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The Workhouse Site

A suitable site seemed to suggest itself on Brownlow Hill. The Poor Law Institution, or Work House, there had been a shelter for Liverpool’s destitute from 1771 until 1928 when the revision of the Poor Laws brought the property on to the market. In 1800 one thousand inmates had been on its register, in 1900 over 4000, of whom over half were Catholics. Many of them were Irish people driven from their own country by famine. In 1930 the diocesan authorities purchased the nine acre site for £110,000. Sir Edwin Lutyens, (1869-1944) famous for his palatial country houses, memorials to the fallen of the First World War (including the Whitehall Cenotaph) and the monumental Viceroy’s palace in New Delhi, was commissioned to design a cathedral to contrast with the Gothic gem of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott which was rising at the other end of Hope Street, where building had started in 1904. Three years later the foundation stone was laid, on Whit Monday, 5 June 1933. Pathé News recorded this event. At the suggestion of Pope Pius XI the new cathedral was to be dedicated to Christ the King.