Liverpool began as a fishing village in the thirteenth century, but grew rapidly in the eighteenth century with the growth of sea trade, becoming Europe's greatest Atlantic seaport during its heyday. From its seven miles of waterfront millions of emigrants embarked for the New World, and through its spacious docks and endless brick warehouses passed much of the trade of industrial Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The wealth its commerce generated produced a magnificent cityscape, great architecture and a rich cultural heritage, particularly in fine arts and music. The increasing size of ocean-going vessels has diverted the traffic elsewhere on the Mersey estuary, and the city's recent history largely concerns its attempts to find a new role to play in the national economy, most recently through the Capital of Culture 2008 initiative.
This lecture gives an insight into the historic development of the city and port of Liverpool, focusing on the wealth of its nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture, in particular St George's Hall – "the world's finest building" – (Harvey Lonsdale Elmes & C R Cockerell 1841-54), the Anglican Cathedral (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott & Frederick Thomas 1903-79) and the Catholic Cathedral (Sir Frederick Gibberd 1962-7), and such unexpected gems as Oriel Chambers (Peter Ellis 1864), the Philharmonic Hotel (Walter Thomas (1898-1900) and the Olympia Theatre (Frank Matcham 1905).
The study-day covers the development of the city and port and its wealth of architecture in three sections:
1. Liverpool's Wealth – an introductory account of the city's history
2. Liverpool's Architecture – a survey of the major buildings of the city-centre
3. Liverpool's Hinterland – examples of the rich environments of Liverpool's suburbs and the Wirral
For background information about sites relevant to this lecture, please click here.