Historic warehouse must be torn down
Dec 1 2007 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Daily Post
ONE of Liverpool’s most historic warehouses is to be demolished after being declared unsafe.
Jamaica House, a white rendered building on the corner of Dale Street and Vernon Street, is likely to be knocked down in the next few days after its condition deteriorated to a dangerous extent.
Liverpool council says it has made several attempts to save the building, but its owners claim bureaucracy has made it impossible for them to carry out any work.
A Dangerous Structures Notice under the Building Act was served on the current owners, Mr and Mrs Colin Walker, of Ormskirk, and Paul Harrison, of St Helens, who acquired the building in 2004.
Built around 1800 as a warehouse for wines and spirits at the time of a road widening scheme for Dale Street, it is one of only a handful of surviving Georgian buildings on the street. It is also one of the earliest surviving purpose-built warehouses in the city.
By 1845, it had become the premises for German clock and watch makers Selb and Morath, later becoming Morath Brothers Jewellers, who continued to occupy the building into the 1950s.
The building was included in the council’s heritage grant programme, but a possible offer of grant funding for repairs was not taken up.
During the past month, urgent works powers by the council were abandoned after conservation engineers from English Heritage and the council concluded the building had become too unsafe to work in and too unstable to prop up.
Cllr Berni Turner, executive member environment and heritage, said: “This is a very disappointing outcome for this building, and one which we made every effort to avoid.
“We wanted to preserve this building, but the responsibility for its condition rested with its owners, who steadfastly refused to maintain it to the standards it deserved, and allowed it to deteriorate to the point were it was not safe.
“A piece of Liverpool’s heritage is going because of the failure of owners to face up to their responsibilities.
“It also highlights the fact that councils should be given greater powers and more resources to intervene in cases of significant buildings which are not listed but are at risk.”
However, co-owner Colin Walker claims they have made every effort to try and save the building. He said: “We bought the building because we were told we could get grant funding. However, the way it is allocated means the value of the finished building would be £200,000 less than we had spent on it – this is just not viable.
“We have tried to sort out the issues and have been negotiating since we bought the building, but to no avail.
“We could still be out of pocket, but do own the freehold, so may build a new sympathetic structure, in keeping with the conservation area.”