Saint George's Hall, Liverpool

The guidebook describes it as the finest neo-classical building in Europe. Designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, St George's Hall was completed in 1854, a celebration of Liverpool's prosperity. Somewhat neglected in the recent past, it has been nicely restored and a visitor centre and exhibition areas have been provided so that, at last, tourists and locals have a chance to have a look round.

As well as its role as an entertainment venue, the building also housed Liverpool's Crown Court, and our tour begins in the cells in the bottom of the building. There is also a glimpse of the complex network of passages which created what has been described as the world's first air conditioning system.

Upstairs to the court room, the venue for many famous trials. The courts here were replaced by a new court building in 1984.

The stunning main hall is available for functions, and tables and chairs were being set up when I was there. Visitors can walk along the balcony on one side of the hall which provides a good view of the decoration, the largest barrel-vaulted ceiling in the UK and the impressive organ. Most of the famous Minton tiled floor remains covered up to protect it.

May 2007

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