The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Sculpture on the Liverpool Seaman's Orphan Institution

North West

A query about Herbert Tyson Smith

A query about Herbert Tyson Smith

During the recent Heritage Open Days weekend in Liverpool C20 Society member Andrew Richardson visited the temporarily re-opened site of the former, grade 2-listed, Royal Liverpool Seaman’s Orphan Institution (Alfred Waterhouse, 1871-5). This later became Newsham Park Hospital but it closed in the early 2000s. The usual plans to build housing have fallen through and the site is neglected and forlorn. It’s located on the wonderfully named Orphans Drive, Newsham Park.

Andrew visited the closed 1937 Extension behind the Waterhouse building. This seems to have been designed by Richard H Kelly in the civilised neo-classical style of the Liverpool School of Architecture. You will find some brief notes from the Liverpool Daily Post of April 21, 1937 on the Friends of Newsham Park website.

Above the central main entrance is a (rather soot-stained) carved stone panel on a balcony. It shows a mediaeval sailing ship, on a wavy sea, between [left] a George VI Royal Crown and [right] a Tudor, or possibly red Lancashire, rose. The sail of the ship has the three lions of England on it; in these parts that usually signifies the Duchy of Lancaster.

Above this panel, near the roof, is a charming sculture (above) which shows a sailor boy, sitting on a coil of rope. He’s holding a wooden boat model. Around his shoulder is a protective arm. Is this sculpture by Herbert Tyson Smith?

There’s no mention of it – or, indeed, the 1937 Kelly Extension – in the English Heritage listing (as far as I can see). Richard Pollard, in the revised Liverpool Pevsner doesn’t mention the 1937 Extension. His description is on page 425 under ‘Fairfield’. It takes a curious C20 member to visit behind the buildings the experts have seen to spot this. Are C20 members like Heineken beer and reach the parts where others don’t?

It looks Tyson Smith-ish to me; what do you think, please? Since the building appears to not to be in the listing description, are these carvings vulnerable? Any ideas, folks?

Aidan TB, C20 NW