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Littlewoods building fire is possible arson
Photographs by Sean Taylor

ON Sunday, 2 September 2018, Sean TayLor, who was passing by, spotted smoke at the former Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane. He parked up to watch as the first Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service vehicles arrived. That was around 7:55pm. Later this was confirmed by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, who have told us that they got the call at 7:52pm BST and were on site by 7:56pm BST on site. Sean then stayed and captured this set of images for us, as the fire progressed to engulf a large section of the iconic art deco building, from its starting point, a 200m by 100m section of the first floor, of the main building. Thankfully, nobody was reported to have been injured in the incident, despite the intensity of the fire. As the dozens of firefighters who had worked throughout the night to tackle the fire packed up and a fire investigation started, Merseyside Police confirmed that they believe the fire was case of possible arson. If true this could have a huge impact on the project to bring the film industry to Liverpool and is even more upsetting for those who are trying to get the project to work.

The world famous building was completed in 1938 and is currently being turned into a TV/Film studio, dubbed:- "Hollywood of the North," by its present owners, Capital & Centric. The owners in a press statement said:- "It was extremely difficult for our team, the City and the many thousands with a connection to this landmark building, to watch. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the fire service, who battled throughout the night to save as much as they could. While there is damage to the floor and roof, the walls of the west wing and overall structure seem intact. We'll know more once we can get inside, but we're extremely hopeful that we'll be able to save the iconic structure that people see from Edge Lane. The building is so important to the social heritage of Liverpool and has always been at the heart of our plans to create a hub for TV and film. We won't let this put us off. The City's outpouring of good will for our restoration plans has floored us. This is a setback, but we won't let it hamper our ambitions for Littlewoods to be the home of Liverpool's creative industries."

It is hoped that plans that had been announced back in June 2017, for Twickenham Studios, the UK's oldest film studios, to locate to the site, will not be pushed back to far following Merseyside Police announcement. The deal, if all goes ahead, will see 2 new Hollywood ready sound stages constructed on land next to the existing building, with supporting workshops; wardrobe and prop storage; and offices located within the East Wing. Sadly hopes for Channel 4 to also move in were dashed in July, with Liverpool City Mayor, Joe Anderson hitting national headlines blasting the decision by the broadcaster as:- "disappointing and hypocritical."

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police told the media that:- "We are now working on the grounds that the fire is believed to a case of deliberate ignition. As a result, we have launched a joint investigation with the fire service, so that we can establish the full circumstances behind the fire. This investigation will include full forensic examinations, the checking of CCTV footage along with witness inquiries. The full extent of damage and structural safety of the building is still being assessed. Thankfully nobody was reported to have been injured in the incident. Anyone who witnessed the incident or saw anything suspicious that could help is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via:- Twitter or via Facebook (Merseyside Police CC). You can also call:- 101 quoting incident reference:- '900 of 2 September 2018' or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on:- 0800 555 111 or via their online form on:- Crimestoppers-UK.Org."

To see the video footage shot by Sean Taylor, can be viewed on's Facebook Page.

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