Park Palace Ponies, Liverpool 8

Harrison Stringfellow Architects presents...

Planning permission was submitted in early April for the creative re-use of the Park Palace of Varieties, a former theatre and cinema building, as an inner city pop-up starter riding school in the Dingle area of Liverpool 8. As well as architectural services, Harrison Stringfellow Architects have developed the brand identity and community consultation strategy for the Park Palace Ponies social enterprise.

Built in 1893 as a purpose-built music hall by J. H. Havelock-Sutton, the Park Palace of Varieties is a well known and loved local landmark. The building has gone a variety of uses since its entertainment beginnings ranging from a pharmacy, engineering works to a furniture store for a young person’s charity. After a brief return to a theatre use for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations, the Client has now sought an alternative use that seeks to enable activities that both animate local communities and offers sustainable education and employment opportunities. Park Palace Ponies has subsequently been borne out of a passion for equestrian pursuits and a commitment to improving accessibility to the sport of riding for children living in Liverpool.

Originally imagined as a new build facility with a full size 20x40m riding arena (twinned with another facility in the North of the City), following research into the origins of other inner city riding facilities, the scheme has now moved forward as a temporary facility to test its financial viability.

The brief asked for a temporary, demountable architectural solution consisting of the refurbishment of the ground floor of the existing Park Palace of Varieties building to provide a riding arena and public facilities, temporary stabling for 8-10 ponies, on-site manager accommodation and a minimum of 5acres of local grazing. In response, Harrison Stringfellow Architects have elevated standard building elements and components to deliver a real street presence befitting of the Park Palace of Varieties and a strong identity for this emerging social enterprise.

For more information about Park Palace Ponies contact Bridget at or tweet @palaceponies