George’s Dock Ventilation Station

Liverpool, United Kingdom | C.1931

Photo Credit: Mathew J McMahon

George’s Dock Ventilation Station was built between 1931-1934 and is one of several ventilation buildings for the Queensway Tunnel, which connects Liverpool and Birkenhead through the Mersey river. It is situated behind the Port of Liverpool and is a Grade II-listed Art Deco building.

In 1886, a railway Tunnel was opened linking Liverpool with the Wirral peninsula. By the 1920s, traffic and congestion became an issue for motorists waiting for ferries, and thus construction of the Queensway Tunnel was started in 1925. The Tunnel opened in 1934, and at 2 miles long, it was the world’s largest underwater tunnel for 14 years.

The Tunnel entrances, toll booths, and ventilation building exteriors were designed by architect Herbert James Rowse, and the building’s sculptures were created by Edmund Charles Thompson with George Capstick. All were heavily inspired by ancient Egypt following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankamun in 1921.

Above the main doors rises the seven-foot high relief sculpture “Speed – The Modern Mercury.” Fluted niches to either side of the entrance house the black basalt statues Day and Night, symbolizing the 24-hour operation of the Tunnel.

Over time, the Tunnel adopted a new, modern method for tolling riders. As a result, the original toll booth (pictured) was moved to the paved area beside the building as a tourist attraction.

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