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

By Christopher Crouch | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
Town Planning Review:
Design Ideology and Practice

WITHOUT their local cultural environment, William Lever and Charles Reilly would not have been able to contribute to the development of town planning as they did. Equally however, they were themselves an important component part of that culture, and without their energies the channelling of contemporary ideas about planning in the city into the Department of Civic Design would not have taken place. Reilly first met Lever in 1904 after his appointment as Head of the School of Architecture. Reilly wrote to Lever in April of that year, 1 and in his letter invited himself and his students to look at the church and one of the dwellings in Port Sunlight village. After some misunderstandings the meeting between the two men went ahead. ‘It did not,’ Reilly was to say some 30 years later, ‘seem a propitious beginning’. 2 When Conway, formally Roscoe Professor, now Sir Martin, came to Port Sunlight to formally open Hulme Hall later that year, Reilly was invited to dinner by Lever and from this point on their mutually advantageous relationship began. Reilly provided Lever with proposals of a suitable dignity on which to spend his money, and thus enhance his reputation as an architectural patron, 3 and Lever provided the finance by which Reilly was able to extend his power base, both within the University and nationally.

In July 1907 Lever was the victor in a libel case he had instigated against the Daily Mail.4 Encouraged by Reilly, Lever developed a ‘patronly interest’ 5 in the School of Architecture and proceeded to spend the awarded damages on the School of Architecture and the Department

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