I have just returned from a few days break – so straight back into the 1960s. The photograph was taken before Byrom Street was widened- removing the buildings on the right. What catches the eye is the amazing art deco street light that was positioned in front of the Queensway Tunnel entrance. Herbert Rowse, the architect of India Buildings, Martins Bank and the Philharmonic Hall, was commissioned to put the style into Basil Mott’s great engineering achievement. He wasn’t too happy about it, complaining: ‘the engineer too often feels he can cover up his mistakes by calling in an architect to add pretty things to hide them.’
Whatever Mott’s mistakes were, Rowse, who was inventing a new decorative style for the modernist movement, did a brilliant job including designing the lining of the tunnel with a dado of black Vitrolite glass framed in stainless steel. (Les Cooper, ex-Stewart Bale and one of the partners of Elsam, Mann and Cooper photographers was very proud of his kitchen which he fitted out with left-over Vitrolite panels. I wasn’t quite so keen on it but it would have looked incredibly modern in the 1930s when he fitted it).
The lighting pylon was a particular feature which marked either end of the tunnel (the Birkenhead one survives). Another own goal for Liverpool when the one in Haymarket was unceremoniously pulled down sometime in the 1960s. Rowse, Liverpool’s finest architect of the twentieth century, deserved better.

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