New home for English delivered by £2M Abercromby Square investment

Aber19-2wThe revamped School of the Arts library provides a fantastic space for discussion and events

The University of Liverpool’s English Department is joining the Department of Communication and Media Studies in making historic 19-23 Abercromby Square its permanent headquarters, following a major £2M refurbishment.

The former home of the Bishop of Liverpool and double Victoria Cross winner Captain Noel Chavasse has been modernised from top to bottom; providing new offices for 45 academic staff, as well as four new postgraduate research rooms, an expanded student reception, disabled lift and a revamped School of the Arts library.

‘Superb central location’

The work has also seen major updates to facilities in the Leverhulme Building, home of the School of Architecture, including a new link through to 19-23 Abercromby Square.

Professor Marcus Walsh, Head of the School of the Arts (SOTA), said: “The completed refurbishment of the beautiful Abercromby Square buildings, part of the University’s extensive investment in its South Campus, gives the School a superb central location.

Aber19-1wThe grand entrance hall and staircase dates back to 19 Abercromby Square’s role as a home to 19th Century Carolina businessman, CK Prioleau

“Three of the School’s five constituent departments; Architecture, Communication and Media Studies, and English, are now grouped together with the School’s Professional Services team on one side of this historic Liverpool square. The completion of this work marks a major step in providing all our students and staff with spacious accommodation and modern facilities, fully appropriate to the School’s present distinction and future aspirations.”

It’s been a long and complicated project but it is fantastic to once again see the corridors and rooms humming with energy and activity, and filled with staff and students”
Work began on the basement and ground floor of the cluster of townhouses joining 19-23 Abercromby Square in 2012. Many areas required a complete rebuild to make them suitable for academic use. The second phase, started in March last year, saw the second floor, first floor and remaining areas of the ground floor overhauled. The new structure allows professional services staff dedicated to the School to share the same building as their academic colleagues.

Dr Chris Williams, SOTA Project Officer, worked alongside Facilities Management and departmental colleagues to complete the refurbishment. Dr Williams said: “It’s been a long and complicated project but after all the wonderful work done to renovate and refurbish 19-23 Abercromby Square, it is fantastic to once again see the corridors and rooms humming with energy and activity, and filled with staff and students.”

The English Department was previously housed in the mid-20th Century designed Cypress Building –  a very different set up to the originally domestic 19th Century townhouses lining Abercromby Square.

19-23Abercromby-1wThe view towards 19-23 Abercromby Square, from Abercromby Square, with Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral in the background

More than a kilometre of bookshelves required refurbishment or installation during the move, which also threw up some surprises. Two additional third floor rooms were discovered at the top of a staircase hidden behind a false wall, and some academic staff will now occupy former servants’ quarters.

Weight of history

Professor Siobhan Chapman, Head of the English Department, is in no doubt of the cultural advantage provided by being in a landmark regularly featured on historic city tours.

She said: “There’s a great weight of history behind the building. With fantastic views across Abercromby Square and the magnificent SOTA first floor library, it all seems much more in keeping with what we do. It’s a great, new facility for both staff and students.”


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