Liverpool city centre’s oldest architecture

Celebrated for its impressive range of Grade listed buildings, the city of Liverpool is home to thousands of historic structures. In the following passages, we’ll explore some of Liverpool city centre’s oldest known buildings. From properties that have stood for hundreds of years to the first subscription library built in England, you’ll discover a wealth of knowledge about the venerable structures around the city, along with just where to find them.

The Bluecoat, 8 School Lane

Liverpool city centre’s oldest building, the Bluecoat is more than 300 years old. Constructed between 1716 and 1717, Bluecoat Chambers later became a school for boarders in 1716. Following the death of William Lever, an industrialist, and its owner, the building came close to destruction, but it was saved by a local campaign.

The year 1941 saw the building almost decimated in the Blitz, but in 1951, it was fully restored, achieving Grade I listed status in 1952. Bluecoat Chambers was renamed as the Bluecoat Arts Centre in the 1980s, and it reopened in 2005 after extensive restoration. It became the city’s hub for contemporary arts in 2008, the year Liverpool was named the European Capital of Culture.

Liverpool Town Hall, High Street

Following designs drafted by architect John Wood the Elder, Liverpool Town Hall was built in 1749. In 1785, another architect, James Wyatt, presented designs for an extension. After sustaining fire damage in 1795, Wyatt reconstructed the building, adding its dome.

A place of great historic significance, Liverpool Town Hall witnessed the end of both the American Civil War and slavery when the last ship of the confederate army surrendered its arms on the Mersey in 1865.

While always undergoing restoration, the Grade II listed hall is an active civic building for the city, with council meetings, wedding ceremonies and commemorative services conducted there, along with regular guided tours for visitors on site.

St Peter’s Church, Seel Street

From 1788 to 1976, St Peter’s was a Catholic Church, but today it is popularly known as Alma de Cuba. The Grade II listed building was restored after the Liverpool Blitz and served the city’s Polish population before it closed in 1978. In 1993, it was de-consecrated. The year 2005 saw the church reopen its doors as a unique Cuban-style dining experience, renamed as Alma de Cuba.

The Lyceum, Bold Street

Devised by architect Thomas Harrison and constructed in the neo-classical style in 1802, The Lyceum on Bold Street was built to serve as a dedicated newsroom and act as the first subscription library of England. Later, it hosted a gentleman’s club, however, the club moved in 1952 and the building was left unoccupied.

It became a post office in 1984 and, after avoiding demolition, it provided a home for many different bars during the 1990s, before being taken over by a Chinese restaurant.

The next time you step through the streets of Liverpool, make sure you keep an eye out for these impressive instances of architecture that proudly stand as some of the oldest in all the city.

Posted by Mark
December 1, 2020

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