Spectacular buildings you would never even know existed

The ever-changing landscape of Liverpool city centre means that many wonderful buildings have disappeared over the years.

Many of them might have made stunning additions to the city if they had been refurbished and converted to another use, instead of being flattened.

As the old inevitably makes way for the new, some impressive old buildings have been demolished and replaced by developments and projects to transform our city.

Plenty of people will remember these buildings – but for a younger generation it would be hard to imagine they were ever even there.

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While they will of course live on in our memories, it can be hard to picture where these buildings once stood.

In some cases, there might still be a remnant of the building or some kind of plaque to remind people of what once was.

Here is a selection of just a few.

Gerard Gardens

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Gerard Gardens, a tenement block in Liverpool city centre, Merseyside. Designed and built in the 1930s by Architect, Sir Lancelot Keay. 23th November 1973

It might have looked forbidding from the outside, but to generations of Scousers

Gerard Gardens

was the place they called home.

The inspiration behind the design of the city centre estate was the Karl Marx Hof in Vienna. Completed in 1930, it was visited by a delegation from Liverpool Corporation looking for ideas for social housing. They even copied the idea of statues over the arch.

The Karl Marx Hof is still standing, while Gerard Gardens is long gone. But it still lives on in the memories of those who lived there, played under its arches and gossiped over its washing lines.

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Liverpool Sailors Home

Liverpool Sailors' Home

The Sailors’ Home stood in Canning Place, at the centre of Liverpool’s Sailor Town, from 1852 to 1969 and provided board and lodgings and a range of other services to countless thousands of merchant seamen.

Designed by architect John Cunningham and foundry owner Henry Pooley Junior, and made at Henry Pooley & Son’s Albion Foundry (where the Queensway Tunnel entrance now stands), the massive sliding gates with their design of mermaids and ropes were installed in 1852.

It survived both a major fire in 1860 and the Liverpool Blitz of World War Two relatively unscathed – but not the modern age. It was largely demolished in the mid-1970s for a road project which never took place.

The only visible reminder of this magnificent building now are the gates outside the John Lewis building, which occupies the site where the sailors' home once stood.

Custom House

Liverpool's magnificent Custom House, pictured circa 1941.

Liverpool's Fourth Grace, the Custom House was situated on the waterfront and might well be Liverpool's most famous lost landmark.

The giant domed structure, designed by renowned Liverpool architect John Foster, was built on the site of Liverpool's Old Dock and was opened in 1839.

The building was gutted in the May 1941 Blitz but its shell survived for another seven years.

It could have been rebuilt – but was controversially pulled down in 1948.

The site is now occupied by the Hilton hotel.

David Lewis Theatre and Hostel, Great George Place

The David Lewis Hotel in Great George Place. Circa May 1977.

This huge building – which included a theatre, a hostel, and a club – once dominated the area below Liverpool Cathedral.

Built in 1906, it was one of the legacies of David Lewis, founder of the famous Lewis's department store chain, and was known locally as the Davy Lou.

The Beatles played there in 1961 in the first event organised by the band's fan club.

The building was pulled down in the late 1970s and is now largely occupied by housing.

Cotton Exchange, Old Hall Street

Cotton Exchange in its former glory

The current remnant of the building which still bears its name is a mere shadow of its former magnificence.

The original structure, opened in 1906, is a reminder of the time when Liverpool was the centre of the world's cotton trade.

Its imposing facade led into the cotton exchange hall itself, where traders sold cotton from around the world below a stunning glass roof.

The trading hall has now disappeared – though some of its columns remain inside the surviving Cotton Exchange offices and inside the One Fine day cafe. And there are still plenty of historic remnants below ground, including coal cellars and a dining room.

Liverpool Central Station

Busy scenes on Ranelagh Street outside Liverpool Central Railway station. 18th February 1960.

The original station opened in 1874 in a cramped site between Bold Street and Ranelagh Street.

The station building, with its giant train shed behind, was a landmark to city centre shoppers.

The mainline station was earmarked for closure in the 1963 Beeching report and most services were moved to Lime Street.

From 1966 on the only trains using the station were those to Gateacre, and the giant station slowly fell into decline.

The Gateacre services were withdrawn in 1972 and the mainline station was flattened, eventually to be replaced by the current shopping concourse.

The underground platforms were reworked to form part of the Merseyrail network and the "new" Liverpool Central opened in 1977.

Futurist cinema

The Futurist Cinema, a former picture house on Lime Street

It was a sad day for many when this fine old picture house was swept away in 2016 as part of the redevelopment of Lime Street.

The Futurist was one of a grand trio of ABC cinemas along this route – now the only one still standing is the main Lime Street cinema, although this has lain unused for many years.

The Futurist opened in 1912 and once boasted its own orchestra pit and sound effects box.

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In the 1960s, as competition from television and from bingo halls was putting pressure on many cinemas, the Futurist had a facelift that brought in innovations including six-track stereo sound. But the crowds never returned.

The last showing was a double bill of Blazing Saddles and History of the World Part I, both comedies by American director Mel Brooks, on Saturday, July 17, 1982.

The old site is now partly covered by a Lidl supermarket.

Liverpool Castle

This is how Liverpool Castle would have looked – image courtesy of Liverpool Record Office

For obvious reasons, no photographs exist of the city's famous medieval castle.

The Castle of Liverpool stood on the site now occupied by Derby Square and Liverpool Crown Court.

The castle was built as a result of King John issuing a Letters Patents, popularly known as the Royal Charter, to Liverpool on August 28, 1207 – at a time when the tiny fishing port was becoming an important trading centre.

The building survived until the early 18th century, and the site is marked by a plaque on the present Queen Victoria monument.

But the castle lives on – both as the inspiration behind the design of the Liverpool Crown Court building, and in the name Castle Street itself.

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