On Lime Street

Given it’s one of Liverpool’s most celebrated streets and the principal ‘gateway’ to the city, Lime Street can often seem an unloved and little celebrated place. So let’s love it and celebrate it.

Off the 86 outside Lewis's, or whatever we're supposed to call it now.

Off the 86 outside Lewis’s, or whatever we’re supposed to call it now.

Opposite the Adelphi.

Opposite the Adelphi.

This version of the grand old hotel is celebrating being 100 years old this year. The place fascinates and repels me in equal measure. It has corridors wider than whole rooms in Liverpool’s more modern hotels and standards of service so legendary they’ve been the subject of almost celebratory TV shows. Liverpool somehow wouldn’t be quite Liverpool without it.

The Big House, or 'The Vines' as it's officially known.

The Big House, or ‘The Vines’ as it’s officially known.

Haven’t been in there for a few years but at least it’s still going. Unlike The Futurist.

This rather grand cinema closed in 1982 and I don't think it's been used for anything ever since.

This rather grand cinema closed in 1982 and I don’t think it’s been used for anything ever since.

But the facade is so loved it even has its own Twitter account.

But the facade is so loved it even has its own Twitter account and blog.

SevenStreets article about it all here.

SevenStreets article about it all here.

Next along is McHale's.

Next along is McHale’s.

Our own little piece of New York, apparently.

Our own little piece of New York, apparently. Never been in.

Followed by more dereliction then, in Lime Street’s way, something rather grand.

The Crown.

The Crown.

I have been in here, and elegant it is too.

I have been in here, and elegant it is too.

Then ‘The Street’ as no one calls it, opens out. (Yes it does have another side up to this point, but it’s so characterless there’s no point me showing it to you.)

Lime Street Station.

Lime Street Station.

Exquisitely beautiful now the crappy little row of 60s shop units have been cleared away from its frontage.

But the crap’s not over yet.

Facing the station is this. The world's biggest and ugliest TV screen.

Facing the station is this. The world’s biggest and ugliest TV screen.

Doing its best to assure all new arrivals leaving the Station that they've arrived somewhere awful.

Doing its best to assure all new arrivals leaving the Station that they’ve come to somewhere awful.

When they obviously haven’t. That’s St George’s Hall looking on contemptuously there. We’ll be back to that in a minute.

After a look at the splendidly gothic Lime Street Hotel. These days, yes you've guessed, it's mainly student housing.

After a look at the splendidly gothic Lime Street Hotel. These days, yes you’ve guessed, it’s mainly student housing.

Back to St George's.

Back to St George’s.

A massive statement of municipal confidence

A massive statement of municipal confidence and thought to be one of the finest neo-Grecian buildings in the world.

My own opinion is that the inside of the building has never quite found a role for itself in the life of the city. It’s been many things and my own fondest memory is of a young Roxy Music nervously putting on their stage make-up in the corridor outside the small concert room, one evening in 1972. Next time we saw them a few months later they were playing the Empire, opposite. Big time now.

The Empire, as mentioned.

The Empire, as mentioned.

But as a public gathering place the outside of St George’s Hall can’t be bettered. We’ve all come here often. But most memorably for me, on 12th September 2012.

The day these people, the families of the 96, were finally told the truth.

The day these people, the families of the 96, were finally told the truth. We still await justice.

A place of great dignity.

A place of great dignity.

And at the far end of Lime Street?

More splendour. The Walker, showing the early works of David Hockney at the moment.

More splendour. The Walker, showing the early works of David Hockney at the moment.

As you’ll notice, being constantly and carefully cared for by the birds of Lime Street. The current incumbent up there about to leave the top of Wellington’s head, giving way to the new arrival from the right.

Distinct absence of picturesque Victorian urchins around the fountain today.

Distinct absence of picturesque Victorian urchins around the fountain today.

Not so in 1890. Picture from Liverpool City Archives.

Not so in 1890. Picture from Liverpool City Archives.

Then, technically not Lime Street, but this is all Lime Street to me, my destination for today and so many other days.

Our third cathedral. Our new wonder of the world.

Our third cathedral. Our new wonder of the world.

Finding another Owen Hatherley book in 'Urban Design'

Finding another Owen Hatherley book in ‘Urban Design’

Looking up from life.

Looking up from life.

An enormous sense of well-being every time I come in here.

An enormous sense of well-being every time I come in here.

Better not cost us all of our other libraries though.

Better not cost us all of our other libraries though.

Let's go upstairs and outside.

Let’s go upstairs and outside.

For a last look at St George's Hall.

For a last look at St George’s Hall.

Down on Lime Street.

Down on Lime Street.

10 thoughts on “On Lime Street

  1. Jan Hasak

    Wow, what a fabulous photo tour! I liked that Irish-American bar; wonder what it’s like inside? Your library is truly a magnificent piece of architecture; I can see why you want to spend so much time there. Are many people taking pictures inside that wondrous structure? I wonder. Thanks for the stroll down Lime Street.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Jan, good to hear from you. I think pretty much everyone in Liverpool’s got that first picture on their camera or phone. In the door and looking straight up and saying ‘Wow!’

      Reply
  2. robertday154

    The last three times I have been to Liverpool have been to attend conferences at the Adelphi, and I always found it (and the staff) perfectly acceptable (even if the mattresses sometimes resembled strange demonstrations of Einsteinian warped space-time and the decor had seen better days).

    Reply
  3. Barry Ward

    Hi Ronnie,
    When did the ‘Punch & Judy’ café close ? It was a fixture on Lime Street for years, a handy meeting point and always did a good mug of tea and egg ‘n chips. I also remember going to a pub near the Empire, on the corner of Lime Street and London Road, called the Legs of Man……..I presume that’s gone as well ? The other famous meeting point of course was ‘under Lewis’ statue, as immortalised in song. And your readers who’ve never been to Liverpool will possibly have heard a reference to Lime Street in the snatch of ‘Maggie May’ on the ‘Let It Be’ LP.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      I think it’s been a good few years since the café was open, Barry. And the building itself went when the appalling Concourse House was cleared. There is a pub called the Punch & Judy round in Skelhorne Street – but I don’t think cups of tea and egg’n’chips are its big sellers!

      The Legs of Man? Hasn’t actually gone but has been ‘folded in’ to the expanded Empire. So effectively it’s now the theatre’s bar. And long gone are the days when the Empire did one night stands by the likes of Roxy, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Emmylou etc. So I’ve never been.

      And Maggie May? Legendary Liverpool character celebrated, as you say by John on the ‘proper’ Let it be – not the nasty cleaned up version our Paul put out a few years ago.

      One street, many stories!

      Reply
  4. Michael Maloney

    The one building on Lime Street that I’m always curious about whenever I pass it is the one opposite the Futurist next to the old ABC cinema. It doesn’t fit in with the 1960s buildings to the left of it nor does it have the classic art deco styling of the cinema, it seems to be more in line with the Miami art deco style with its vivid yellow, pink and baby blue tiles (though not so vivid these days). I imagine it must have been quite an eye catcher back in its day.

    Reply

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