Review: The Great Space Tour at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Posted on 7 October 2010
By Angela Johnson
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Seventy-four years in the making, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral stands with breathtaking dominance in the Liverpool skyline, towering 500ft above the River Mersey.

While admission to the Cathedral is free, The Great Space Tour invites visitors to take an in depth (and at height!) look at all the Anglican Cathedral has to offer. And what a list that is.

Not only is Giles Gilbert Scott’s 20th century masterpiece the largest Cathedral in Europe, it boasts the largest working church organ in the world (over 10,000 pipes), highest (219ft/67 m) and heaviest (31 tons) ringing peal of bells in the world, along with the highest Gothic arches ever built.

The friendly female voice on the audio tour provides fascinating nuggets of history including the astonishing revelation that Scott was aged just 21 when he won a competition to design the Cathedral, and that Sir Paul McCartney, as a schoolboy, failed his audition to join the choir.

Many Merseyside residents will admire the Cathedral’s beauty from afar rather than exploring its magnificent interior and awe-inspiring history. Or, as your audio tour guide will point out, its present. The Cathedral proves itself to be a living, breathing monument through which the city can celebrate the glory of God and human craftsmanship.

Wandering through the “Great Space” Giles designed, it is impossible not to feel humbled by its vast expanse. Yet, a warmth of atmosphere permeates the walls making the visitor feel welcome within the glorious surroundings. Helpful guides dressed in red robes are dotted throughout the Cathedral to answer any questions or point you in the right direction.

Do not miss The Lady Chapel, the first part of the Cathedral to be completed in 1910, it was designed as a beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary. Following restoration after the 2nd World War, it now holds portrait windows showing women from different areas of life, including some local heroes like Kitty Wilkinson – helper of the poor – and Agnes Jones – a devoted nurse – as well as nationally known figures such as Grace Darling, Elizabeth Fry and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Guided through the expanse with easy-to-follow numbered instructions, along with 3 interactive computer stations bursting with information, your audio tour will finish with the invitation to climb the Vestey Tower. Open to the public at various times throughout the week, it is accessible by 2 consecutive lifts followed by 108 stairs. (Pregnant women, those with asthma, other chest conditions or heart problems are advised to exercise extreme caution).

If you are fit and able enough, the view from atop the Tower is utterly worth the climb.

Visiting on Thursday evening during its Late Night Opening (available until 28th October) was an exquisite experience. Absorb the bright lights surrounding the Liver Buildings, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Albert Dock and the now instantly recognisible Echo Arena while residents are caught up in the bustle of life below, this is a truly unique view of the city. Isolated from the world below, whether you are religious or not, the Tower view is a location which invites contemplation and reflection.

For those unable to soak in the real thing, visitors can enjoy a 10 minute panoramic film shot in High Definition (HD) in a newly built theatre near the café either before or after your audio tour. Immerse yourself in the story of the Cathedral’s construction, then feel the exhilaration and wonder of ‘flying’ through its glorious high spaces with ‘never seen before’ archive material and beautifully shot aerial footage of Liverpool.

Before you leave, take in the artworks old and new which are littered throughout the Cathedral. The Liverpool Biennial Festival 2010 runs throughout the city until 28th November 2010 and sculptor Tony Cragg’s works are displayed in the Cathedral Well, while artists in residence Jane Poulton and Lin Holland have Earth and Aether in the Chapter House. Step into the Oratory in St James Cemetery to see a very interesting piece by Laura Belém: The Temple of a Thousand Bells.

Vistors to the city will be inspired, while I guarantee residents visiting for the first time will kick themselves for not exploring this magnificent building’s rich history sooner.



The Great Space Film and Audio Tour forms part of our Attractions Ticket, valid for 2 days, available from the Cathedral Shop.

Standard £5, concessions £3.50, family £12 (2 adults and up to 3 children)
Contact: 0151 702 7255 or visit for more information.

Tower Opening times:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10.00 – 16.30 (last ticket time)
Thursdays (until 28th October 2010): 10.00 – 19.30 (last ticket time)
Sundays: Approx 11.45am (once Cathedral Eucharist service is concluded) – 15.30 (last ticket time)