WCCA Master’s Weekend in Liverpool 14 to 16 October 2016

Over three days in mid-October 28 company members and partners enjoyed a feast of Liverpudlian architecture and hospitality, meticulously planned and hosted by our Master and Mistress, Richard and Nicola Brindley.

After checking in to the impressive Aloft hotel (the former Royal Insurance building) we were given an introduction to the city and the forthcoming RIBA North gallery by the RIBA team and Architects Broadway and Malyan. The new gallery promises to form an architectural hub for the north, promoting architecture and displaying drawings and models from the RIBA collection.

On Saturday we toured the city by bus and on foot under expert local guidance. We marvelled at the quality of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings, which extend far beyond the Three Graces and learned of local architect Herbert Rowse who designed the India Building, the ventilation shafts to the Mersey Tunnel as well as many other significant local landmarks. By way of contrast, we explored the Liverpool One shopping area, masterplanned by BDP and developed by Grosvenor Estates. So successful has this been that it has raised Liverpool into the top five retail destinations in the UK

On Saturday evening we attended gala dinner in the Lutyens Crypt, beneath Gibberd’s Metropolitan Cathedral, a unique combination of good food, wine and architecture, with an opportunity to meet a cross section of local architects in convivial circumstances.

Sunday dawned grey and wet but quite miraculously it cleared as we arrived to view Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, 100 cast iron figures dotted along a mile or so of Crosby Beach. Even though it was high tide it proved an exceptionally moving experience. On then to the Wirral via the Mersey Tunnel with our resident Garden City expert Mervyn Miller guiding us all the way, including a very amusing story of how he came to own a cat named Rowse!

Port Sunlight fully lived up to its name as we arrived in brilliant sunshine. This wonderful example of Garden City architecture, the result of Lord Leverhulme’s well-intentioned if heavy handed paternalism, yielded many lessons for housing and planning today including the superbly maintained public realm. Lunch was taken in the Lady Lever Art Gallery which houses an eclectic and high quality collection of paintings and sculpture.

Our final destination was Birkenhead Park, designed by John Robertson, principal draughtsman to Sir John Loudon in 1847. We learned that this had been the first publicly funded urban park in the UK and served as the model and inspiration for Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park in Manhattan. A guided park walk in the autumn sunshine brought our weekend to a suitably enchanting close.

Thank you once again to Richard and Nicola and we eagerly anticipate the trip to Bologna next May.

A short video of the Liverpool trip can be seen at https://quik.gopro.com/v/G9vuiXpG40/

Contributed by Renter Warden, Barry Munday.