Liverpool Royal Institution Archive

Scope and Content

The archive includes lists of subscribers and proprietors, minute books, correspondence, deeds and financial records of the Liverpool Royal Institution, and catalogues, minutes and accounts relating to the collections and administration of the Liverpool Royal Institution Art Gallery, Museum and School. There are also artefacts, and two files relating to the associated Liverpool Academy of Arts and the Services Quiet Club.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Liverpool Royal Institution was established in 1814. An initial meeting of thirty-six interested Liverpool merchants and professional men was called on 28 February by William Corrie, a Liverpool broker, followed by the first public meeting on 31 March, at which Corrie acted as Honorary Secretary and the meeting was chaired by Benjamin Heywood, a Manchester banker. William Roscoe became Chairman of the General Committee in 1814, and the first President of the Institution in 1822. He delivered the inaugural address at the official opening, 25 November 1817.

The objective of the Royal Institution, as stated at the 31 March 1814 meeting, was to be a society "for promoting the increase and diffusion of Literature, Science and the Arts". A Detailed Plan of the Liverpool Institution issued on 18 August 1814 proposed to accomplish this aim "I. By Academical Schools II. By Public Lectures III. By the Encouragement of Societies who may unite for similar Objects IV. By Collections of Books, Specimens of Art, Natural History, etc. V. By providing a Laboratory and Philosophical Apparatus and VI. By Association of the Proprietors". Money was raised by subscription and, despite the difficulties caused in the interim by the failure of Roscoe's banking house, by 17 July 1817 a property in Colquitt Street (built in 1799 to serve as residence and offices for the Liverpool merchant Thomas Parr), had been purchased and the Liverpool Royal Institution was formally opened in November 1817.

The Royal Institution School , a boys' grammar school, was transferred in 1837 to purpose-built accommodation on the opposite side of Colquitt Street, where it remained until 1892. The Art Gallery was housed next to the school, from 1843, and included pictures bought in from Roscoe's sale by friends, and presented to the Institution. The Museum was housed in the main building and held mainly natural history collections, with particularly notable bird collections. The Library was housed in the main building and was transferred to University College Liverpool in 1894.


The collection has been arranged under the following headings:

  • LRI 1: Administrative Records and Correspondence
  • LRI 2: Collections and Visitors
  • LRI 3: Financial Records
  • LRI 4: Royal Institution Art Gallery
  • LRI 5: Royal Institution Museum
  • LRI 6: Royal Institution School
  • LRI 7: Artefacts
  • LRI 8: Liverpool Academy of Arts
  • LRI 9: Services Quiet Club

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers.

Acquisition Information

The archive of the Liverpool Royal Institution was partly destroyed in the bombing of Liverpool in 1941, at which time it was housed in 10, Cook Street, Liverpool. The property of the Royal Institution was gradually transferred to the City Corporation and the University of Liverpool, or sold, the archives being transferred to University College, Liverpool in 1894  together with the institution's library. The Liverpool Royal Institution was formally dissolved on execution of the Deed of Appointment and Conveyance Liverpool Royal Institution and Liverpool Corporation and The University of Liverpool (1948). A single item (LRI 3/6) was transferred from the Institution in 1982, by the caretaker John Howard.

Separated Material

Special Collections and Archives, University Archives holds other LRI material:

  • University Archives D122: papers relating to the proposed transfer of the Liverpool Royal Institution to University College, Liverpool (1895) and the sale by the LRI of property to the Training School of Cookery(1898)
  • University Archives D284/1/26/6: Deeds to 22 Colquitt St and 15 Back Colquitt St, Liverpool (site of LRI property).
  • University Archives D326/2: seven photographs of the LRI (1985) as a teaching centre of the Faculty of Education and Extension Studies, taken before its closure in July 1985.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request.

Related Material

Special Collections and Archives also holds:


H.A. Ormerod, The Liverpool Royal Institution: a record and a retrospect ( Liverpool University Press, 1953).