £9,000 to build. It was remarkably debt free just 3 years later due to very generous donations by members of the congregation.
An interesting snippet is that the foundation stone was laid in the Diocese of Chester but consecrated in the new Diocese of Liverpool!
Work was on going for several years after the opening with a Mission Hall being opened in Quorn St on 18th April 1890, the interior of the church being completed in 1896, the tower being completed in 1898, and electricity being installed in 1901. In 1915 a vestry was added to the east end.
At a time of a rapidly expanding Liverpool the church enjoyed weekly congregations of 700+ and developed various thriving ‘clubs’ including;
- 1881 – Literary Society; regular ‘lantern lectures’ being held
- 1884 – St Cyprians Church Club
- 1906 – 43rd Company Boys Brigade
- 1930 – The Girl Guides
In 2001 the church and its congregation decided to erect a memorial in honour of those who died in the Ernest Brown Junior Instructional Centre ‘Durning Road Bombing’ of 1941. A wonderful glass plaque containing 150 names of those who died was sited inside the church – it has now been erected at Kensington Junior School in Brae Street
Over its 125 years the church as one would expect had much to do in terms of maintenance and in 2002 it was estimated that £500,000 would be need to bring it back into a state of good repair. Sadly on Feb 6th 2006 the church was advised that immediate vacation was required on Health & Safety grounds. The 125th Anniversary services were subsequently held at Brae St School
Having been have been left isolated and vulnerable for many years the church is now to be converted into student accommodation with architects saying ‘we will keep many historic features within the church as possible’
For those wishing to learn more about St Cyprian’s much of the above information is taken from an excellent book held at Liverpool Central Library Archives:
6 – Tate & Lyle Sugar Silo
What a truly incredible space!
It is now part of the Peel Ports portfolio and who knows what the future holds. If you want to learn about the sites amazing construction story then visit this link at English Heritage ……..‘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’……..
7 – The Oratory
The Oratory is the former chapel of St James’s Cemetery which itself opened 13th Jan 1829 and operated until July 1936, when after 57,774 burials, it finally closed. A parliamentary act established a managing company for the cemetery in 1826 and the architect John Foster jnr. was appointed to design the necessary buildings and to lay out the grounds in which he himself would ultimately be buried in 1846. The foundation stone of the Oratory was subsequently laid in 1827 by Jonathan Brooks, Rector of Liverpool.
The Oratory stands in the shadow of the impressive Anglican Cathedral, overlooking the sunken area created by quarrying since the late 16th Century, and which is now the stunning yet eerie St James Gardens. Foster’s design was more or less a perfect recreation of a classical Greek temple, with a stone roof and skylight, window free walls, and furnished only with simple pews and a lectern. On the exterior at either end is a six-columned portico. Foster also built a house for the minister (later demolished to make way for the Cathedral), and at the south west corner he provided a monumental entrance arch and a porter’s lodge.
The original purpose of the Oratory was to accommodate funeral services before burials took place in the grand cemetery below, but it was also used as a cenotaph for housing monuments to the deceased, including several works by major 19th century sculptors. These have since been added to by National Museums Liverpool, whom now administers the Oratory, including some from demolished churches on Merseyside:
‘Agnes Elizabeth Jones’ by Pietro Tenerani
‘Mrs. Emily Robinson’ by John Gibson
‘John Foster’ memorial tablet
‘John Gore’ by William Spence
‘John Rhodes’ by Sir Francis Chantrey
‘John Thomson’ by Sir William Chantrey
‘Henry Faithwaite Leigh, George Leigh and Catherine Pulford’ by William Spence
‘The Nicholson Family’
‘Rev Ralph Nicholson and his wife Catherine’
‘Rt. Rev Thomas Penswick’ by Peter Turnerelli
‘William Earle’ by John Gibson
‘William Ewart’ by Joseph Gott
‘William and George Hetherington’, George Lewis of Cheltenham
‘William Hammerton’ by John Gibson
‘Dr. William Stevenson’ by John Alexander Patterson MacBride
….read more about the sculptures here
Controversially artist Tracy Emin was commissioned in 2005 to create the Roman Standard – the name she gave to the artwork which features a tiny bronze sparrow on a 13ft pole outside The Oratory.
The Oratory is a stunning building, though sadly not open to the public frequently, and when viewed from the cemetery below ‘stands dramatically on the edge of a rocky precipice like one of the ruins in Foster’s Greek drawings’.
8 – The Produce Exchange – Victoria St
Victoria Street is one of Liverpool’s more recent main streets constructed circa 1860 to reduce congestion in the city. The area had been one of narrow streets and slum housing interspersed with industry. The Produce Exchange and adjoining Fruit Exchange, represented the growth and development of trade within Liverpool during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the emergence of Victoria Street as the regional centre of the fruit and provisions trade.
Perhaps less celebrated than Castle Street or Dale Street, Victoria Street none the less preserves its 19th century character largely unaltered. Today, it is one of Liverpool’s best Victorian commercial streets, if sadly tatty and underused, with many fine buildings from the 1880/90s.
The Grade II Listed Produce Exchange Building was built as an intended goods warehouse for Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co., but No.8 was formerly opened on 7th October 1902 by the Liverpool Provision Trade Association (it later purchased the whole building).
It was the first of its kind to be established in England, was at the centre of the provisions trade, with many of the surrounding warehouses in Mathew Street and Temple Court utilised to store and distribute produce. It was the head-quarters of the Liverpool Provision Trade Association (founded 1874). An official list of current prices of all commodities was published daily. The LPTA took over No 8 Victoria St in 1901 and purchased the whole of the building at a later date. It dealt in all imported pig and dairy produce, eggs and canned goods. The exchange provided a “trading floor” and in 1912 it added a lard futures market with a direct cable link to Chicago Board of Trade. In the foyer is a First World War memorial by Edward Carter Preston, a bronze plaque with classical figures.
The Association moved into the building on 15th Oct 1902.
The Fruit Exchange Buildings next door were built in 1888 as a railway goods station for London & North Western Railway, and were converted in 1923/24
….and here is a gallery via my friends at @Hidden_Lpool
There are signs that 2015 could be a good year for the Produce Exchange with several plaanning applications being submitted for both bar/restaurants, and residential proposals – read an article from the Liverpool Echo here from 29thMarch by @joe_thomas18 Here’s keeping fingers crossed that another piece of Liverpool’s great heritage springs back to life.
9 – Martins Bank, Water St
Built 1927 – 32
Pevsner describes this building as the ‘masterpiece of Herbert L. Rowse, and among the very best interwar classical buildings in the country’. Anyone who pauses to scan and take in its beauty and proportions cannot fail to agree. It is adorned both internally and externally by still beautifully crisp relief sculpture by Herbert Tyson Smith. Pevsner also encourages us to admire the main bronze doors. Its design is considered to be a superior example of the American classicism promoted through Charles Reilly’s Liverpool School of Architecture. Of the interior the main banking hall, the vast glass ceiling, and the director’s boardroom are much admired and of significant architectural importance. The building was opened on the 24th October 1932 and has nine floors above ground, plus a mezzanine and three below.The scale of the building said much about Liverpool’s standing at the time. Read more.
Click here to zoom into the building’s exterior detail.
The bank has a long and interesting history with its origins going back over 400 years to London and Thomas Gresham goldsmiths business (subsequently Martins Bank) at 68 Lombard St, and 1831 and the founding of the Bank of Liverpool. These two banks merged in 1918 with its head office in Liverpool.
The Bank of Liverpool grew into the most influential bank in the North West with many regional acquisitions across the north including that of Palatine Bank in 1919, the only take-over of a Manchester bank by a Liverpool one (Chandler, George).
The bank shortened its name in 1928 from Bank of Liverpool and Martins Ltd, to Martins Bank Limited, remaining so until its merger with Barclays in 1969, and by 1968 had become the 6th largest clearing bank with 700+ branches.
Martins Bank was a foreword thinking concern with many firsts, and was also a pioneer in the employment of women.
During May 1940, when Britain faced invasion, ‘Operation Fish’ saw 280 Tons of the nation’s gold reserves transported from The Bank of England to Martins’ Head Office in Water St for safekeeping before being shipped to safety to Canada. A plaque on the Exchange St West elevation marks this fact:
- In 1958 Martins acquired the in-store banking arm of Lewis’s Dept. Store
- In 1960 it installed a Ferranti Pegasus II computer in its new Liverpool Computer Centre at nearby Derby House – first in UK for branch accounting, with Edna Devaynes as the UK’s first lady Computer Centre Supervisor
- 1967 it introduced the first cash dispenser in the North, brought into use on 31 October at Church Street Branch, Liverpool
- The building was used in 2008 as part of the 08 Biennial to show the Terry Duffy installation ‘Monuments’
- In 2011 there were reports of two interested parties in converting the building into a 5 star hotel and spar. This caused much concern to conservation groups due to proposed changes to the listed building.
- In January this year Victoria Wood was filming her new musical drama ‘Tubby & Enid’ in Martin’s Bank which was transformed into Manchester’s Peel House for the series, which also stars Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. Foyles War is also currently filming in this stunning location.
I am sure there are many past employees of Martins Bank Ltd who worked in Water St and it would be great to hear your stories and memories. Why not leave a comment below.
That this building stands empty and closed to both Liverpool residents and our many tourist visitors is very sad. Let’s hope its beautiful doors soon re-open to reveal the buildings world class splendour to all.
10 – Royal Liverpool Seaman’s Orphanage, Orphan Drive, Newsham Park
A truly inspiring piece of Liverpool’s rich heritage with an equally rich history stretching back to 16th Dec 1868 when the first move was made to interest the people of Liverpool to the possibility of establishing an Institution where the orphaned children of seamen would be cared for and educated. The sponsors of the project comprised a group of merchants and wealthy ship-owners like the McIvers (Cunard), Ismays (White Star), Holts (Blue Funnel), Brocklebank and Henderson.
Following successful public appeals for funds a temporary home was set up in Duke St Liverpool. Liverpool Town Council subsequently approved a gift of 7,000 square yards of land at the north east side of Newsham Park, for the building of a permanent home. On 30th September 1874, the opening ceremony of the Alfred Waterhouse designed building was performed by the Duke of Edinburgh, the ‘Sailor Prince’, fourth son of Queen Victoria.
Over the years the Orphanage greeted many famous and grand visitors including Queen Victoria herself, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the Sultan of Zanibar in 1875.
It is of course easy to over-romance such a building but as one ex-resident recalls:
“I was five years old. The orphanage in Newsham Park was Oliver Twist style. Soup every day, and they weren’t fussy how they punished you. It was really cruel. Brothers and sisters were segregated – can you believe it! You could only see your siblings for a few hours on a Saturday” – read more here:
Education was a key consideration of the orphanage and the 1937 school block had rooms equipped for instruction in domestic science, arts and crafts, woodwork and metalwork, science and geography.
The vast neo-gothic complex currently includes an impressive assembly hall with high ceiling and balcony, a chilling mortuary, a warren of moody corridors (what tales they could tell), dormitories, nine psychiatric wards, winding staircases with anti-suicide grills, treatment rooms, a vast kitchen and laundry, court yard and school block. A top floor attic corridor is lined with 14 “naughty” cupboards, in which unruly children were cruelly held in solitary, pitch black confinement. A trip up to the top of the bell tower is well worth the stair climb.
1868 – First Meeting.
1869 – 128 Duke Street leased.
1871 – 11th Sept, foundation stone of main building laid by Mr. Ralph Brocklebank.
1872 – Special Chapel fund.
1874 – Chapel Opening Service by the Archbishop of York. (destroyed in The Blitz)
1874 – Main building opened by H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh.
1878 – New Laundry built.
1879 – 3rd May – Sanatorium opened by the Countess of Sefton. Paid for by Ralph Brocklebank
1880 – Parsonage built.
1886 – H.R.H. Queen Victoria’s visit.
1899 – 321 children in the orphanage
1900 – 20 July – Swimming Bath opened (block still there but pool long filled in)
1908 – Gymnasium built.
1921 – Visit of H.R.H. Queen Mary and Princess Mary
1922 – Incorporated by Royal Charter.
1923 – Large alterations costing £12,700.0s.0d.
1925 – Recreation ground leased.
1927 – Pavilion built and new Infants Schoolroom built.
1936 – Patronage of King Edward VIII and King George VI granted.
1937 –New school block completed (still remains at rear of court yard)
1939 – Residents evacuated to Hill Bark, Frankby, Wirral.
1946 –Returned to Newsham Park.
1949 – Orphanage building closed on 27th July 1949.
1954 – Opened as Park Hospital including its own psychiatric department which received patients with severe mental problems.
1969 – The Institution celebrated its Centenary.
1988 – Hospital officially stopped taking new patients in 1988, in 1992 all remaining patients and staff were relocated
1992 – Patients transferred from Rainhill to Newsham
1996 – Finally closed completely
Park Hospital opened its doors in 1954. The hospital developed its own psychiatric department and received an influx of patients with severe mental problems. The hospital officially stopped taking new patients in 1988 and in 1992, after many denials, closed and all remaining patients and staff were relocated.
In 1992 with the closure of Rainhill Lunatic Asylum the inmates were moved to Newsham Park Hospital taking up 90% of its space and some £2.5million (Hansard) was spent on the hospital so it could house its new patients. The building was finally vacated of patients and staff in 1997.
Although it has long been under threat, in 2010 included in a list of the top 10 ‘most threatened’ buildings in England and Wales, the current popularity and intrigue the building holds for people was clearly demonstrated during the 2013 Heritage Open Days which saw some 8000 visitors, including myself, explore its eerie corridors. Liverpool Echo story.
As for the future I am sure there will be many more ghost tours but now owned by property developer Anglefarm Ltd, its business associate John McKenzie has said a planning application has been submitted to create a restaurant and function suite.
I wonder what the Giants will think of it when visiting Newsham Park in July?
Why not share your memories of either the orphanage or later hospital?
Visit the excellent Friends of Newsham Park for a full history
Some more great pictures here from Yo! Liverpool
11 – Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse
Built 1897 -1901
Whether viewed from the distant St Georges Hill in Everton or from the bascule bridge in its shadow, the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse is a structure of imposing and bewildering mass.
‘If any single building expresses Liverpool’s role in a great trading network, this is it’ – Storehouses of Empire, English Heritage
As the Stanley Dock complex enters a new and exciting phase in its history with a £130m pound re-development seeing the opening of the highly impressive Titanic Hotel in the North Warehouse, and the commencement of works on the Tobacco Warehouse itself, it is perhaps a good time to look back. Liverpool is now proving that such important historic gems can be saved and adapted for modern usage. As key symbols of the city’s maritime and mercantile heritage this is both exciting and essential as we strive to enhance our reputation as a key visitor destination. Let’s remember the history….
Stanley Dock, named after the Earl of Derby whom previously owned the land, itself opened in 1848, another masterpiece of Jesse Hartley. The complex was designed as an integral transport hub with links to rail and canal. It opened along with four other docks on the 4th August: Collingwood – Salisbury – Nelson – Bramley Moore. Along with Collingwood and Salisbury it created an enclosed interconnecting dock system linking to the river. The link between the Leeds/Liverpool Canal and Stanley Docks has its flight of four superb all granite locks – the only ones in the UK. The dock walls along with the monumental entrance piers, gates and gatehouse create a fortress like atmosphere.
1854 saw the still standing Hydraulic Pumping Station completed. The North and South Warehouses (extended 1915) followed in 1855 along with the ‘Kings Pipe’ (This tall round chimney in the south east courtyard served a furnace for the destruction of floor sweepings of tobacco and damaged tobacco). The immense Tobacco Warehouse was completed in 1901. The ugly White Tomkins & Courage Grain Silo was built in 1913. Blitz damage in WWII would see the east end of the North Warehouse demolished. The final addition to the complex was the Rum Warehouse in 1953 (in use until 2013), which now forms the exhibition space of the new Titanic Hotel.
The impressive Bascule Bridge on Regent Road across the link to Collingwood Dock is of 1932 (restored in 2010 at a cost of £600,000).
The importance of this collection of buildings was recognised in 2002 when designated as a Conservation Area, and of course in its inclusion in the World Heritage Site listing of 2004.
At the time of its 14 storey construction (including vaults) the, now Grade II Listed, Tobacco Warehouse was said to be the largest built brick structure in the world, taking some 27million bricks to do so! It required the filling in of part of the original Stanley Dock and was designed by Dock Engineer Anthony George Lyster. Utilising steel beams and iron columns along with hydraulic lifts and hoists it could store 70,000 hogsheads of tobacco (each weighing 1,000 lbs). On the south side there are a number of later bridges linking to the South Warehouse and this area between the Tobacco and South Warehouses was known by Dockers as “Pneumonia Alley” because it is almost always in shade and acted as a wind tunnel.
Such a building has many a tale it could re-tell, including when Eleanor Roosevelt visited resident American troops in 1942 . Sadly the basement was said to have been used as a mortuary during the Second World War for American soldiers prior to shipping them home. It also suffered air-raid damage during the war.
The decline of trade and the docks in Liverpool finally led to Stanley Dock closing c1985, and as they say has since been a ‘sleeping giant’ waiting to join the recent revival of the city. The Tobacco Warehouse has of course provided the perfect filming location for productions such as Captain America, Sherlock Holmes, and latterly the excellent Peaky Blinders. Many would also have visited the long-standing Sunday Heritage Market in the South Warehouse which ran until 2011, or perhaps you went along to the ‘warehouse rave’ on Boxing Day 2010?
If you worked in the warehouse it would be great to hear your memories.
Some links for further reading:
I wonder what Joseph Heap (1762-1833) himself would have thought about the current debate on saving his early-mid-C19 warehouse? I’m sure he would firstly be amazed that it has survived so many years including changes of use, fires, wars, and demolition all around.
New proposals for demolition and new developments so close to the Liverpool World Heritage site have raised a good level of debate both for and against saving the warehouse complex. The immediate outcome has been the Grade II Listing of the building by English Heritage, and the initial refusal by Planning for demolition.
The full notification report, including history, by English Heritage can be read here: and much of the information for this article has been adapted/taken from this document – Heap’s Rice Mill, Case Number: 1420671.
Credit must go to Merseyside Civic Society and others who campaigned to save the mill and achieve listing, the real challenge now being to devise sustainable plans for its long term preservation and use.
Early supplies of rice to Europe came from Italy but this changed in the 18th Century to the Carolinas, Bengal and Madras. It was imported into Europe in the form of ‘milled rice’ which was re-milled upon arrival. One of the earliest accounts of a European rice firm establishing its business in Lower Burma relates to the activities of Messrs Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. In 1864, this miller, based in Liverpool, sent their own sailing ships (Diamond H Line) to Burma to acquire 1,000 tons of ‘Cargo rice’ for their mills in Liverpool.*
The present Heap’s Rice Mill, located at the junction of Beckwith Street, Upper Pownall Street and Shaws Alley in the Baltic Triangle area, was constructed in a number of phases: the first part being a south-eastern range erected as a rice mill in the early-mid C19. This was followed in the mid-C19 by a series of warehouse ranges constructed to the north-west across a yard area for the storage of sugar (also operated by Heap & Sons); these warehouse ranges were subsequently adapted for use as a rice mill by 1890 and the site amalgamated into a single use. As one would expect various changes have been made over the years up to the complexes final closure in 2005.
The ‘Mill’ is now composed of a number of warehouses grouped together to form a single building. A former yard area, which was covered over in the mid-late 1970s, separates the two halves of the building complex.
Brick with some sandstone and blue-brick dressings, slate, concrete tile and corrugated sheeting roof coverings. Timber frame and cast-iron construction internally with some plate-iron floors, mainly 7-storeys. This construction method is considered to be rare and it is believed that it also reflects the understanding of the potential volatile nature of milling rice, similar to that of milling wheat to produce flour; a huge amount of dust is created.
Sheet-iron loading doors, cast-iron loading-bay hoods and numerous cast-iron window shutters survive, evidencing the fireproofing measures that were most probably introduced to the building following the 1863 fire in the earliest range. Stairs within the building include timber, cast-iron and metal examples of both early and later date as well as an early sandstone and iron spiral stair. There is some surviving hoist machinery in the complex. Notable features are the iron plate floor, the method of interlocking the cast iron columns and the brick arches springing off the iron beams with wrought iron ties (a detail first used by Jesse Hartley). Many of the original window openings survive, and where there have been alterations these have not significantly compromised the overall character of the building.
Heap’s Rice Mill is not only one of the earliest, but one of the last surviving warehouse complexes in this area, serving as an important physical reminder of Liverpool’s rich trading links and mercantile history.
- ‘Although it is acknowledged that the building complex has undergone alteration since its original construction, these alterations have in the most part added to the building’s interest and its evolutional biography’- English Heritage
- ‘reflects the scale and achievement of Liverpool’s mercantile ambition in the C19’ – English Heritage
*(Cheng Siok-Hwa, The Rice Industry of Burma, 1852-1940, 2012)
Further Links and Reading:
Merseyside Civic Society: Details of Listing Application and other documents
Streets of Liverpool: A case for demolition
‘Heaps Rice Mill faces bulldozer’ – Liverpool Confidential
‘Plans to demolish…..refused’ – Liverpool Echo
‘Heaps Rice Mill given listed Grade II status’ – Liverpool Echo
C Giles & B Hawkins, Storehouses of Empire. Liverpool’s Historic Warehouses, 2004
Cheng Siok-Hwa, The Rice Industry of Burma 1852-1940, 2012
J Sharples, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Liverpool, 2004
13 – Wellington Rooms – Mount Pleasant
1815 – 16
Another of Liverpool’s empty buildings that creates much discussion and debate, and one that holds many memories for many people. How fantastic would it be to see this gem alive once again with the sounds of laughter and music.
The Grade II* Wellington Rooms is a neo-classical building designed by Edmund Aikin, erected by subscription, and located on Mount Pleasant. It was built 1815 – 16 and the first function was the Ladies Charity Ball held on 31st Dec 1816. The Wellington Club became a key part of the Liverpool social scene in the 19th Century as a venue for dancing, drama, and other entertainment.
A key annual event that took place here was the ‘Steeplechase Ball’ when the grand national winner would be paraded around the ballroom with flannelled hooves.
Pevsner’s guide tells us that the central projecting colonade was originally open but infilled in the 1820s as it gave insufficient shelter. Porches on the west for sedan chairs, and on the east for carriages have also been enclosed (Pevsner Architectural Guides – Liverpool)
The Wellington Club was wound up in 1923 after failing to regain its popularity post-WWI
- 1923 – 1930 Embassy Rooms, then sold
- 1940 – 52 Rodney Youth Centre (later Mulberry St)
- Liverpool Irish Centre 1965 – 1997 inc. Kennedy’s Bar
- 2000 – Developer took over the 99-year lease
- 2002 – features as one of the original buildings in the Liverpool Echo ‘Stop the Rot’ campaign
- A proposed conversion to a 48 bedroom hotel was rejected by Liverpool City Council on 21 May 2007.
- In 2011 opened its doors as part of Heritage Open Month, which led to formation of the ‘Friends of 127’. This project appears to have sadly fallen by the wayside.
- Heritage Works has undertaken two feasibility/options appraisal studies for the Wellington Rooms, which have explored new uses that can be contained within the existing building and with minimum intervention into the historic fabric. The first explored the viability of Dance Liverpool’s dance centre proposal. The second considered office, function room, restaurant and University uses.
Liverpool City Council owns the freehold of the site and also has statutory responsibilities for the listed building.
Liverpool Records Office Ref. 367 WTN covering dates 1840 – 1933
‘Another Irish Ruin’ – Gerry Gordon
The iconic art-deco Littlewoods Building was completed in 1938, probably designed by Scottish architect Gerald de Courcey Fraser, designer of a number of fine department stores for Lewis’s and others. It was of course the headquarters of the mighty empire built by Sir John Moores, and his brother Cecil, the country’s largest family owned business empire, covering department chain stores, catalogue shopping, and football pools. Sadly, and through many false dawns since, the building has lain empty since the mid-1990’s.
The ‘Pevsner’ guide describes it as being ‘in the same vein as the celebrated factories on the Great West Road in London… out dazzling any of the buildings put up on the contemporary industrial estates’. Its tall central clock tower and streamlined white concrete profile are familiar sights to many travelling along the Edge Lane commute each day.
Save Britain’s Heritage said of the building: ‘The Littlewoods Pools building is of obvious national interest through association with Britain’s biggest family firm and their philanthropic legacy, as well as being an architecturally impressive industrial landmark’.
The buildings further importance is highlighted by the contribution made to the war effort when its vast internal spaces were enlisted in the national interest during WWII. At the outbreak of the war the building’s mighty printing presses were used to print some 17 million National Registration forms in just three days. The floors of Halifax Bombers were assembled at the building as well as barrage ballons, and it was also the nerve centre of MC5, the government agency that intercepted mail to break enemy codes. During the war the building was also the headquarters of the Unity Football Pools established by the government.
Bomb shelters in the basement areas of the building are said to still contain artwork and graffiti on the walls dating from the 1941 Wartime Blitz and ‘Battle of the Atlantic’, when Liverpool was facing many dangers.
After the war, the building reverted to Littlewoods Pools operation and then later became the headquarters for Littlewoods printing division, JCM media. When JCM vacated the building in 2003, the lease was sold to the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the building has remained unoccupied since with the threatening clouds of demolition often hovering above.
In 2005 the North West Regional Development Agency (RDA), commissioned developer Urban Splash on designs for a high end hotel…… until the credit crunch hit. The threat of further decline and demolition was again real. The considerable size of the building and its construction were still proving barriers to finding new and sustainable uses for it. Other proposed and abandoned projects have included an education campus. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), came to own the building on the demise of the North West Regional Development Agency in 2012.
In August 2013 it was again reported that work would begin within weeks, developers Capital & Centric putting £4m into the project to convert the building into a 104-bedroom hotel, business units and offices. The first stage would be turning the former warehouse ‘Bunker’ building – originally designed to house catalogues – into office space. The Bunker building will have up to 18,000 square feet available for small businesses, with up to 28 office spaces. Work is said to be currently progressing.
Hopefully the future for the complex as a whole is bright and the buildings will remain as not only an iconic feature of the Liverpool landscape but once again a key contributor to its economy.
Why not share you memories of working in this iconic setting?
15 – The Arcade Lord Street Liverpool
1901 – Walter Aubrey Thomas
This stunning listed building survived The Blitz to remain standing on Lord St, although now much changed. It currently has a four shop frontage – Warren James Jewellers, Yankee Candles, empty unit, and The Gold Centre (ironically in Herbert Wolf’s original premises – see below).
The architect was Walter Aubrey Thomas who also designed State Assurance (1905) Dale Street, Tower Buildings (1906) and, the innovative, world famous and iconic Royal Liver Building (1911).
You will recognise its striped façade of red and white stone, three giant arches, and three pointed gables. Pevsner writes that it resembles the west front of Peterborough Cathedral. It originally had a glass-roofed and galleried arcade that you can see in right hand pic above.
Original tenants included Herbert Wolf Jewellers at No. 87 and he was still there until at least the 1970’s! A story in the Echo of 27th Dec 1915 reports a lady lost a ‘small parcel containing 4 gold brooches’ on leaving the shop. His premises are later known as ‘Magno House’
Over the years, with shops on the ground floor and offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors, the building had many and varied tenants. From 1937 these included British Home Stores at 81 – 85 before finally moving to new premises next door in 1959. From 1902 – 1912 the famous Blacklers store occupied No. 81. A story from 27th Dec 1918 describes a ‘daughter of a Hanoverian lady’ being remanded for stealing ‘a bottle of cocaine’ from a dental surgery.
For many years it was also known as ‘The Penny in The Pound Building’ (see pic below)with the Merseyside Hospitals Council being tenants from at least 1936 through to the 1970s.
Up to 20 businesses are listed for anyone year in the directories, and in 1946 these included The Ministry of Labour & National Service Welfare Depts. where Learie Constantine is thought to have worked during WWII.
With BHS relocating next door in 1959 Nos. 81/83/85/87 become four separate units but if this is when the ground floor arcade disappears is unclear.
A 1984 picture shows a false ceiling had been inserted above the ground floor and, as still, there are escalators running up to the first floor behind the currently empty unit shutters to what was AllSports. The fate of the original and beautifully ornate glass roof is also unclear but this link shows if it does survive it is beneath a later addition – get in touch if you know! http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=sx0v8dgrj06n&lvl=19.25&dir=182.46&sty=b&eo=0&form=LMLTCC
This is another great loss to Liverpool and even as late as 15th October 1986 The Liverpool Echo carried an article with a plan to open the arcade through to Mathew St and also to BHS next door as part of ‘The Backhouse Plan’.
So nearly lost in The Blitz, as shown in this great picture from Liverpool Remembrance, I wonder what is still feasible?
If you can provide any further information on this wonderful buildings past or current status then myself and @Hidden_Lpool would love to hear from you…even better if you can get us access to explore!