3.12.11

St. George's Hall

Saturday, 21 October 1871 - Liverpool, England

St. George's Hall
Door plaque of Mercury,
Roman god of commerce
The most impressive structure in Liverpool is St. George’s Hall. It is possibly the finest neo-classical buildings in the world and one of the greatest buildings of the Victorian Age. It looks like a Greek temple. Perhaps it is a temple--to the God of Commerce who has smiled upon Liverpool. The city certainly used this edifice all to show off their wealth.

As impressive as St. George’s looks on the outside, the inside is breathtaking. There are mosaics on the walls, ceilings and floors. Sculptures in marble and bronze are everywhere. And all this for a meeting hall.

Liverpool had a music festival every three years, but no hall large enough to accommodate it. So in 1836 a group of civic minded citizens got together to raise money and draw up plans for a building to be used not only for the festivals but for meetings, dinners and concerts. They also decided to show the world how prosperous Liverpool had become. Construction started in 1841 and the hall was opened in 1854.

The Great Hall
The great hall is 169 feet long by 76 feet wide and 87 feet high. The floor holds 1400 spectators, while the galleries hold 600. Around the hall in niches are statues of local heroes: George Stephenson, who built the first railway; Sir William Brown, the banker who paid for the Brown Free Library and Museum; Joseph Mayer, the goldsmith that filled said museum; Rev. Hugh McNeile; Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby; Rev. Archdeacon Brooks, the late rector of Liverpool; Sir Robert Peel, former Prime Minister; and William Ewart Gladstone, the current Prime Minister. There will be more statues added in time, but those are the gentlemen that are here now.

Among all this opulence is St. George’s greatest attraction--their giant organ. It was built by Henry Willis, the greatest organ builder of the Victorian Era. The organ has 7,737 pipes ranging from one-half inch to thirty-two feet. The wind is supplied by a steam engine. The sound is amazing. It is the largest organ in Britain--well, it was until Albert Hall got a larger one just this year. (Not to worry. In 1910 Liverpool will beat London again when the Anglican Cathedral will have the largest organ in Britain.)

St. George's Hall's organ
W.T. Best gives organ concerts in the Great Hall every Thursday at 8:00 pm and Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm. The admission is 6d. You can rent the hall for thirty-one pounds, ten shillings. The smaller concert room (which is 75 feet square) can be had for sixteen pounds. That is a lot of money in 1871, so there aren’t many performances here.

St. George's Hall is open free to the public to come an admire, or to show off to visiting relatives. This after all belongs to the citizens of Liverpool.

ceiling in the Great Hall

floor

exterior

Listen to Ian Tracey play the Great Organ of St. George's Hall

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