Thousands of people are set to head to St George’s Hall in August to enjoy one of Liverpool’s rarely seen gems.
To mark St George’s Day, plans have been unveiled to reveal the exquisite Minton Floor in the Great Hall which will take place from Friday 3 to Sunday 12 August.
Consisting of 30,000 beautifully hand crafted rare tiles, the immaculately preserved surface depicts the city’s coat of arms, sea nymphs, dolphins and tritons, in what was the largest Minton floor in the world when first constructed.
The mosaic was covered in the 1860s to provide a more hard-wearing surface for dancing and has only been unveiled eight times since the Hall reopened in 2007.
For the 9 days, visitors will be able to see the mosaic from 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm) for just £3 per person, under 16s go free. Legendary city historian Steve Binns will also be taking a break from retirement to provide a detailed insight into the history of the Halls and the tiles. This specialist tour will run for an hour from 11am each day (except Sunday). Tickets will be £6 per person.
To celebrate the tiles being on display, there are additional ticketed events organised to mark the occasion:
Walk the Floor Tour – £12
A tall of the Hall will end with those taking part donning protective shoe coverings and walking on the tiles themselves,
Night on the Tiles – £14
Each evening from 6pm-9pm guests will be able to enjoy the rare privilege of being able to “walk” on the world heritage site floor while enjoying a complimentary glass of fizz. There will also be a full tour of the Great Hall.
When the tiles are on display, there will also be the opportunity for people to have a professional photo taken with the Minton Floor in the background.
St George’s Hall Manager, Alan Smith, said: “St George’s Hall is a visually stunning building, inside and out. There is enviable architecture, statues and works of art everywhere you go, but the Minton tiles are particularly special as they aren’t on permanent display so it’s a real treat to see them up close.
“We aim to uncover the floor once a year, and it always proves hugely popular, so much so, this year we have developed additional events to enhance the time the tiles are on display.
“Last time the floor was on show we attracted thousands of visitors and the numbers increase year on year so we look forward to welcoming visitors from across the globe in August.”
The floor reveal forms part of Liverpool Biennial 2018: Beautiful world, where are you? As part of the city-wide exhibition, audiences are invited to explore the rich histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections and architecture.
Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said: “We are delighted that we are able to feature one of Liverpool’s genuine treasures in this year’s Biennial.
“The city’s great civic buildings and collections are an inspiration and something we want to share with people from all around the world. Visitors to St George’s Hall will also be able to experience an exhibition of works by leading contemporary artists throughout the building’s magnificent spaces.”
At around 30,000 individual tiles, the Minton floor is the largest of its kind in the world.
The original cost of £3000 (the equivalent of around £250,000 today), although the true cost of recreating it today would be in its millions.
The sunken floors design is inspired by the ancient Roman baths of Caracalla.
The floor includes maritime images of Neptune, dolphins, tritons, nereids, triton centaurs and tridents, reflecting the importance of the sea to Liverpool’s 19th century prosperity.
The theme of the design of the floor is the unity of the three kingdoms of the UK, with England represented by roses, Scotland by thistles and Ireland by shamrocks. These are linked up by a chain design stressing unity. At the centre is the city seal: the Liver Bird confirming Liverpool’s centrality to the British Empire.