THE landmark façade of the Futurist in Lime Street CAN be saved, according to a leading structural engineer who carried out an independent inspection just a fortnight ago.
The derelict cinema has been cordoned off since April 15 when council officials claimed there was a danger of it collapsing.
Campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage has submitted an urgent report to Liverpool City Council challenging the imminent demolition plans proposed to the building’s historic façade.
In agreement with the city council, SAVE commissioned the Morton Partnership, a London-based independent structural engineers who specialise in historic buildings, to inspect the main elevation of the Futurist cinema.
Beams inside the Futurist
The report by Ed Morton, director of the firm, sets out a clear strategy for propping up and retaining the façade which he says he hopes will be included in a new design for Lime Street.
Mr Morton visited the Futurist four days after it was sealed off. He was accompanied by representatives from Liverpool City Council and Neptune Developments which plans to demolish and redevelop the site.
In a statement SAVE said: “Ed Morton states that having studied the original plans and visited inside the building, “It is possible to introduce a scheme of temporary works in the form of a steel frame to provide temporary restraint to the elevation” and that in his opinion “it should be perfectly possible to retain the front elevation of the building and incorporate it into a new scheme”.
“Ed Morton also adds that after close inspection of the front façade, and from examination of previous reports, that the terracotta tiles do not appear to be coming away from the main wall, and that if this was the case, then conservation treatments could be used to stabilise them.”
The report acknowledges the vulnerability of the top pediment section of the façade If this small section is dismantled it should be carefully recorded and the tiles conserved. He recommends that this work should be kept to a minimum, and that any further demolition is not necessary.
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE said: “This report is encouraging news – it shows that the vast majority of the historic façade can be stabilised and retained, and that any drastic demolition is not necessary. We are calling on the council to act on the report recommendations without delay.”
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE said: “The Futurist has the grandest frontage of any surviving pre 1st World War cinema. Dating from 1912 it is a landmark of cinema history and testimony to a golden age in Liverpool. The Electric Palace in Harwich, dating from 1911, has been saved and restored. Surely a great city like Liverpool can do the same.”