Liverpool Fruit Exchange
An early start for this building as it's fairly centrally located and involved a big climb up scaffolding to gain access. Visited with David, we found our way into the building and were not dissapoimted. The interior albeit covered in dust and pigeon droppings seemed fairly well preserved except for the usual peeling paint. The two auction rooms brimmed with history from when this building was a thriving exchange at the heart of the trade industry in Liverpool. These intimate industry sites are amongst my favourites along with George Barnsley and the Ships Chandlers building. They exude atmosphere and history as one can imagine the once busy throng of people doing their business all those years ago.
We spent a good couple of hours inside photographing every part we could before making the long descent to street level again.
Grade II listed, the building was built in 1888 as a railway goods depot for the London and North Western Railway (to serve Exchange Station on Tithebarn Street) and was converted into a fruit exchange in 1923 by James B. Hutchins.
It became the main trading point for fruit within the city and dealt with the majority of fruit imports coming into Liverpool.
Hundreds of people would cram into the exchange halls and bid for fruit which had just arrived in Liverpool from all around the world.
Warehouses directly behind, in Mathew Street, were used to store the fruit sold at the exchange.
These were eventually converted into licensed premises, and this part of the former Fruit Exchange empire today includes Rubber Soul, Route 66, Eric’s and the Laughterhouse Comedy Club Pop Box.
The Fruit Exchange is owned by Cloudbluff Properties, whose director, Robert McGorrin, has been hoping to secure a viable long-term future for it since 2009.
He says: 'It’s a great building – the auction rooms are unbelievable. There is so much history attached to the place'.
However, there is also plenty of devastation.
Robert went on to say: 'We must have spent £500,000 on it since 2009. We’ve carried out urgent works, waterproofed the whole building and undertaken a lot of general maintenance. It had been neglected for years and there was so much water damage – but, structurally, it’s solid. Back in 2009, the insurance people said it’s too wet to go on fire and too well-built to fall down.
After it closed as a Fruit Exchange, it provided office space. There has been a lot of interest in it, but it’s such an odd-shaped building. It’s just finding proposals that will fit'.