Castle Street


Harrington Street was at one time one of Liverpool’s main thoroughfares and was latterly one of two last wood block paved streets in Liverpool. Wood blocks were seen as a major advance on granite setts at one time. Very quiet, but subject to damage by horses shod for haulage on granite. This meant that in port cities like Liverpool Glasgow and Belfast wood blocks could not be used on the main port-linked highways, and tended to be used for quiet running surfaces in business areas and near schools etc. Eventually the wood block surface was to prove deadly in the wet for modern rubber-tyred vehicles.

Harrington Street was surfaced over in 1968.

In 1913 60 million cu ft of timber was used in British highways, 130000 sq yds in Liverpool, and  95000 sq yds in Birkenhead.

Hydraulic Power for Buildings

Many buildings in Castle Street and the business area had pre-electricity power for lifts (and even vacuum cleaners) provided in the 1800's by the Liverpool Hydraulic Power Company. They used distinctive mains of external triangular cross section (possibly by law to ensure that accidental water supply connections were not made). Steam powered compressors were situated at Athol Street, taking a top-up water supply from the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

With the advent of electrical distribution, the steam compressors were initially replaced by electric compressors (now in Liverpool Museum).  Eventually pumping became uneconomic but lifts etc. continued in use with hydraulic power for some time with small electric pumps and pressure vessels installed in individual buildings, the street hydraulic mains becoming redundant.

Hydraulic power systems were also used in other major cities. Mersey Docks and Harbour Board had their own systems around the docks for powering cranes and lifting/ turning bridges. Local oil-filled hydraulic systems continue in use today.

Note that on the left side of Castle Street the National Westminster  Bank (Architect Norman Shaw) c.1900 is a fine example of an early steel frame with cantilevered framing over the banking hall.

BACK                                                                       NEXT

Viewing Harrington Street from Castle Street: Liverpool's last wood block paved road.


Basements in the Castle Ditch

Buildings in Castle Street  had lifts powered by the Liverpool Hydraulic Power Company before the advent of electricity: you could even vacuum clean with this water power!

Castle Street-Harrington Street

Proceed to the corner of Cooke Street