A busy view of Ranelagh Place and Lime Street in 1931. The building, partly shown, on the direct left is the original Lewis’s department store which was bombed in May 1941. Nearby Blackler’s store and the facing block on the corner of Lime Street (the building with the strange observation tower in the top photograph) were no less fortunate. The Palais de Luxe (whose awning can be seen just beyond the second tram) was also badly damaged but reopened only a month later. After a further fire in 1951, it was modernised again – only to close for the final time in 1959 to make way for the modern development which is still with us (I have reposted the photograph of Peter Robinson’s store in the 1960s as a comparison and reminder).
Looking at the 1930s photograph, it makes sense of the ostentatious and somewhat unnecessary tower on The Vines public house. It looks as if the architect was trying to balance the streetscape. Against the 1960s modern development, it looks more eccentric than it would have in its original setting.
In the top photograph, the corner block housed John Tyler (shoes and boots), The Fifty Shilling Taylors, Meeson’s (confectioners) and Finlay & Co. (tobacconists). Looking at my 1932 Gore’s Directory, it is surprising how many creative industries (as we now call them) were concentrated in Lime Street. Apart from the four cinemas (the Forum, Scala, Palais de Luxe and Futurist) along with The Empire Theatre, there were all manner of small businesses including photographers (Dorondo Mills and Carbonora), Jazon and Montgomery (theatrical agents), the Variety Artists Federation (agent Ma Egerton), the Cinema Publicity Supply Company (poster writers), Liverpool Press Club (and sundry press photographers), Radio Pictures Ltd (film renters), Walturdaw Cinema Supply Company and North Western Film Booking Agency.
It is sad to contemplate Lime Street today. This lively mix of businesses has been replaced by a very dead thoroughfare. True the buildings on the right hand side have all survived but they look uncared for and are an ugly mix of empty shops and cinemas and fast food outlets. A facelift is long overdue to restore some of its grandeur. As for the facing 1960s block, the less said the better. The marvellous new panorama of Lime Street which has been gained from removing the blocks fronting Lime Street Station is sadly framed by an eyesore which will probably remain for years given current public sector funding. A great shame that it missed out on the spending spree of the last decade.

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