Liver Buildings, Liverpool
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.
The Royal Liver Building is probably Liverpool's best known landmark. It is definitely the most impressive part of the Pier Head Buildings. The building is one of the first large concrete buildings in the world - luckily in those days (1908 to 1911) the style to build with concrete was much nicer than some time later!
The building is home of the Royal Liver Insurance company. At the top of the building there are the city's mythical Liver Birds.
Notice that Liver is pronounced with an I like in "time" whereas Liverpool is pronounced with an I like in "river"
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.
The 18-foot tall copper birds above the clock towers are the mythical Liver Birds, symbol of the city. Local legend is that if they fly away, Liverpool will cease to exist. Thank god they are attached by very strong cables ;)
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.
This was one of the things we really wanted to see along the waterfront - but we missed it. Well, we didn't truly miss it, but when we saw it we didn't realise that this IS the Titanic Memorial! It was only later, when we picked up a tourist leaflet that we realised it.
I thought this would be some new addition to the waterfront, but it's been here a long time actually. It commemorates "the brave men of the engine room", originally just of Titanic, but these days it is dedicated to all engineers lost at sea.
Behind me you will see the three famous Victorian buildings at the Port of Liverpool. Look closely and you will see the Liver bird on top of the Liver Building. I was standing just outside of the Merseyside Maritime Museum when this picture was taken. I had seen these buildings in many pictures of Liverpool.
The most famous (and beautiful) of the buildings on Liverpool's waterfront are colloquailly known as "the three graces". They are (from nearest to furthest) the Dock Board Offices, The Cunard Building and The Liver Building.
Blending in well with these three is one of my favourites - the mersey tunnel ventilation tower. Designed by Herbert Rowse it looks more like a building than a ventilation duct and blends in very nicely with the surrounding buildings. It is a classic of art deco design.
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.
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.
This is a view from near the Lusitania propeller looking across what was called Canning Dock (in my day) towards a beautiful brick building that reminds me of the Butchers Hall in Antwerp. This building is the former HQ of the White Star Line, owners of The Titanic, who later became part of the Cunard Line (see later tip).
Home of the famous "Royal Liver Insurance", built between 1908 and 1911 it was the largest and finest concrete buildings of its time. In fact, it still looks good and is a lesson to all those designers of the grey concrete monstrosities of the 60's.
The clock towers at front and back are topped by two birds known as "The Liver Birds".
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).
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!
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?