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Lutyens’ Liverpool Cathedral That Never Was

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Hooray, the blog is fixed. After more than a day of agony, technical support seem to have got it sorted.
Apologies for the disruption to service hopefully normal service is now resumed.

So, anyway, this morning I had a close up look at the model for the original Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral designed by Edwin Lutyens. The model was originally built between 1931 and 1934 and has taken several years to be restored to something like its original state.

Its massive, as indeed the cathedral would have been if completed, it would have been twice the size of St Pauls and much taller that St Peters.

The Walker Art Gallery exhibition called The Cathedral That Never Was: Lutyens’ design for Liverpool features the huge model – one of the world’s great model buildings – plus related exhibits. It runs from 27 January to 22 April 2007. This is the first opportunity to see the model fully restored with Lutyens’ breathtaking interior.

Construction work on the full-sized cathedral started in 1933. Only the crypt of the vast building – rivalling St Peter’s in Rome – was completed before post war austerity and a shortage of funds stopped work. Building estimates rose from £3 million to £27 million.

The planned cathedral would have been built from pinkish-brown brick relieved by bands of silver-grey granite. The breathtaking edifice would have been crowned with an enormous 510 ft high dome – 60 ft higher than St Peter’s and more than twice the height of St Paul’s in London (250 ft). Instead, the present modernistic concrete Cathedral of Christ the King was opened on the Brownlow Hill site in 1967.

Conservators at the National Conservation Centre in Liverpool worked between 1992 and 2005 restoring the wood, plaster and metal model. The magnificent construction is 11ft 9 inches wide, 17ft long and 12ft 6 inches high. The £500,000 project was supported by a major grant of £268,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as contributions from many individuals. The model is on display in the Year of Heritage, Liverpool’s 800th anniversary, and is one of several exhibitions exploring the city’s history.

Chris Moseley, head of models conservation who led the project team, says: “The model is the last of a long tradition of wooden cathedral models. Our craftsmen and women had to successfully re-discover lost techniques to breathe new life into this incredible example of the model-makers’ art.