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William Brown Museum and Library

1857 - 60
Grade II*

William Brown Museum
The completion of the magnificent new hall on St George's Plateau set the pattern for other civic projects on adjacent land. The gradient of the steep road to the north, formerly known as Shaw's Brow, was improved and the removal of buildings on each side of it was proposed. 

Although there were setbacks due to site difficulties and costs, the Liverpool Improvements Act was passed and a competition was opened in 1855 for a new museum and public library. Local MP William Brown donated 6,000, to which the Town Council added 10,000 and the commission was given to architect Thomas Allom. 

His scheme was later modified by Corporation architect John Weightman. The project's financial difficulties were overcome by Brown's further donation of 35,000 and the building finally opened to great acclaim in 1860 when 400,000 people attended the ceremony. 

Brown received a knighthood and Shaw's Brow was renamed in his honour. 

Bombing during the last war resulted in the loss of the interior of the 1860 building (rebuilt in the 1960s) but the William Brown Street elevation has survived intact. It is a restrained and well-proportioned classical composition with a deep central portico and prominent projecting end bays. 

These have Corinthian columns and pilasters respectively and incorporate many other classical forms and motifs. Originally an elevated plateau with steps on either side gave access to the front of the portico but in 1902 this was replaced with the present wide and dramatic flight of steps, which now complete the ensemble.