The town’s historic site was a former church “designed as a department store”

Liverpool’s Grand Central Hall was a former church designed so attractively it would wow bettors.

Yesterday the Liverpool Echo published a story about how the historic city center venue closed due to alleged £1.2million rent arrears. Reports say the building’s locks have now been changed by the landlords, meaning tenants no longer have access to them and upcoming scheduled concerts will not take place.

Following ECHO’s initial report on the matter, tenants of the building issued a statement confirming the closure, but saying they had taken legal action against the landlords themselves. In a statement on Twitter, Grand Central Hall confirmed the closure of Grand Central Hall, including the Liffey pub.

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The Grade II listed building on Renshaw Street in the town center dates back to 1905 when it began life as a large Methodist church. It was one of 99 central halls commissioned by the church to be built that were to serve more than just a place of worship.

The construction of the attractive halls was designed to attract the religiously indifferent and economically disadvantaged. They were to be centers of civic life, not only for worship, but also places of entertainment, recreation, and education that could accommodate large congregations in the thousands.

Following plans to move into a newly built church in Liverpool city centre, the Renshaw Street site was chosen and the chapel which already stood there was demolished, ready for the new development. The bodies that resided in the old chapel cemetery were exhumed and a monument erected in the center of the newly sculpted gardens.

This monument still stands and is decorated with plaques that contain information about the chapel that once stood at the front of the site. A plaque is dedicated to MP William Roscoe – a central figure in the abolition of slavery – after whom the gardens are named.

Roscoe Gardens in Liverpool city center

It has been reported that the new Grand Central Hall building has been designed ‘like a new kind of church’, intended to look ‘more like a department store’ with the ground floor to be used to hold shops subletting or other businesses. Built to an Art Nouveau design by Bradshaw and Gass of Bolton, the building had a reported capacity of over 3,500 and was also used from its opening until at least 1944 as a New Century Picture Hall cinema.

From 1933 to 1939, following a devastating fire which destroyed the original Philharmonic Hall, the building became the home of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra while the Philharmonic Hall was rebuilt. Central Hall was sold by the Methodists in 1990 and extensive restoration work was undertaken in the late 1990s.

The Grand Central Hall in Renshaw Street, which served as a canteen and hostel when this photo was taken during the war in 1941
The Grand Central Hall in Renshaw Street, which served as a canteen and hostel when this photo was taken during the war in 1941

In the early 2000s the building became the headquarters of Bar Barcelona, ​​and after the closure of Quiggins on School Lane in 2006 a number of traders moved to Grand Central Hall. In 2007 Roscoe Hall on the first floor opened with many new stores, and in 2011 an impressive performance space opened in the domed area of ​​the building. Known as “The Dome”, the space has a capacity of 1,200 and has been used to host many film, theater and music events.

Further changes for Grand Central Hall came in 2018 when the building was taken over by a new owner who completely remodeled the hall, basements and upper floors. The work incorporated a hotel with bars, live music and event spaces, as well as a number of restaurants that made up the food hall called The Grand Bazaar.