David Lewis Hostel and Theatre

Great George Street, 1980

Two more photographs taken by Stan Roberts. Somewhat ironically, he has dated both photographs 1st April 1980.

This was no April Fool’s joke, unfortunately, just the end of a fine institution that had served the city well for over 70 years. My recollection was that the street and hostel had been cleared several years earlier – but Stan was never wrong. One of my earliest memories of Liverpool was going to a meeting at the University Settlement on Nile Street, which was one of the streets that ran up the hill from Great George Street to the Cathedral. The building was part of a shabby Georgian terrace but it had life and character.

David Lewis was one of those larger than life characters who illuminated Liverpool life in the nineteenth century. He had arrived in Liverpool as a 16 year-old and went on to establish Lewis’s Stores as a household name. Deeply religious and philanthropic, he left considerable funds in his will towards charitable purposes (he had already helped fund the Northern Hospital). The David Lewis Hotel (or Hostel) was built in 1906, initially as a place for seafarers. It had sports facilities and a theatre, which staged concerts for the local community (apparently it could seat 1000 people). It doubled up as a cinema, gaining its licence in 1914. I remember it as a community venue in the early 1970s when it was running as a successful youth club. Its fire certificate expired in 1977 and, as the photograph shows, its demolition followed in 1980. Another fine building to add to the lengthy ‘Lost Liverpool’ list.

Great George Street and David Lewis Hostel, 1980

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