Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Martins Bank-The Twentieth Century Society Voice Their Concerns


70 Cowcross Street
London EC1M 6EJ
telephone 020 7250 3857
fax 020 7251 8985

website: www.c20society.org.uk

Steve Corbett

Conservation Officer
Liverpool City CouncilPlanning
Municipal Buildings
Dale Street
Liverpool L2 2DH
11 January 2010

Dear Steve Corbett
Barclay's Bank (former Martins Bank), Water Street, Liverpool
Our ref 10 01 02

The Society understands that pre-application discussions are being held about the above building. As the statutory consultee for post-1914 listed buildings, the Society wishes to express its interest in these discussions for this important Grade II* listed building and would welcome the opportunity to participate.
Architectural and historical significance and ongoing research
As I am sure you are aware, the significance of the former Martins Bank building cannot be overestimated. Statutorily listed at Grade II*, the building is considered to be the masterpiece of Herbert J. Rowse and one of the ‘best interwar classical buildings in the country’. Its architectural significance is recognised to a great extent to lie in its richly decorated interiors – the main baking hall and director’s room being two remarkable examples.

Its local architectural and historical significance is no lesser: its design is considered to be a superior example of the American classicism promoted through Charles Reilly's Liverpool School of Architecture. Also, designed and built for Martins Bank, which has its origins in the sixteenth century, the building is part of the economic history of Liverpool.
Both its architectural and its historical significance is further highlighted by the fact that the building is currently included in a research project that looks into the direct connections between the architecture of Liverpool and New York. The society understands that a permanent exhibition on the subject is to be held at the new Museum of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Architecture is also involved.

Current pre-application discussions
The Society is deeply concerned to hear that proposals for the entire horseshoe counter in the banking hall, or its top, to be removed have been included at different stages of the schemes discussed so far. The Society strongly believes that the removal of any part of the original interiors would be a regrettable heritage loss. We understand that the original interiors survive to date largely intact and, as is especially noted in the current list description of the building (2007 amendment), the ‘design of every detail was overseen by Rowse’.
For all these reasons, the Society would welcome an invitation to take part in discussions at pre-application stage for any new proposals for the former Martins
Bank building. We believe you would agree, the sooner all parties concerned are involved in schemes concerning such significant heritage assets the better the final outcome could be.

We hope our comments will be of help and taken into consideration. We would greatly appreciate if you kept us informed of any future developments of the case.
Should you require some clarification on any of the above, do not hesitate to
contact me. caseworker@C20society.org.uk

Remit: The Twentieth Century Society was founded in 1979 and is the national amenity society concerned with the protection, appreciation, and study of post-1914 architecture, townscape and design. The Society is acknowledged in national, planning guidance as the key organisation concerned with the modern period (see
Annex to PPG15), and is a constituent member of the Joint Committee of the
National Amenity Societies. Under the procedures set out in ODPM Circular
09/2005, all English local planning authorities must inform the Twentieth Century
Society when an application for listed building consent involving partial or totaldemolition is received, and they must notify us of the decisions taken on theseapplications.

Yours sincerely
Christina Malathouni
cc Henry Owen-John, North West Planning and Development Director,English Heritage
Wayne Colquhoun, Liverpool Preservation Trust
Professor Neil Jackson, School of Architecture, University of Liverpool


  1. I'm glad youve pointed out the Oriel building as i've walked past it several times and wondered about its history and the seemingly unusual design for its time. Last time i looked it was vacant which was summer last year- is this still the case?

  2. http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2010/01/oriel-chambers-liverpool-llittle.html

    This comment may have been left on the next post by mistake so I will place it there on the commentors behalf.