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William Brown St Conservation Area

Until the beginning of the 18th century, this was an area of heath-land, beyond the limits of the town, partially enclosed into fields and interspersed with windmills and lime-kilns. 

Shaw's Brow, effectively the current William Brown Street, was one of the principal coaching roads to the east and there were a few cottages and some almshouses along that road. 

During the 18th century, the town gradually expanded across the area with the erection of the Infirmary in 1749 and St. John's Church in 1784. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the area began to create the formally planned environment that we still see today. 

The William Brown Street Conservation Area now forms the principal cultural quarter of Liverpool, where a high concentration of the city's major public buildings are located. 

The most imposing of these is St. George's Hall (1840-55), universally acclaimed by historians and architectural critics as the outstanding example of European neo-classical architecture. 

 It stands detached and prominent between the open spaces of St. George's Plateau and St. John's Gardens, and occupies high ground above the old city centre to the west. Not only was its design based upon a Greek temple, but its position was chosen and its height elevated on its high podium to increase its dominance over its surroundings. 

The northern edge of the area is defined by the former County Sessions Court, the Walker Art Gallery, the Picton Library, the World Museum Liverpool (formerly the William Brown College of Technology). 

They comprise a group of imposing classical buildings from the second half of the 19th century. The ordered arrangement and scale of these buildings with their classical columns, pediments, porticoes, cornices and sculpture help to create an exceptionally fine parade of civic buildings. 

The east edge of the area is formed by buildings of contrasting design, but which nevertheless create an enclosing backdrop to St. George's Plateau. 

Alfred Waterhouse's former North Western Hotel (1871) is a monumental structure ornamented with turrets and steeply pitched dormered roofs. Behind it stands one of the two great iron roofed sheds of Lime Street Station. 

The arched colonnade of the south shed is unfortunately obscured by a row of 1960s shops and Concourse House (soon to be demolished). To the north is the neo-Grecian Empire Theatre. 

The lower, west end of the area is focused upon the portal of the Queensway Tunnel (1934), with roads and flanking walls concentrating upon the void leading to Birkenhead. That portal and those flanking walls are themselves masterpieces of the fusion of art and technology and when one emerges from that long winding tunnel, the open character of St. John's Gardens and the power of St. George's Hall are at their most dramatic. 

The Steble Fountain and the Wellington Memorial occupy the triangular space at the east end of William Brown Street, but it is in St. John's Gardens and St. George's Plateau where most of the monuments are strategically located, effectively creating an outdoor sculpture gallery.