SOE/2/1 - School of Architecture and Building Engineering - mid c.19th-1982

Included are administrative papers and papers relating to staff and students, including examples of students' work.


Included are administrative papers and papers relating to staff and students, including examples of students' work.

  • School Records: S3157 - S3175; S3205 - S3237; S3621 - S3652
  • Letterbooks of Professor C. H. Reilly: S3205 - S3213
  • Newspaper Cuttings: S3214 - S3227
  • Historical Papers: S3228 - S3234 D251, D229
  • Photographs and Albums: S3235 - S3237; S3652
  • Programmes: S3621 - S3650
  • Records Relating to Students: S3176 - S3204; P7646 - P7674; S4095; D508; A039; A001
  • Photographs and Negatives for Teaching: A039/1-4
  • Measured drawings: A001
  • Studio designs, Thesis designs, Studio work, exhibition designs: S3204
  • History of the School of Architecture: D298, D287
Date:mid c.19th-1982
Reference Number:SOE/2/1
Related Material:University of Liverpool Art Collections hold some works by former students or associates of the School of Architecture.University Art Collections also acquired framed and glazed drawings by S.D. Adshead and Norman Sykes Lunn following the exhibition on `Charles Reilly and the Liverpool School of Architecture 1904-1933' (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, October 1996-February 1997)
Bibliography:[Book] Adshead, S. D.The Ideals of Civic Design in A Miscellany presented to John Macdonald Mackay Ll. D Liverpool, Liverpool University PressJuly 1914SJL LF379.E51.
Biographical/Administrative Information:

At the founding of University College, Liverpool, in 1881 a sum was set apart from the general subscriptions of the citizens for the founding of a Chair of Art, which was named after William Roscoe, (d.1831), a patron of the fine arts in Liverpool. There was some difficulty in filling the Chair and in the meantime lectures on art were given in the afternoon and evening by amongst others, W.G.Collingwood who is chiefly remembered nowadays for his work on the Roman Wall.

The Chair was filled in 1885 by W.M.Conway but shortly afterwards he resigned, being succeeded by R.A.M.Stevenson who from an early period felt the work of the Chair to be ineffective and before he resigned in 1892 he had come to the conclusion that Architecture was the proper function of his chair. During the vacancy in the Chair 1892-4 the University's Council examined a number of proposals, one of which was a suggestion for a School of Architecture and the Allied Arts put forward in 1893 by a Joint Committee of the Senate and the Liverpool Architectural Society, and numbering Professor J.M.Mackay amongst its members. It was Professor Mackay who in a lecture in about 1895 to the Liverpool Architectural Society, entitled 'The Teaching of Architecture in the New University: A School of the Fine Arts' stated 'There can be no teaching of theory apart from efficient practical training and study to illustrate and drive it home.' The end result was the establishment with the City Council's cooperation of a School of Architecture and Applied Arts and the appointment of a Professor in Architecture (Mr F.M.Simpson) to the Roscoe Chair in 1894. Amongst the School's teachers was to be Augustus John, who acted temporarily as Painting and Drawing teacher in 1901, though he remained in Liverpool for one or two more years during which period he painted the portraits of several of University College's professors all but one of which now hang in the Staff House of the University.

In 1902 the question of the amalgamation of the School of Architecture and Applied Art (as it was then termed) with the School of Art (attached to the Liverpool Institute) in Mount Street was raised, one of the reasons being the former's lack of adequate buildings. The School of Architecture and Applied Art had witnessed a rapid growth in numbers of students in both sections and in addition to its rooms in the Victoria Building it had to make use of a shed lent by the Infirmary in 1898. From about this same time, 1902, dates the proposal for a Faculty of fine Arts, a proposal which was revived by Professor C.H.Reilly who took up his duties in the Summer of 1904. However by this time negotiations for the transference of Liverpool Institute's School of Art to the City were already far advanced. Mr W.H.Lever M.P. (later 1st Viscount Leverhulme) offered in 1905 to endow a Chair in the proposed Faculty. The University's Council recommended in 1906 that the offer be accepted if renewed and that such a Chair deal with the history, principles and criticism of Art. However this latter restriction fell short of the hopes of Professor Reilly; it was designed to avoid antagonising the City. Endowments for other chairs in the proposed faculty were not forthcoming and in the light of this fact and the Council's recommendation Mr. Lever withdrew his offer. By this time the Applied Art section of the University's School of Architecture and Applied Art had been amalgamated (in 1905) with the Municipal School and under Mr McNair and a Mr Chowne an independent school was formed which became known as the Sandon Studies.

It was Professor Reilly who during his years in the Chair (1904-33) built up the reputation of the School of Architecture. It quickly became known as the centre at which all that was best in architectural education was obtainable. Soon after his appointment Reilly obtained the University's consent to the establishment of courses leading to a Certificate in Architecture (a two years' day course), a Diploma in Architecture ( for which students were to spend a minimum of two years in the office of an architect or be engaged in some approved practical work, during which time they were required to attend certain courses, generally in the evening), and a five years' course leading to the degree of B.Arch., the first three years of which were to be spent wholly in the University and the last two chiefly in practical work.

During these formative years the School was given much generous help by Mr Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) for whom Professor Reilly designed one or two buildings and with whom he had a good working relationship; it should be added that Reilly engaged in a good deal of architectural and design work including the Students' Union and the East end of Holy Trinity, Wavertree. Lever presented the University with a very generous endowment which enabled a Department of Civic Design to be constituted within the School in 1909. In 1910 the new Department became responsible for producing a new journal, The Town Planning Review, the first publication in England to be devoted entirely to civic and regional planning. Two years later the Lever Chair of Civic Design was founded, being endowed by Lord Leverhulme. Amongst the distinguished holders of this chair have been Sir Patrick Abercrombie (1915-35) and Lord Holford (1936-47).

The generosity of Lord Leverhulme did not end with endowments. In 1909 he had obtained a lease of the Old Bluecoat School in Liverpool with the option of eventually purchasing it. In the meantime he placed it at the disposal of the School of Architecture and its Department of Civic Design. The accommodation was ample and the setting appropriate but great disadvantages were experienced through its physical separation from the remainder of the University. It was thus found necessary to transfer the School from Liberty Buildings, as the Old Bluecoat School had been renamed by Lord Leverhulme, to a building in Ashton Street which had originally been designed as a hospital. This building, to which extensions were added in 1920 and 1927, served the needs, if somewhat inadequately, of the School of Architecture until 1934. In the meantime pressure on accommodation had forced the removal of the Department of Civic Design to the neighbouring Brownlow House in 1927. Lord Leverhulme had made liberal provision for a new school should the University wish to erect one and indeed Professor Reilly prepared a design for one on a site in Bedford Street. This project did not materialise as the rise in the number of architectural students made it clear that a more extensive site was required. The University, which had been gradually acquiring properties in Abercromby Square from the end of the 1st World War onwards, was able to put four houses at the north-west corner of Abercromby Square - which had previously been occupied by the School of Social Sciences and Administration which now moved to the former Bishop's Palace at the north-east corner - at the School of architecture's disposal in 1931. The houses themselves underwent minor modifications whilst their gardens afforded an area upon which a new structure, with a central court, containing the main studio accommodation, was erected to the designs of Reilly, J.E.Marshall (Senior Lecturer), and Lionel Budden (Associate Professor in the School who held the Roscoe Chair from 1933 to 1952).

Reilly's course at Liverpool has been described as an adaption of the Beaux Arts system, compounded of esquisses and projects, and culminating in an elaborate final design thesis. The emphasis was on design as such but in the late 1920's he allowed those whose design ability did not measure up to his high standards to submit a thesis on 'construction'. During the late 1930's and early 1940's this construction aspect of the course was developed and all students were required to show by means of working drawings that their thesis designs could be built. In the post-war period this process has been further extended both in the syllabus and in the development of new fields of study.

One development of the war years which ought to be mentioned here is the establishment of the Polish School of Architecture at the University in the Autumn Term of 1942. The establishment of this School, whose staff and students worked in close collaboration with the University's own School of Architecture, enabled Polish students in exile to resume their architectural studies at the various stages at which they were interrupted by the outbreak of war. In the Session 1942-3 thirty six students were registered of whom sixteen registered in the First Year of the five-year course. At the end of the Session 1945-46 the Polish School of Architecture, which then had around sixty students, left the University.

In 1948 Professor Gordon Stephenson took charge of the Department of Civic Design and extended the courses and instituted a new degree course. The Department was rehoused in 1951 in a new building- the first new building erected by the University after the 2nd World War - at the corner of Abercromby Square, which Professor Stephenson had designed; the new building was provided with its own studio, lecture theatre, library and exhibition hall. In 1957, partially at the instigation of the School of Architecture, a Department of Building Science was established to promote the scientific study of problems arising in the design, construction and use of buildings. A chair of Building Science had been established in 1955. Though a department within the Faculty of Engineering Science close links are maintained with the School of Architecture: courses in Building Science subjects are conducted for students in both the School of Architecture and in the Faculty of Engineering Science. Within the Department of Civic Design an additional chair - that of Transport Studies - was established in 1966.