Tagged: warehouses

School Lane, 1970

Hanover Street, 1970

I worked in the Bluecoat Chambers for over 15 years and loved the small group of buildings at the Hanover Street end that had survived against all the odds. Too small to be commercially viable, they were, nevertheless, a very visible reminder of an earlier Liverpool. Hornby Lowe’s Cutlery Stores, with its superb frontage, was in business from at least 1879. The shop, with its macabre display of hunting, fishing and, I suppose, stabbing knives, was living on borrowed time but it had a character that greatly added to the streetscape. Looking at my 1867 Gore’s Directory, the buildings had previously been occupied by an oyster dealer, a chandelier maker and a gas fitter. In 1857, Charles O’Donnell, a policeman, lived in the Hornby Lowe shop.
Once land values began to soar in the 1990s, their days were numbered. Few property developers have any respect for history; what are a few eighteenth century buildings when there is money to be made. The row of very early houses and warehouses on Hanover Street were demolished one by one until the Liverpool One development swept away the last surviving building. Sadly, their demise followed the standard practice of removing buildings one by one on the grounds that they are beyond repair until there is no cohesion to the street, leaving the surviving building like a single tooth only too easy to extract. This sad pattern has removed whole layers of history – buildings not of great architectural merit but of importance because they were examples of Liverpool’s first great wave of prosperity. Had someone suggested in the 1980s that the Shambles in York should be pulled down because they occupied valuable development land, there would have been a national outcry. The shame is that Liverpool lost so much with hardly a whimper.

Following on from yesterday, my next choice is a building that has got progressively worse each time it has been rebuilt:
8 Exchange Buildings. The smaller photograph (taken in 1860) is a view of James Wyatt’s elegant building (1803-9), in perfect sympathy with the Town Hall (for which he was partly responsible). Tastes changed and, in the 1860s, the building was replaced by one in the more flamboyant (and less sympathetic) Gothic style (top photograph, 1886). Needless to say, the modernists had their way in the 1930s – replacing it with the current vaguely neo-classical building.
9 Duke’s Dock Warehouse. Built in 1811, this was one of Liverpool’s most grievous losses according to Quentin Hughes – who gave it considerable space in his seminal book Seaport. A magnificent early six-storey warehouse, it was demolished for no benefit by an insensitive Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.
10 Cotton Exchange. Another example of trying to modernise unsympathetically. The original building (1905/6 by Matear and Simpson) was a grand Edwardian baroque statement of the importance of the cotton trade. Its replacement is unintentionally a weak nod to the post-war decline in confidence.
11 Canada Dock hydraulic tower (1858). Perhaps Jesse Hartley’s weirdest building – a medieval castle on the banks of the Mersey.