Project Spotlight – Introducing St George’s Hall, Liverpool

Work recently commenced on a site we have conserved previously, located on Liverpool’s famous “Lime Street” – St Georges Hall provides a magnificent welcome to visitors, a neoclassical style building containing concert halls and even law courts. It is recognised as one of the buildings part of Liverpool’s World Heritage site’s (which compromises of six locations within the city centre; the Pier Head, the Albert Dock, the Stanley Dock conservation area, Duke Street conservation area, Castle Street conservation area, William Brown Street conservation area.)

Host to a collection of events and conferences throughout the year, St George’s Hall is a building of beauty and grace – even offering the public the opportunity to tie the knot here!

History of St George’s Hall:

In 1836, a public meeting took place which included the townspeople of Liverpool, they deliberated that they enjoyed music and festivals, but that there was no suitable venue to accommodate them!

Following from this meeting, a company was formed to raise subscriptions for a hall in Liverpool to be used for festivals, meetings, dinners and concerts. Shares were made available at £25 each, and by January 1837 they had raised £23,350!

Setting out to find the perfect design for the hall, a competition was hosted in 1839. The winner was 25 year old Harvey Lonsdale Elmes – a London Architect.

Construction officially began in 1842 and the building was officially opened to the public in 1854. Unfortunately, H.L. Elmes passed away in November of 1847 before seeing his design brought to life. However, his work was continued by John Weightman (Corporation Surveyor) Robert Rawlinson (Structural Engineer) and Charles Cockerell (Architect).

The building itself is Grade I listed, it received this status in 1952, just as Queen Elizabeth II took to the throne.

With it’s impressive chandeliers, huge bronze doors and marbled walls adorned with statues and stained glass windows, the Great Hall simply oozes magnificence and can boast a number of firsts:

  • It was the first commercially air-conditioned building when it was built.
  • It did have the largest barrel vaulted ceiling in Britain (see the spectacular drawing below)
st georges hall
Drawing of the barrel vaulted ceiling at St George’s Hall.

It has been a spontaneous gathering place for the people of Liverpool in times of celebration, vigils and commemorations; important moments through time have happened here:

  • Moments following deaths of Beatle’s legends John Lennon and George Harrison.
  • Homecomings of both Everton & Liverpool F.C after cup final victories.
  • The people’s opening of our European Capital of Culture in 2008, where Ringo Starr played from the roof of the building to over 50,000 people.
Ringo Starr plays on top of St George’s Hall roof, 2008. Image credit – http://walktheplank.co.uk

St George’s Hall Facts:

Constructed from: Darley Dale Sandstone from the North of England.

Dimensions: Small concert room is 72ft x 77ft and can hold 1,200 people. The Great Hall is 169ft x 74ft.

The Organ: was the biggest in the UK until a larger one was built in the Royal Albert Hall in 1871. It has a total of 7,737 pipes.

The Willis Organ, it is the 3rd largest in the UK. Influenced organ design across the world when it was built by Henry Willis in 1855. Image credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancookson/3222394849

Arch in Hall: Behind the gold leaf and porticoes, the hall has one of the greatest brick arches in the world.

The Floor: Over 30,000 Minton Mosaic tiles comprise the outstanding floor feature. It is protected year-round and only uncovered for very special occasions. The surface represents the city’s coat of arms, sea nymphs, dolphins and tritons. This floor has only been uncovered 8 times since the hall was reopened in 2007.

Minton: was a major company in Staffordshire pottery, “Europe’s leading ceramic factory during the Victorian era” an independent business from 1793 to 1968. It was a leader in ceramic design, working in a number of different ceramic bodies, decorative techniques, and “a glorious pot-pourri of styles – Rococo shapes with Oriental motifs, Classical shapes with Medieval designs and Art Nouveau borders were among the many wonderful concoctions.” As well as pottery vessels and sculptures, the firm was a leading manufacturer of tiles and other architectural ceramics.

30,000 mosaic tiles create this iconic floor. Image credit – https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk
Image credit – https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk

The Chandelier: Manufactured by F&C Osler in Birmingham in 1856 (162 years old!) Weighing 750kg (that’s 14 of me) and consisting of 2,824 individual pieces, situated in the Concert Room. It was thought to have ‘suffered severe’ damage over the years and was therefore restored by Wilkinson’s in 2005 – which took over 1 year!

2,824 individual crystal pieces have been brought together to create this outstanding chandelier. Image credit – https://www.reddit.com/r/Liverpool/comments/9610hr

The form: approximates to a Classical temple of the Corinthian order, raised on a platform and approached by flights of steps, but the ensemble is planned as a series of aligned compartments, clothed with four different porticos, the blind hamper of the central hall rising over the continuous entablature.

The five orders of classical Arcitecture. Image credit – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_order

Historical Note: The Hall was the scene of an imaginative protest by the local branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the militant suffrage group formed by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. The Union adopted a policy of direct action towards the Liberal government, interrupting political meetings and pursuing prominent politicians at public events. Liberal meetings became tightly controlled with entry only by ticket, and at some, women were excluded altogether. In May 1909 Earl Crewe and Augustine Birrell MP were awarded honorary degrees by the University of Liverpool in a ceremony at St George’s Hall. Mary Phillips, the local WSPU organiser, managed to get into the Hall the night before and hid in the organ loft and under the stage. After twenty-four hours without sleep she interrupted Birrell’s speech to protest against the imprisonment of local suffragette Patricia Woodlock. It was several minutes before she was found and removed from the Hall. St George’s Plateau, outside of the Hall, was used for large local demonstrations. In 1908 the local Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage (one of the earliest provincial branches of this organisation) arranged a large demonstration with platforms for militant and constitutional suffrage societies.

St.Georges Hall, Liverpool
Image credit – https://wmf.org.uk

Truly deserving of the title as one of the greatest buildings of its era in Europe, we are extremely excited to be carrying out restoration works in this town landmark. More updates to follow on the types of repairs being carried out and how we are achieving results.

Thank you to the official website in place for St George’s Hall for the information shared about this site, also Historic England for helping us get our facts right and as always to those individuals who endeavor to keep Wikipedia up to date.

Whats on at St George’s Hall this month?

January 2019
12 Guided tours at St George’s Hall
31 Winter Ales Festival
February 2019
9 The Alice Experience
24 Six Strings, Five Birds and a Symphony
28 Lord Mayor’s Gala Concert

Whats on in the industry?

January 2019
28-31 Specifying Conservation Works
West Dean College, West Sussex
29-30 Rubble Wall Building
Merryhill Training Centre, Fife
February 2019
1 Timber Frame Repairs
Cressing Temple Barns, Essex
1-3 Chapel Royal in England: Arechitecture, Music and Worship
Rewley House, Oxford
2 Day Rendering with Lime
Merryhill Training Centre, Fife
4-7 Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork
West Dean College, West Sussex
5-6 Making and Using Traditional Mortars – C1 Contractor Level 1
Merryhill Training Centre, Fife
5 Housekeeping and Dust
West Dean College, West Sussex
5 Exploring the History, Art and Conservation of Leighton House
Kensington, London
6-7 Understanding Building Conservation
CIOB, London
8-9 Understanding British Buildings
Birmingham City University
9 Sash and Case Window Repairs
Merryhill Training Centre, Fife
12 Historic Cements and Concrete
The Engine Shed, Forthside Way, Stirling
15-16 Disaster Management and Heritage
Birmingham City University
18-22 Intensive Training Assessment and Accreditation in Construction Masonry
Merryhill Training Centre, Fife
18 Conservation of Timberwork
The Engine Shed, Forthside Way, Stirling
19-20 Understanding Building Conservation
21 Conserving, Repairing and Maintaining Traditional Windows
Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire
22 Lime Pointing Training Day
Bodmin, Cornwall
25 Secret Spaces: Medieval Sacristies, Vestries, Treasure Rooms and their Contents
Society of Antiquaries apartments, Burlington House, London

Thank you to Building Conservation for sharing these key dates in the industry with us.

The services we provide for you at

aura conservation


Roof Tiling, Steeplejacks and Lightning Protection, Roof Drainage, Lead Protection, Roof Features.


Stone, Brick, Cast Stone, Terracotta, Sculpture, Statuary, Bronze Statuary.


Painting & Decorating, Plasterwork, Tiling, Timber Flooring.

Services & Treatment

Protection and Remedial Treatment, Paint Finishes, Mortars & Renders, Pointing, Paint Removal, Masonry Cleaning, Structural Repairs, Epoxy Resin Repairs.

Metal, Wood & Glass

Fine Joinery, Wood Carving, Windows and Doors, Secondary Glazing, Metalwork.

Incorporated in 2006, Aura Conservation have existed for over twelve successful years. We have a sound and experienced management team. We can assist you in any of your conservation needs and have a body of long standing and experienced tradesmen we can call on with specialist knowledge of the conservation world. Along with prudent financial management, we have a sound financial foundation that will see us prosper in the coming years.

You can contact us at:

Dunham House, 181 Wellington Road North, Stockport, Cheshire, SK4 2PB.

Tel: 0161 442 9850 / Fax: 0161 432 8478

Email  enquiries@auraltd.co.uk
Web    www.auraltd.co.uk



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