Inspired by the heroism of the Greek War of Independence early in the 19th century and the writings and work of visitors to the sites of Ancient Greece, there was a great revival of interest in Greek architecture.
As part of this movement, Liverpool architects set themselves the task of creating a modern northern Athens. Their influence in the city was perhaps greater than others elsewhere as they coincided with a period of massive and rapid re-development in the cities architectural history. In 1848, local historian J. A. Picton was reported as saying ˜perhaps no town in the world, except London after the Great Fire, has undergone so active a renovation as Liverpool in the last sixty years. The commerce, and consequently the requirements of the place, had so outgrown the contracted ideas of its aboriginal inhabitants, that a complete demolition and reconstruction of its main thoroughfares became absolutely necessary.
Buildings modelled on ancient Greek temples began to appear throughout the city. Two architects who worked in Liverpool stand out. John Foster Junior (c. 1786 - 1846) who on a Grand Tour in 1810 met Charles Robert Cockerell (1788 - 1863), a young architect who was to enthuse him with a love of Greek architecture.
On his return, Foster Junior produced some 20 buildings in the Liverpool area and succeeded his father as Surveyor to the Corporation. His buildings included St Andrew’s Church of Scotland (1823, now decaying in Rodney Street); the Mortuary Chapel (1829, a miniature Greek Temple in the Doric style at the entrance to St James Cemetery); the Custom House (1828 , Canning Place. Demolished after bomb damage during the war).
Cockerell also came to work in Liverpool where he designed, among other buildings, the Branch Bank of England (1845 - 48, Castle Street) in the Greek style. After the death of Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, he was responsible for the completion of St George's Hall for which he designed the small concert hall with its Greek caryatids supporting the balconies. This room is considered by many to be the best in the building.
The Greek movement in Liverpool reached its height with the building of Harvey Lonsdale Elmes' design for St George's Hall. Elmes was only 23 when won separate competitions to design a concert hall and an assize court. These he was later to turn into one design serving both functions. St George’s Hall. Building was started in 1842 and completed in 1847. Although the interior of the Great Hall is of Roman design, based on a reconstruction of the baths of Caracalla in Rome, the exterior is that of a Greek temple. It is not only one of the great buildings of this country but also of the world.
Other examples of buildings in Liverpool showing the influence of the Greek Revival movement are:
The Lyceum in Bold Street (Thomas Harrison of Chester)
Royal Institution in Colquitt Street (Edmond Aikin 1814 - 1817)
Wellington Rooms on Mount Pleasant (Edmond Aikin 1815)
Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick, Park Place (1821 - 1827, John Slater)
Church of St Bride, Percy Street (1830, Samuel Rowland)
Liverpool Institute School (LIPA), Mount Street (1837 â€“ 1837, A. H. Holme)
Medical Institution, Mount Pleasant (1836 - 1837, Clark Rampling)
Such was the strength of the Greek influence in Liverpool that there was to be a late flowering due to the enthusiasm of men like Professor Sir Charles Reilly (1874-1948) at the School of Architecture and to the city’s close connection with America where a similar revival occurred. The Students Union Building (1910- 12, University Precinct, Bedford Street North), the extension to the College of Art (1910, Hope Street), the Empire Theatre (192? Lime Street) and the Bank of West Africa (1923, Water Street) are good examples in which all the details are pure Greek.
This greek influence can also be seen in the naming of streets around the city. Doric Road, Acanthus Road, Ionic and of course Corinthian Avenue, from which the school takes its name,
The original school was of wood construction (1929) and based on the land adjacent to Florentine Road. In the 1970’s this building was reconstructed using brick with an additional building ( Junior Building) sited adjacent to Stoneycroft field and the school thus became a split site school
Over the last few years Corinthian has undergone major enhancing building works with the single siting of KS1 and KS2 on the Stoneycroft field site and the building of a Children’s Centre with our Foundation Stage on the original school site.