Tuesday 30 April 2013

George's Dock Building, Mersey Tunnels

Between the Port of Liverpool Building and the Strand is my favourite building in Liverpool, an Art Deco architectural masterpiece. It's the George's Dock Ventilation and Control Station, a ventilation shaft for the first Mersey tunnel. As well as offices it contains huge fans that extract foul air and force clean air in. I was terribly disappointed that it is not open to the public but I had a really good wander all around it.

The central angular ventilation shaft dominates the building and takes the form of an obelisk. The building was designed by Basil Morr and J.A. Brodie with Herbert J. Rowse as architect.

It is a stunner.

The main entrance on the western side of the building - I love that shade of green.

'The Modern Mercury' above the main entrace - a futuristic stylised figure with pilot glasses and leather hat, it seems to accelerate skyward, with a strong imagery of speed: a modern Mercury indeed. I fell in love with it.

In line with Art Deco movement's interest in the architecture and art of Ancient Egypt following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankamun in 1921, two statues are to be found on each side of the main entrance which is below the Mercury.

Carved in black basalt, the Night and Day statues evoke the 24 hour life of the tunnel. So appropriate.

Moving around the building (which is being renovated at the moment) are the two lampposts in that seductive green again.

a closer look

looking at it from the Eastern side.

An Art Deco masterpiece.

Monday 29 April 2013

Walking around Liverpool

Liverpool is a beautiful city, with wonderful architecture, both old and new, a lot of art galleries and museums, and lots to do. I have never seen so many shopping centres in any one city, but we tried to avoid those. We spent two nights there, and left feeling that we had to go back and soon.

The Adelphi Hotel, in Ranelgh Place is the third hotel on the site and has been designated as Grade II listed. In the past, the hotel served as the most popular hotel in the city for wealthy passengers before they embarked on their journey to North America. The hotel's Sefton suite is an exact replica of Titanic's First Class Smoking Lounge - the Titanic was registered in Liverpool though it never visited the port.

It is constructed in Portland stone and  has seven stories. The corridors are marble lined, and our room had floor to ceiling oak panelling, with double doors.

The hotel has been featured in a lot of television and film: the lounge was used in the 1981 television series Brideshead Revisited as the interior of an ocean liner. In 1997, the hotel was the subject of an eight-part BBC documentary series, Hotel. The series was voiced, very aptly, by Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel in Faulty Towers. Furthermore, in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Professor Aronnax describes the interior of the submarine as similar to the Adelphi hotel.

Do not be fooled by the grandeur however and consider staying there. It is one of the worst, probably the worst hotel we have ever stayed in. It is filthy, dirt and squalor being the order of the day, the staff are unhelpful to the point of rudeness, and the food unapalatable. There was no heating in our room. Stay away and advise your friends to do the same.

The iconic Lewis's building, also in Ranelagh Place, designed in 1947 by Gerald de Courcy Fraser, and constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, replacing an earlier building that was destroyed during WWII. Portland stone facade. Above the main entrace is a statue of a nude man by Jacob Epstein: its official title is Liverpool Resurgent, but is nicknamed 'Dickie Lewis'.

 looking closer

and a side view.

Also on Ranelagh Place.

The city is full of beautiful buildings

Warehouse and offices at 12 Hanover Street, another grade II Listed building, built in 1889, designed by Edmund Kirby. It is made of soft red brick with terracotta detailing around the windows and chimneys that rise dramatically above a balustrade, a totally theatrical statement.

Opposite the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.

The University district

Victoria Gallery and Museum

The Walker Gallery, designed by Cornelius Sherlock and H.H. Vale.

The World Museum, also on William Brown Street, the only street in the UK to consist of nothing other than museums, galleries and libraries.

St John's Gardens, with St George's Hall in the distance

the Gardens again

St George's Hall

Lime Street Station

Hillsborough Disaster Memorial

grand buildings and massive avenues

Castle Street

The Town Hall

the back of the Town Hall, situated in Exchange Flags square,

a most deligutful square

we liked it so much, we had to stay for a cup of tea at Gourmet Coffee, so as to prolong the pleasure

one of the astonishing things about Liverpool is the variety in the styles of the architecture

like this Art Deco tower

Matthew Street where the Cavern used to be

outside the (new) Cavern pub

so much history here

where the old Cavern used to be

and then just round the corner, we came upon four of these.

During our last morning in Liverpool we re-visited some of the places we had seen before, and came upon the Mill House, University of Liverpool School of Medicine.

This was built in 1890 as an addition to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary Hospital and Lunatic Asylum and served as a working hospital throughout the two world wars and eventually closed in 1978.

Oriel Chanbers, on Water Street, designed by Peter Ellis and built in 1864, it is the world's first building featuring a metal framed glass curtain wall. It remains one of the finest and most influential buildings of its age. It is one of the first office buildings to use an iron framework structure, and its innovative design had a considerable influence on office buildings across the world, particularly the early skyscrapers in Chicago and New York. It was not received well initially, and was described as a 'monstrous agglomeration of protruding plate glass bubbles' amongst other things. Due to this antagonism, Peter Ellis only ever designed one other building.

Nikolaus Pevsner described it like this: 'the delicacy of the ironwork in the plate-glass oriel windows and the curtain walling at the back with the vertical supports retracted yet visible from outside is almost unbelievably ahead of its time.'

16 Cook Street, the only other building that Peter Ellis designed.

Back on Water Street, another remarkable building, The Tower Building, designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, is opposite the Royal Liver Building on the Strand, and extends round the corner into Water Street. It is constructed on a steel frame, clad in grey granite, and faced with white glazed terracotta made by Doulton.  A balustrade runs along the top of the building. At the corners of the towers are castellated turrets.

and a closer look at those magnificent turrets.

detail - still on Water Street

Martin's Bank Building, designed by Nerbert J. Rowse, built in Portland stone, it opened in 1932.

Finally, an art deco cinema.