The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

100 Buildings 100 Years

1931: India Buildings, Liverpool

Status: Listed Grade II*
Condition: Good condition
Type: Commercial/offices
Architect: Herbert J Rowse with Briggs & Thornely
Location: India Buildings, Water St, Liverpool, Merseyside L2 0RR

A confident nine-storey, neo-classical, Portland stone clad competition winner, designed with Rowse’s typically stylish flair, India Buildings were built for the Alfred Holt shipping line. Liverpool then was a thriving world port, looking New York in the eye. Charles Reilly wrote: “the building would not disgrace Fifth Avenue”. Its best feature is the glossy arcade of finely detailed shops which pierces the building. Each detail (Bromsgrove Guild lamps, bronze post box, plaques) is Rowseingly perfect. Rowse proudly asserted, “Never present an alternative; it shows you have not solved your problem.” When the Passport Office moved out, the Buildings declined under new owners but recent upgraded listing to II*, promoted by the Twentieth Century Society, might stimulate sympathetic regeneration; Rowse’s genius deserves no less.

by Aidan Turner-Bishop

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