Losing a Liverpool legend: Lewis's department store
Liverpool has lost a significant city-centre icon now that the first and last Lewis's store has closed.
The business was founded in 1856 as a men's and boy's outfitters by David Lewis (1823-1885), an entrepreneur and philanthropist of genius who was one of the UK pioneers of what became the known as the department store.
The existing building, a post-war replacement of the bombed-out 1910-23 building, was designed in 1947 by Gerald de Courcy Fraser. Its dominant feature is Sir Jacob Epstein's bronze statue, Liverpool Resurgans ["Liverpool rises again"] (1954), the subject of much ribaldry, especially in wet weather, described by a lady on the www.lewissfifthfloor.com site as "the large statue, whom they had named 'Richard', but not quite Richard".
Epstein also provided three relief panels of scenes of childhood in fast-setting ciment fondu. The emblems that decorate this elegant classical building – a virile man striding forward and a celebration of the generation we now call the "baby boomers" – speak of a post-war optimism for a future that turned out rather differently.
To commemorate the part Lewis's played in Liverpool life there is an evocative BBC News website audio-slideshow at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8721191.stm and an exhibition, Lewis's fifth floor: a department story, at the National Conservation Centre until August 30th 2010 [http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/conservation/exhibitions/lewiss].
For details of Mike Higginbottom's lectures on Liverpool architecture, please click here.
The 68-page, A4 handbook for the 2011 Liverpool's Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To view sample pages click here. Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.
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