A MODEL of the Liverpool cathedral that never was will be unveiled for the first time as the 13-year-long project to complete it comes to an end.
The £500,000 creation - which stands 12ft wide, 17ft long and 12ft high - has been hailed as an architectural breakthrough. It is based on Sir Edwin Lutyens' original design for Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral and is the completion of his first model for the building.
The model will be revealed along with architectural plans for the cathedral at Liverpool's Walker Gallery in an exhibition entitled The Cathedral That Never Was: Lutyens' design for Liverpool.
The plans for the cathedral, the brainchild of Sir Edward, were the most ambitious and extravagant Liverpool had ever seen.Had it gone ahead as he envisaged, the cathedral would have been built from pinkish-brown brick with bands of silver-grey granite and its breathtaking edifice would have have towered over the city.
It would have been crowned with an enormous 510ft dome - twice the height of St Paul's cathedral in London - and be so tall it could easily have housed Big Ben inside the arches of the nave (the main aisle leading to the altar).
It has taken 10 Liverpool craftsmen 13 years to finish the model that was started back in 1932 by a London-based company called Thorpwhich, at the time, was the country's leading model-making firm.
For two years in the 1930s 12 workers crafted the model before the plans were abandoned.
But in 1992 the idea came about for a conservation project to start on the model and, supported by a major grant of £268,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Merseyside craftsmen picked up where Thorp left off.The project has been a labour of love for Chris Moseley who headed the scheme and has seen it through from start to finish.
Mr Moseley, head of models conservation at Liverpool's Conservation Centre, said: "This model is considered to be the greatest architectural model of the 20th Century.
"It is a very important part of art and architectural history.
"But it is also a very important and significant piece of Liverpool's social history in that this was the dream and aspiration of one of the minority communities in the city.
"The Catholic community wanted this cathedral but it was also Lutyens' dream to see it completed as well.
"The interior of Lutyens' model was never finished. So we've done two things - first, we created the interior of the model and second, we carried on the work that had been started on the exterior."If he were alive today I think Lutyens would have been delighted to see the completed model of his plans because it was very much his idea. He wanted the cathedral as much as anyone else."
Mr Moseley added: "It has been a privilege to work on this project and I've worked with some extremely talented Merseyside craftsmen. It's been superb because it is really the last of the great cathedral models." Construction for the full-sized cathedral started in 1933. But only the crypt of the vast building was completed before postwar austerity and a shortage of funds stopped work from continuing.
A world-wide competition was launched in 1960 to find a new proposal and Sir Frederick Gibberd's design was chosen.As a result, the present modernistic concrete of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ The King was opened on the Brownlow Hill Site in 1967.
The completed model of the original cathedral plans will be displayed in an exhibition which starts in the new year.
When displayed, the model will be divided in two so visitors will be able to get the first ever glimpse of what the inside of the cathedral would have looked like.
A spokesman for National Museums Liverpool said: "This is the first opportunity to see the model fully restored with Lutyens' breathtaking interior."
The exhibition hosted by the Walker Art Gallery will run from January 27 to April 22, 2007. source...............