Liverpool Town Hall

Liverpool Town Hall

Liverpool Town Hall

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Liverpool Town Hall

Liverpool Town Hall, one of the oldest buildings in the city, is normally open to the public for a couple of weeks each year. In 2017 that was during the last two weeks of August. Dates for 2018 will be posted when known.

History

The first Liverpool Town hall was presented to the town in 1515, being little more than an elaborate barn, but it served its purpose for more than 150 years. By the end of the 17th century Liverpool was a much more important place, gaining much of its wealth from the slave trade, and a more substantial building was constructed. However, this had faulty foundations and in 1748 John Woods, an architect from Bath, was commissioned to build Town Hall III and it opened in 1754.

But this was to have the shortest lifespan of them all, as in 1795 a fire broke out and as it was at the time of a severe winter sufficient water couldn’t be brought to the building and the interior was totally destroyed. However, the town now saw itself as of such importance that money was found to commission another architect, this time James Wyatt from London, to completely remodel the inside of the building. The work was completed by 1810, to a design which is basically the Town Hall of today. It underwent an expansion in 1820 when the dome, the large ballroom and the Council Chamber were added.

Interior

Entrance Lobby

Starting at the main entrance. The tiles on the floor of the entrance lobby are the same as those in St George’s Hall, that is encaustic (the inlaying of coloured clay before baking) Minton tiles. Some of the tiles are starting to show signs of wear (and the reason why the tiled floor in St George’s Hall spends most of its time hidden under a protective wooden floor). The Coat of Arms is still in good condition as very often a table sits on top of it to prevent people walking across the design. Here you’ll also find an image of the famous Liver Bird.

Liver Bird

Liver Bird

The fireplace is Flemish and was a gift to the city in 1893. On either side of the fireplace are Bardic chairs from the Eisteddford which used to be held in David Lewis Hotel and Theatre (located close to the Anglican Cathedral before being demolished in 1980) before the WWI. Also in the lobby is the doorman’s chair. There used to be two of them but one was stolen. Underneath the seat the chair is lead lined and hot coals could be placed there to keep the doorman warm. The present seat was refurbished in 1990.

The brass panels around the entrance hall list the names of the people who have been granted the Freedom of the City. The Beatles are listed to the right of the doorway to the stairs.

The lunettes (semi-circular panels) were painted by a local artist, JH Amschewitz and were completed in 1909, as part of the celebrations of the granting of Liverpool’s Charter by King John in 1207 – the event being depicted in the panel on the left. The other panels use the allegory of a woman as representing Liverpool and those aspects which made Liverpool the rich city it was through trade and commerce (but no reference to slavery) such as the ships, a spinning wheel, a cog (a symbol of industry) and exotic fruits. People from different ethnic backgrounds are in the panel over the fireplace.

The Stairway

Through the doors and in a cabinet to the left is one of the finest collections of silverware in the country, including the Civic Regalia. (There’s should be more in the vaults but that’s not certain in times of austerity as selling off of the family silver