By Ian Collard
Reviewed by Arthur Adlen
This book provides an excellent guide to the streets of Liverpool city centre, showing us how the buildings and landmarks have changed over the centuries. From the Albert Dock to the New Museum of Liverpool, local author Ian Collard takes the reader back through contemporary photographs to see how the impressive architecture looked in its heyday.
The book is well researched and provides lots of information on dates, when the buildings were started and completed, and, in some cases, when they were demolished.
More importantly, we are treated to details of the life of the buildings. Did you know that Liverpool University on Brownlow Hill only had ninety-three students in 1903? How times change! Or that if Edwin Luytens’ 1930 design for the Catholic cathedral had gone ahead it would have been bigger than St Peter’s in Rome?
The descriptions are well written, like: “the General Post Office on Victoria Street…resembled a Loire chateau with a skyline of shaped gables, chimneys and pavilion roofs”. And now it’s a shopping mall.
But it’s not all about the grandeur that we see around us, the book also contains descriptions of the more everyday, but just as impressive, architecture. We have details and pictures of the first Mersey Tunnel, the Georges Dock ventilation and control station, and, of course, the Overhead Railway.
What the book does not deal with is the less savoury political history some of the buildings hold, but that is not its role, and its worth is undiminished. Thankfully, it does tell of the good work of the old Bluecoat School in providing real relief for children in poverty.
Many people might not appreciate how fortunate we are to live in a city with such beautiful architecture, but this lovely little book, small enough to fit into your pocket when you go wandering around town, will help you to enjoy your travels even more. Just look up!