Old Post Office Place 1913
Hale Street 1913
I have been asked many times which were the most important buildings that Liverpool has lost over its relatively short life (little more than 300 years since it began its transformation from small market town to a world city. Only the Bluecoat Chambers of 1717-25 and the Town Hall -which was substantially reconstructed in 1807 – remain of its eighteenth century key buildings). Of course there is quite a list of buildings: the early city centre churches, the Custom House and the Sailors’ Home among the most important losses. However, it is not the individual buildings that I think were the biggest casualties but the overall townscape, such as the network of streets around St John’s Market and Queen Square and the old ‘sailors’ town around Canning Place, Wapping and Mann Island. These areas represented the early, haphazard port of the mid-nineteenth century, a maze of small streets and alleys off the main streets, housing hundreds of small businesses of a multitude of trades.
Old Post Office Place was one of these ‘lost’ streets. Its starting point is still there – the Old Post Office pub on School Lane – but its existence was wiped out after wartime bombing levelled the area. The site was purchased by Littlewoods for its post-War site and Post Office Place was absorbed into the new Church Street. In the photograph, the building at the end of the street is Bon Marché (later taken over by George Henry Lee – now John Lewis). The clock advertises Oldfields, diamond merchants and jewellers.
Hale Street is another street that has vanished under post-War development. It was a narrow alley connecting Dale Street with Tithebarn Street (it was between Moorfields and Vernon Street). Fortunately, other alleyways such as Hackins Hey, Hockenhall Alley and Eberle Street have survived and give character to the city’s commercial centre. The building at the top of Hale Street is Exchange Station but I do not know which factory the chimney belonged to.