Aerial view 1930s
Great George Street 1976: showing The Clock public house and Henry Willis’s organ works
Great George Street 1976: showing Rushworth & Dreaper’s organ works and the David Lewis Centre
Looking at the aerial photograph, it is hard to believe that so little of the area has survived (with the obvious exception of the Cathedral). Most of the architecture is not particularly distinguished, apart from the Jacobean-style David Lewis Hotel (as it was known then). I have touched on this street before but have revisited some of my colour transparencies from the 1970s and they struck a chord: almost literally because the photographs show two great Liverpool companies in their death throes. One of the city’s less well-known industries was organ building and the organ works of both Henry Willis and Rushworth & Dreapers have been captured before demolition. For those with long memories, the pub on the left in the second photograph is The Clock.
It is easy to point the finger at planners and politicians, but the removal of this mix of Georgian and Victorian houses, shops and institutions happened at the nadir of Liverpool’s fortunes. The ring road, later to be aborted, blighted whole chunks of the city and the clearances went ahead anyway. The result is a soulless stretch of road from the Park Road/Parliament Street junction to Duke Street. The recent renovation of The Florence Institute in Mill Street only emphasises what was lost when the architecturally superior David Lewis building was demolished (along with Doctor Duncan’s original South Dispensary at the foot of Upper Parliament Street.