The old Royal building opened in 1978 and has served the city ever since – despite ongoing infrastructure problems. Looking at the crumbling, unsightly building, it is clear why Liverpool is desperate for its sparkling new facility to finally open.
When the new build plans were first announced, the Trust stated: “Once the new hospital is constructed, our existing hospital will be demolished. In its place, there are plans to develop a world-class health campus, as well as landscaping green space, roughly the size of Chavasse Park.”
In January 2020, two years after Carillion’s collapse, a report from the National Audit Office, projected the overall costs of the new Royal could tip over the £1.1 billion mark. It also commented on the plans for the old building, stating: “Further work to demolish the old hospital and create a new underground car park and public plaza, was not included in the PFI project and is currently unfunded. The cost of this was not included in the PFI project and is currently estimated at £38 million.”
We are greeted by William Mitchell’s sliding door panels.
Let’s take a look inside.
Above is the tower with large areas of stained glass designed by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens in three colours – yellow, blue and red, representing the Trinity.
On the altar, the candlesticks are by RY Goodden and the bronze crucifix is by Elisabeth Frink. Above the altar is a baldachino designed by Gibberd as a crown-like structure composed of aluminium rods, which incorporates loudspeakers and lights. Around the interior are metal Stations of the Cross, designed by Sean Rice. Rice also designed the lectern, which includes two entwined eagles. In the Chapel of Reconciliation, the stained glass was designed by Margaret Traherne. Stephen Foster designed, carved and painted the panelling in the Chapel of St. Joseph. The Lady Chapel contains a statue of the Virgin and Child by Robert Brumby and stained glass by Margaret Traherne. In the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a reredos and stained glass by Ceri Richards and a small statue of the Risen Christ by Arthur Dooley. In the Chapel of Unity is a bronze stoup by Virginio Ciminaghi, and a mosaic of the Pentecost by Hungarian artist Georg Mayer-Marton which was moved from the Church of the Holy Ghost, Netherton, when it was demolished in 1989. The gates of the Baptistry were designed by David Atkins.
Designed by NBBJ and HKS – The Royal Hospital is one of the national infrastructure schemes being delivered under a Government PFI contract, with work having started in 2014 led by now-collapsed contractor Carillion.
After Carillion went into administration, further issues were uncovered during a structural review by Arup in 2018, including that the cladding on the building was unsafe and the project had to be reviewed and re-costed as a result. The targeted completion date is now five years later than planned.
Opened in 1972 as an almost belated response to George Buchanan’s 1963 Traffic in Towns which had informed the Liverpool City Centre Plan of 1965.
The report warned of the potential damage caused by the motor car, while offering ways to mitigate it. It gave planners a set of policy blueprints to deal with its effects on the urban environment, including traffic containment and segregation, which could be balanced against urban redevelopment, new corridor and distribution roads and precincts.
These policies shaped the development of the urban landscape in the UK and some other countries for two or three decades. Unusually for a technical policy report, it was so much in demand that Penguin abridged it and republished it as a book in 1964.
The Churchill Way was realised and remained in use until September 2nd 2019 – closed and facing a £10 million demolition programme, following a maintenance report which found them to be unsafe – and presumably beyond economic repair.
And so I took one last look around taking snaps, an epitaph to the end of an era, and the end of an idea that was once once rendered concrete.
Antony Holloway – artist born March 8th 1928 he died on August 9th 2000.
Dorset was where he was born and grew up and the Dorset landscape was always there deep within him. He was educated at Poole grammar school between 1939 and 1945. After national service in the Royal Air Force in Dorset and Germany from 1948 to 1953 he studied at Bournemouth College of Art. Then came the RCA.
Tony began work as a stained glass and mural designer and jumped, with astonishing confidence, into working as a consultant designer with the architects’ division of the London County Council. He learned how to deal with architects and builders, and became adept at getting as much out of the money available – never enough – for his projects.
In 1963 he was introduced to the Manchester architect, Harry Fairhurst. Eight years later, after they had worked together on commissions in Cheshire and Liverpool, Fairhurst sought Tony’s advice about a plan for five large stained-glass windows in Manchester Cathedral.
Tony asked to design and make the first window, the St George in the inner south-west aisle. It was completed in 1973. Further windows followed in 1976 and 1980 and the final window, Revelation was installed in 1995.
1 Woodland Rd, West Kirby, Birkenhead, Wirral CH48 6ER
The architect was called Stuart Macauley, a partner in a practice based in Bebington – my thanks to local lad John Feeley who was taught by Stuart at Sunday school.
St Michael and All Angels is a well established Church of England church situated in the heart of Newton, on the border of West Kirby, Wirral.
Our vision is to know Jesus better and make him known to others. We do this by worshipping God, standing up for and sharing the joy of Jesus, loving others and making a real difference in the church and in our community.
What can I expect when I visit St Michaels?
When you come to St Michaels you will find a warm and friendly group of people committed to making church exciting, life-changing, and enjoyable. There are services for the whole family that include contemporary worship (including a café church service), a time of biblical teaching, and an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Each service is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes in length.
We wandered away from West Kirby along the highways and bye-ways to Newton.
Newton consists of a village hall, post office, public house and a general store. The local park, aptly named Newton Park, has a football pitch, outdoor basketball courts and a playground for children. Wirral Council also has several allotments in Newton that are provided for residents to grow their own vegetables and plants.
And a most surprising elevated, elevating and angular church.
Such a revelation following several rows of well behaved semis and open fields, my extensive yet limited research can find no record of architectural authorship or attribution.
Perhaps simply delivered by hand or hands unseen in 1963.
Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe January 1st 1918 December 30th 2006
American born, resident of Didsbury Manchester, sculptor and designer, responsible for, amongst other things, the BAFTA mask.
Her first large scale commission was two pieces for the Festival of Britain in 1951. One, known as Root Bodied Forth, shows figures emerging from a tree, and was displayed at the entrance of the Festival. The second, a pair of bronze handles in the form of hands, adorned the Regatta Restaurant. She created a similar piece, in the form of knots, in 1952 which remains at the School of Civic Design at Liverpool University, along with The Quickening in the rear courtyard.
Cunliffe developed a technique for mass-producing abstract designs in relief in concrete, as architectural decoration, which she described as sculpture by the yard. She used the technique to decorate buildings throughout the UK, but particularly in and around Manchester.
Particularly this example of four modular panels named Cosmos, set in the wall of the student halls of residence in Owens Park, Fallowfield, Manchester.
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
A delightful interwar pub on the corner of Heaton Lane and Wellington Road North, I moved to Stockport some forty years ago and was mightily impressed by the restrained exterior Deco design, wrought and hewn from soft pale sandstone. Equally impressive was the wood panelled, open, spacious interior space.
The George was always something of an anomaly, being the only Greater Manchester pub owned by Higson’s Brewery, our almost next door Liverpool neighbour.
Higsons was founded in 1780 – 1974 saw the brewery merge with James Mellor & Sons. In 1978, Higsons acquired the Bent’s Brewery, which was based next to its North Street head office. Boddingtons of Manchester acquired Higsons in 1985 but decided to abandon brewing in 1989 to focus on its pubs.
Boddingtons’ brewing arm was sold to Whitbread in 1990 which then subsequently closed the Higsons Stanhope brewery and then reopened by new owners as the Cains Brewery in 1991. Higsons beer was brewed in Sheffield and Durham for a few years after closure before being discontinued. The beer brand was revived in the current century and reborn in 2017, now served in the swish Baltic Triangle based Higson’s Tap & Still with an interior order that leaps backwards head first, into an imagined future of raw brick, reclaimed wood and industrial flourishes.
The George prospered – a town centre pub surrounded by workers in search of a wet and shoppers shirking their retail duties in favour of draught bitter or Cherry B.
Its interior however did not fair so well, ripped out in the 80s – remade remodelled, in the deeply unattractive, anti-vernacular, sub-disco style de jour.
Renamed The Manhattan, riding the fun-pub wave, closed reopened as The George – there followed thirty year of uncertainty, struggling to find an identity throughout a time of ever-changing moods.
It became a daytime haunt of the hardened, shattered glass, blood on the tracks class of drinker, its reputation in tatters along with yesterday’s fish and chip papers.
The last time I came by you were still open for business.
I bided a wee while, without imbibing, all the better to record your disabused Art Deco details.
I came by yesterday and you were all tinned-up with nowhere to go.
Premises To Let as of 13th May 2018 – on the 2nd April 2018 the licence has lapsed, so this will be a further barrier to it re-opening.
And so your faux nowheresville interior will pass into yet another of somebody’s history, along with your fine Deco detail and disco destruction.
This a tale of our age – of monopoly capitalism, stay at home Bargain Booze tipplers, demographic shifts, de-populated town centres, fashion fads and cheap cladding.
Time changes everything except something within us which is never surprised by change.
And so castles made of sand, Fall in the sea, eventually.
Once there was a battle here, several actually, and battles mean castles, possibly.
Erected in the between 1232 and 1235, inevitably through the passage of time, blows were exchanged, the Banastre Rebellion of 1315, and later in 1689 Prince Rupert was battered by King Billy, and so on until it was eventually demolished in 1726. A series of churches ensued, finally to be supplanted by the arrival of an amusingly statuesque Queen Victoria, replete with plaque.
In 1976 excavation of the south side of Castle Street was conducted before the construction of the Crown Courts building, which was built in the style of a castle.
What goes around comes around, ending up largely square in Derby Square.
And lo and so it came to pass, new law courts were erected upon the site begun in 1973, opened in 1984. Architects were Farmer and Dark, who were also responsible for the Fawley Power Station.
And the Cornwallis Building at the University of Kent.
I passed by there yet again last Saturday, still maintaining a restrained ambivalence regarding this monolithic concrete and sand pseudo-castle. Less than, and larger than the sum of its parts. The quirky detailing and awkward geometry, producing a somewhat confused, yet imposing scheme, an ossified pinkish ribbed construct from another age.
The original raw concrete is now awash with washes of off-magnolia exterior emulsion.
Hughes and Willet were seemingly less amazed or amused, the opinion of the Aztecs, or for that matter the Neo-Aztecs, is sadly not a matter of record.
I remain impressed by the impressed concrete relief, a convincing addition to a sharp functional modern office block, all of which have not dated disastrously as soon as the fashion supporting it has collapsed.
Treat yourself take a walk, surprise yourself once in a while.
Aztec bars were withdrawn shortly after their launch in 1967.
The Aztec race was all but wiped out following their disastrous encounter in 1519 with the Conquistadors.
The William Mitchell reliefs prevail to this this day, as of last Sunday.
There is also a comprehensive visual history here in this clip:
Containing the poignant lost faces of the estate:
A familiar tale of bomb damage, decline and sale to private developers and here we are today, a mix of short student lets, newcomers and a handful of long term residents.
Eddie the porter – named Eddie Porter, a clear case of nominative determinism, proved the perfect host, I introduced myself as the man from the Manchester Modernists, doors opened and the conversation flowed like fine wine.
Tales of lads illicitly playing football in the roof voids, families leaving concrete structures in order to huddle in corrugated iron Anderson Shelters, A Hitler’s time in the ‘Pool and his resolve save the Liver Building, bombs that did fall on the now missing blocks of flats, a family celebrating the return of their son killed in an air raid.
We parted and I strolled amongst the elevated homes some 300 flats, over 80 years old and continuing to provide shelter and succour for the many, though sadly no longer under the sheltering wing of the Municipal Housing Department and their team of engineers, architects and builders.
With a disdain bordering on a sociopathic destructive indifference it appears.
New Labour with an eye to rehouse the housed, tinned up hundreds of homes prior to demolition and redevelopment. They were and still are solid late Victorian terraces possibly in need of improvement – during the 1990’s, period housing stock was refurbished with central government funding, through a system of easily obtained grants. Improving the living conditions of many, maintaining the structures, and supporting the local self-employed building trade.
So several years down the line, I visited the streets of Wavertree discussed in Owen Hatherley’s article of 2013.
Little or nothing has changed there are some tenanted houses, interspersed between the blanked out windows in sadly deserted streets, save the two camera shy free runners, who had lived and played in the area for some seven years.
When one door closes another door closes.
If working-class areas are to defend themselves, they need confidence, both in themselves and in the places they live, otherwise the whole grim process will go on, with councils making the same mistakes and the same lives being destroyed, without interruption.
Standing on the corner watching all the world go by.
Reflecting on and reflecting it’s older neighbours.
State House Dale Street.
“Built 1962 to the designs of Edmund Kirby & Sons. It has an assertive service tower, apparently clad in polished granite. Unusually, above the entrance is a concrete slab with a relief depicting what looks like a coat of arms above the building’s name. Kirby’s practice moved into the building for a time.”
Three well proportioned volumes – a central service tower, main block and outriding, lower level base.
An exciting conflation of grids, contrasting in scale and finish.
127 Dale Street, corner of North Street, just by the Ship and Mitre, across from the Queensway Tunnel entrance?
Yes that’s the one, Liverpool’s most remarkable, least remarked upon building.
So clean, so modern, so new, a delightful grid of materials, glass, steel, polished marble, brick and patinated beaten metal.
Stand back and wonder, move in and sigh with delight.
As I went about my snappy business, I was approached by a local – Mark.
Surprised by my curiously, up close, slow scrutiny of the building, he went on to explain that he was familiar with the architect Derek Jones who had worked on the design for Ormrod and Partners in 1964.
Formerly home to Higson’s Brewery offices, now housing the Merseyside Museums administration and design teams, the exterior is largely intact.