Monday, 8 July 2013

Liverpool - St. George´s Hall

In the Victorian period Liverpool grew quickly. New buildings helped to show the world how wealthy the city, an important world port, had become.

New places of entertainment were in demand. A competition for the design of a magnificient new musical venue was won by a young architect from London, Harvey Lonsdale Elmes.

Harvey Lonsdale Elmes
The original foundation stone was laid in 1838, a long time before work on the Hall began. However, no one knows where the stone now lies.
The works on the hall took place from 1841-1854 and the building was erected in sandstone.
Originally they were to be two seperate buildings but this plan was revised, and the court and hall were combined to form one large neoclassical building.
St. George´s Hall has the world´s first air-conditioning system, and was a scientific achievement.
The inventor of the system was Dr. David Boswell Reid. In his system, fresh air was drawn in and washed to remove any pollutants. The air was then warmed or cooled, depending on the temperatur required. A labyrinth of flaps, doors, shafts and grilles controlled its passage round the building. Giant fans helped to push the air around. Foul air was drawn away through the roof.

The Concert Hall is the largest area, rectangular in shape, and occupies the centre of the building with an organ on its north wall.
The huge barrel-vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall posed a challenge to the engineers. The question was how to construct an archway with such a weight of masonry. Robert Rawlinson, who worked together with Elmes came up with the idea of using hollow bricks. This made the roof 400 tons lighter and the supporting walls could be made much thinner.

The organ was built by Henry Willis and completed in 1855.

To the south of the Concert Hall are the Crown Court and the Grand Jury Room.

The floor below consists of a cavernous basement with cells for prisoners along the west wall.
Crime was a major problem in the Victorian City. Populations grew very quickly and many people ended up living in slum housing. In this period new prisons were built and police forces established.
In this period prisoners were brought to St. George´s Hall by police vans called Black Marias. They had different compartments inside to keep the prisoners seperate.

Many prisoners waited long months in prison before being brought to trial in St George´s Hall. Tired, hungry and afraid they arrived and were first taken upstairs to register. Downstairs they met the warder and were taken to the cells to await being called up to the dock.
These are the words every prisoner dreaded:
"The sentence of the court upon you is, that you be taken from this place to a lawful prison and thence to a place of execution and that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead; and that your body be afterwards buried within the precincts of the prison in which you shall be confined before your execution. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul. Amen."

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