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In the Footsteps of Peter Ellis
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) direct from the Society’s website and is available from a range of local outlets.

A generous discount is available to Liverpool History Society members: contact the Admin. Secretary, Fred Forrest.

Ron Jones

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

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