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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 30 July 2017 Posted on Sunday 30 July 2017

A New Cathedral 1960
A major exhibition opens at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King this Thursday, 27 July 2017. ‘A new Cathedral 1960’ examines what might have been had an alternative design been chosen for the site on Mount Pleasant in 1960.

The unique exhibition has been produced by Dominic Wilkinson of the Liverpool School of Art and Design and has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund North West with thanks also due to John Moores University and the Cathedral Jubilee Committee for supporting the project.

Many of the final shortlisted schemes, though highly praised, have until now remained filed away in archives and offices in various locations.

As part of the fiftieth Jubilee celebrations of the completion of the Metropolitan Cathedral a decision was taken to collate plans and formulate a number of models of the other shortlisted designs for the Cathedral. They give a wonderful insight into the changing nature of church design of that period and the many different interpretations of the brief given for the project.

In 1959 Archbishop John Carmel Heenan announced an international architectural competition to produce a completely new building, which would relate to the existing Crypt and be capable of construction within five years. Of 298 entries from all over the world Sir Frederick Gibberd’s design was chosen and building began in October 1962.

Professor Dominic Wilkinson says, ‘The daunting prospect of tracking down 298 competition entries from around the world after an interval of 50 years should probably have put someone off at the start, but then ignorance is bliss. The purpose of tracing the designs was twofold; to provide the material for an exhibition as part of the Jubilee celebrations and to give an insight into this important turning point in the architecture of Catholic churches’.

Cathedral Dean, Canon Anthony O’Brien sees the exhibition as a celebration, ‘We are blessed to have a unique and instantly recognisable Cathedral building. This Exhibition entitled ‘A new Cathedral, 1960’ is not so much a case of what might have been but rather a celebration of the best of architectural design of the 1960s.’

The exhibition runs from Thursday 27 July to Sunday 10 September in the main entrance area of the Cathedral. It is open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm each day and entry is free.