Over­looked Bri­tain Lucinda Lambton

The Oldie - - CONTENTS - lucinda lambton

With Liver­pool’s mod­ernist Catholic cathe­dral rear­ing up at the end of Hope Street, our ar­chi­tec­tural sen­si­bil­i­ties are sharp­ened; although, it must be said, not al­to­gether plea­sur­ably.

De­signed by Fred­er­ick Gib­berd in 1974 – he who was re­spon­si­ble for Did­cot Power Sta­tion in 1964, as well as the Re­gent’s Park Mosque in 1977 – we have reverie aplenty.

Our goal, though, is quite a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish. On the cor­ner of Hard­man Street, we come upon a great, ex­u­ber­ant, free-style pub­lic house: the pleas­ingly named Phil­har­monic Din­ing Rooms of 1898. It is three storeys high and ten bays long, with great stepped gables and ogee domes. Two oriel win­dows jut forth on high, along with balustrades and bal­conies, with a wealth of low-re­lief

sculp­ture march­ing around the stone façade. Above the door, stone mu­si­cians ply their craft, sa­lut­ing the Phil­har­monic Hall that stands di­ag­o­nally across the road. Orig­i­nally built in the 1840s, this was re­built in the Stream­line Moderne style in the 1930s. HURRAY for the ar­chi­tec­tural mélange of Hope Street.

It is the Phil­har­monic gates, though – the beau­ti­ful, in­tri­cate and orig­i­nal-fortheir-day gates – that give the first real clue as to the ex­tent of the won­ders that are to be found in­side the ‘Phil’, as the pub is known lo­cally.

It is renowned for be­ing one of the finest ex­am­ples of the art-nou­veau style in the Bri­tish Isles; no small claim! It was all de­signed by crafts­men from the School of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Ap­plied Arts at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege (now the Uni­ver­sity

of Liver­pool), su­per­vised by Paul Neil and Arthur Strat­ton.

Charles Allen cre­ated the ter­rific plas­ter­work. Would any heart not quicken at the sight of gi­ant gilded ar­ti­chokes, flank­ing scant­ily clad art-nou­veau women, sweep­ing around be­neath the sa­lon ceil­ing? H Blom­field Bare was re­spon­si­ble for the gates, and the ar­chi­tect over­all was Wal­ter W Thomas.

In­side, the scene be­fore you is barely be­liev­able. So great is the glit­ter of ma­hogany and mo­saics of ev­ery hue; of stained glass and cut glass, of cop­per and of brass, that you feel as­saulted by the ex­tent of dec­o­ra­tion. A vast horse­shoe bar, em­bla­zoned with mo­saics of ev­ery hue, rules over the room. Bands of cop­per, with re­poussé, wil­lowy women play­ing mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, glint forth.

The Phil­har­monic Din­ing Rooms’ glo­ri­ously or­nate uri­nals (above), mo­saic-tiled bar (right) and gates (below right)

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