"Amongst the world’s finest examples of an encaustic tiled floor, the handcrafted mosaic of more than 30,000 tiles were concealed in the 1860s to allow dancing and events at the prestigious venue. The intricate and exquisite patterned tiled flooring depict the Liver Birds, the Roman god Neptune, sea nymphs, dolphins and tridents in what was the largest Minton pavement in the world when reconstructed."The Hall is used for so many events it's simply impractical to have the floor open all of the time and keep it preserved, which is ironic considering its inherent utility. So for much of the time the only glimpse visitors have is through small windows through the usual wooden cover. There's a decent history of the hall here.
The floor has only recently become a more viewable object, with seven appearance in the past nine years. As local historian Steve Binns explained, when it was initially built the hall was mainly used for court purposes so not seen publically and then when the hall was used for events the floor was closed up pretty quickly.
As such it's not that much different in style to most municipal mosaics or what you might find in a church. The difference is both its scale and also how it appears unfettered by supporting columns, the Hall itself being a great architectural feat and expression at the time construction of Liverpool's national and geographical importance.
In case you want to visit, here are some details:
"The Hall will be open daily to the public from 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm) where visitors will be able to view Liverpool’s hidden gem and gaze again at the site of the Great Hall in all its original grandeur. There will also be Walk the Floor Tours available each day at 10am-11am and 4pm-5pm and A Night on the Tiles; each evening from 6pm-9pm where guests will be able to enjoy the rare privilege of being able to “walk” on the world heritage site floor."The floor is open until the 16th August.
I've uploaded some photographs of the event and floor to flickr but here are some of the highlights:
I now declare ...
... the St George's Hall floor ...
... open ....
... and again for the cameras.
Visitors to the hall to see the floor will be given plastic shoe bags to wear if they want to step onto the floor. Here I am taking my first step.
On the floor.
Into the Hall.
Here's why the wooden cover is important. Find above part of the floor which has just been unveiled.
Here's the same pattern on one of the edges where the public is allowed to walk all of the time. The pattern has worn away.
That's especially acute here were the pattern has almost completely gone.
Today of all days I also discovered the panorama option on my iPod and decided to give it a try for the first time whilst standing on the organ platform also for the first time. Click to make bigger.
Here are a couple more panoramas from standing in the centre of the hall. Sorry about the slight lean. I'm still learning.
Finally, here are some shots of the floor itself.