Bridewell Studios


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Bridewell Studios, Prescot Street


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Statutory Address:
Bridewell Studios, Prescot Street

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Liverpool (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:



PRESCOT STREET Bridewell Studios


II Former police station, divisional HQ and bridewell, c.1920-26, brick with pressed red brick facings and sandstone dressings, English Garden Wall Bond, Welsh slate pitched and hipped roofs in diminishing courses, cast-iron rainwater goods, eclectic style with classical and Queen Anne influences

PLAN: L-shaped plan with buildings and high wall enclosing central yard area

EXTERIOR: Site bordered to front by Prescot Street, Prospect Street to rear, Harper Street to east. Main building fronts Prescot Street with single storey range set to right angle at left rear, cell range to rear of site parallel to Prospect Street connecting to Superintendent's house (elevations to Harper Street, Prospect Street and enclosed yard area). High walls to south east enclose central yard. Large arched gateway with channelled rustication to left of Superintendent's residence incorporating elaborate carved relief of Liverpool city coat of arms provides access into yard.

Main building: two-storeys plus basement, seven-bay front elevation, channelled rusticated stonework to basement, centre and end bays with stone facings flanked by stone pilaster strips surmounted by Greek style frieze. Centre bay with carved roundel. Main entrance to far right, original double doors, decorative surround to upper part, beed and reel moulded flat hood above supported on carved consoles. Carved window surrounds, 6-over-6 sash windows to ground and first floor, centre bay with paired 4-over-4 sash windows, diagonal metal bars to basement windows. Dentil eaves cornice with pressed brick and stone parapet above, pierced balustrade to end bays, small carved lion heads to centre and end bays. Two large stone ridge stacks. Blank rendered side elevations. Large 6-over-6 sash windows and slender casements to rear, flat-arched heads in gauged pressed brick. Two brick chimney stacks.

Rear range: Single storey, four bays, flat roof with two large skylights, possibly part of original fire station and later a parade room. Three large arched recessed multipaned windows (that to far right with replaced glazing to lower part), stone sills and keystones. Tall arched doorway to bay three in same style. Three-storey building in plain brick to rear fronting Prospect Street, probably general officer accommodation, accessed via interior of rear range. Sash windows, stone eaves cornice and carved panels between first and second floor windows, parapet wall to flat roof, chimney stack. Third floor doorway to south side leads on to roof. Later garage block attached to north west.

Cell range: five bays, short arched multipaned windows in same style as rear range (that to bay two with replaced lower glazing). Central arched doorway, five-panel double doors, accessed by short timber stair. Attached Superintendent's house fronts Harper Street, Queen Anne style, six bays, three chimney stacks. 6-over-6 sashes to ground floor, 3-over-3 sashes to first floor, carved stone panels between floors. Rusticated quoin strips to each corner. Main entrance to bay four with recessed timber and glazed double door, diagonal bars to glazed upper panels, overlight incorporating Police 'star' emblem, carved stone surround, flat hood supported on carved consoles. Additional entrances to left and right side elevations in similar style; that to left situated within enclosed yard leads into cell area.

INTERIOR: timber floorboard, concrete and parquet floors survive throughout.

Main building: linear plan with central hallway. Original brown tiled fireplaces, tiled dados to entrance hall (green) and hallways (brown) with patterned bands to top, arched openings to hallways. Enquiries hatch in ground floor hallway. Original painted blue timber and glazed doors throughout (some glazing painted or boarded over), diagonal glazing bars to upper panels. Moulded cornicing to some ground and first floor rooms. Main dog-leg stair with timber handrail and pierced metal balustrade (also painted blue), original sign with hand pointing to upper floor reads 'DETECTIVE OFFICE'.

Rear range: open plan, two large multipaned skylights, parquet floor, white tiled dado. Officer accommodation to north west corner with enclosed dog-leg stair, brown tiled dado to concrete stair and landings in same style as main building. Original tiled fireplaces, coving, doors and toilets. Inserted doorway to west wall of ground floor provides access into adjacent later garages.

Cell range: white tiled walls and ceiling, nine cells (six retain original form, five retain original metal doors), vaulted ceilings, original barred arched windows with inserted glazing in front, cells to far left with side walls knocked through, one cell with enlarged entrance.

Superintendent's house: tiled entrance vestibule to yard entrance, some original fireplaces, original doors, timber dog-leg stair. Some partitioned ground floor areas, inserted screen and door to first floor landing.

HISTORY: The first bridewell and fire station at Prescot Street was constructed in 1853. The land for the original buildings cost £926 and further land to the east was later purchased in 1899 for £2050.

Late C19/early C20 maps depict a building complex with buildings mainly to the rear of the site with a small central courtyard. It is not until 1928 that the present configuration of buildings appears on a map although the main building fronting Prescot Street and the rear range were completed by 1920. The original use of the site was as a bridewell and fire station and it remained in combined use until 1921 when it became 'Prescot Street Police Station, Divisional Headquarters and Bridewell'.

In 1905 it was determined that the station had inadequate space and facilities, and poor Superintendent's residential accommodation. The Corporation owned adjacent property and land and plans were made to enlarge the site, which included providing rooms for the Inspector and Detective Inspector, increasing accommodation for the sergeants, a store, an enlarged charge room and parade room, and improved light for the cells. This adjacent property is believed to be where the Superintendent's residence and part of the cell complex now is, and building work was completed by 1926 at a cost of £9241. By 1976 the police station had ceased use and was rented by a group of artists and established as Bridewell Studios. The group later became a not-for-profit organisation in 1981 known as Art Space Merseyside Ltd, which still operates out of the building. Over the years the property has provided workspace for internationally recognised artists, such as Stephen Broadbent, Anish Kapoor and David Gray. It has also been a filming location for 'Boys from the Blackstuff'.

SOURCES: Liverpool City Archives: Report of the Head Constable. 1905. Merseyside Police Archives: Book of police station plans. 1926.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: Bridewell Studios is designated Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* It is a distinctive and well-preserved example of an early C20 divisional police HQ and bridewell incorporating public and private offices, police accommodation and cells * It is an important and uncommon survival of an intact police station complex built around a central yard area * The exterior is a well-designed and strikingly elegant composition that successfully conveys the importance and function of the police station through architectural styling and the use of imagery, such as the city's coat of arms over the prisoners' gate into the yard area and the police star emblem over the entrance to the Superintendent's house * The use of high quality materials and a stylistic continuity is found throughout the complex both externally and internally * The original internal space division and planning within the buildings is still clearly readable with different areas for the police, public and prisoners * The interior is little altered and retains many original features including tiled fireplaces, tiled entrance halls and corridors, internal doors and main stairs. In addition, the survival of six intact cells and their fittings is notable.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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