Facelift planned for Liverpool’s neoclassical Lyceum Building

Completed in 1802 at a cost of £11,000, the Grade II-listed Lyceum in Bold Street has been a library, a newsroom, a gentlemen’s club, a post office and a restaurant. Tony McDonough reports

The Lyceum Building in Bold Street in Liverpool


Liverpool’s 218-year-old neoclassical Lyceum Building is to undergo a facelift which will see its elegant facade repaired and restored.

Panther Securities, owner of the Grade II-listed building at the bottom of Bold Street, says it will also renovate the roof of the building. Current tenant, restaurant China Dina which opened in November 2019, will remain open during the works.

Plans for the Lyceum were put forward in 1800 by a Liverpool literary club which used to meet in the house of William Everard, a teacher, to discuss reviews, periodicals and later books. As the collection increased it was decided a purpose-built library would be necessary.

Costing £11,000 and designed by Chester architect Thomas Harrison, the building opened on December 17, 1802, containing both a library and a newsroom. One of its most notable backers was slavery abolitionist William Roscoe.

Eventually the building was shared by a gentlemen’s club but by 1952 both the club and the library had left, leaving it empty. The Lyceum came close to demolition in 1971 when it was proposed it make way for a retail extension to Liverpool Central railway station.

A campaign was launched to save it and the building was purchased by the Government. 

It was acquired by the Post Office in 1984 and, once again, demolition loomed, when its initial plans fell through. However, a deal was struck which saw the Post Office occupy part of the site.

In the late 1990s, it became the home of the Life Cafe, one of the first of a new generation of cafe bars to open in Liverpool. The entrepreneurs behind the venture, Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, later went on to establish the famous Living Room bar/restaurant chain.

Panther Securities estimates the work will take around eight weeks to complete. Rob Markland, associate partner at Mason Owen, which manages the building, said: “The Lyceum building is one of Liverpool’s most notable architectural gems and this restoration work will only enhance it further as a brilliant prospect for tenants.

“China Dina are very successfully trading in part of the building, and whilst we have interest from a leisure client in taking a further space, there are still plenty of opportunities for both office, retail, leisure and hospitality.”

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