Lord Street suffered badly during the war, losing many fine buildings, particularly on the left side of the street in today’s photograph.
The right-hand side fared better and the most prominent building, the Lord Street Arcade (the brown and white striped building) is one of the better buildings that has survived. A rather strange building for its time (1901) and built in the Gothic style that was already falling out of favour, it was originally built as a galleried arcade, as is shown in the second photograph, which was taken just before it opened. The arcade was not a great success, probably because the individual shop units were too small. In the late 1980s, I rented a small office on the second-floor gallery, but I never liked the place. The original glass roof had been replaced by a suspended ceiling and the whole place felt claustrophobic. Soon after I moved out, the building was taken over by a sports chain who remodelled the upper floors.
Probably the most interesting fact about the building is that Walter Aubrey Thomas was the architect (not to be confused with Walter Thomas, architect of the Philharmonic Hotel). WA Thomas’s more successful buildings included the State Assurance (1905) on Dale Street, Tower Buildings (1906) and, his masterpiece, the Royal Liver Building (1911). Three very individual buildings – all stylistically quite different. All substantially better buildings than the British Home Store building, which can be seen in construction further up the street – a building totally out of sympathy with its neighbours with its brutalist front that epitomises the worst of the post-War architecture afflicted on the city.

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