Old Photographs & Drawings of Liverpool: The David Lewis Hostel & Theatre
The David Lewis Hostel, June 1977. Photograph by kind permission of Sirob.
David Lewis (1822-1885) was a successful businessman who founded his first shop in Liverpool in 1856 and opened his second, a major retail department store, in Manchester 1880. He left his fortune to be used for the benefit of the working class people of Manchester and Liverpool and The David Lewis Trust was founded by Benn Wolfe Levy, one of his executors, on 7th July 1893. Two committees were established, one for Liverpool and one for Manchester. A group of people in Manchester who wished to provide facilities for people with epilepsy applied to the David Lewis Trust for support. This must have caught the imagination of the Manchester Committee who purchased the land and established the Sandlebridge Campus which they donated by Trust Deed on 8th September 1904. The David Lewis Centre accepted its first two residents on the 11th October 1904 with the one hundredth resident arriving on 27th July 1905 and the thousandth resident arriving on 13th May 1916.
The David Lewis Theatre (illustrated below) was erected as part of the David Lewis building in 1906, on the site of St. James' Market and it was intended primarily as a music hall for men using the hostel and club. It was first licensed (as a music hall) from January 1907, but, as it was a large and quite elaborate structure, it was felt it would be bad economy to limit its use to just a music hall, so arrangements were made with local amateur dramatic societies to stage their productions there. The first theatrical licence was issued in October, 1910.
Right: an ornately arched and tiled hallway inside the Davy Lou
Rob Ainsworth, Liverpool History Society
Great George Place 23/2/1910. The 'Davy Lou' is on the right.
Nile Street seen from the Cathedral. The 'Davy Lou' is on the left.
All of these buildings, except for the tall bank in the middle distance, have now gone.
The facade just before demolition in 1980
The end. Note the Anglican Cathedral on the left and the caged-in rooftop football pitch on the right.