Outside, Liverpool Town Hall’s grand columns and pediments may be mottled with the botched-up cleaning jobs down the ages, but this indomitable building still impresses: and is one of England’s oldest, and grandest town halls.
After a few false starts, the city’s authorities enlisted Bath architect John Wood to design the present building, in 1748 – and the building was completed six years later.
Following a fire in 1795, London architect, James Wyatt rebuilt and expanded the building – which has, at least externally, changed little in the following years.
Due to the shifting geography of the city, the nine-bayed south face now pushes precariously into the traffic of Dale, Water and Castle Streets, whereas once its facade would have been flush with the coaches plying the main route from the docks out of the city and on to the markets of Manchester and London.
Perched atop Liverpool Town Hall’s dome sits a statue of Minerva – the Roman goddess of commerce, wisdom and poetry (attributes the city likes to think runs through our DNA like veins through marble) – while the carvings in the stonework at street level pick out elements of Liverpool’s foreign trade – all exotic fruit, and curious flora and fauna.
Inside, the grand suite of reception rooms contain a huge, mirror-lined ballroom with three of the finest Georgian chandeliers in Europe – each with 20,000 pieces of cut glass crystal, a regal dining room with its Corinthian Pilasters described by Pevsner as ‘the most sumptuous in the country’, the cramped and atmospheric council debating chambers and vivid murals depicting Liverpool’s maritime history.
Tours by arrangement are well worth seeking out – and free to boot.
Liverpool Town HallTown Hall,