Friday, 12 November 2010

The Liverpool Royal Institution

Hello Rob,

whilst walking round the Bold Street area I spotted a building called The Liverpool Royal Institution.  I would like to konw something about the the Royal Institution and if it is still active.

Peter Deveroux


  1. Dear Peter,

    In 1814 a group of Liverpool merchants and professional men, led by the broker William Corrie, established the Liverpool Royal Institution for ‘the Promotion of Literature, Science and the Arts’. The group included William Rathbone IV and William Roscoe, who was the first chairman of the General Committee and subsequently the Institution’s first President.

    Money was raised by selling shares and the building on Colquitt Street, originally built in 1799 for Thomas Parr, merchant, as a house and warehouse, was purchased. The building was converted and formally opened on 25 November 1817, with William Roscoe delivering the inaugural address. A royal charter was granted in 1821.

    A lecture programme was started, with courses being delivered during the daytime and evenings. Science courses met the needs of medical students and practitioners whilst the literature and arts programme covered topics such as English and foreign literature, philosophy, history, fine art and music.

    The Royal Institution housed a range of collections, most of which were gifted or presented to them. The Art Gallery collection was made up of art works and casts which grew considerably and in 1840 it was decided that a permanent gallery should be built. Subscriptions were raised and the new building, on the opposite side of Colquitt Street, was opened in January 1843. The Art Gallery was the venue for Audubon’s first exhibition in Europe in 1826.

    The Museum of Natural History and Antiquities was overseen by William Swainson. It housed a fine collection of birds. The Library was not extensive and related mainly to the natural history collections of the Museum and the collections of the Art Gallery. The Archives comprised of administrative records, including subscribers and proprietors lists, financial records and visitor books. The Royal Institution School, a grammar school for boys, was very successful. It began in the original building and was later housed alongside the Art Gallery until its closure in 1892.
    In 1860 the William Brown Library and Museum was opened. This was followed in 1877 by the Walker Art Gallery and the Picton Reading Room in 1879. Over the following years the majority of the Art Gallery collections were given to the Walker Art Gallery and the Museum, Library and Archives were transferred to the newly founded University College Liverpool. The Liverpool Royal Institution was formally dissolved in 1948.

    The objective of the Royal Institution, as stated at the 31 March 1814 meeting, was to be a society "for promoting the increase and diffusion of Literature, Science and the Arts". A Detailed Plan of the Institution issued on 18 August 1814 proposed to accomplish this aim "I. By Academical Schools II. By Public Lectures III. By the Encouragement of Societies who may unite for similar Objects IV. By Collections of Books, Specimens of Art, Natural History, etc. V. By providing a Laboratory and Philosophical Apparatus and VI. By Association of the Proprietors". Money was raised by subscription and, despite the difficulties caused in the interim by the failure of Roscoe's banking house, by 17 July 1817 a property in Colquitt Street (built in 1799 to serve as residence and offices for the Liverpool merchant Thomas Parr), had been purchased and the Liverpool Royal Institution was formally opened in November 1817.


    Liverpool History Society

    (Source: H.A. Ormerod, The Liverpool Royal Institution: a record and a retrospect, Liverpool University Press, 1953)

  2. Wedi mwynhau y wefan. Diolch i chi


  3. Hello Jon,

    ddiolch 'ch

    Cofion Gorau

    Liverpool History Society

  4. The Royal Institution brings back memories of sixty or so years ago when I sat exams there. Cannot recall whether it was my Accountancy exam or, earlier, my School Certificate.
    Too many years;too many exams!