Design Culture in Liverpool, 1880-1914: The Origins of the Liverpool School of Architecture

By Christopher Crouch | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
Charles Reilly, the Liverpool
School of Architecture and the
City Beautiful

IN 1915, after a national competition for a new Town Hall in Stepney, London, the architectural critic Randall Phillips wrote to Charles Reilly to say that ‘eighty per cent of the designs were in the Liverpool manner’. 1 By this he meant an architectural style that had been consciously derived from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a style that was a rationalised classical one, large in scale and restrained in detailing. This tale illustrates the considerable impact that the Liverpool School of Architecture made during the first decade of Reilly's Professorship. The influence of the School was exercised through two channels: the teaching of an architectural style that became synonymous with the School, and with the further dissemination of this style through the establishment of the first Civic Design course in the UK. Reilly was only in part responsible for the first aspect of the School's national reputation, drawing together as he did issues that were already current. In the latter though, he was an important instigator of events. Reilly's skill was in acting as a catalyst in the architectural education debate, and his ability in the manipulation of events.

When Reilly took over at Liverpool in 1904, the course of study no longer resembled that initially envisaged in 1894. Its formal organisation and the links that had already been established with the processes of architectural education in the United States, meant that Reilly's full adoption of Beaux Arts practices were not as radical as has often been been assumed, albeit primarily on the basis of his first-hand testimony. 2 Reilly was considerably aided in his task of making the

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