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Former St Katharine's College, Liverpool

Description: Former St Katharine's College

Grade: II
Date Listed: 4 February 2013
Building ID: 1405046

OS Grid Reference: SJ4083988689
OS Grid Coordinates: 340839, 388689
Latitude/Longitude: 53.3917, -2.8911

Locality: Liverpool
County: Liverpool
Postcode: L16 9JD

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Listing Text


University buildings, originally a women's teacher-training college, 1927-30, by Slater & Moberly. Constructed of narrow, mellow red bricks with sandstone dressings to most entrances, deep tile roofs, tall chimneystacks. Two-storeys plus attic. Vernacular Revival style.

Reason for Listing

The former St Katharine's College, now part of Liverpool Hope University, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a good example of an early-mid C20, teacher-training college on a grand scale with accomplished Vernacular Revival styling reminiscent of Lutyens' Home Counties architecture;
* Planning: its impressive main court maximises views over the Rector's Lawn and is complemented by a cloister-like rear quadrangle;
* Architects: the college was designed by the notable early-mid C20 architects, John Alan Slater and Arthur Hamilton Moberly, with building matters later handed over to their partner, Reginald Uren, himself a notable mid-C20 architect;
* Intactness: alterations to the original components of the college complex have been minimal overall and its original historic character remains intact;
* Interior quality: the high-quality interior retains many notable features, including original doors and floors, veneer wall panelling, open-well stairs, original fixed-bench window seats in bedrooms and staff offices, a first-floor chapel and accommodation wings lit by octagonal light wells and roof lanterns.


Warrington Training College was founded in Warrington, Cheshire in 1844 by the Church of England as both a school for the daughters of clergy and as a women's teacher training college. The college remained in Warrington until 1923 when the original building, which was also known as St Elphin's Training College, was destroyed by fire. Due to the industrialised nature of early C20 Warrington the decision was taken to build a new college on land off Taggart Avenue in Childwall on the outskirts of Liverpool, rather than in Warrington.

The new college was constructed in 1927-30 to the designs of John Alan Slater (1885-1963) & Arthur Hamilton Moberly (1886-1952) of Slater & Moberly of London at a cost of £170,000. After Arthur Hamilton Moberly's death in 1952 Reginald Harold Uren (1906-1988), who had joined the firm of Slater & Moberly as a partner in the early-mid 1930s, continued to advise the college on building matters. The contractors for the college were William Thornton & Sons of Liverpool, and the college was opened on 31 May 1930 by the Marchioness of Salisbury and Dr David, Bishop of Liverpool.

In 1938, following its move away from Warrington, the college subsequently became known as St Katharine's Training College - St Katharine of Alexandria being the patron saint of learning. The college was requisitioned during WWII and used as a hospital, with the staff and students being evacuated to Keswick, Cumbria. Although originally a single-sex college, men were admitted to St Katharine's from 1966.

In 1980 St Katharine's College joined with a Roman Catholic college on the opposite side of Taggart Avenue known as Christ's College (1964-6), and a Roman Catholic college in Liverpool city centre known as Notre Dame College (founded in 1856 by the Sisters of Notre Dame) to form an ecumenical federation known as the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education (LIHE). This became known as Liverpool Hope in 1995, finally becoming Liverpool Hope University in 2005.

In the late C20 a series of extensions were added to the north side of the college, including some by Brock Carmichael Associates. During the mid and late C20 a series of buildings, including a large sports building, were also constructed to the south-west and east of the college.


PLAN: the former St Katharine's College is a large complex formed of a principal, C-shaped court that overlooks a lawned garden known as the Rector's Lawn, with a smaller quadrangle attached to the centre rear.

EXTERIOR: most of the windows are mullioned, cross or mullioned and transomed windows with leaded glazing; some have been replaced. External doors have largely been replaced.

PRINCIPAL (SOUTH) WINGS: the complex's principal south elevation faces the Rector's Lawn and consists of a large 15-bay central core block with a hipped roof and mullioned and transomed windows. Concealing the eaves is a parapet, behind which are small dormer windows. To the ground floor of the three central bays is an entrance comprising of a doorway with replaced doors, paired overlights, and two flanking cross windows, which are all set within a quoined ashlar surround. Above the doorway is a large datestone displaying the date '1930' in stylised numerals. The outer bays are wider and project forward slightly with two-storey, canted bay windows. A tall, battered-copper, bell cupola surmounted by a weather vane, and with a clock face to the south side, rises from the centre of the roof's ridge. Lower accommodation wings with hipped mansard roofs flank the central block and then turn southwards for 18-bays, forming a large, three-sided court around the Rector's Lawn. Located at the two junctions of the central block and flanking wings are small, mid-late C20, flat-roofed, single-storey extensions. The external north-west and north-east corners of the short flanking wings have a butterfly plan and incorporate ground floor entrances; that to the north-east has a simple, hipped-roofed porch attached in front to the centre, whilst the north-west entrance has a flat-roofed, open porch incorporating a wide, arched opening and flanking angled piers, which rise above the porch's parapet and are surmounted by stepped stone caps and ball finials.

The two main accommodation wings flanking the Rector's Lawn have identically styled west and east elevations with paired and triple-light mullioned windows with plain brick mullions, and dormer windows at attic level; those dormers set above the paired windows have segmental heads. Rows of chimneystacks rise from the roofs, all with a V-section rib that continues down the wall face to a brick corbel. The wings terminate at their southern ends on the court-facing elevations with single bays that project forward slightly; both incorporate doorways with ashlar surrounds and replaced doors. Further similarly styled doorways can be found to the centre of the shorter wings immediately flanking the central block. The south returns of the two main accommodation wings are of three-bays with the central bay forming a two-storey, canted stair window topped by a parapet.

REAR QUADRANGLE WINGS: to the rear of the central core block is a much smaller quadrangle that is treated as a cloister with large semi-circular windows at ground floor level on all four sides. Two tall, gabled wings enclose the quadrangle to the west and east sides; that to the west is of two-storeys with a first floor chapel lit by six, round-headed lancet windows, which rise above the eaves line with gabled heads in the form of half-dormers and contain leaded glazing incorporating stained glass depictions of female saints. The far window at the northern end has been shortened and partly blocked-up to accommodate a later wing, which forms the north side of the quadrangle. The chapel wing's external west elevation is similarly styled, but has two shortened windows to the northern end due to a two-storey, late C20 library addition, which is attached at a right angle. A detached, c1977 building known as the Markland Building is also attached to the ground floor of the chapel wing's external elevation via a narrow, enclosed linking corridor. Attached to the chapel wing's south gable end is a small chapel bell. The chapel wing's north gable end is surmounted by a cross finial and the apex incorporates an arched recess containing a cross roundel.

The wing forming the east side of the rear quadrangle is of the same height and scale as the chapel wing, but also includes an attic level. It is lit mainly by triple-light mullioned windows to the first floor and dormer windows to the attic. Two, wide, round-headed lancet windows exist to the northern end of the first floor with raised, gabled heads in the same style as those to the chapel wing; that to the far north end has been partly blocked-up and is now obscured by the later wing forming the north side of the quadrangle. The wing's external east elevation has a series of paired and triple-light mullioned windows to the ground floor, cross and mullioned and transomed windows to the first floor, and dormer windows to the attic level.

The wing forming the north side of the quadrangle is a late C20 addition that replaced an original, single-storey, entrance wing, and now forms part of the Sheppard-Worlock Library. Attached to each end of the north wing, and projecting at right angles from the northernmost bays of the east and west wings, are further late C20 additions that also form part of the library. These areas are not of special interest and are all excluded from the listing.

INTERIOR: many original parquet floors and original doors (some with overlights and some incorporating glazed upper panels) survive throughout the college interior, along with arched openings in some of the corridors.

The central core block contains classrooms and offices, including the Vice Chancellor's office, which is set to the centre of the ground floor overlooking the Rector's Lawn. A corridor with veneer wall panelling up to door height runs alongside the north wall of the central core, overlooking the rear quadrangle. A similar corridor on the first floor has un-varnished panelling and doors. Two of the central core's ground floor offices contain timber fire surrounds, one of which has a ziggurat-shaped mantelpiece. The rest of the college's fireplaces are believed to have been removed. A staff common room located to the south-west corner of the central core has an elaborate fire surround brought in from elsewhere, which is attached to the west wall and is flanked by later wall openings inserted to provide access into a mid-late C20 single-storey extension. A corresponding extension on the other side of the central core block contains a modern office space and the college's original external wall retains an original loggia colonnade, which has now been in-filled with partly-glazed panels and a door. Wide open-well stairs with stone steps, slender, painted wrought-iron balusters, timber wreathed handrails and high veneer dados exist at each end of the central core block and are lit by large skylights with geometric leaded glazing; the well of the east stair also contains a modern, glazed lift shaft. The attic level of both the central core block and the east rear quadrangle wing, which forms part of the library on the lower floors, have been modernised and most of the rooms have been opened up.

The short accommodation wings, which flank the central core block and connect it to the two main accommodation wings flanking the Rector's Lawn, have a central corridor on each floor with veneer wall panelling in the same style as that to the central core and small rooms off to each side. Both wings' corridors are lit by octagonal light wells that rise up to the roof (some of the wells are glazed over at each upper level) and are lit by octagonal roof lanterns. At each upper floor level the light well is enclosed by a metal balustrade.

The two main accommodation wings replicate the plan layout and design of the shorter accommodation wings, and most of the rooms off to each side have original fixed-bench seating underneath the windows. The ground floor rooms are now mainly used as offices, whilst the first floor and attic levels of the wings consist of student accommodation. The ground floor corridor of the east wing retains its original veneer wall panelling and doors, but both have been replaced on the upper floors following early C21 refurbishment works. The west wing corridors retain their original panelling and doors on each floor, but the former has been painted over. The main accommodation wings are also each lit by a series of three octagonal light wells and roof lanterns, which like those in the shorter wings originally rose through each floor up to the roof, but have since been glazed or panelled over for safety reasons. The original metal balustrades surrounding the wells still survive on each upper floor and arranged around each light well are toilets and maintenance cupboards with quarry tiled floors. Located at the southern end of each main accommodation wing are open-well stairs, which are identically styled to those in the central core but of a narrower width and with painted, panelled dados.

The former chapel is now used as a meeting and conference venue and has a vaulted ceiling, parquet flooring, and plastered and painted walls. Three windows at the northern end of the chapel have been shortened following the addition of late C20 extensions to the college. The chapel contains modern, raised platforms, which are set to each side and the south end, and are surmounted by modern tip-up seating facing into the space. A modern, inserted platform set towards the northern end of the chapel incorporates a disabled lift and a stair. The organ gallery is set to the south end of the chapel above a colonnade of three brick arches; those to the outer bays are blind and that to the centre forms the chapel entrance. The gallery has a partly gilded, panelled front and contains a Henry Willis & Sons organ (1895) brought from Tonbridge School Hall. Stained glass windows depicting female saints, which light the chapel are believed to have been salvaged from the college's original Warrington premises. The former chancel has a marble and painted parquet floor with a marble altar platform. A panelled dado incorporating gilded, beaded moulding, and an altar and doors in the same style, lines the walls of the chancel. Behind the altar is a full-height alcove containing a late C20 mural.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.