Our Liverpool Legacy Story

Published on

Victoria Building 1895
Victoria Building 1895

When the University of Liverpool was founded in 1881, it was thanks to philanthropic generosity, public spirit and jam. Read on to find out how all these things and more have contributed to our Liverpool legacy story.

At the start of the University of Liverpool’s story is the original University building, now home to the Victoria Gallery and Museum, which was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built in 1892. The Victoria Building was funded by the people of Liverpool and local philanthropists as detailed in a plaque on the front of the Victoria Building which reads: ‘For the advancement of learning and ennoblement of life the Victoria building was raised by men of Liverpool in the year of Our Lord 1892’. 

It is known that the Jubilee Memorial Committee gifted the clock tower as the city’s gift to Queen Victoria on her golden jubilee; jam manufacturer, Sir William Hartley, funded the clock’s bells; and philanthopist, Sir Henry Tate, financed the building’s entire library block which is recorded to have held over 80,000 books.

Victoria Building Plaque - McCoyWynne Photography

Gifts in wills to the University’s libraries have been a large part of their history, with the first recorded legacy to the University being a gift of books to the College Library from Assistant-Professor Clark in 1885. More recently in 2010, alumna Janet Gnosspelius (BA Architecture, 1948) left a generous gift in her will of over £2.4 million to the Sydney Jones Library. Her gift made a significant impact in improving library facilities for students, with Liverpool the first among the Russell Group Universities to have libraries open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus, the University’s libraries now house more than 1.9 million books. 

Another stalwart of campus is the University of Liverpool’s Guild of Students, which is the oldest students’ union in England. In 2012, £54,738 gifted by the late Elizabeth Gidney (BA Hons English Language & Literature, 1938; Diploma in Education, 1939) was used to help re-develop the Guild of Students and the Guild, which is believed to be the largest students’ union building in the country.

In another significant part of the University’s history, the term ‘redbrick university’ was coined by Liverpool’s Professor of Spanish, Edgar Allison Peers, inspired by the Victoria Building’s red bricks. Professor Peers also left a legacy gift of £68,781 to the University for the teaching of Spanish. 

In the last 10 years, the University has received almost £11 million in legacy gifts that have been vital in supporting key developments across campus. Legacy gifts are often a result of long-lasting affiliation with our amazing alumni and these gifts have an extraordinary impact on the University and its students. Without such Liverpool legacies, the University as we know and love it today would not exist.


Are you inspired to give in memory of a loved one, or considering remembering the University of Liverpool in your Will?

Together we can make brilliant things happen.

For more information email: carolyn.jones@liverpool.ac.uk or get in touch via our contact form