something concrete survives of Lutyens' vision: as well as the
architect's drawings and watercolours depicting the cathedral as it
might have been, there is the giant timber and plaster model Lutyens
commissioned from model-makers JB Thorp. This caused jaws to drop when
put on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, in 1934, and at
St George's Hall, Liverpool, the following year - but it has led a
secret life since. Now, thanks to Chris Moseley of Liverpool's National
Conservation Centre, it has been brought back to life. It has taken a
team of 10 people no fewer than 13 years to restore the model at a cost
of £500,000 (£268,000 came from the Heritage Lottery Fund). A lot of
money, but, from the end of this month, the nation will be able to judge
for itself if it has been well spent, when the restored model goes on
show at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery.

Comprising thousands of individual components, including cast-tin
statues of saints, the model could be split into five sections for easy
transport; at the Walker, it will be divided in two, so visitors can
walk into the centre of the cathedral, as it were, and look east and
west through the interior from under the dome. The scale of the model is
unlikely to disappoint: it is 17ft long, 11ft 9in wide and 12ft 6in
high; people can stand inside, and revel in the grandeur and brilliance
of its design. It was also built as a way of fund-raising for the cathedral.

"This is one of the largest, most elaborate architectural models ever
made," says Julian Treuherz, curator of the exhibition. "It gives a
vivid idea of what the cathedral would have looked like, towering over
the city's skyline. It would have taken two centuries to complete, like
the medieval cathedrals. We are fortunate that, at least, we still have
the model of what would have been Lutyens' supreme creation."


exhibit site: