THOMAS, Walter William [1849-1912]

It is a strange coincidence that at the beginning of the twentieth century there were two architects plying their trade In Liverpool called Walter Thomas. Walter Aubrey Thomas (a life-long resident of the Wirral) counted amongst his creations our most iconic building, the Royal Liver Building. His namesake, Walter William Thomas, worked on a somewhat smaller scale but his legacy is something very close to my heart as he designed some of our most impressive public houses.

The jewel in his crown is surely the magnificent Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Hope Street, closely followed in merit by The Vines on Lime Street, universally known to generations of Liverpudlians as the Big House. The merits of the Phil were reinforced in 2020 when it was upgraded to a category 1 listed building, the first purpose-built Victorian pub to be so designated. The Liverpool Heritage Bureau’s Buildings of Liverpool describes it as “a magnificent Art Nouveau confection of stepped gables, turrets, balconies and oriels. In his 1961 Pevsner Architectural Guide Joseph Sharples referred to a “jauntily eclectic exterior with stepped gables, ogee domes….and a serpentine balcony over the door”. The brewer Robert Cain aimed “to so beautify the public houses under his control that they would be an ornament to the town of his birth” and in commissioning Thomas to design them he achieved that aim in superlative fashion.

Other examples of Thomas’ work include houses around Sefton Park and alterations to The Brook House on Smithdown Road.

Walter William Thomas was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in 1849. In 1881 he was living in Toxteth at 53 Foxhill Street L8 but later moved to a substantial house at 19 West Albert Road L17 near Sefton Park. He subsequently moved to Heswall and it was there that he died in 1912.

18 West Albert Road L17

Walter Thomas' home near Sefton Park, an area containing houses of his design.


There is a comparatively short entry in Wikipedia but little else of substance.