Footsteps cover for website
Click on the cover to view an excerpt from the book.

Two Liverpool History Society members walk in the footsteps of Liverpool’s elusive architectural genius, Peter Ellis.

Written by Graham Jones and the late Rob Ainsworth, designed by Matthew Duddington and published by the Liverpool History Society, this book traces the life of a local architect from his birth in 1805 on Shaw’s Brow to his death in 1884 at Falkner Square. It vividly re-creates with text, maps and photographs the parts of Liverpool (some then outside the boundary) in which Peter Ellis lived and worked, and where he met his Evertonian bride, Mary Helen Syers. Its title is, therefore, particularly appropriate and, as the authors point out, this is a book about an architect and not architecture.

Apart from the two buildings for which he is best known (Oriel Chambers and16 Cook Street) and for which he was reviled in print in his lifetime but is now internationally renowned, Ellis’ actual built output, as the book details, was very local and decidedly run of the mill.

The authors’ research, however, has unearthed many surprises about an architect of whom not much was widely known, such as his submission of designs in the competition for what became St George’s Hall and his other life as an inventor, the apogee of which must be his ground-breaking patent for the paternoster lift, which he appears to have been paid by a rival to allow to lapse.

This is a hefty book of 240 pages, printed in full colour and is brought to life by the lavish use of some 260 photographs, paintings, illustrations and maps (extensive use has been made of Michael Gage’s superb 1835 trigonometrical map of Liverpool). Each chapter is extensively referenced and there is a useful index.

This book (RRP £24) will be of great interest to local historians and no doubt more widely to architectural historians. It can be ordered (post-free in the UK only) from the author by contacting him at It is also available by visiting the Oriel Chambers Coffee Shop or the Editions Gallery at 16 Cook Street during opening hours.

A generous discount is available to Liverpool History Society members by contacting the author (as above).

Ron Jones

N.B. A 70-page supplement The Signatures of Peter Ellis (see details below) is available as a free download.


The Signatures of Peter Ellis

Click on the image of the cover of this PDF to view a 70 page supplement to the Society’s 2013 book in the Footsteps of Peter Ellis. It is copyright © 2014 but may be downloaded for personal use and will be of most interest to those who already have a copy of the book.

Arranged chronologically in 15 sections, it covers the period from 1810 (when Peter Ellis senior obtained a lease for building land in Gloucester Street) to 2014 (when a ruin in Park Road was discovered to have features which make it a candidate for further research).

In particular, section 1864 and section 1873 presents evidence that a pair of semi-detached houses on Catharine Street and a restaurant on Upper Duke Street were both designed by Peter Ellis.