The three images posted today were all taken by Father d’Andria, the parish priest of St Peter’s church in Seel Street. His small collection of photographs are all in the Liverpool Record Office collection. I had an email from Bob Manger asking about the area around White Street, where his grandfather lived. White Street is now just a short cul-de-sac next to the old churchyard of St Michael’s, Pitt Street, the magnificent church silhouetted in the second photograph (a victim of wartime bombing).
The area around Kent Street and Pitt Street was the centre of Liverpool’s Chinatown. Kent Square was once a very fashionable place to live and even into the early twentieth century it held its charm. Charles Reilly, the University’s dynamic professor of architecture described it as: ‘one of the most charming things in Liverpool .. it is a tiny square, not really a square but an oblong, with a single narrow street entering the middle of each of the two shorter sides … it is like a Cambridge court rather than a square only it is Georgian, with all the elegance that implies. The houses are small and refined. The doorways are in pairs, raised above the ground, and giving onto a stone landing .. each doorway is pedimented and the entablatures have varying motifs modelled on them, some ram’s heads, some urns, some flowers. Many of the doors – neat six-panel doors with raised panels – have even their Georgian knockers left.
It is altogether charming. At present one wise decorator lives in it and some Chinamen. If anyone, however, wants to found a settlement, and at the same time preserve a beautiful thing, let him buy these houses.
Sadly, no such visionary came forward to preserve the square for, within little more than a decade, the area was demolished to make way for council tenements, which lasted little more than fifty years before they too were reduced to dust.