Liver Buildings, Liverpool
As we were walking to the Albert Dock we saw the Royal Liver Building which is topped with a Liver bird. The three buildings here along the waterfront, the Cunard Building, Port of Liverpool Building, and the Royal Liver Building are known as the Three Graces.
It was opened in 1911 and was home to the Royal Liver Assurance group, it was the tallest building in Europe from completion until 1932 and the tallest in the United Kingdom until 1961. Since then three other buildings in Liverpool have been built that are taller, West Tower, Radio City Tower and Liverpool Cathedral.
The "Three Graces" are Liverpool's most famous buildings and iconic landmarks of the city. All three of them are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site in Liverpool. The Cunard and Port of Liverpool building have separate Grade II* listings each, the Royal Liver Building is Grade I listed. Some people tend to call all three of them "Liver Buildings", but the only one with the Liver Name is the Royal Liver Building.
The Royal Liver Building is also the most famous of the three. Unlike the city, it is not pronounced like the human organ but rather like "lie-ver". It was built for the Royal Liver Assurance Group in 1911 and still used by the company today. Between 1911 and 1934, it was the tallest building in Europe (and until 1964 the tallest in the UK). The "Liver Birds" on top of the two towers are the unofficial city mascots. They have a height of 5,5 metres. The Liver Birds were first mentioned in the 14th century, but took their present appearance through the sculptures on the building. This form is also shown on the crest of other Liverpool institutions, for example the badge of Liverpool FC. The locals say that the day these two birds fly away, the city would cease to exist.
In the middle, you will see the Cunard Building, a beautiful Neorenaissance building which is in the unlucky situation to be situated between two more splendid ones. The building was built for the famous Cunard Line in 1917. Cunard moved its headquarters to Southampton in the 1960s and sold the building in 1969. Today, city authorities and different company offices are housed here.
The Port of Liverpool Building is the oldest of them all and was finished in 1907. The port authorities were housed here until 1994. Today, it has some expensive flats as well as some offices. Like the other two, it has a lot of maritime-related decoration. Here, two women above the entrance are symbolizing trade and industry. The octagonal domed towers at every corner as well has the huge central dome give the building its characteristic appearance.
The Royal Liver Building is a fantastic Grade I listed building located in at the Pier Head. Along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building, it is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront and is part of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.
Opened in 1911, the building is the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, which had been set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative. The Royal Liver Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of L and is famed for being home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist. The Bells of the Liver Building clock strike each hour but I was surprised to read that what we here are not actually bells but a series of piano strings played through an amplifier!
Lining the waterfront at Pier Head are three splendid Georgian and Edwardian style buildings known as the Three Graces. They are the Cunard Building, the Port of Liverpool Building and the most well-known of all, the Royal Liver Building.
The Royal Liver is home to Royal Liver Assurance and was constructed between 1908-1911. There are two clock towers. Perched on top of the towers are the two Liver Birds, designed by Carl Bernard Bartels. Locals with a sense of humour will tell you that if a virgin walks along Pier Head, the birds wings will start to flap!
You can get a great view of these three buildings from the Museum of Liverpool opposite.
The building was built in 1907 as the head office of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. This beautiful piece of Edwardian Baroque architecture is one of the Three Graces and stands on the Pier Head facing the Mersey.
The Royal Liver Building was built in 1911 as the head office of the Royal Liver Friendly Society. Its size and position on the Pier Head overlooking the Mersey makes it one of the cities most famous buildings.
This Grade I listed building is 90 metres high with 13 floors. Its two clocks are 7.6 metres wide, making them the biggest in Britain. The 5.5 metre tall copper liver birds that stand on top of the towers are a cross between an eagle and a comorant. They are a symbol of the city of Liverpool.
The Liver Buildings (also nicknamed the Three Graces) down at the Mersey River are also a UNESCO world heritage site. Looking rather unspectacular from the outside, you might even miss them when walking past.
I don't know what's inside today, but in earlier years, the buildings played an important role in Liverpool's past as a port of world-wide reputation.
Take a look up to the top of the Liver Building on the very left (when looking towards the centre): You'll discover two birds sitting on top of the roof. According to my boss, these are a mixture between an eagle and a cormorant. While I'm not sure about this, I can tell you their symbolic meaning: One is looking towards the docks, the other towards the centre - and both are keeping a wary eye on what they see and watch over the city, for when the bird falls, Liverpool will fall as well!
Royal Liver Building
Listed Grade I
The head offices of the Royal Liver Friendly Society, which had its origins as a mid-19th century burial club was designed by Aubrey Thomas. It is notable as one of Britain's first multi-storey reinforced concrete framed buildings. Stylistically unique in England, it is more akin to the early tall buildings of America such as the Allegheny Court House (1884) by H. H. Richardson and the Garrick (formerly Schiller) Theatre by Adler and Sullivan, with eclectic Baroque, art nouveau and Byzantine influences in its modelling.
The roof is piled up with turrets and domes in receding stages and the clock towers have copper Liver Birds on top, by George Cowper and the Bromsgrove Guild. The two birds face away from each other, one towards the river and the other towards the city. The poses are traditional, the birds stand with half-upraised wings, each carrying a sprig of seaweed in its beak. The birds are 18 ft high, their heads are 31/2 ft long, the spread of the wings is 12 ft, their length is 10 ft and the legs are 2ft in circumference. Their bodies and wings are of moulded and hammered copper fixed on a steel armature.
Although there are Liver Birds on many buildings in Liverpool, it is the two which roost on top of this building that are the biggest in the city and which to many people are the very identity of Liverpool.
Next year they will be doing tours on the upper gallery to see the birds.
The large four-dial turret electric clocks when installed were the largest in the United Kingdom.
The four dials are each twenty five feet in diameter and are two hundred and twenty feet above street level, the clocks hands are made of copper, with each one weighing in at five hundred weight, each hand is fourteen feet in length.
The clock was made by Gents of Leicester, and before it was delivered to its final resting place the twenty five foot dial was used as a table at a special dinner.
This three buildings fill the sky of Liverpool's port
The Royal Liver Building
The Cunard Building and
The Port of Liverpool Building.
The three graces are taken as a meeting point for the city and historicaly these are imporant, through them we can learn more history about the city's role as a port - you can visit the Museum of Liverpool in this same pier (Head).
It is certainly unusual that the best known building in a city is home of a very boring institution like an insurance comapany.
Having said that, this fine early 20th century building also boasts a pair of mythical birds, which are the most well known symbol of the city.
In terms of pronounciation, they are the "liv -ahh" birds rather that "Liver" in the way that the city itself is pronounced.
The origin of the use of the bird dates back to 1207 and the creation of Liverpool as a city. King John (1199-1216) needed to establish a military stronghold close to both Wales and Ireland and picked on an insignificant small fishing port
As a result John granted Liverpool (or Lerpole as it was then known) a "charter of Liberties", and for this favour the town leaders could levy tolls and set up a municipal court.
The city's fathers therfore choose a symbol which reflected King John's patronage - the Plantaganet emblem of the Black Eagle of St John the Divine holding a sprig of broom in its beak.
There are a number legends surrounding the birds - the main one being that if they ever fly off. Liverpool wil cease to exist. The other main one appears to be that there is no offspring because they have never seen one another face-to-face.
Some vivid imaginations around here.
We were searching for the Titanic Memorial along Pier Head. Steve knew that it had to be somewhere. All the monuments we found were war memorials. We saw one and it said "To the heroes..." - again we thought this isn't it, it has to be a war memorial.
Later I bought a walking guide to Liverpool and it had a picture of the memorial. It was the one we had seen. The Inscription was "To the heroes of the engine room". Thank god I had accidently taken a picture - and Steve hadn't ;)
We went here when we were back in 2004 and had a closer look than the last time we visited. The monument is actually really nice with great "heroes of the engine room" on all sides of it. And finally I got some more pics to convince Steve that he has to go back, too ;)
The Titanic was not built in Liverpool and neither was it sailing from here. It was owned by Liverpool based White Star Line.
These "three graces" are maybe the most pictured buildings in Liverpool. Situated right at Pier Head you can't really ignore them. They are huge.
This is the Dock board Offices building. The most right of the three at night.
The three graces - Royal Liver Buliding, Cunard Buliding and Port of Liverpool Building. Ships sailing down the Mersey day and night know where they are - 'Welcome to Liverpool' . At night these buildings look simply amazing.
In 2004, these buildings, plus the riverfront, warehouses and albert dock will be collectively known as a 'World Heritage Site'
These three mythological birds sit atop the main buildings on the Liverpool side of the River Mersey. They are a major symbol of the city, and I think they look nice against the stormy sky at dusk, don't you?
Liverpool's lovely waterfront buildings are best observed from the ferry. Here the Liver building can be seen and next to it is the parish church of Liverpool - the church of Our Lady and St Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors and hence known as the Sailor's Church. The tower is the oldest part of the church as body of the church, built in the 14th century was destroyed in the last war. Look right to the top and seen the ship on top of the spire!
More details of the waterfront buildings - the threee graces - can be seeen in the general tips section.