Littlewoods Building, Edge Lane, Liverpool

A giant mural has been painted on the iconic art deco style Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane.  The Littlewoods Pools building is a local landmark in Liverpool. It was built in 1938 by Scottish Architect Gerald de Courcey Fraser, who also designed a number of department stores for Lewis’s and others.  It is a listed building.

Littlewoods ‘football pools’ was founded in 1923 by John Moores and based in this building on Edge Lane.  The building has had various uses throughout its life. During World War II, it was used for the manufacture of barrage balloons and woollen material.  At the outbreak of the war the building’s mighty printing presses were used to print 17 million National Registration forms in just three days. The floors of Halifax Bombers were assembled at the building, and it was also the nerve centre of MC5, the government agency that intercepted mail to break enemy codes.  Bomb shelters in the basement areas still contain artwork and graffiti on the walls dating from the 1941 Wartime Blitz and ‘Battle of the Atlantic’, when parts of Liverpool, its rail yards and docklands suffered more bombs per square mile than even London’s East End.  The building also continued to be used by Unity Pools during the war (formed from the three Liverpool ‘football pools’ companies of Littlewoods, Zetters and Vernons).

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The ‘football pools’ or ‘pools’ for short, allowed people to bet on the results of football matches which were popular until the introduction of the National Lottery.  The building housed the giant printing presses that sent millions of pools coupons across the country every week to players dreaming of winning a large prize for predicting the correct final results to matches.

In March 2013, a regeneration scheme for the site at Edge Lane was approved by Liverpool City Council. North West developers, Capital & Centric had put forward proposals for a new development which compromised a hotel, high tech offices and shops. This didn’t go ahead but in September 2015 a revised plan from Capital & Centric was approved which will see the conversion of the art deco building into a £25m new film studio.

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Littlewoods Film Studios Liverpool, as they would be named, could lead to the creation of around 900 full time jobs.  The Council say that the studios will mean that Liverpool will be able to meet the growing demand for film and production facilities in the city. It has been estimated that in 2014-15 the city missed out on a potential £20m in revenue due to lack of capacity.

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In recent years some major films have been filmed in the city, including Sherlock Holmes, Captain America, Jack Ryan, Fast and Furious 6, Nowhere Boy and the TV dramas Peeky Blinders and Foyle’s War.  Recently Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant filmed Florence Foster Jenkins in Liverpool while during the summer large crowds gathered in front of the Town Hall where the forthcoming new TV series “Houdini and Doyle” was being shot.  The proposed new film studio site is also to become the new home for the Liverpool Theatre School, currently based in Aigburth.

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The former Littlewoods Pools Building has been vacant since 2003, and recently Capital and Centric completed a £4m conversion of the “Bunker Building” elsewhere on the site creating 20,000 sq ft of modern office space.

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In the meanwhile attention grabbing artwork has been produced for the facade of the buildings.  The art work covers the two huge 20m x 20m walls which face the dual carriageway, creating a colourful backdrop to this gateway into the city from the M62 motorway.  The mural has been designed and painted by globally renowned graffiti artist, Replete, together with Liverpool’s Betarok75.  The mural celebrates the thriving creative and digital industries in the city.

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The huge pictures feature local artists.  Lapsley a musician and producer who recently played at Coachella festival; Katherine Rose Morley an actor who recently starred in BBC drama Thirteen as well as Last Tango in Halifax; Louis Berry a rock and roll singer from Kirkby and Leon Rossiter a digital entrepreneur who founded Instinctive C. and who represents the young digital face of Liverpool.

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The mural has been commissioned by @GetItRight, a nationwide campaign promoting the value of the UK’s creative industries.  It was officially unveiled on 25th May.  The artwork is the fourth and final piece in the UK’s largest ever nationwide street art project which has seen 788 hours of painting and over 850 cans of spray paint used to cover a combined wall space of almost 1,400 square meters.

As photographers say the best camera is the one you have with you at the time.  As I drove past today I didn’t have my usual kit with me so I thought I’d take some pictures on my iphone to accompany this article.

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