Welcome to Liverpool Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Liverpool ConfidentialNews & Comment.

Sit-in at India Buildings

Fight on to keep Holt Arcade open

Written by . Published on December 6th 2012.

Sit-in at India Buildings

IT’S one of the country’s most striking shopping thoroughfares, but the future of Holt’s Arcade in Liverpool’s India Building is under threat.

Dozens of supporters gathered for a sit in as part of a campaign to ensure the arcade survives.

There was a small glimmer of hope when one of the tenants received a phone call from the building’s owners saying the arcade is safe.

But veteran cultural campaigner Wayne Colquhoun is not convinced it’s time to bring out the champagne and the bunting to celebrate. He says he wants to meet directors of London based owners Green Group to seek assurances that the marble-lined arcade is secure.

The fate of the arcade was thrown into doubt when the owners of India Buildings said they wanted to close the Brunswick Street entrance and use the arcade shopping space as management offices. That move would effectively have closed the arcade as a pedestrian through route from Water Street, and seen all the shops closed.

India Buildings LiverpoolHolt Arcade could be hidden from public view forever

Wayne is best known for his campaign against developments along Liverpool’s historic waterfront, saying they threaten the city’s World Heritage Site status. Little could he ever realise the battle lines would stretch to his own front door.

His antique shop, Circa 1900, in the arcade would be one of the victims of the proposed changes.

Wayne says his heart sank when he received a letter from Greens stating: “We have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money looking  at ways that we could improve India Buildings …. One of those exercises we undertook was to being in two retail experts to review the retail especially in terms of what we could do in the arcade. I’m afraid that as a result of that exercise, we didn’t have any positive feedback on the Arcade and its future as a retail destination, and in fact we were advised that the space would be better utilised as management offices to support the building.”

Wayne plans to send his petition, which has already gained more than 800 names,  to Mayor Joe Anderson in the hope he will intervened in the way Mayor Boris Johnson intervened to help save threatened Burlington Arcade in London.

Wayne told Liverpool Confidential: “There are a number of empty units in the arcade but I am aware of four potential occupiers who were told there were no shops available.

Burlingon Arcade - Saved By BojoBurlingon Arcade - Saved By Bojo“This beautiful arcade could be as famous as Burlington Arcade. The likes of this will never be built again and we need to save, protect and look after this. It is the eyes and the soul of India Building.”

Wayne is researching the history of the building believing a covenant prevents the arcade being closed.

He said: “When the building was being designed by Herbert Rowse the site was in two halves with a narrow road called Chorley Street. That street became the arcade, so people have been able to walk along it for decades.

“I believe it is a right of way because of the covenant. But even so this arcade needs to be celebrated and seen, not shut away from public view. I am eager to sit down and work with the owners to being this place alive again. Once, over 3,000 people worked here and there is no reason that could not happen again.”

Owners Green Group issued a statement today saying:  “We share much common ground with Wayne and we have worked with other retailers in the arcade to help them trade…it hasn’t succeeded because of some economic fundamentals outside our control, such as the shift in footfall patterns in Liverpool Business District, caused by Liverpool One moving the retail zone up to its boundaries.

“We can’t buck the market we can only react to it. Retailers do the same and the fact is they are not forming a queue to occupy Holt’s Arcade. We are pleased that Wayne continues to trade well but he is succeeding where others have failed.”

Editor's note: If you want to sign the petition, go into Circa 1900 in the Holt Arcade. As it's an antique shop, there is, as yet, no interweb version.

Vision of a contemporary classic 

Few buildings are as impressive as Liverpool’s India Buildings in Water Street, built in the 1920s as a statement to the city’s influence in the world. 

India Buildings was built at a cost of £1.25m between 1924 and 1932 as the headquarters of Alfred Holt’s Blue Funnel Line, then regarded as a globally important steamship company.


The architect was the renowned Herbert Rowse, responsible for a string of Liverpool’s best known buildings.

Rowse, inspired by his own global travels, had a vision of a contemporary classic in the heart of Liverpool.

It was designed to be converted into a warehouse if needed and replaced an earlier building of the same name. During the World War II blitz of Liverpool it was badly damaged.

It later achieved national significance as one of the UK's few regional passport offices, employing several hundred people.


Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

56 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 6th 2012.

That's not a very nice thing to say.

Do you want the India Buildings to be closed to the public?

Also, do you not think that some people ought to question the ridiculous excesses and stoopid ideas of those in authority?

AnonymousDecember 6th 2012.

Sez u!

Ray AitkenDecember 6th 2012.

The biggest self publicist is big mouth bullyboy Joe Anderson

Dontcha geddit?December 6th 2012.

John, your idea of progress is a set of characterless office blocks that won't even be built and just exist as a CGI to inflate the value of Peel's derelict land.

TownieDecember 6th 2012.

"Owners Green Group issued a statement today saying: “We share much common ground with Wayne and we have worked with other retailers in the arcade to help them trade…it hasn’t succeeded because of some economic fundamentals outside our control, such as the shift in footfall patterns in Liverpool Business District, caused by Liverpool One moving the retail zone up to its boundaries."

What rubbish! India buildings was never in the retail district! It is in the commercial district and all the shops in that area and along Dale Street, Tithebarn Street and Old Hall Street were servicing the immediate needs of the businesses and their employess.

For the last forty years at least they have almost all been sandwich shops, pubs, printers and copy shops, cafes, barbers' shops, tobacconists, newsagents, dry cleaners, restaurants, chemists, florists, temping agencies, banks, etc.
Proper independent specialist shops were able to survive there because of this - selling electronic equipment, hi-fi, electrical appliances and repairers, photographic dealers, cobblers, tailors, joke and novelty shops, etc. - because they weren't in competition to rent premises with the big department stores and chains.

If anything Liverpool One has brought the 'big' retail district closer by extending it towards the River.

1 Response: Reply To This...
TownieDecember 7th 2012.

If there is a change in footfall in this area it is because of the banks closing down, the Council and Civil Service closing offices, the Council selling off buildings, the Council allowing changes of purpose so that once prestigious business premises have become flats or even student accommodation so those areas have effectively died. No-one can afford to work there or open shops there any more.
The rents in the city centre are so high that businesses and public sector organisations have had to move their staff to more affordable locations such as sheds in god-forsaken ‘business parks’ and industrial estates miles from the centre.
The city is rotting from the centre like an old tree despite all the hysterical hyperbole about ‘regeneration’. Look at the state of Dale Street.

It needs workers more than it needs new buildings. It needs profiteering landlords even less.

Mickeydrippin'December 6th 2012.

I worked in India Buildings during the 1970s, when the magnificent arcade was always bustling with office workers during lunch hours but I accept that it now seems to be far less busy. I have never been a great fan of Wayne Colquhoun but would support him in this particular campaign

Eye in the SkyDecember 6th 2012.

Too many jobs have gone. The rents for office accommodation are too high.

How much of India Buildings is empty? I've heard that the Liver Building, the Cunard Building and much of the Port of Liverpool Building are empty.

Even so, John Bradley's mates at Peel Holdings want to build more empty offices!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 6th 2012.

Only in your mind are they my friends.

Eye in the SkyDecember 7th 2012.

Aw, Billy no-mates!

John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

Didn't realise the entire universe consisted of Wayne and his mates and peel holding. Actually come to think of it it doesn't but it does given an insight into you world view.

London RoadDecember 7th 2012.

Wayne is making the great leap of faith that Joe Anderson and any of our ham fisted Labour councillors appreciate architecture and culture. They have shown themselves time and again to be led by tie-less yobberati who hang about in the Newz bar

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

Wayne doesn't appreciate it or understand it, he just doesn't like change. He is as much a philistine as the council philistines. His innate lack of taste leads him to favour the pre approved past wither than develop his own opinions.

TownieDecember 7th 2012.

"They have shown themselves time and again to be led by tie-less yobberati who hang about in the Newz bar"

Well said, London Road!

Lib-Dem CouncillorDecember 7th 2012.

Errr... footie.... errr, Everton.... er dat's culcha, like...

AnonymousDecember 7th 2012.

There are many people in this city eager and desperate to make loads of money, and anything that stands in the way, ie some of our cherished buildings, will go. Nobody, and I suspect not even Wayne Colquhoun, is against progress. But at what price? India Buildings, the Liver Building, Martins Bank Building will still be there long after some of the shed-like modern architecture (not even built to last) has been forgotten. I have had many run-ins and robust debates with Wayne Colquhoun. But I will tell you something, we need people battling for the heart and soul of this city, and as irritating as he can be at times, I'dmuch prefer a hundred Wayne Colquhouns than some of the people who have commented on this thread.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

Where as of course the orginal owner of the building had different motives than make loads of money. This is the stupity of the stick in the muds position. Greed and averise build this city. Holt and Co built their fortunes on speculation, the ma himself was prepared to turn the building into a warehouse if it didn't make money.

London RoadDecember 7th 2012.

Hear hear!

Urban mythDecember 7th 2012.

To quote: JOHN BRADLEY Yesterday evening at 11:05 PM.

I like the arcade, I can remember when India Building had a Gun Smiths on the Upstream river side corner. I think the future of the shops in that area is connected with either some posh Hotel in Martins bank or a posh shop.

You see, you are doing it again, John. You believe all the PR about there being a posh hotel in the Martins Bank. Whatever happened to that one? Oh yeah, the economy collapsed.

Look at the evidence: The White Star building empty and in terminal decline, in this the centenary of the Titanic year. Shameful.

Martin's Bank, empty. The Three Graces, empty. The Mann Island offices built to destroy the view of them, empty.

There has to be an alternative to just erecting more and more office blocks in a city that, shall we be honest?, has been in commercial decline for decades. The closure of the Holt Arcade could well be the tip of the iceberg and soon the India Buildings will lie empty.

That what you want?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

You just believe any of the doom and gloom stories put out by the like of Wayne. I did a quick search for companies with addresses at Martins Bank. See bellow
We have for the first time in my life time private companies prepared to invest in Liverpool to build things like shops and hotels and offices and Wayne and his small cohort are upset that things might change. The companies investing in the 2 new, up market, hotels on Dale Street are putting their money where there moth is, where as you are risking nothing, not even your reputations by hiding behind pseudonyms.

Martins Bank contains http://www.thompsons.law.co.uk/ and http://www.glwatson.com/content/ContactUs.aspx and http://www1.sjp.co.uk/~/media/Files and www.randstad.co.uk/…/sjp-liverpool.pdf…

Hubert StegglesDecember 7th 2012.

Four? Is that all - in a building that size?

How many people do they employ at that address? People who would be customers in the shops in the immediate vicinity? People who would bring life to the streets?

You used to find more businesses than this operating over a tobacconist's or a sandwich shop in Dale Street.

John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

4 on a quick search shoows it's not empty, it might nor be full either but the statemnt that it is empty was clearly false.

AngelaDecember 7th 2012.

Liverpool Ice bar is the worst "attraction" I have ever visited in my life. Daylight robbery. I hope the people of Liverpool will take my word and not wastr any money on this appalling set up, it is no more than a portacabin with blue lights and a couple of ice blocks, hardly sculptures , the cold chocolate drink was disgusting as was the mulled wine, we asked for arefund which was refused. I am a reputable critic on trip adviser but this is the first time I have ever slated a venue. Even if you put santa in there would not make a difference,My living room is more exciting, so either give your money to charity or get a drink from costa , weatherspoons or any where else. I am surprised trading standards allow them to operate

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 7th 2012.

And this has got to do with what, exactly?

AnonymousDecember 7th 2012.

A reputable critic on Trip Advisor??!

Shall we translate that to be someone with a load of opinions and a broadband connection?
Don't take yerself so seriously Queenie

Edward HydeDecember 7th 2012.

'Trading Standards'? Surely all the staff there were made redundant by government cuts?

It makes life so much easier for the rip-off merchants, touts and con-men who want things to be more "business-friendly" by cutting what they call "red tape"...

Paul WardDecember 7th 2012.

Real Liverpudlians say "Queen", not "Queenie".

That aside, for someone who attacks another for self-publicising, Mr Bradley has a few too many posts oin this page.

To the owners and the council: work together to preserve and make viable a facet of Liverpool history. It's not too complicated - you've already narrowed the field by bulldozing half of it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 7th 2012.

Meh, I'll say what I like, but thanks anyway Queen :-)

R. A. MateDecember 7th 2012.

'Ey! Paul ward is a lar not a queen!

D. LiveryDecember 7th 2012.

Is there still a post office in India Buildings with its own entrance off Holt's Arcade, or has it been turned into a gangster bar ?

London RoadDecember 7th 2012.

John Bradley seems to be somebody with a personal grudge. Go and troll somewhere else please, this is an intelligent debate.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

Any criticism of Wayne is trolling is it? Nah it's just Wayne and his Oompa-Loompas do not like criticism.

Omar BradleyDecember 8th 2012.

Oh yeah?

The Mrs. Bradley MysteriesDecember 8th 2012.

Don't even know the gentleman

Andrea DearyDecember 7th 2012.

did anyone notice that John Bradley said "put their money where their MOTH is"?

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 7th 2012.

Perhaps they where more interest in the subject than you.

quietmanDecember 8th 2012.

I've always wondered why another of Liverpool's landmark and most famous, the Liver Bulding, does not open its cafe to the general public. Great oppotunity missed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 8th 2012.

having eaten there the public are not missing out in the slightest!

AnonymousDecember 8th 2012.

Liverpool is seemingly highly praised for its high class architecture. People even say this city has more listed buildings than anywhere outside of London - that is not true. Bradford has four times as many (check the lists if you don't believe this). Having said that we are blessed with a beautiful collection of stunning buildings, dozens of them. You would struggle to list stunning post-WW2 buildings on one hand, let alone both hands. So somebody has to make a stand when there is any threat to what we have left. Good on yer Wayne C.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyDecember 8th 2012.

More Grade 1 is true but not always accurately reported.

Sentimental SapDecember 9th 2012.

D. Livery,
A highly evolved post office, as a matter of fact.

Square DealerDecember 17th 2012.

When India Buildings was being planned thee was to be an underground Masonic temple in the basement. As war approached this space was commandeered and became the Western Approaches control room from which the Battle of the Atlantic was directed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mickeydrippin'December 19th 2012.

Wrong. Western Approaches was beneath Derby House (part of Exchange Buildings) - not India Buildings.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants


Remember your username is firstname.surname.last4digitsofemployeenumber@mysainsburys.co.uk…

 Read more

Once you log in you will be able to access information that is unique for your role Like any other…

 Read more

This online payslip process not only makes the payroll system comfortable, it also saves a lot of…

 Read more

Mycoles Logging In For The First Time -Registration If you are logging in for the first time. You…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2022

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code