February, 2013 Archives

Exterior: 19 Abercromby Square

The stairwell

Ceiling of former dining room

Ceiling decoration: A cherub riding a turkey – a clue to the American connection

Following my last blog about Liverpool’s lost interiors, regular contributor, Julie Freeman, posted her recollection of the fine interior of the once Bishop’s Palace in Abercromby Square, now the University’s Department of Education. The building dates to 1862-3, later than most of its surrounding Georgian buildings, and was built for CK Prioleau, a South Carolina businessman whose firm supported the Confederate cause in the American Civil War.
It has a superb interior, which I photographed in 1999. At the time, I was slightly shocked by the insensitive siting of modern lights that spoiled the integrity of the painted ceilings – but I believe that the interior has been upgraded more recently. The vestibule ceiling has a palmetto tree (see bottom photograph), the symbol of South Carolina.Joseph Sharples, in the Liverpool Pevsner Guide describes the interior as the greatest surviving 19th century city house in the city centre. Sadly, it is not publicly accessible and remains one of Liverpool’s hidden gems.

Corn Exchange 1907

Adelphi Hotel 1892

Lord Street Arcade 1902

I was going to blog about Rapid Hardware going into administration (and probably out of existence) but I was surprised to discover I had no photograph of their once near monopoly of Renshaw Street. A poor state of affairs, really, not to capture what was one of the longest shop facades in Britain. The buildings still remain, of course, and other shops have taken their place since they moved to the George Henry Lee building.
It made me think how many other businesses and buildings have similarly passed into history without any physical record (although there will be plenty of photographs of Rapid, I expect).
The three photographs selected today show the value of the photographic record. Each building featured suffered different fates, with only the Lord Street Arcade surviving as the original building,
The Corn Exchange was a fine James Picton building constructed in Brunswick Street in 1851 (replacing a smaller exchange). Following the Repeal of the Corn Law in 1849, Liverpool grew ever more important in the world market and the new Exchange represented the aspirations of Liverpool’s merchants. Sadly, the building was destroyed buring the Blitz. The Corn Exchange that now stands there (completed in 1959) is one of Liverpool’s best post-War office blocks, although without a trading floor (or any corn trade).
The Adelphi Hotel illustrated is the first one (built in 1826 but modified later). One of the finest hotels in Britain, it was replaced by the present hotel in 1911. A more modest hotel in size (see my post of January 4th for an exterior view), it was famed for its lavish interior.
The exterior of the Lord Street Arcade survives but the interior has been converted into a single retail outlet. Back in the 1980s, I had an office on the second floor when the building operated as serviced offices. A suspended ceiling had replaced the fine cast-iron barrel-vaulted roof and the galleries had been floored over at each level. It made for a soulless interior and I only stayed for a few months. The architect, interestingly, was Walter Aubrey Thomas, whose most famous work, the Liver Building was built a decade later.
These are rare photographs – too much of our urban landscape has gone unrecorded. There really should be a more organised structure for methodically documenting our city for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.