A huge blaze has destroyed part of the Littlewoods Pools building, one of Liverpool’s most famous landmarks. The roof and upper floor of one wing of the “iconic” structure were feared to have been lost after the fire took hold shortly before 20:00 BST on Sunday. Merseyside Fire Service said there had been no injuries and there were no concerns over the building’s integrity.

The Littlewoods building is a landmark on Edge Lane, Liverpool, next to the Wavertree Botanic Gardens. The large white-painted concrete factory, with its well-known clock tower, dominates the eastern approach to the city centre. It was built in 1938 for the football pools arm of Sir John Moore’s’ Littlewoods empire. It housed printing presses that churned out millions of pools coupons that were sent to punters across the country every week. In another section, an army of coupon checkers sorted through the millions of betting slips. The building has stood empty since 2003, and a series of redevelopment plans fell through over the last decade and a half

Just over 12 weeks ago plans were announced for a major new complex at the five-storey site on Edge Lane, including film and TV studios – although the part of the building earmarked for the studios was unaffected by the fire. The deal, signed with developer Capital & Centric, intends to create a £50m northern base for Twickenham Studios, with the creation of hundreds of jobs.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said 50 firefighters from six fire engines and three support pumps tackled the fire at its height. It said crews had smashed wooden panelling used to board up the windows to access the fire on the upper floors. Crews worked with local building authorities to make sure the building was structurally sound and assessed the extent of the damage.

Adam Higgins, co-founder of developers Capital & Centric, said the blaze had started in the roof of the west wing, which is known for its distinctive clock tower. “While there is damage to the floor and roof, the walls of the west wing and overall structure seem intact,” he added. “This is a setback, but we won’t let it hamper our ambitions for Littlewoods to be the home of Liverpool’s creative industries.” He thanked fire crews for battling through the night to save as much of the structure as they could, and added: “The city’s outpouring of goodwill for our restoration plans has floored us.”