Central Liverpool
The Town Centre
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Last updated 18th May 2017
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Walk: Liverpool Town Centre
In the text below, whole paragraphs in italic are quotations from original sources, as follows:
ROL   Recollections of Old Liverpool by a Nonagenarian, Anon., 1863.
SOL   The Streets of Liverpool, James Stonehouse, 1869.
The Town Centre in Gage's map of 1836
The Town Centre
What I'm calling the Town Centre is the area bounded by the Waterfront and South Docks, Toxteth, the Georgian Quarter, the Museum Area and the Commercial Quarter, each of which is sufficiently of interest to warrant its own description on this site. This large area is more diverse and less consistently of interest than the others (except for shoppers and revellers) but nevertheless represents the vibrant and cosmpolitan heart of the present-day city.
Inevitably it is all too apparent that the Town Centre suffered greater devastation by bombing during World War II than the other areas. It was the subject of much random and unglamorous reconstruction in the succeeding decades. The last decade, however, has witnessed extensive and, on the whole, more appealing architectural developments all over the area. The visitor is now presented with a mixture of the grandiose Victorian/Edwardian and the stylishly contemporary alongside much surviving ugliness.
The Town Centre is the shopping heart of the city, especially the extensive Liverpool One development (2004-2010). There are several smart shopping malls and department stores, and numerous fashion outlets. It also boasts narrow streets, squares, clubs, restaurants and many fine pubs, and includes Chinatown, the oldest Chinese community in Europe.
The Town Centre in Chadwick's map of 1725
A Short History of the Town Centre up to c. 1800
The earliest part of the town centre to develop was the western part, that nearest to the mediaeval town and located on the east bank of The Pool, the tidal creek that followed the line of present day Canning Place, Paradise Street and Whitechapel.
From the 14th century, the castle orchard stood to the east of Liverpool Castle (now Derby Square). It was traversed by a path leading to a ferry over the Pool. In 1668 Lord Molyneux made it into a road with the intention of replacing the ferry with a bridge. He ran into conflicting interests (the first incomplete bridge was pulled down) before work was finally completed in 1672. Cottages along the road were occupied by castle retainers and the Molyneux family later built a mansion there when the castle became uninhabitable. The road was known as Lord's Lane and Molyneux Lane before finally becoming Lord Street.
The bridge over the Pool stood at the junction of present-day Lord Street and Whitechapel. Following the demolition of the castle, St. George's Church was completed on the site in 1734. The continuation of Castle Street down to the Pool was known as Pool Lane. The Pool was largely filled in in the early part of the 18th century. That part at the end of Pool Lane became, in 1715, the first commercial enclosed wet dock in the world, the Old Dock.
On the other side of the ferry there must have been a primitive country road until the bridge was built. The first quality merchant's house on this side was built in 1680. Paradise Street, so called on John Eye's map of 1768, was originally Common Shore and Whitechapel (named after a Dissenters' chapel) Frog Lane. St Peter's Church was completed in 1700 and the Bluecoat School (see below) in 1725, but there were few other buildings at the time and no shops until about 1800. The ground hereabout was very marshy, Hanover Street was a sandy lane and Church Street, as it became, was not paved until 1760.
The precursors of School Lane and College Lane can be seen on Chadwick's map of 1725 and are named as such on Eye's. By the time of the latter, Williamson Street, Tarleton Street and Basnett Street had appeared off Church Street, leading to Williamson Square (named after the property owning family). So had the precursor to Parker Street leading to 'Clayton's Square' (after Sarah Clayton, daughter of MP William).
As Church Street began to be inhabited, an extension to the west and ultimately a 'Way to Manchester' (on Chadwick's map) was warranted rather than the narrow lane that must have been there. This became Ranelagh Street. It fanned out into three roads on Eye's map with Lime Kiln Lane (Lime Street) coming in from the north. These were 'The Road to Copperass Hill' (Copperas Hill), 'The Road to Warrington' (Brownlow Hill) and 'The Road to Martindale's Hill' (Mount Pleasant). All were unbuilt upon up to c.1800. Renshaw Street at that time was a ropery owned by brothers John and Edward Renshaw but soon became a thoroughfare.
The Town Centre in John Eye's map of 1765
There were few houses along Ranelagh Street in the middle of the 18th century but there were roperies along where Great Charlotte Street (named after King George III's consort) subsequently ran. Between Mount Pleasant and Renshaw Street in the later 18th century were numerous formally laid out orchards and gardens with summer houses belonging to the townspeople. In the summer months were held tea parties with samplings of local fruits and braggart, a rum punch with ale, sugar and spices. Stonehouse found it 'particularly nasty' [SOL].
At the bottom of Copperas Hill and Brownlow Hill, on the site of the present Adelphi Hotel, the White House Tavern and Ranelagh Gardens (named after the gardens in Chelsea, London) had stood since the middle of the 18th century. The tavern had a large ball-room and the gardens were formally laid out with a fish pond and Chinese temple. Concerts were held in the gardens with fireworks afterwards. There were jugglers and quacks and tea was served with local strawberries and cream in season. Ranelagh Street itself developed at first into a smart residential area.
Although the area to the east was essentially rural up to about 1800, there was some industry. Lime Kiln Lane was named after a lime-works that stood on the site of Lime Street station. The pollution leading to pulmonary complaints caused by the works lead to its closure in 1804 and the late arrival of housing in the area. Copperas Hill was named after the copperas works there (copperas is ferrous sulphate, an important chemical in the early industrial revolution). This was another major polluter and the owners were taken to court in 1770, leading ultimately to closure of the works. London Road was an ancient route out of Liverpool as the name suggests, but was still a narrow pack horse road across the Great Heath in 1720. Mid-century the road was widened and mail coaches were introduced in 1774, though highwaymen remained a feature. There was still no housing c.1800 but there were a couple of celebrated pubs: the Gallows Mill and the Blue Bell. The fields here were 'quite famous for the assembling of all sorts of rough characters, especially on summer evenings, and on Sundays. Cock-fighting, dog-fighting and pugilistic encounters used to be carried on daily, and scenes of the utmost confusion took place, until public murmurings compelled the authorities to keep order.' [ROL]
The area between Renshaw Street and Duke Street (named after the Duke of Cumberland), currently known as the Ropewalks, was indeed a centre for rope-making in the second half of the 18th century. The long straight streets that characterise the area were used to lay out ropes lengthwise during production. Wood Street, Fleet Street and Duke Street already appear on Eye's map, as does Wolstenholme Square, owned by the Wolstenholme family and the first enclosed garden in Liverpool. Bold Street (named after the land-owning family) was built on open land between Staniforth's Roperies and Wood Street from 1785. A Music Hall was established in 1786 on the corner of Concert Street and the Lyceum News Room in 1800 at the bottom of Bold Street. Most of the development consisted of private dwellings up to the 1830s, when 'so many beautiful shops with wares to minister to comfort, taste and luxury' [SOL] appeared. Much of the rest of the area consisted of fields and orchards c.1800.
Nearer to the river, Park Lane had long been the main road to Toxteth Park, and Argyle Street and Pitt Street appear on Eye's map. Further over, in the area now known as the Baltic Triangle, most has been lost to subsequent developments. The town centre became gradually more built up as the 18th century came to an end, the dockland expanded and commerce started to accelerate rapidly.
Pool Lane in the later 18th century
Lord Street and St. George's Church c.1830
St. George's Crescent (Derby Square) c.1830
St. Peter's Church c.1800
The Bluecoat School and School Lane c.1800
Ranelagh Street c.1830
Lord-street was called at one time 'Lord's lane,' and had on each side of it cottages occupied by the retainers of the great family who resided at the Castle. The road over the great heath led to West Derby, Wavertree, Woolton, and their vicinities. There were several ferries over the Pool. [...] During the seige, in 1644, batteries were erected along the rising ground from the Pool at the end of Dale street to the north of Lord street, to reply to Prince Rupert's earthworks and batteries on the Great Heath. After the seige, during which the few houses in Lord's lane were almost all demolished, a better sort of dwelling was erected than had formerly been prevalent; good substantial houses taking the place of the mud-lath-and-plaster domiciles, similar to those we see in out-of-the-way country places. [...] Lord-street was next called 'Molyneux lane.' It was afterwards entitled 'Lord street,' and it was then paved and lighted, and had shops and dwellings in continuous lines. The former were low buildings with bow windows. [...] They had low ceilings with beams across in the interior, and their exteriors were covered with plaster, being notable for their want of uniformity and convenience. [...]
With the profits arising out of the slave trade and privateering, Liverpool, in the middle of the last [18th] century, took a sudden start, and became of some importance in the commercial world. The narrowness of its streets was constantly intruding upon the minds of the inhabitants, but it was not till about the years 1818 or 1820 that any very material action was taken. Meetings of the authorities frequently took place on the subject, but it was not until 1825 that an act for widening Lord street was obtained. Previously to this [...] scarcely two vehicles could pass each other. Indeed, there were very few carriages in Liverpool in the last century. The mode of conveyance for the gentry was by sedan chairs. [...] Then it was that John street [...] was carried through to Lord street, and was called 'North John street'; while Trafford's weint and Love lane [...] were carried through to Lord street, and were entitled 'South John street.' Both of these streets were widened at the same time. From, being a narrow, wretchedly-paved and badly-lighted street, Lord street has been rendered as convenient and handsome as any highway in the kingdom. This line of thoroughfare, from St. George's Church to Church street, any town may be proud of. [SOL]
Lord Street, previous to 1827, was very narrow; it was not so wide even as Dale Street. The houses and all the streets in Liverpool were just as we see in third-rate country towns, having bowed shop-windows, or square ones, projecting from the side of the house. I recollect Church Street and Ranelagh Street being paved in the centre only. [...] In Ranelagh Street the houses had high steps to the front doors. The porches of the old houses in Liverpool were remarkable for their handsome appearance and patterns. Many still remain but they are yearly decreasing in number. I recollect when the only shops in Church Street were a grocer's and a confectioner's at the corner of Church Alley. Bold Street was nearly all private houses, and there were very few shops in it, even some forty years ago. Seventy years since there was scarcely a house of any sort in it. I have been told that where the Atheneum now stands in Church Street, there was once a large pond on which the skaters used to cut a figure, and that a farm-house stood at the corner of Hanover Street. Some houses in Hanover Street will be noticed as being built out at angles with the street. This was to secure a good view of the river from the windows. [ROL]
The stream which ran down Whitechapel, formerly called Frog lane, must have been considerable, from a ferry being established thereabout to cross it. Boats could be built on its banks, for in 1663 it is recorded that 'No more boats be built in Frog lane.' Within comparatively few years Whitechapel has been so flooded as to require the inhabitants to move about in washing tubs. Even now, where the cellars of the houses are deep, they are occasionally flooded, and have to be emptied for days together. [...] In 1725 Frog lane (so called from the number of frogs which frequented a ditch on the south side of it) or Whitechapel (from the little white chapel adjacent, erected by the Dissenters) was entirely unbuilt upon, and was then marshy land thereabouts, as it was also in 1784. The Williamson family were at one time in treaty with the authorities to give up Williamson square for a market, which would have been accepted if they had 'filled up the marshy land of Frog lane. This marshy land was prevalent on both sides of the Pool. [...] In 1725 there were scarcely any houses between Paradise street, School lane, and Hanover street, with the exception of the Workhouse and Blue Coat Hospital. St. Peter's Church was then quite in the outskirts. [SOL]
Two views of Lord Street c. 1800
Lord Street and South John Street c.1830
Church Street and St. Peter's Church c.1800
The Lycaeum Newsroom and Library
St. John's Market and Great Charlotte Street c.1830
Two views over the Town Centre from the West Tower
Lime Street from the Walker Art Gallery
The North-Western Hotel
Lime Street Station
The Crown Hotel
The Adelphi Hotel
Grand Central
Lime Street and Renshaw Street
Visitors arriving in Liverpool at the magnificent Lime Street Station will immediately be confronted by the contrasts that characterise the town centre today. From the station steps, a glance to the right reveals St. George's Hall, some of the Museum Area buildings and the grandiose North-Western Hotel, a vista that immediately stamps Livepool as a world class city. Opposite, however, are a monstrous animated advertising hoarding that masks but fails to improve a brutalist multistorey car park, the overwhelmingly dull aspect of the St. John's Centre complex and the dominating but equally mind-numbing Radio City Tower. Moreover the continuation of Lime Street to the south, apart from being book-ended by two magnificent pubs, has been one of the most run-down streets in the centre. At the time of writing this area, at least, is undergoing a major redevelopment.
Lime Street is probably Liverpool's most famous street by name. It begins at the eastern end of William Brown Street and a particularly fine view is from the steps of the Walker Art Gallery towards the Steble Fountain, the Empire Theatre and the North-Western Hotel. The photo was taken some years ago and the monstrous tower block on the right has since been put out of its misery.
The North Western Hotel: Alfred Waterhouse's 1871 North Western Hotel was originally the station hotel and now provides student accommodation for John Moores University. Recently the public area at the northern end has had an expensive and tasteful refurbishment by Weatherspoon's and provides a flavour of the grandeur of the past.
Ma Egerton's: This very characterful pub, stuffed with theatrical memorabilia, is hidden up Lord Nelson Street opposite the side entrance to Lime Street Station. It's origins probablygo back to the early 19th century, nut it was first licensed, under the name of The Eagle, in1878. Dubliner Mary Egerton, long a liverpool pub landady and theatrical agent, took over this pub in 1930, when it adopted the nickname that became official in 1980. She numbered Charlie Chaplin, Marie Lloyd and Fred Astaire among her friends. She was also involved in the arrest of the murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen. Many big names in theatre and music have since visited the pub.
Lime Street Station: The superb iron and glass structure of Lime Street Station is the third station building on the site. George Stevenson completed the world's first major public railway between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830. However the final tunnel through to Lime Street was not completed until 1836. The present station building was built in stages from 1867 to 1879. The span of the first shed at 200 ft (61 m) was at the time the largest in the world. The restoration and reglazing of the roof was completed in 2001 and according to the Pevsner Guide has revealed it as a thing of spectacular beauty. Subsequent landscaping of the area has properly opened up the prospect of the station frontage.
The Crown Hotel, opposite the station, is one of Liverpool's most impressive pubs. It was built by Walker's Brewery in 1905 on the site of an earlier pub in a deliberately ostentatious style to compete with those of wealthy local brewer Robert Cain. The exterior is immediately striking but hardly prepares you for the magnificence of the two large interior rooms, with elaborate plaster ceilings (complete with gold leaf detailing) and wood panelling.
The Vines at the far end of Lime Street is a good example of what Robert Cain was up to in Liverpool. There was a pub here (Richmond's Snuggery) from 1813, which was taken over by a Mr. A.B. Vines in 1867. He gave his name to the present Baroque fantasy, one of a number of pubs in the city demonstrating Cain's commitment to flamboyant architecture. Known locally as the Big House, it was constructed in 1907 to the design of Walter W. Thomas, who also designed the Crown Hotel and the Philharmonic Dining Rooms. The clock was made by the same company that made Big Ben. The interior is as sumptuous as you might expect, with an abundance of carved mahogany, plaster friezes and copper-work. There are several ornate rooms, crowned by the grand lounge at the rear with its large glass dome, wooden panelling, ornate fireplace with mirror and crystal chandeliers.
The Adelphi Hotel is the third with the name on this site, once the entrace to the Ranleagh Tea Gardens. The others dated from 1826 and 1876. It was built in 1911-14 by the Midland Railway Company but because of the outbreak of the First World War it was never completed according to plan. It was at that time regarded as the most luxurious hotel outside London. Situated close to Lime Street station, its grandeur reflects the importance of transatlantic travel to Liverpool in the early part of the 20th century.
Epstein's Statue and Lewis's Department Store: Opposite the Adelphi is the former Lewis's Department Store sporting Jacob Epstein's bronze figure on the prow of a ship above the main entrance. The 18 ft (5.6 m) statue dates from 1954-6 and stands for the resurgence of Liverpool after the war. The panels beneath, also by Epstein (1955), show scenes from childhood - the new generation of Liverpudlians (myself included). The original store was devastated in the blitz of May 1941, parts of the earlier building of 1910-23 remaining only at the eastern end on Renshaw Street, and the new store, the largest in the city, opened in 1951.
David Lewis (1823-1885) was born David Levy in London. In 1839, he moved to Liverpool to work for Benjamin Hyam & Co., a firm of tailors and outfitters. He rose rapidly to become the manager of the Liverpool branch and, in 1842, was charged with opening new branches in Scotland and Ireland and supervising existing branches. Lewis started his own business at 44 Ranelagh Street, Liverpool, in 1846, selling men's and boys' clothing mostly designed and made in his own workshop. His customers were mainly working class people who had not been able to afford tailoring until then. New ventures took off on the basis of strong business ethics and he moved into women's fashions and tobacco among other things. As well as opening additional premises in Liverpool, he also established stores in Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Grand Central, Renshaw Street: Lime Street continues into Renshaw Street with a fine view towards St. Luke's Church and the Anglican Cathedral. The building of 1905 on Renshaw Street, now known as Grand Central, was originally the Central Hall of the Liverpool Wesleyan Mission. A contemporary national movement by the Methodists aimed to create an identity distinct from the Church of England. It was certainly managed here and as the Pevsner guide puts it: 'The style promiscuously mingles classical, Byzantine, Gothic and Jacobean, and much of the terracotta has a swirly Art Nouveau character. It all looks thoroughly un-churchlike and might just as well have been a theatre or department store.' In fact concerts and social events (non-alcoholic of course) were held in addition to religious services. It is currently has a variety of uses, including being home to a some unconventional boutiques.
St. Luke's Church: Completed in 1831, St Luke's Church is a prominent Liverpool landmark and one of its most beautiful churches, though bombed in the May Blitz of 1941. The design made it suitable for joint use as a concert hall, a role it played until the Philharmonic Hall opened in 1849. It is known locally as the 'bombed-out church' and is preserved as a memorial to the Liverpool blitz.
The Roscoe Head: Close to St. Luke's on Roscoe Street, the Roscoe Head is a hidden gem of a pub. Traditional, welcoming, vibrant and unspoiled, there are three tiny rooms surrounding the small bar area. The building became a pub in 1848, named after Liverpool luminary William Roscoe. It is one of a small number of British pubs that has been entered in the Good Beer Guide ever since it was first published in 1974.
Ma Egerton's
The Vines
Epstein's Statue and Lewis's Department Store
Renshaw Street and part of the original Lewis's building
St. Luke's Church
The Roscoe Head
Chavasse Park
One Park West
Bluecoat Chambers
The Grapes
The Globe
Liverpool One, Church Street and The Cavern Quarter
Liverpool One is the new shopping, residential and leisure centre of Liverpool, completed in 2009 and developed by the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor Group. It is situated on 42 acres (17 ha) of previously underutilised land and was intended to give Liverpool a dramatic lift in its ranking among British retail destinations and to boost the local economy. It is the largest city centre development in Europe since the post-war reconstruction.
When work began in 2004, archaeological investigations were undertaken as the site covered the ruins of buildings destroyed in World War II bombing and the Old Dock, the world's first wet dock. Part of the latter may be viewed through a glass window near the John Lewis store and guided tours are sometimes available.
Chavasse Park is an elevated open space in the Liverpool One development above a large underground car park. It opened in 2008 on the site of the original park, named in honour of the Chavasse family: Francis (2nd Bishop of Liverpool) and his sons Christopher Maude (World War I chaplain, Olympic athlete and Bishop of Rochester), and Noel Godfrey (World War I medic and twice winner of the Victoria Cross).
One Park West is a curving and overhanging 17 storey block completed in 2008 and consisting of apartments, offices, restaurants, cafés and parking. Located at the edge of Chavasse Park, it is not alone among Liverpool's new buildings in being a butt of controversy from the architectural press.
Compton House: The north side of Liverpool One emerges onto Church Street, a major shopping area where Compton House, now a Marks and Spencer store, catches the eye. It was built in 1867 for the retailer J.R. Jeffrey on the site of his earlier premises that had burnt down. It is an exceptionally early purpose-built department store, one of the first in the world. According to the president of the Liverpool Architectural Society J.A. Kilpin in 1867 , it is a building 'which neither London, nor Paris, nor Genoa, nor Venice, nor Rotterdam, nor any other city [...] can excel in richness of architectural decoration, I mean as built for business purposes by a single firm'. The upper floors originally housed workshops, sleeping accommodation and recreational facilities for the staff.
Bluecoat Chambers: Off Church Street along Church Alley is Bluecoat Chambers. This lovely Queen Anne-style building was founded in 1708 by Mr Bryan Blundell and Rev. Robert Styth and completed in 1725 as 'a school for teaching poor children to read, write and cast accounts'. Originally called the Bluecoat Hospital, it is the oldest surviving building in the centre of the city and is the work of an unknown architect. Blundell was a leading Liverpool shipowner, reputedly the owner of the first ship to enter the town's first dock in 1715. Styth was the first joint Rector of Liverpool, based at St Nicholas's Church on the waterfront. Both men were aware of the problems of orphan children in Liverpool, large numbers of whom were left destitute by the loss of their fathers at sea. The school moved to Wavertree in 1906 and was narrowly saved from demolition in 1907 by a donation from soap magnate William Hesketh Lever, funded by part of his winnings in a libel suit against the Daily Mail. The building has had various functions since, latterly an arts centre.
The Carnarvon Castle on Tarleton Street, off Church Street, is another hidden little gem of a pub popular with shoppers. It is about 200 years old and the inside is comfortable, small, old-fashioned and unspoilt. It is long and narrow with a main bar and a cosy back room.
The Cavern Quarter: The area bounded by Lord Street, Whitechapel, Stanley Street, Victoria Street and North John Street is known as the Cavern Quarter, being the location of the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles first got themselves noticed in 1961. It is an area of narrow back streets focussing on pubbing, clubbing, dining and flogging Beatles nick-nacks to hoardes of willing tourists.
The Grapes, situated on Matthew Street close to the Cavern Club, was a haunt of the Beatles in their early days. It first opened as a pub, Commercial House, in the 1850s and changed name several times before finally becoming the Grapes in 1898. The interior has been knocked about a bit over the years but the characterful rear lounge is the place to make for. On the wall is a little known photo of the Beatles (with Pete Best, not Ringo) drinking in this room.
The White Star: Around the corner from the Grapes on Rainford Gardens is the White Star, a fine, unspoilt Victorian pub full of charm and character. The building dates back to 1760 when it was a ships' chandlers. It became a restaurant in 1850 and a pub in 1878, named after the shipping line. It has an atmospheric front bar area and a beautiful rear lounge, crowded with memorabilia relating to shipping and the White Star Line in particular.
The Globe on Cases Street, off Ranelagh Street, is another fine unspoilt pub, dating from 1888. There had been a pub of the same name on the site from 1859, which had earlier been the premises of a spirit merchant. The fireplace in the cosy rear room and some tiling and friezes belong to the original building. An unusual and initially unnerving feature is the floor, which slopes upwards considerably towards the rear.
Paradise Street
Compton House
The Carnarvon Castle
The White Star
Bold Street
The Music Hall
Great George Street Congregational Chapel
Gustav Adolfs Kyrka
The Ropewalks, Chinatown and the Baltic Triangle
The Ropewalks: The area now known as the Ropewalks that lies between Renshaw Street and Duke Street was a centre for rope-making in the second half of the 18th century. It is characterised by long, straight, inclined streets (Wood Street, Fleet Street and Seel Street in addition to the above) that were used to lay out ropes lengthwise during production.
Bold Street was named after Jonas Bold, a noted slave merchant, sugar trader and banker, who became Mayor of Liverpool in 1802. It was laid out for residences around 1780 for merchants who worked from the docks as an extension to the existing residential areas in Hanover Street and Duke Street. Many late Georgian house fronts still remain above the street level. Most of the development consisted of private dwellings up to the early 1800s. Shops then gradually took over and in 1826 it was described as 'this imperial trading street, where every year the shops are ousting from it clusters of dwelling-houses - and such shops! [..] Here taste, elegance and display are in their element'. The shops remained exclusive until World War II, but the image at street level is nowadays, on the whole, rather jaded.
The Lyceum opened in 1802 at the bottom of Bold Street. It is regarded as one of Liverpool's finest early buildings. It was designed by Thomas Harrison in Greek Revival style with a dominant Ionic portico. It originally housed the Liverpool Library, a private library dating from 1758 and one of the oldest such in the country, and a news room. It has been much altered over the years and its usage has changed. It narrowly escaped demolition in the 1970s.
The Music Hall: The present Music Hall building on the corner of Bold Street and Concert Street was completed in 1853 and occupies the site of a former music hall of 1786. It is in an ornate Italianate style, subsequently painted over. The auditorium was on the first floor with shops below, but the building was converted entirely to retail use within a few years.
Chinatown: Cotton and silk trading directly between Liverpool and Shanghai dates back to 1834 and was the origin of one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe. Chinese sailors began to settle near the docks in the 1860s. Chinese restaurants began to appear after World War I. Much of the original settlement area was destroyed by bombing in World War II and the community began to move inland. By the 1970s, Nelson Street, with its plethora of restaurants, had emerged as the focal point of Chinatown, as it still is. The magnificent Chinese arch, spanning the north-eastern entrance to Nelson Street, was designed and made in Shanghai and erected in 2000 by Chinese craftsmen.
Great George Street Congregational Chapel: The imposing, neoclassical former Great George Street Congregational Chapel of 1840-41 by Joseph Franklin replaced an 1811 chapel that was destroyed in a fire in 1840. The building dominates the locality with its dome and a frontage of massive pillars that are apparently the tallest in the country.
The Baltic Triangle: The area known as the Baltic Triangle is bounded by Wapping, Parliament Street, St. James Street, Park Lane and Liver Street. This was the last part of the town centre to undergo redevelopment and had previously been characterised by 19th century warehouses left to fall into a delapidated state, vacant lots from World War II bombing and sporadic post-war reconstruction. Walking around this area in early 2017, it is clear that much has changed, though work continues. Most of the warehouses are now attractive apartment blocks or revitalised business premises. There is also a significant amount of new building, whether housing, apartments or business. The area is being hotly promoted for business start-ups, accomodation and supporting restaurant, leisure and entertainment facilities.
Gustav Adolfs Kyrka: This is the Swedish seamen's church on Park Lane, dating from 1883-4. The spire and stepped gables are typically Scandinavian. Adjoining is the pastor's house.
The Baltic Fleet: There may have been a pub of the same name on this site on Wapping since about 1700. It would have been one among scores serving sailors and dockers from the south docks. The present pub dates from the middle of the 19th century. Its deep cellars are reputedly equipped with tunnels and passageways, hiding places for those fearful of being press-ganged or shanghaied and safe routes for smugglers and those using local brothels. The interior of the present pub is unpretentious, with bare boards and several atmospheric rooms. It boasts a range of real ales, all sourced, it is claimed, from the local region. Certainly a pub that enthusiasts should not miss.
The Lyceum
The Chinese Arch
Chinese Dragon Statue
Nelson Street
The Baltic Fleet
Acknowledgements and Further Reading
The following images are lithographs by W.G.Herdman published in Pictorial Relics of Ancient Liverpool, 1843: Pool Street, Lord Street in 1798, Ranleigh Street, Blue Coat School, Church Street in 1798 and Lord Street in 1826. The following are engravings from pictures by Harwood published in Lancashire Illustrated, 1831: Part of Lord Street with St.George's Church in the Distance, Part of Lord Street and South John Street and St.George's Crescent and Castle Street. The following are engravings from pictures by G. & C. Pyne, also published in Lancashire Illustrated: St.John's Market, Great Charlotte Street and Lycaeum Newsroom and Library, Bold Street. All of these have been made available by the ever treasured Ancestry Images - many thanks. As usual I have drawn on the indispensible Liverpool (Pevsner Architectural Guides), by Joseph Sharples, which has much more on the architecture.
This is a non-commercial website that is intended entirely for research and educational purposes. If I have unintentionally breached copyright with any images, I hope that the copyright owner will tolerate my usage in the present context, otherwise I will remove the material. Modern colour photographs are by the author.