St Luke's Church
Liverpool L1

Picture by Ron Formby
Designers: Foster & Foster with others

The Corporation of Liverpool planned this church when John Foster senior was the City Surveyor. However it is unclear how much of Foster's 1802 plan survives in the 1831 church completed by his son John Foster junior. It is gothic and perpendicular in style, neither of which are usually associated with either Foster. The surrounding grounds were never a graveyard and were laid out as gardens as early as 1885. Quentin Hughes suggests that when roofed and viewed complete, the church was unremarkable (this would have been when the masonry was soot blackened by decades of city grime). On Monday 5th May 1941 the interior and roof were completely destroyed by an incendiary bomb during the May Blitz. As Hughes continued, roofless it became a prettier and altogether more romantic vision, a cardboard cut-out ruin. It closes the long view up Bold Street and sits at the top of neatly geometric steps making a memorable landmark. It is a busy meeting place for students and the steps provide a setting for a perpetually exploded bus queue, at least in decent weather. Perhaps that’s why it survives. It was threatened with demolition for a proposed ring road in the 1960s and several desultory plans for refurbishment and re-use have met with little popular support. It has become, more by default than official intervention, a war memorial in our hearts and minds.

Seaport by Quentin Hughes
Pevsner Architectural Guides; Liverpool by Joseph Sharples

Alan Maycock 2008

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