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Buildings of Dale Street
Dale Street was first improved in 1786-90 after Castle Street had been widened. It was the principal route into and out of the town from London and Manchester.
Present side streets such as Hackins Hey show how narrow it originally was. The north side was taken down in the 1820s and set back, whilst at the same time a new street was formed at the east end opposite Hatton Garden to link with St John's Lane, and was called Manchester Street.
This avoided all traffic being taken up the steep ascent of Shaw's Brow. Commercial building began at the western end, around the Exchange with the Queen's Insurance Building of 1839 and the Liverpool and London Globe Insurance Building of 1855-57, but as the century progressed, the buildings became increasingly large and imposing.
Queen Insurance Building, Dale Street
Built for the Royal Bank, this was one of the earliest developments in Liverpool to include the provision of separate speculative offices for letting.
The architect was Samuel Rowland. It has a grand classical fašade to Dale Street with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a tall balustraded cornice bearing the Royal Coat of Arms.
A central passageway leads to Queen's Avenue which is lined by shops and offices, and thence to Castle Street. The bank proper was the building at the end of Queen Avenue.
Liverpool and London Globe Insurance Building, Dale Street
For the design of its new head offices, the Liverpool and London Globe Insurance Company commissioned C.R. Cockerell, architect of the Bank of England.
One of Liverpool's most distinguished office buildings, its design is similarly bold. At its heart was an atrium, originally glazed (though now built over), which provided access and light to the offices that surrounded it.
The frontage block to Dale Street was used by the insurance company, whilst the three blocks set behind were designed to be individually let to commercial tenants.
The main entrance is a tour-de-force, consisting of a pedimented portico within a rusticated arch, surmounted by a boldly festooned cornice. It is so large that it intrudes on the first floor windows as though designed for a larger and more monumental building.
State Insurance Building, Dale Street
What remains of the State Insurance Building is only one half of the original premises, which extended as far as North John Street.
The architect was Aubrey Thomas who used the Gothic language in a free flowing manner to produce a composition that is almost Art Nouveau. Behind the fašade is a galleried atrium with a glass roof, originally used as a restaurant, around which the offices are arranged.
Union Marine Buildings, Dale Street
A typically strong and eclectic design by Sir James Picton, this building erected for the Queen Insurance Company has large round-arched windows with marble panels set between them and a massive projecting cornice with rope mouldings and machicolations.
Rigby's Buildings, Dale Street
The property carries the date 1726, but the present building is probably no earlier than 1850.
It was given a decorative stucco facing in 1865. This commercial building lacks the crispness of detail that others in the street possess, but the main fašade is no less elaborate in its profusion of pediments, balconies and decorated architraves, all in the manner of a grand Italian palazzo.
Royal Insurance Building, Dale Street
On a strategic site at the corner of Dale Street and North John Street, the Royal Insurance Building is one of the finest of Liverpool's giant early 20th century office blocks.
The architect, J. Francis Doyle, was selected by competition, the assessor being Norman Shaw, with whom Doyle had worked on the design of the White Star Building. Its Edwardian Baroque fašade of granite and Portland stone conceals a revolutionary steel structure, possibly the earliest use of a steel frame in Britain.
To provide a ground floor space unencumbered by columns, the upper floors are hung from great steel arches, braced to the structure above. Above the main entrance is a tower with a sundial and a gilded dome that glints over the city skyline, and the roof is crowded with dormers and massive chimneys.
A frieze of sculpted panels by C.J. Allen at second floor level shows characters engaged in the world of insurance.
Doyle had assimilated the style of Shaw and the gable to Dale Street with its corner turrets is taken directly from the White Star Building. But it is a wonderfully assured design, a supreme example of a prestige national headquarters, unashamedly intended to impress.
The Temple, Dale Street
Adjoining the Royal Insurance Building is the Temple, designed by Sir James Picton for Sir William Brown in an Italianate style.
The round arched entranceway set below a large turret leads to an open arcade. Brown was one of four sons of the Irish merchant Alexander Brown and in the coat of arms above the main entrance can be seen four hands clasped together and the motto 'Harmony becomes brothers'.
Prudential Assurance Building, Dale Street
1885-86 and 1905
The architect Alfred Waterhouse provided the Prudential with an unmistakeable corporate style in red pressed brick and terracotta. Liverpool's 'Pru' is one of the largest and most imposing, made all the more so by the tower added by his son Paul in 1905.
Imperial Chambers, Dale Street
This building and the adjoining Muskers Buildings are in the Gothic style, more frequently used in Manchester for commercial buildings than in Liverpool. The central office entrance leads to a glass-roofed atrium crossed by iron bridges.
Municipal Annexe, Dale Street
Built as the Conservative Club and designed by F. and G. Holme, the building provided its wealthy members with three floors of palatial reception rooms, private dining rooms, card and billiard rooms.
It was taken over for municipal offices between the two world wars, though the Conservatives remained the dominant political party in Liverpool until the 1960s.
Municipal Buildings, Dale Street
A large municipal office block with a great public atrium, this splendid building was erected to accommodate the growing army of Corporation clerks required to control the activities of the town.
It was started by the Corporation Surveyor, John Weightman, and completed by his successor E.R. Robson in 1866. Designed in a hybrid mixture of French and Italian Renaissance styles, it has at its centre a tower with a curious steeply pitched stone roof, based on C.H. Barry's Halifax Town Hall.
Westminster Chambers, Dale Street
A large office building with integral workshops and warehouses, designed by Richard Owens for David Roberts, Son and Co., whose monogram can be seen on the exterior.
The greater part of the building fronting Dale Street and Crosshall Street was used as shops and offices, whilst the Preston Street side contained four warehouses each with a recessed loading bay.
The offices are given an elaborate stone Gothic front, in contrast to the plain brick of the warehouses.
City Magistrates Court, Dale Street
Built shortly before Municipal Buildings on the opposing side of Dale Street stands the City Magistrates Court, also designed by John Weightman.
It is a plain symmetrical block in smooth ashlar with a carriage entrance originally enabling the magistrates to make a dignified approach to the courts.
To the rear of the Courts is the Main Bridewell, a suitably austere building, erected in 1864 to Weightman's design, and listed Grade II.
135-139 Dale Street
Late 18th century
A terrace of late Georgian houses, this was built to conform with the late 18th century widening of Dale Street, the most impressive being the corner property No. 139.
This was built for John Houghton, a distiller, whose works were situated nearby. Above the entrance on Trueman Street is a splendid Adam-style Venetian window.