The Littlewoods Building
Building of the Week
The Littlewoods Building
The iconic art-deco Littlewoods Building was completed in 1938, probably designed by Scottish architect Gerald de Courcey Fraser, designer of a number of fine department stores for Lewis’s and others. Itwas of course the headquarters of the mighty empire built bySir John Moores, and his brother Cecil, the country’s largest family owned business empire, covering department chain stores, catalogue shopping, and football pools. Sadly, and through many false dawns since, the building has lain empty since the mid-1990’s.
The buildings further importance is highlighted by the contribution made to the war effort when its vast internal spaces were enlisted in the national interest during WWII. At the outbreak of the war the building’s mighty printing presses were used to print some 17 million National Registration forms in just three days. The floors of Halifax Bombers were assembled at the building as well as barrage ballons, and it was also the nerve centre of MC5, the government agency that intercepted mail to break enemy codes. During the war the building was also the headquarters of the Unity Football Pools established by the government. Bomb shelters in the basement areas of the building are said to still contain artwork and graffiti on the walls dating from the 1941 Wartime Blitz and ‘Battle of the Atlantic’, when Liverpool was facing many dangers.
After the war, the building reverted to Littlewoods Pools operation and then later became the headquarters for Littlewoods printing division, JCM media. When JCM vacated the building in 2003, the lease was sold to the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the building has remained unoccupied since with the threatening clouds of demolition often hovering above. In August 2013 it was again reported that work would begin within weeks, developers Capital & Centric putting £4m into the project to convert the building into a 104-bedroom hotel, business units and offices. The first stage would be turning the former warehouse ‘Bunker’ building – originally designed to house catalogues – into office space. The Bunker building will have up to 18,000 square feet available for small businesses, with up to 28 office spaces. Work is said to be currently progressing.
Hopefully the future for the complex as a whole is bright and the buildings will remain as not only an iconic feature of the Liverpool landscape but once again a key contributor to its economy.
Thanks to Rex Stevens liverpool1207blog.wordpress.com/buildings/
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