The building now numbered
91-93 OLD HALL STREET,
in Liverpool city centre, was originally constructed, circa 1800, as offices at the entrance to 'Clarke's Basin': the westernmost terminal basin of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The main cargo was coal, and the building was for many years occupied by the Wigan Coal and Iron Company.
The basin closed in 1886, when Liverpool Exchange railway station was enlarged. The original wharves were severed from the canal, and new terminal facilities were built further north. Yet, 115 years later, the building in Old Hall Street is still recognisable as a row of typical Georgian 'canal cottages', with attractive round-arched doorways and an unusually-shaped southern end which allowed the movement of horse-drawn wagons into and out of the coal yard to be observed.
For most of the twentieth century, the building formed part of St Paul's Eye Hospital, but when the hospital was demolished in the 1990s it was left isolated, once again, as a rare reminder of this episode in Liverpool's transport and commercial history. A Listed Building since 1985, the intention was to incorporate it within a new development on the site, but the plans have now changed.
The current owners - the Beetham Organization - argue that the building is 'generally out of keeping with the nature and scale of buildings in the area', and have submitted a Listed Building Consent application for its demolition. Yet nothing is proposed to be built on the site: just a paved area alongside the main entrance to the proposed nine-storey Radisson Hotel.