The Lyceum (1)
Waterloo Place / Bold Street, Liverpool L1

Picture by Ron Formby
 
Designer: Thomas Harrison
Relief Panels: F.A. Lege
 

The building was designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester and completed in 1802. It provided a home for the books of William Everard and housed the collection of The Liverpool Library (established in 1757 and believed to be the first lending library in Europe). It also provided a news room (a newspapers library) and private coffee room for members of The Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society who wanted to build a meeting place of their own rather than compete with the distractions of the rowdy public coffee houses of the time. It was named after the garden in Athens in which Aristotle taught philosophy. The library and coffee house soon separated and the coffee house became The Lyceum Gentlemen's Club which eventually colonised the whole building before relocating in the 1970s. The building faces Bold Street but the news room and library commanded the view down Church Street and had their own entrance in Waterloo Place - the space at the junction of Hanover, Church, Ranelagh & Bold Streets. The Waterloo Place facade has four Ionic columns and between them there are three relief panels by F.A. Lege. The three panels represent: Navigation (a woman holding dividers to a globe), The Arts (Apollo holding a lyre, sitting by a serpentine incense burner) and Commerce (a figure seated on a cotton bale, holding a money bag, a ship in the background). Lege worked for Francey's the stonemasons. He carved the large Royal Coat of Arms which once graced The Union News Room in Duke Street but is most famous for The Monument To The Robinson Children in Lichfield Cathedral.

Sources:
Pevsner Architectural Guides; Liverpool by Joseph Sharples
Public Sculpture Of Liverpool by Terry Cavanagh
The Oxford English Reference Dictionary
ihbc.org.uk

Alan Maycock 2008

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