Discover how this Liverpool landmark doubles as New York, the Victorian Era, and a Wizarding World. Plus, pick up a bit of History along the way.
I think I have found the perfect thing to do on a rainy day in Liverpool. Well in fact, this is just the perfect thing to do if you love film, learning more about Liverpool landmarks & want a bit of fun doing something different.
I spent a few hours on Saturday morning exploring St George’s Hall with the knowledgeable tour guide James.
We had booked our tickets a few weeks before, via the Ticket Quarter. For £5.50 we didn’t really know what to expect, turns out it is worth every penny & then some!
Exploring off the beaten track
The tour starts at the Heritage Centre Entrance. From here you head towards the old prisoner holding cells. There is a corridor of these that are open to the public, but you venture off to ones that aren’t on show.
The old cell corridors are continually in use for many different Film and TV shows. You may recognise them most from Most Haunted.
Daniel Day Lewis, when filming In The Name Of The Father, a 1993 courtroom drama, he actually stayed overnight in one of the cells. He is known for being a method actor, and said this prepared him for his final courtroom scene.
From here you head to the basement area of the building. Another area that is only accessible via tours. This area is so impressive & houses the original air conditioning system.
The design of the arch ways in the stone walls is so the natural air flows better around the space & up via vents to the rest of the building. This design by the architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes was revolutionary for its time.
Elmes was only 25 when he designed this building, he sadly died at 34 and didn’t see it in all its glory. He designed it so that it was grander than the Birmingham Town Hall & St Paul’s Cathedral. He wanted its stature to show that Liverpool was the greatest city in the British Empire. What a good lad!
By Order of the Peaky Blinders
In this basement area is where they filmed a scene for Peaky Blinders. Without the risk of a spoiler, in Season 4 Episode 1, there is a very tense scene where it looks like a lot of the Shelby family are coming to a dramatic end. Aunt Polly is on her own, and this is where her scene takes place.
Pretty cool hey!
Welcome To The Wizarding World
I knew that scenes in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were filmed in St George’s Hall and this is the part of the tour I was most excited for. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so learning more and more about that movie franchise is a win for me.
Liverpool, for filming , is regularly being used as New York’s double. The New York scenes for Fantastic Beasts were largely filmed at St George’s Hall.
This is the spot where Henry Shaw Jnr stood right before the obscurus attacks him. The Great Hall & the Plateau feature heavily in Fantastic Beasts.
Added History on The Great Hall
It was so great to hear how they lifted the wooden floor to reveal the original Minton tile floor. They scanned an image of it, and changed the British crests & symbols to USA ones, and CGI’d it in to the movie.
In the Great Hall also, Alan Rickman once performed a monologue from Hamlet. Sadly even for this great man & actor, the acoustics were off and his deep billowing voice didn’t carry very well. I liked this additional Harry Potter connection though.
It’s worth noting that at this part of the tour you go to areas that are again only accessible with a guide. Going up to the very top balcony of The Great Hall was a really unique experience.
St George’s Hall has 2 preserved court rooms. From when it opened in 1854 and up till 1984 this was Liverpool’s Crown Court. The courtrooms are now open to the public, as well as used for performance spaces and filming.
These particular courtrooms are often in use as the double for the Old Bailey in London.
As well as In The Name Of The Father being filmed here it is regularly used by the Hollyoaks production team & occasionally Coronation Street too.
Get Ready For Action
Before the tour was over we also got to see the stunning Concert Room. A theatre company were rehearsing a play in there, and proving how the arts are in the soul of this building. The Concert Room used to be used by Charles Dickens. He would hold readings in here of his famous works.
Around every corner there is a unique space. Each part of the building is used for an exhibition, theatre performance or film set. This is what makes this building so enchanting. Like the city it is in, it is ever evolving to suit the needs of the people who visit it.
St George’s Hall has not only been used time and time again for Foyles War, & Antique’s Road show but also played host to the soon to be released movie Tolkein.
Liverpool is the most filmed UK city outside of London, and St George’s Hall usually has a starring role. Other movies to note that have shot here are Creed and 51st State.
The biggest homage to this wonderful building though comes at the end of Fantastic Beasts. The wide shot filmed from Lord Nelson Street shows the Thunderbird flying up over “New York”. With a little help from CGI, Liverpool is once again transformed.
This tour lasts for 90 minutes (maybe a little longer) and is worth every minute of your time. If you’re a film lover then this is not to be missed. It was right up my street.
For more information on tours head to the Ticket Quarter.
And that’s me calling CUT now on today’s post.