PATEY, Edward Henry [1915 - 2005]

At the beginning of his book My Liverpool Life Edward Patey recalls that when he was promoted in the church hierarchy to the post of Dean of Liverpool many of his friends sent him letters of condolence. He was leaving a post at Coventry and the contrasts could hardly have been greater. The midlands city was rapidly building Basil Spence’s modernist cathedral, replacing the medieval church destroyed by enemy bombing, whilst Liverpool was struggling to complete a gothic giant unique amongst twentieth century buildings and already six decades in the making. Coventry was an expanding city, its numbers increasing on the back of the growth of engineering, especially the motor industry. Liverpool was commencing its decline in population and commerce. However, Patey had few doubts about the move, and in Spring 1964 he and his family arrived in the city.

The problems he faced in managing the completion of the cathedral where many and varied. Firstly there was the need to find the finances, with inflation raising the amount required each day. Most Liverpudlians today have grown up with the cathedral a finished article and one of such magnificence that few would question its existence. This was not the case when Patey arrived in the city. It was attacked on two fronts, those who thought the money could more good elsewhere and those who felt the gothic monument was not in keeping with the modern world. Whilst understanding these views Patey proved an exceptional advocate for completing the task, determined that the cathedral should become a true focus of community faith and activity in the city.

After countless setbacks on 25th October 1978 the Queen attended a service commemorating the cathedral’s completion (although the scaffolding on the western frontage attested that this was not technically correct). Patey was then able to throw himself wholeheartedly into ensuring that it would be used in as varied and energetic way as possible. Under his guidance it was to see great traditional ceremony and by contrast performances by musicians as disparate as the German band Tangerine Dream and Liverpool’s own Spinners. It is to his credit that he persevered with this agenda as having a performance by the Bee Gees in the cathedral in 1967 had generated considerable criticism of the Dean when the assembled fans became somewhat raucous.

During his time in Liverpool he lived at 197 Queens Drive L15 (his neighbour at 199 being the eminent lawyer Rex Makin).

Edward Patey continued as Dean of Liverpool until 1982, remaining an active ecclesiast and writer of many books. He died aged 90 on 25th September 2005.

Patey was born on 12th August 1915 the son of a Bristol doctor, After attending Marlborough School, Hertford College, Oxford and Westcott College, Cambridge he was ordained into the Church of England in 1939. He gained inner-city parish experience in Colchester, Bristol and Sunderland and in 1958 was appointed canon residentiary at Coventry.

197 Queens Drive L15

The Patey family's home in Liverpool


Patey's book  My Liverpool Life [1983 Mowbray]  is the most detailed account of his work in Liverpool and his views on the place of the cathedral in the community. The Wikipedia entry is very thin but worth reading is the Guardian obituary.