India Buildings: A Showcase of Indian Heritage and Colonial Architectural Beauty

A wide angle view of the India Buildings in Liverpool England. This image highlights the buildings striking Edwardian Baroque architecture with its

India Buildings, located in Liverpool, England, is a commercial building that showcases Indian heritage and colonial architectural beauty. Built between 1924 and 1932, the building was designed by architects Arnold Thornely and Herbert J. Rowse. It features an Italian Renaissance architectural style with American Beaux-Arts features. The building occupies an entire block in the city and is known for its grandeur and historical significance in British India.

Key Takeaways:

  • India Buildings is an iconic landmark in Liverpool, England.
  • It represents the historical grandeur and cultural heritage of British India.
  • The building is an example of Indian architecture within a colonial context.
  • Designed by Arnold Thornely and Herbert J. Rowse, it showcases Italian Renaissance and American Beaux-Arts styles.
  • India Buildings is a testament to the architectural beauty of the era.

History of India Buildings

India Buildings, located in Liverpool, England, has a rich historical significance and a captivating story of construction. Built between 1924 and 1932, the building was commissioned by the renowned shipping firm, Blue Funnel Line. As a speculative venture, it served both as the Blue Funnel Line’s own headquarters and as a space for leasing offices to other businesses.

An architectural design competition was held, and the winning design for India Buildings was created by architects Arnold Thornely and Herbert J. Rowse. The building replaced a previous structure on the site known as “India Building.” It was constructed in two stages, straddling the former Chorley Street in Liverpool.

The initial occupants of India Buildings included prominent institutions such as Lloyds Bank, a post office, commercial and insurance companies, solicitors, and government offices. However, during the bombing of Liverpool in 1941, the building suffered significant damage.

Despite the destruction, India Buildings was later restored to its original condition under the supervision of Herbert J. Rowse, one of the architects who originally designed the building. This restoration ensured that the historical value and architectural grandeur of India Buildings were preserved for generations to come.

Architecture of India Buildings

The architectural design of India Buildings is inspired by the Italian Renaissance style with American Beaux-Arts features. The building is constructed on a steel frame and is clad in Portland stone. It has nine storeys, a mezzanine, a basement, and a sub-basement, providing ample space for various activities. The main entrance on Water Street is adorned with three tall arches, adding a touch of grandeur to the building. Bronze lamps flank the entrance, illuminating the entrance area and creating a welcoming ambiance.

India Buildings boasts intricate details in its architecture, showcasing the artistry and craftsmanship of its designers. The exterior of the building features ornamental balconies and decorative shop fronts at the basement level, creating a visually appealing facade. Renowned sculptor Edmund C. Thompson has contributed his artistic expertise to the building, with intricate sculpture work adorning its exterior. Notable sculptures include cherubs and crests depicting Neptune and Tritons, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to the building.

As you step inside India Buildings, you’ll be greeted with a shopping arcade that spans across multiple floors. The arcade not only provides a space for retail activities, but also features beautiful marble floors, columns, and a stunning turquoise and gold ceiling. These exquisite interior details highlight the attention to detail and the commitment to creating a luxurious and aesthetically pleasing environment within the building. Whether you are exploring the shops or visiting the offices, the architecture of India Buildings is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Architectural FeaturesDescription
Main EntranceAdorned with three tall arches and flanked by bronze lamps
Exterior DetailsOrnamental balconies, decorative shop fronts, and intricate sculpture work by Edmund C. Thompson
Interior DesignMarble floors, columns, and a turquoise and gold ceiling in the shopping arcade

Historic Significance of India Buildings

India Buildings is a Grade II* listed building of immense historical and architectural value. Its design and construction pay homage to Liverpool’s historical connection with the United States and early 20th-century commercial buildings in New York. This architectural marvel seamlessly blends the grandeur of Italian Renaissance aesthetics with the elegance of American Beaux-Arts style, standing as a testament to the fusion of cultures that shaped the building’s creation.

The meticulous attention to detail and adherence to the United States grid system of town planning make India Buildings a remarkable example of architectural excellence. Its high-quality internal finishes and grandiose facade reflect the dedication to craftsmanship prevalent in its era. The preservation of its major elements and its harmonious coexistence with neighboring listed buildings further amplify its heritage value.

“India Buildings is more than just a monumental structure; it represents the historical and cultural fabric of Liverpool, celebrating the shared heritage of India and Great Britain.”

Inspired Architectural Styles

India Buildings showcases a harmonious blend of the Italian Renaissance and American Beaux-Arts architectural styles. The fusion of these two distinctive styles creates a visual spectacle that captivates architectural enthusiasts and history aficionados alike.

With its strong classical influence, the building’s facade boasts ornate detailing and elegant proportions. The use of Portland stone adds a touch of opulence, while the bronze lamps and decorative crests exemplify the meticulous attention to detail. Inside the building, visitors are greeted with a grand shopping arcade adorned with marble floors, majestic columns, and a resplendent turquoise and gold ceiling.

Key FeaturesArchitectural Styles
Exterior FacadeItalian Renaissance
Main EntranceAmerican Beaux-Arts
Ornamental DetailsItalian Renaissance
Interior DesignAmerican Beaux-Arts

Current Use and Future Plans

In 2017, British multinational financial services company Legal & General purchased India Buildings, a historic and iconic landmark in Liverpool, England. The building has now become the home of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which intends to establish a Regional Centre within its grand premises. The renovation efforts are extensive and include repairing and cleaning the facade, refurbishing the ornate windows, and replacing the existing lifts to ensure a modern and efficient space for HMRC’s operations.

However, the renovation process faced unexpected challenges when approximately 400 tonnes of asbestos were discovered during the construction works. As a result, the renovation had to be temporarily halted to prioritize the safe and efficient removal of the hazardous material. To overcome this setback, a new contractor has been appointed to continue the redevelopment process, ensuring compliance with all necessary health and safety regulations.

The extensive renovation of India Buildings is a testament to the commitment to preserve its historical and architectural significance while adapting the space to meet the needs of a modern government organization.

The expected completion date for the renovation and the move-in of HMRC staff is set for 2022. Once completed, India Buildings will continue to stand as a symbol of Liverpool’s rich heritage and architectural beauty, providing a grand and functional space for the HMRC’s Regional Centre.

Personal Stories and Connections

India Buildings holds a special place in the hearts of many individuals, as it has been the backdrop for personal stories and family connections. One such story is that of a press officer working in India Buildings, who shared her parents’ love story. It was in 1969 when her parents met and fell in love while working in this historic building, creating a lifelong bond. The enduring presence of India Buildings in her family’s history makes her work within its walls feel like a homecoming, deeply rooted in a sense of heritage and nostalgia.

These personal stories not only reflect the individual experiences linked to India Buildings but also contribute to its wider cultural significance. They serve as tangible connections to the past, reminding us of the building’s historical and emotional value. The cultural significance of India Buildings is thus not only reflected in its architectural beauty but also in the personal connections and memories that it has fostered over the years.


India Buildings in Liverpool, England, stands as an iconic landmark, showcasing the historical grandeur and cultural heritage of British India. Its stunning architecture, influenced by the Italian Renaissance and American Beaux-Arts styles, captivates visitors from all over the world. The building’s restoration and current use as an office and retail space highlight its significance in both historical and contemporary contexts. India Buildings continues to serve as a testament to the legacy of Indian heritage and colonial architectural beauty.

The India Buildings, with its majestic presence, offers a glimpse into the rich history of British India. Its grand facade and intricate details transport visitors back to a time of opulence and elegance. With its Italian Renaissance design and American Beaux-Arts features, the building stands as a living homage to the architectural prowess of its creators.

As a symbol of cultural heritage, India Buildings proudly represents the achievements and contributions made by Indian architects and workers during the colonial era. It is a reminder of the shared history between Britain and India, and the enduring legacy of this partnership.

Today, India Buildings continues to be a vibrant hub of activity, housing various commercial and retail spaces. It remains an important part of Liverpool’s architectural landscape, attracting locals and tourists alike. The preservation and continued use of this iconic landmark ensure that future generations can appreciate its historical grandeur and cultural significance for years to come.


When was India Buildings constructed?

India Buildings was constructed between 1924 and 1932.

Who were the architects of India Buildings?

The architects of India Buildings were Arnold Thornely and Herbert J. Rowse.

What architectural styles influenced the design of India Buildings?

India Buildings showcases an Italian Renaissance architectural style with American Beaux-Arts features.

What is the current use of India Buildings?

India Buildings is currently home to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which plans to establish a Regional Centre in the building.

What is the historical significance of India Buildings?

India Buildings is designated as a Grade II* listed building, reflecting its historical and architectural importance.

What are the future plans for India Buildings?

The current renovation of India Buildings includes repairing and cleaning the façade, refurbishing ornate windows, and replacing the existing lifts. HMRC staff is expected to move in by 2022.

Are there any personal stories associated with India Buildings?

Yes, many individuals have personal stories and connections to India Buildings, highlighting its cultural significance and emotional value.

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J.G. Riley
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