Iconic Liverpool clock tower to be torn down and rebuilt

Developer Capital & Centric reveals the clock tower on the iconic Littlewoods building in Liverpool will be torn down and rebuilt as part of its £70m movie complex project. Tony McDonough reports

Littlewoods, Capital & Centric
Art Deco former Littlewoods headquarters is to be turned into a £70m movie and TV studio complex


Engineering experts say the clock tower on the iconic Littlewoods building in Liverpool is no longer structurally safe and will have to be torn down and rebuilt.

Developer Capital & Centric is incorporating the former Littlewoods headquarters off Edge Lane into the £70m film and TV studio complex it is creating at the site. Remediation works began in December 2023.

A fire ripped through the 1930s Art Deco building in 2018 and there were fears then that it would have to be demolished. However, latest investigations by engineers have concluded that while the main structure can be saved, the clock tower is not safe.

Instead, it will be carefully dismantled and then rebuilt. Digital analysis of laser monitoring – placed on the tower to track its movement and condition – has confirmed what engineers suspected, that the tower is unsafe and, if left, could collapse.

A safe zone has now been put in place around the tower, with workers unable to enter that section of the site. It will be carefully taken down in the coming weeks.

Detailed photographic and survey records to be kept. The intention is to rebuild the tower in the same spot, reusing elements of the original from the overhaul of the site. A planning application is currently with Liverpool City Council.

Capital & Centric is working with Liverpool City Council as freeholder of the site and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as project funders. The Combined Authority, led by Mayor Steve Rotheram, has committed £17m to the project.

Plans for movie studios at the site have been in the pipeline for more than a decade but the scheme has been beset with delays and setbacks. In 2021 a council report conceded the project was “high risk” but also offered huge benefits if successful.

Capital & Centric has already converted an adjacent building, The Bunker, to become a hub for creative businesses. 

John Moffat, joint managing director at Capital&Centric, said: “We are entering a critical phase of the restoration, as we peel back the layers of the building following decades of it sitting empty.

“The building is revealing itself and showing us where it needs our input most. We’ve explored every option to secure the original tower structure in situ.

“But the conclusions of several teams of experts have confirmed we need to dismantle it, re-use as much of the material and recreate the tower structure. We want to do this soon.

“If the tower collapsed, it could not only cause severe damage to the rest of the building, but put lives at risk. Our priorities are keeping everyone safe and saving what we can of the buildings, working to minimise the amount of structure needing to be re-built.

“We’ve restored lots of listed buildings and our experience meant we always anticipated the ongoing remediation would uncover structural challenges.

“Dismantling the tower will cost more, but it’s a necessary last resort – one that can be covered under the existing project budget.”


Capital & Centric
How the clock tower will look once it is rebuilt
Capital & Centric
Image of the proposed £70 Littlewoods film studios in Liverpool


Plans submitted to the city council detail how the Littlewoods Project will open up the site to the public for the first time, with landscaped courtyard gardens and a roof terrace, screening and performance zone, and food hall.

Capital&Centric is currently in talks with a variety of operators interested in taking space at the site.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram added: “The Littlewoods building has been a massive part of the Liverpool community for generations, and I know it holds a special place in the hearts of many of our residents. 

“Throughout this process, we have been committed to preserving the building’s iconic heritage, however, we also need to ensure that it is carefully and safely restored to fulfil the big ambitions we have for its future.”

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