Which Hollywood movie was filmed in the UK’s award-winning “Street of Culture” Hope Street in Liverpool? Read on and you’ll find out.
New for Autumn 2020 you can book a virtual tour along Hope Street with a Liver Guide over Zoom for £100 for up to 10 people – the online tour is a great way to learn, and you can ask questions and your guide can zoom in on statues and zoom in on Blue Plaques – this is one of a range of Brilliant Liverpool "Online Virtual Tours" and they all last 1 hour. If you have a larger group than ten people you can add extra screens for a small additional charge of £5 per screen, this is great for a W.I, Probus or any other club wanting something different.
In the meantime, please enjoy this taster.
We are standing in Mount Pleasant, outside Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral, or to be precise, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. But this building, because of its conical shape, is affectionately known to the people of Liverpool as "Paddy's Wigwam" "the Pope's lunar module" or "the Mersey Funnel". It is England's biggest Roman Catholic church. Construction started in 1962 and was completed in 1967, using the design of the architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. From the outside the building is an austere concrete, Portland stone and steel construction, some say that Gibberd could have got his inspiration from the Mercury space programme. If we move inside the Cathedral, its predominately white marble and sunlight enter through the stained glass "crown" at the top of the cone.
In the early 19th century, Liverpool was a typical south Lancashire town. Its residents spoke with a south Lancashire accent, and most of its population were protestant. But the city was growing and attracting people from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the surrounding countryside seeking work in Liverpool's expanding docks and industry. Liverpool's Black community dates to the 1730s and its Chinese population to the 1840s. But the most significant immigrant influence on Liverpool was the Irish diaspora which peaked during the potato famine in the 1840s.
As many as 1,500,000 Irish immigrants passed through Liverpool to embark on the "coffin ships" to the Americas, but a large number remained in Liverpool to take advantage of the need for labour in this expanding town. This was the embryo of Liverpool's "Scouse" personality. Liverpool became a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and language. The south Lancashire accent was evolving, and Liverpool's Religious demographic also changed as the Irish influx caused a rise in the Roman Catholic faith.
The Roman Catholic Bishop Goss saw a need for a Cathedral in Liverpool to serve the expanding Roman Catholic population and in and in 1853 asked the architect Edward Elby Pugin to build a cathedral in the Everton district of Liverpool. Work started but was never completed as the emphasis moved to parish churches.
In 1933, work started to build a cathedral on the old Liverpool Workhouse site to a design by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. This was to be one of the world's largest churches. With a height of 520 feet, It was to surpass the Anglican Cathedral's elevation of 331 feet. Work continued to1941, with the crypt and base being constructed, but WW2 halted construction.
You can see on the next photo the walls of the Lutyens Crypt which was completed with what appears to be a comparatively tiny more modern construction on the top. It truly would have dwarfed the Anglican Cathedral which you will see towards the end of our tour.
In the 1950s consideration was given to restarting construction of Lutyens' Cathedral but even with scaled-down designs, the cost was prohibitive causing the redesign by Gibberd that we see today.
As we leave the Roman Catholic Cathedral, we walk by the bell tower with its four bells, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or locally known as John, Paul George and Ringo.
Soon we shall cross Mount Pleasant into Hope Street, but if we look left, we can see what the old Oxford Street Maternity Hospital, but now student accommodation was. This was the birthplace of John Winston Lennon on 0ctober 9th, 1940, during a Nazi air raid.
The first building we see, on our left on Hope Street is the Medical Institution. A columned sandstone building dating from 1837 The Medical Institution has been a centre of medical learning since 1779. Before it was built, this site was the birthplace of abolitionist William Roscoe, (b 1753).
As we progress down Hope Street, the next building on our left is the Everyman Theatre with its steel and glass façade and pictures of the theatre company past and present. In 2014 this building won the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for best British Building of the year. Many famous actors "cut their teeth" in the Everyman company, including, Julie Walters, Stephen Graham, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Pryce, Alan Scarfe, Pete Postlethwaite, Antony Sher, Bill Nighy, Barbara Dickson, Matthew Kelly, and Cathy Tyson. Also, playwrights such as Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale.
The original shell of the Everyman building was built as a chapel in 1837. In 1853 it became a concert hall. In 1912, it became the “Hope Hall Cinema” which closed in 1963. During its later years as the Hope Hall Cinema, it was a venue for the “Liverpool Scene”, a collective of local artists, sculptors, poets and musicians that included Arthur Dooley, Roger McGough, and Adrian Henri. This group thought the building would be suitable for a theatre and the Everyman Theatre opened in 1964. The theatre closed in 1975, was rebuilt and reopened in 1977. The theatre closed in 2011 and was rebuilt again opening as the present version in 2014.
As we progress along Hope Street, on our left are some excellent examples of brick-built Georgian Residences. Some of these fine old buildings now house independent restaurants such as the “Pen factory, (named after the Lang Pen company that operated out of the building in the late 1800s).
On our right, across the other side of Hope Street, facing these fine Georgian Houses is the “Liverpool Masonic Lodge”, an ornate sandstone building. The original building, “the House in the Garden” dates from 1857. It was extended in the 1870's and again in 1932. Although a “secret” society, the Masonic Hall does have a public bar and guided tours around the building.
Back over on the left-hand side of Hope Street, facing the junction of Maryland Street is the “Casa Club”. The shortened name for the Casablanca Club. This used to be one of Liverpool’s seedier but more enjoyable night clubs, just a bit bohemian, just a bit edgy, but faded away. But it was fixed up and managed by sacked dockers after the Mersey dock strike of 1995-98. Now Casa is an acronym for “The Community Advice Service Association”.
Looking down Maryland Street is perhaps Liverpool’s smallest pub, with a capacity of 35 customers across 2 floors, the “Dickens and King” but will always be known as “Hard Times and Misery”. Don’t be put off by the name, a good time and good beers are guaranteed.
If we continue along the left-hand side of Hope Street, we find the statue of Hugh Stowell Brown. Hugh Stowell Brown was born in Douglas, IOM, in 1823. He was the minister at Myrtle Street Baptist Chapel and his sermons could attract an audience of 2000. He established a working man’s savings bank. The statue originally stood in the grounds of the Myrtle Street Baptist Chapel before being relocated to Hope Street where this god-fearing teetotaller scowls across the opposite side of Hope Street at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms.
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms is a pub on the corner of Hope Street and Hardman Street. A sandstone building in art nouveau style. Built between 1898 and 1900 it is best known today as the surprise venue for Paul McCartney’s pop-up concert on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. The pub is a Grade 1 listed building; famous for its Gentlemen’s toilets, they are a temple to micturition.
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, constructed in 1898 to the designs of Walter W Thomas for Robert Cain & Sons, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms is one of the finest public houses in England and the pinnacle of the 'gin palace' form of the pub. It has an acutely original design with an exterior in an exuberant Freestyle and a highly ornate interior that reflects the status, wealth and ambition of Robert Cain who sought to create public houses of great beauty. The decorative entrance gates are widely considered to be among the finest Art Nouveau metalwork in England. The physical fabric incorporates decorative references to the building's musical links with the nearby Philharmonic Hall, as well as Liverpool's maritime history. The eclectic interior decoration, which was carried out by Charles John Allen, Henry Bloomfield Bare, and artists and craftsmen supervised by University College's School of Architecture and Applied Arts, is of exceptional quality and includes elaborate plasterwork and ceramics, repoussé copper work, finely detailed stained glass, and intricately carved woodwork throughout.
Keeping on the same side of Hope Street as the Philharmonic Dining Rooms we cross over Hardman Street to the extension to the Royal School for the Blind. This building is no longer an institution for the blind, the school is now based in the Liverpool suburb of Wavertree. This white Portland stone extension was built in 1932. It features, on the exterior walls, relief panels by Skeaping illustrating the life and work of the school such as brush making, reading Braille, basket weaving, piano tuning and knitting.
The Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, England, is the oldest specialist school of its kind in the UK, having been founded in 1791. Only the Paris school is older, but the Royal School for the Blind is the oldest school in the world in continuous operation, and the first in the world founded by a blind person, Edward Rushton, who was also an anti-slavery campaigner. It was also the first school in the world to offer education and training to blind adults as well as children.
On the opposite side of Hope Street Facing the extension to the Royal School for the Blind is the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It is a brick building in the “Streamline Moderne” style designed by Herbert J, Rowse. The hall was opened in 1939 and replaced the previous hall that was destroyed by fire in 1933. A local violinist, John Frederick Clarke, who was part of the famed RMS Titanic orchestra, and the other band members who died during the ship's sinking in 1912 are all commemorated on a memorial plaque within Philharmonic Hall. Hope Street was named after a merchant called William Hope (1741-1827) who built the first house on the street, on the site of what is now the Philharmonic Hall. The Philharmonic Hall is the home of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is the country's longest-surviving professional orchestra. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is the UK's only orchestra that has its own hall. The Orchestra is a part of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society, founded in 1840. The society was the second of its kind to be established, the first being the London-based Royal Philharmonic Society whose orchestra was disbanded in 1932. In 1998 the orchestra became the first in Britain to own and run its own record label, known as 'RLPO Live'. This was a company created by the members of the orchestra, using the technical expertise of its own members to create recordings of live performances, with the performers, conductor and soloists being equal shareholders.
Moving along Hope Street towards the Anglican Cathedral, on the opposite side of the road to the Philharmonic Hall is the Hope Street Hotel. The building is made from pale bricks in the 19th-century Venetian Palazzo style, built around 1860. The building was originally the London Carriage Works, which is now the name of the hotel’s restaurant. A great place for celeb-spotting especially on the Saturday mornings before a Liverpool Football Club home game.
Just outside the Hope Street Hotel, near to the junction of Hope Street and Hope Place is the sculptor Stephen Broadbent’s Sheppard-Worlock Statue. The statue was commissioned in 2005 by The Liverpool Echo Newspaper and paid for by the people of Liverpool, to mark the life and work of Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock. The aim of the statue was to create a lasting memorial to the work of the two religious leaders whose presence towered over Liverpool during the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s.
Despite coming from two different churches in a city which, over the years, has seen deep religious divisions, Bishop David and Archbishop Derek together, and working with other religious leaders, were a uniting force. These two 15ft bronze “doors” decorated with symbols and newspaper headlines from the two men’s lives and ministry. Through the open doors, the viewer can see both cathedrals signifying the unity the churchmen, affectionately dubbed “fish and chips” as they were always together and never out of the newspapers. The two clergymen supported the social struggle of the city during the late 1970s and early 80’s, endorsing many peaceful demonstrations, particularly the 1981 People’s March for Jobs which started in Liverpool at the Pier Head when 500 unemployed people marched 280 miles to London. This was preceded by an ecumenical service in Liverpool's parish church. A joint statement in support of the march was issued by the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock, and leading members of the Methodists, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union and the Salvation Army.
If we continue along Hope Street, crossing over Hope Place, we come to Liverpool Hahnemann Hospital and Dispensaries. A red brick building, built-in 1887 in the Queen Anne revival style. It is no longer a hospital but now student accommodation. It was designed as an ornate advert for the fashionable homoeopathy medical practice of the day. It was purpose-built and generously equipped and donated to the city by Henry Tate, head of the sugar refining firm and founder of the Tate Gallery. Although an advocate, Tate decreed that the hospital should not be restricted to homoeopathy, but should also include facilities for surgery, gynaecology etc… ‘the great medical truths of today’. It was the first hospital in the United Kingdom to contain early hydraulic lifts and an innovative heating and ventilation system. It closed as a hospital in 1975. Samuel Hahnemann was a German physician, known as the creator of homoeopathy.
Across the other side of Hope Street, facing the Hahnemann Hospital is Falkner Street. A wide street affording views into Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter
Remember the question at the start? The Hollywood film was “Sherlock” & if you look at the tram lines, gas street lights and Georgian architecture you can see why it doubled as Baker Street.
Falkner street is named after Edward Falkner, who also built Falkner Square (above)
Falkner was a soldier and Sheriff of Lancashire who, in one hour, raised an army of 1000 Liverpool men to defend against a threatened French invasion in 1797
62 Falkner Street featured in the BBC’s television documentary “A House Through Time”. Presented by David Olusoga, it traced the social history of the house from Liverpool’s merchant princes, through depression to the city’s revival. Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles pop group, who owned the ground floor flat at No 36 and let John Lennon and then-wife Cynthia Lennon use it during the first few months of their marriage and through her pregnancy in 1962 and 1963.
Continuing along Hope Street, on the same side of the street as the Hahnemann Hospital, we pass a small road on our right called Rice Street. In this very small street is a very small pub, “ye Cracke”. Despite the name, Ye Cracke is, in fact, a 19th-century pub. The "War Office" is a small room in the pub, which is the oldest part of the pub and was once used to discuss parts of the Boer War. A collection of about 20 drawings of local buildings are displayed on the wall, all dating from the late 1960s. It has historical connections with the Beatles because it was frequented by John Lennon and his girlfriend Cynthia when they were at art school, as well as the “Dissenters”, to whom a plaque hangs in the bar. Doctors Thomas Cecil Gray and John Halton conceived the techniques described in their 1946 book A Milestone in Anaesthesia while drinking in Ye Cracke, the mind boggles!
Inside Ye Cracke is a plaque for “the Dissenters”, which reads, This plaque commemorates John Lennon's 'other band' (which never played a note) The Dissenters writer Bill Harry (1939-) musician John Lennon (1940-80) artist Stuart Sutcliffe (1941-62) artist Rod Murray (1937-) In June 1960 these 4 art students attended a poetry reading by Royston Ellis (The 'Paperback Writer' in Paul McCartney's song 1966); Ellis's work was heavily influenced by Allen Ginsberg and other Americans. Afterwards, the 4 came here to discuss what they'd heard. They were unimpressed and decided to put Liverpool 'on the map' each in their own way as 'The Dissenters'; The rest is...
My own memory of Ye Cracke from school and college days is that it was much smaller and the toilets were outside, across the yard. The gents’ toilet was renowned for witty graffiti such as “As I slide down the bannister of life I will remember Liverpool School of Art as the splinters in my arse”. The toilets were whitewashed frequently but that only encouraged further graffiti such as, “Long Longford is up the pole!”. Followed a few days later by “A letter of protest from the Polish Embassy”.
We walk back up Rice Street towards Hope Street and on the opposite side of Hope Street is Blackburne House, a large two-story brick building with a domical roof. Blackburne House was built in 1788 for John Blackburne, at a time when this was in the countryside outside Liverpool. Blackburne originally came from Warrington. He was a wealthy salt refiner and a supporter of the slave trade. In 1760 he had been Lord Mayor of Liverpool. In 1844 the house was bought from the Blackburne family by George Holt. Holt was a cotton broker and merchant, and an abolitionist. He was also a supporter of women's rights, and on 5 August 1844, he opened the house as Blackburne House Girls' School, the UK’s first girls’ high school. It now houses a charity that supports women’s education.
John Blackburne owned the salt refinery at the side of Liverpool’s South or Number Two Dock. This refinery caused the dock to be better known as the Salthouse Dock. The difference between John Blackburne and George Holt could not be more contrasting; John Blackburne was a slave trader and George Holt and abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights. The Holt family have a long history of supporting women’s rights and their shipping line, The Blue Funnel, was the first to employ a female engineer, Victoria Drummond, in 1922.
At the junction of Hope Street and Mount Street is the interesting sculpture "A Case History" by John King, 1998. Various items of luggage, cast in concrete, are stacked on the pavement – the labels on the suitcases refer to notable individuals and institutions linked with the local area. There is a sign detailing which case belongs to who but it is always fun to try and find your favourites for yourself. See if you can find each of The Beatles cases!
If we look down Mount Street, on the left-hand side, we can see the Liverpool Institute, boys school. A sandstone building with columns. This school was founded in 1825. The Institute was first known as the Liverpool Mechanics' School of Arts. In 1832 the name was shortened to the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution. The most famous ex-pupils are Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
Its initial primary purpose was a Mechanics' Institute (one of many established about this time throughout the country) to provide educational opportunities, mainly through evening classes, for working men. Lectures for the general public were also provided of wide interest covering topics ranging from Arctic exploration to Shakespeare and philosophy. Luminaries like Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope and Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered talks and readings in the main lecture hall. There are many famous “old boys” (called Liobians). Some are recognisable from music and show business, such as Neil Aspinall, 1954–1959: Beatles' road manager, MD of Apple Corp; Len Garry, 1954–1959: a member of The Quarrymen; Les Chadwick, 1954–1959: a member of Gerry & The Pacemakers; Mike McCartney, 1955–1961: musician Mike McGear in The Scaffold; Ivan Vaughan, a classics sixth-former, 1953 to 1960, who introduced Paul McCartney to John Lennon.
Other notable Liobians are Arthur Askey, comedian; Bill Kenwright, impresario; Peter Sissons, newscaster and a hero of the Hillsborough Independent Panel; and Doug Johnson, spear-carrier.
On the corner of Mount Street and Hope Street is Liverpool College of Art, a sandstone building in classical style. Some of the most famous ex-students are John Lennon; Cynthia Powell, John Lennon’s wife; and Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon’s friend and the Beatles’ original bass guitarist.
The College of Art building was extended towards Upper Duke Street, first in 1910 and again in 1961. Other ex-students include the art-rock/new wave band “Deaf School”; Bill Harry, creator of the “Mersey Beat” newspaper in the 1960s and as the Central Liverpool College, Doug Johnson, lithographer and printer of many pages.
Both the Liverpool Institute Building and the College of Art Building are now repurposed and are part of the “Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts” also known as LIPA. LIPA was founded by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty. McCartney had known since 1985 that the building which had housed his old school — the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys – was becoming increasingly derelict after the school's closure, and wished to find a productive use for it; Featherstone-Witty had set up the Brit School in London and was looking for an opportunity to open another school. Featherstone-Witty had been inspired by Alan Parker's 1980 film Fame, to think about what the best possible training would have been for work in the arts and entertainment industry. The film led him to conclude that performing artists needed to train in all three performing arts (acting, dance and music) at the same time. He also took into account that performers form only a part of the arts and entertainment business. From these basic concepts, he created a blueprint for a new type of training and began consulting with others in the industry. By 1985 he had support from just under 50 artists, directors, choreographers and entrepreneurs. Record producer George Martin knew that Featherstone-Witty was looking for somewhere to develop a school and that McCartney was looking for someone who could save the building, and introduced them to each other. The process of setting up the facility and the school took seven years and cost £20m. LIPA was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 7 June 1996.
We will cross over Upper Duke Street, ignoring the “unmissable” Cathedral to view St James’ Cemetery. The cemetery began life as a quarry called Quarry Mount whose sandstone was used in the building of the dock walls and town hall. It was renamed St James’ Mount in 1775 after the building of the self-same named church in Parliament Street. By 1825 there was no stone left and the council employed architect John Foster to design a cemetery based on the Pere-la-Chaise in Paris. The most famous “resident” of the cemetery is William Huskisson, the first railway accident fatality. MP for Liverpool he died during the Rainhill trials of 1829 at Parkside Station, where he fell beneath a train. Burials continued in the cemetery until July 1936, when, after 57,774 burials, the cemetery was considered full.
We move downhill, towards the junction of Upper Duke Street and Pilgrim Street. Facing this junction is the Oratory. Built-in the style of Greek Revival architecture, this windowless building accommodated funeral services before burials took place in the St James’ Cemetery.
We started our walk at Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, designed by an Anglican, Sir Frederick Gibberd. We end our walk at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral or to give it its full name, Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool, designed by a Roman Catholic, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It is hard to miss this red sandstone building; its tower stands 331 feet above the street.
J. C. Ryle was Liverpool’s first Anglican Bishop, but a bishop without a cathedral. In 1885, an Act of Parliament permitted the building of a cathedral in St John’s Gardens, next to St George’s Hall, but the site was unsuitable and the scheme was abandoned. In 1900, Liverpool’s second Anglican Bishop, Francis Chavasse, revised the idea and a competition for the design was instigated. In 1903, the assessors of the competition recommended a proposal submitted by the 22-year-old Giles Gilbert Scott, who was still an articled pupil working in Temple Moore's practice and had no existing buildings to his credit. He told the assessors that so far, his only major work had been to design a pipe-rack. The choice of winner was even more contentious with the Cathedral Committee when it was discovered that Scott was a Roman Catholic, but the decision stood. Work on the Cathedral started in 1904 and was completed in 1978. Giles Gilbert Scott is also famous for designing the G.P.O. K6 red telephone box.
This building holds many records. It is the biggest church or place of worship in the UK. In terms of internal volume, it is the 5th biggest church or place of worship in the world.
The Cathedral organ, built by Henry Willis & Sons has 10.298 organ pipes and, is the largest pipe organ in the UK, and one of the largest musical instruments in the world.
At 67 m (220 ft) above floor level, the bells of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral are the highest and heaviest ringing peal in the world. Each bell has its own name! The bourdon bell "Great George" at 14.5 long tons (14.7 tonnes) is the third most massive bell in the British Isles. (Only the 16.5 long tons (16.8 tonnes) "Great Paul" of St Paul's Cathedral in London, and the 2012 Olympic Bell (22.91 tonnes) are heavier.) However, as the ringing mechanism of "Great Paul" is currently broken (and has been for several years), and the Olympic bell is never rung, Great George is currently the largest ringing bell in the British Isles.
The bell tower is the largest, and also one of the tallest, in the world.
Liverpool Cathedral also features on a page of the latest design of the British passport.
So that concludes our walk along Hope Street, from the cathedral to Cathedral and a few pubs in between. Are your feet tired?
If you want to book a private guided tour of Liverpool or a multi-day tour of the North West of England please speak to Neil or Claire at https://www.brillianttours.com/tour-locations/liverpool