By Bob Edwards
WHEN it comes to architecture Liverpool has an awful lot to shout about.
There are over 2500 listed buildings our city, 27 are Grade I listed and are recognised as buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest. With so many beautiful buildings it is hardly surprising that Liverpool achieved World Heritage status awarded by UNESCO.
With busy lives and deadlines to meet or places to go it’s hardly surprising that we walk through the city without paying too much attention to the phenomenal architecture that surrounds us.
In this feature I want to show you just a handful of these beautiful buildings and tell you a little of their history and let you know just what wonders there are to see just by “looking up”.
Oriel Chambers, 14-16 Water Street.
Oriel Chambers was the first building in the world to make extensive use of glazed curtain wall construction.
Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-83) praised the building, saying it was “ahead of its time” (1936) and in 1969 calling it “one of the most remarkable buildings of its date in Europe”.
Martins Bank Building, 4 Water St
The Martins Bank Building was designed by noted architect Herbert James Rowse and completed in 1932, the Martins Bank building is considered to be among the finest neo-classical buildings built in England. Rowse is best known for his work in Liverpool, including India Buildings, the entrances to and ventilation towers of the Mersey Tunnel (“Queensway”), and the Philharmonic Hall.
He designed in a range of styles, from neoclassical to Art Deco, generally with a strong American influence.
The Liverpool Head Office of Martins Bank is a Grade II listed building and has been described as Rowse’s “masterpiece and among the very best interwar classical buildings in the country.”
During the Second World War, the bulk of England’s gold was moved to the bank’s vault – as dramatised in the film The Bullion Boys.
Martins bank was bought by Barclays Bank in 1969, when all of its 700 branches became branches of Barclays.
Martins can lay claim to many “firsts” including the north of England’s first cash machine, in 1967 at 84 Church Street, Liverpool
Leaf, 65-67 Bold Street
Built in 1828, the building was originally a chapel, the Art Deco frontage was added in 1935 to create the premises of William Watson, Motor Car Dealer.
Bold street was named as ‘The Bond Street of the North’ and the 1828 chapel became a place of entertainment called Queen’s Hall. Following that particular incarnation it became, The Panorama Hall, Queen’s Operetta House and the Bijou Opera House and the 1890’s it became the Yamen Cafe. In the 1920s it became a Tea Room and to this day with high ceilings and lots of beautiful original features it remains a jewel in the Bold Street crown.
The building is one of the finest examples of Art Deco Architecture in the UK and its current owners LEAF present a variety of events working closely with the local community to deliver a distinctive events programme throughout the year with an acoustic stage downstairs and an upstairs that transforms between being a live gig venue and very flexible event space.
Cripps, Bold Street
With a façade commissioned by John Cripp around 1860 it has one of the oldest shop fronts on Bold Street.
Cripps was known for high quality clothing from hats to specially made dresses for ladies who had specific physical requirements from their clothes.
In later years the shop became a Waterstones but following the closure of this branch the store is now vacant and to let.
The Arcade, Lord Street
This stunning listed building survived The Blitz and was designed by architect Walter Aubrey Thomas who also designed the world famous and iconic Royal Liver Building (1911). The building opened in 1901 and has a distinctive striped façade of red and white stone, three giant arches, and three pointed gables. It originally had a glass-roofed and galleried arcade which sadly closed. The building has had many and varied tenants including the Jeweller Herbert Wolf. From 1937 lower part of the building was occupied by British Home Stores at 81 – 85 before they finally moved to new premises next door in 1959.
It was also known as ‘The Penny in The Pound Building’ with the Merseyside Hospitals Council being tenants from at least 1936 through to the 1970s.