Over the past few weeks I've been following an architectural trail on the 1830s Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) that started at Sudley House (a possible station precursor), continued to Liverpool Crown Street station (the Liverpool terminus) and thence to Manchester Liverpool Road station (the Manchester equivalent).
The tenuous link between these three locations is the presence of paired pilasters around the entrances. At Sudely and Crown Street they encompass useful sidelights but these are unnecessary at Liverpool Road given its unobstructed south-facing windows and entrance.
The prime candidate for architect at Sudley is John Whiteside Casson and the suggestion is that he then designed the two railway termini, Crown Street relatively soon after the enabling Act was passed in 1826 and Liverpool Road just before the railway opened in 1830.
While the issue of confirmation bias is significant, this list of possible Casson designs was then extended by addition of Windsor Terrace sited at the junction of Upper Parliament Street and Crown Street in Liverpool. There are no sidelights but here the paired entrance pilasters are accompanied by giant recessed pilasters covering the upper two storeys. These effectively simulate paired pilasters and form a pilasade.
Further candidate Casson designs
Two further railway-associated buildings have either paired or recessed pilasters:
- the Royal Hotel which includes the booking office on Dale Street has a pilasade of giant paired pilasters,
- the railway offices on Smithdown Lane have rudimentary recessed pilasters.
Figure: Dale Street frontage of Eastwood's Royal Hotel from WG Herdman's sketch of 1858. The booking office is highlighted in red and the giant paired pilasters in dark brown. The shop(s) to the right and rooms above are not part of the hotel.
Figure: Smithdown Lane offices based on @lmrailway twitter images. End units in particular have recessed and part-hidden pilasters.
In both cases there is channelled rustication of the ground floor facade. The Smithdown Lane buildings are single-storey and the pilasters in the main block form part of a blind arcade into which are inserted doors, a large window and a service hatch, all with semicircular fanlights.
The pilasters at Dale Street don't extend to the shop-like booking office on the ground floor of the Royal Hotel's Dale Street frontage (the main entrance was around the corner on Moorfields). The siting of the booking office may have been a commercial lease by the hotel proprietor, Peter Eastwood, contracted on the basis of mutual benefit. However, if Casson was involved in the hotel's design he may have alerted the L&MR to the availability of a venue in the main business district. Alternatively, the hotel may have been co-financed by railway directors (if not the railway company itself). In either case the hotel advertises in railway guides its provision of accommodation close to the departure point for omnibuses taking passengers to and from Crown Street. On that basis it would seem to constitute an early railway hotel, albeit some distance from the station itself.
Assuming the buildings are all the work of Casson, an evolutionary pathway can be traced that starts with Sudley in 1824/5 followed by Crown Street in ~1827 but which then divides to yield the larger Windsor Terrace (sometime after 1824) and Royal Hotel (1829/30) on the one hand and Liverpool Road (1830) and Smithdown Lane (unknown) on the other. If the pathway is correct then it suggests that Smithdown Lane is a late addition and may have replaced space that was lost once Crown Street had to accommodate passengers.
Edge Hill station
Figure: Edge Hill railway station by Haigh & Franklin. Note presence of pediment and corbels absent from earlier buildings.
In 1836 Crown Street was closed to passenger traffic and the station part-demolished soon after. The focus switched instead to the tunnel leading down to the centre of Liverpool and the new Lime Street station. Office functions at Dale Street and Clayton Square were relocated to Lime Street.
The eastern end of the tunnel was marked by Edge Hill station which replaced a smaller station at Wavertree Lane. The architects of the 1836 Edge Hill station, Haigh & Franklin, seem to have developed the Casson design to their own tastes. The six-bay by two-bay arrangement of Crown Street is retained, at least at first floor level, with the long side again facing the track and the short side the road (at the foot of a carriage ramp). However, the pilasters have disappeared completely, the channel rustication has a markedly different pattern and for the first time there is a bay with a small pediment and corbels facing the track.
1836 and all that
The absence of any semblance of pilasters at the 1836 station seems to mark the departure of the original architect from the project, here presumed to be Casson who died in 1842 at the age of 75. It seems not unlikely that he would be "slowing down" post-1830 although he is known to have designed St Thomas Melling in 1834/5. This has the characteristic large windows and surprisingly modern design that we first saw at Sudley but now in a Gothic Revival format.
The change in style seen in the 1836 station suggests that Haigh & Franklin did not design any of the aforementioned pre-1836 works and that the paired pilasters were not a company "logo". They did, of course, design the 1830 warehouse at Manchester (which has no significant similarities to the adjacent station building). The Haigh & Franklin design does not seem to have been widely adopted on the L&MR which probably reflects a steady decline in popularity for the neoclassical approach.
Of course, all of the above can also be explained by coincidence or a temporary vogue for pilasters. We cannot be sure either that the buildings we see now are in the same form that they were in the 1830s. Further research is required.