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from further decay.
In 1984, the DoE sold the building to the Post Office and there was universal support for a proposal to repair the building and turn it into a Philateic Museum and Head Post Office for Liverpool. By the time the project was developed to the listed building stage, however, a major restructuring of the Post Office resulted in the creation of Post Office Counters Ltd, a private company which no longer appeared to have the resourses to undertake such an ambitious development. The response of the Post Office Counters Ltd was to sell the building back to the original developers who then applied once more for listed building consent to demolish! This application was resisted by both the City Council and English Heritage and the project continued on the basis of the developer leasing back the finished building to the Post Office.
In the final proposition for the building, there were further changes introduced which were to reduce the quality of the conversion. One was to introduce a shopping use on Bold Street end of the building; secondly the Philatelic Museum became a Philateic Bureau, and the traditional ground floor restaurant became a building society office.
Work started on site in 1988 and the new Post Office opened earlier this year. An interesting aspect of the listed building consent negotiations was the insistence by the City Planning Officer that the ceiling in the newsroom, which had been removed in 1912 when a new floor had been inserted, was to be restored to the original Harrison design. As only a written description of the ceiling existed, Rodney Hutchinson of the City Planning Department prepared a reconstruction based on the surviving evidence in the Lyceum and the executed work to the City Club in Chester. English Heritage at first refused to agree to this conjectural reconstruction, since it said it was only 99% certain that it was correct. The fact that the 1912 alterations had a completely adverse effect on the Neo-Grec simplicity of the Harrison design seemed not to enter into the reasoning. There was considerable euphoria in the Planning Department when drawings were discovered in the archives of the Lyceum which turned out to be Harrison’s original designs for the ceiling and were exactly as predicted by the Department! With a grant from the Urban Programme and the City Council, the developer was persuaded to restore the ceiling, to make the Post Office Hall the most impressive Post Office in the North West.


Mike King is conservation Officer with Liverpool
city (ouncil.
CONTEXT 28
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