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Fire Breaks Out at Historic Liverpool Building

2018-09-04 15:38
The fire that ripped through the iconic Littlewoods building in Liverpool on Sunday, Sept. 2, was started deliberately, according to investigators. A joint investigation into the fire at the vast art deco building was announced by Merseyside Police  on Sept. 3. The famous building has been empty for years, but developers recently announced plans to turn it into a film studio hub, with the potential to become the "Hollywood of the North." Merseyside Police said in a statement, "The extent of damage and structural safety of the building is being assessed, and a fire investigator has established it is believed to be a case of deliberate ignition." The fire took hold shortly before 8 p.m. on Sunday, destroying part of the roof and upper floor of one wing, before being brought under control by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. Merseyside police said a joint investigation with the fire service had been launched and would forensic, CCTV and witness enquiries. Nobody was reported to have been injured in the incident. Just 12 weeks ago Britain's oldest film studios, Twickenham Film and TV Studios, announced it was moving into the 300,000-square-foot building, owned by developers Capital & Centric, as part of a 50 million pound development. Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric said, “While there is damage to the floor and roof, the walls of the west wing and overall structure seem intact." In a statement, he added," 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." A later post on Sept. 4 from Capital & Centric on Twitter said, "We’re still standing at Littlewood buildings. Feeling very optimistic that this isn’t going to set our film studio plans back too far. Once again thanks to Mersey Fire who are still on site dealing with odd flare ups." Fifty firefighters from six fire engines and three support pumps were drafted in to tackle the blaze at its height. Crews had to smash wooden panelling used to board up windows to access the fire on the upper floors, said the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. Area Manager Murphy said: "Crews have worked extremely hard to battle this fire & have prevented it from spreading. ...We're all Merseyside firefighters & this building is as much iconic to us as it is to anyone else." The Littlewoods Pools building, as it is also known, was originally built in 1938 as the headquarters of Littlewoods, a betting and retail company that at one point became the largest private company in Europe. During World War II, the government used the companies printing presses to print National Registration Forms and later used the bulding's vast internal spaces for the manufacture of various aircraft parts. According to the Liverpool Echo, the building has been empty since the mid '90s, when Littlewoods moved out. A  number of other redevelopment plans had been proposed in subsequent years, but fell through. From The Epoch Times