Architect Robert Chambers led the work
St George's Hall
By Paul Coslett
Discover the splendour of the newly refurbished St George's Hall including the magnificent Small Concert Room.
The re-opening of the neo-classical St George's Hall is one of the highlights of Liverpool's 800th birthday year.
The hall has undergone a £23m five year programme of repairs and restoration. A new Heritage Centre will provide visitor access to the hall, with guided tours around the concert rooms, courts and cells of the Grade I listed building.
The Small Concert Room has been restored to it's original grandeur after lying dormant for years and will once again stage performances.
The famous tiled Minton floor has been uncovered for the first time this century. Last seen in 1997 it will be open from 10am to 7.30pm every day until Sunday, 29 April, last admission is an hour before closing at 6.30pm. The floor includes 30,000 hand crafted tiles depicting tritons, sea nymphs and boys on dolphins, as well as the city's coat of arms.
St George's Hall will hold a new coat of arms for Liverpool designed by the internationally acclaimed Singh Twins.
The Minton floor will be on display
The Heritage Centre's entrance will be from St John's Lane at the South Entrance which has remained unused since the hall opened. Tours with hand held digital devices will take in the upgraded courts, judges robing rooms and prison cells as well as the restored 450 seat capacity Small Concert Room.
St George's Hall was home to Liverpool's Crown Court until 1984 and held famous trials including the 'the man from the Pru', the Cameo Murder Case, and the trial of Florence Maybrick, wife of Jack the Ripper suspect James Maybrick.
Since the courts closed in 1984 only the Great Hall has been in regular use.
Designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes and St George's Hall first opened in 1854. Queen Victoria described it as 'worthy of ancient Athens'.
The hall includes the world's first modern air conditioning system and the UK's 3rd largest pipe organ. Charles Dickens gave the world premiere reading of The Christmas Carol at the hall.
Liverpool's Coat of Arms on the floor
Harvey Lonsdale Elmes was a twenty five year old London architect who won a competition to design a concert venue for the city. At the same time Liverpool became an assize town and new courts were required. Elmes won a second competition to design these.
The two projects were then combined and St George's Hall was built on an elevated site close to the newly built Lime Street Station.
Elmes didn't live to see his vision completed, he died in 1847 and Charles Cockerell took over as architect.
The lavish decoration of St George's Hall is testimony to Liverpool's self confidence at the time. The bronze doors of the Great Hall have the letters SPQL, standing for the Senate and the People of Liverpool, an adaptation of the SPQR badge of ancient Rome.
The stained glass windows at the ends of the Great Hall were added in 1883, the south end represents St George slaying the dragon and the north window above the organ has the Arms of Liverpool.
last updated: 28/11/07