The "cathedral that never was" now on display after 13-year conservation project

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Saturday, 27 January, 2007 - 00:00 to Saturday, 21 April, 2007 - 23:00

A huge model of Sir Edwin Lutyens' proposed design for Liverpool's Roman Catholic cathedral has gone on display in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The model was conserved at the National Conservation Centre in Liverpool between 1992 and 2005. The conservation of the model has been documented in a film which is also on display in the Walker Gallery.

Had it been built, Lutyens' cathedral would have been the second largest church in the world, after St Peter's in Rome. In fact, work commenced on the foundations in 1933, but was halted during the Second World War. The project was also hampered by a shortage of funds, as the initial estimate of £3 million rose to £27 million. After the war, the project was shelved and a less ambitious cathedral design was built instead.

Lutyens' model was given to the Walker Art Gallery in 1975. By then it was very fragile, as the animal glues used in its construction became embrittled and weak. As well as consolidation, cleaning and repair, conservators took the decision to complete the model, which had been left unfinished in 1934 after Lutyens ran out of money. This entailed casting and moulding hundreds of tiny pieces of wood, tin and metal to replace missing statues and architectural detail. These replacement parts have been left unpainted so they can be easily distinguished from the original parts of the model.

The exhibition at the Walker Gallery will run until 22 April 2007.

Lutyens' famous cathedral model goes on show at the Walker -- 24 hour museum

Film reveals Lutyens cathedral model interior at the Walker -- 24 hour museum

The cathedral that never was -- Walker Art Gallery

Conserving the Lutyens cathedral model -- National Conservation Centre