I travelled south of the border for a short break in Liverpool, the first time I`ve visited the city, and it didn`t disappoint. Most of the main attractions are located on the waterfront, or within a 10-15 minute walk of the centre, and of course there's plenty to interest music fans, Merseyside being the home of not only the Beatles, but artists like Gerry and Pacemakers and Billy Fury amongst many others.
The city of Liverpool has more public sculptures than any other location in the United Kingdom aside from Westminster but the most-photographed is undoubtedly this fine bronze of the Beatles at Pier Head. Often it`s hard to get a break between selfie-snappers to get a few shots of the figures on their own. The work is by British sculptor Andy Edwards (born 1964) who is also noted for bronzes of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor (2010), and Sir Alex Ferguson (2022).
This mural of the city waterfront is on display within the Liverpool Museum.
The Cunard Building (above) houses the British Music Experience which I never visited. More info can be found here: www.britishmusicexperience.com.
The Canning Graving Dock with the Pilot Cutter Edmund Gardner and Three-masted Schooner De Wadden.
Pilot Cutter Edmund Gardner was one of three such vessels ordered by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in July 1951 as a replacement for the pre-war steam-powered cutters which were nearing the end of their usefulness. Edmund Gardner was built by Philip and Son, of Dartmouth, and was launched on 9 July 1953. She was completed and entered service on the Mersey on 2 December 1953. Her function was to serve as a floating base for pilots guiding ships into and out of the Mersey. She would remain one week at the Liverpool Bar, followed by one week at Point Lynas, Anglesey, and then serve one week as supply ship to the other two. While on station her function was to meet ships entering the Mersey en route to the Liverpool Docks or the Manchester Ship Canal, and transfer the pilot for the transit of the waterway, or to collect pilots from outgoing vessels. During that period the Mersey was still a busy waterway; On an average day, such as 15 April 1960, Edmund Gardner met and transferred pilots for 16 ships (10 inbound and 6 outbound) in one 8-hour period.
During her 28 years of successful service Edmund Gardner suffered only one incident; in 1963 she was involved in a mild collision with ore carrier Iron Horse, but suffered only minor damage. Following her decommission in April 1981, she was purchased for preservation and fittingly is on display close to the Maritime Museum.
Salthouse Dock is where many of the Beatles and sightseeing tour buses depart.
Waiting: The monument to the Liverpool working horse, was unveiled on 1st May 2010 on the quayside outside the Museum of Liverpool. The bronze was created by Judy Boyt FRSA, a renowned equine sculptor whose work is in private and public collections around the world, in consultation with the Liverpool Carter’s Association. It took members of the Association 13 years to raise sufficient funds for the life-size memorial. For more than 250 years horse were used to move goods to and from Liverpool docks and businesses. At their peak more than 20,000 horses worked on the streets of Liverpool, more than in any other city outside London. There was no direct railway connection to most of the seven mile dock estate, so goods had to be carted out of the docks to warehouses or to railway goods stations. Liverpool carters and their horses kept supply lines open during two World Wars and their contribution to the city’s economy was immense. The Tate Art Gallery is pictured below...
Other statues of pop stars to be found in the city include those of Billy Fury, Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Billy Fury was born Ronald Wycherley in Haliburton Street in The Dingle, Liverpool on April 17, 1940. He found fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s and is fondly remembered as one of the most famous stars in the history of British rock and roll. His hits songs include Wondrous Place and Halfway to Paradise. Billy was a keen birdwatcher from an early age but a rain-drenched childhood birding trip led to the rheumatic fever that caused him to be racked by illness throughout his career. His statue overlooks the River Mersey, outside the Piermaster's House, which is the rough position where Billy worked as a deck hand on a river tug boat, the Formby for about two years from 1956, before he became famous.
A life-size bronze statue of Cilla Black was unveiled in 2017 and it is located on Mathew Street in the City Centre. She was a local girl who worked as a cloak room girl at The Cavern Club before having a very successful music career herself. Cilla became a 1960s singing star, and later a TV celebrity, best known as the presenter of Blind Date.
The Gerry and The Pacemakers mural is on display inside the ferry terminal.
A fine rainbow spanning the River Mersey.
A must-do for most while visiting the city is unsurprisingly a ferry trip across the Mersey. This doubles as an hour-long waterfront cruise with onboard commentary pointing out the locations of interest and history of the area. Additional cruise options are offered during the summer months.
HSC Manannan, seen here coming into berth, is a 96-metre (315 ft) wave-piercing high-speed catamaran car ferry built by Incat, Australia in 1998. After commercial service in Australia and New Zealand, she was chartered to the US military as Joint Venture (HSV-X1). The five-year US Armed Forces program began in 2001 and a flight deck was added to accommodate various US military helicopters. Joint Venture was rapidly re-configurable and could perform a variety of missions, principal among them the ability to quickly ferry up to 325 combat personnel and 400 tons of cargo up to 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km).
In 2003, Joint Venture was assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa. She operated as a fast transport in support of the Combined Joint Task Force and performing a variety of tasks, such as transporting and supplying troops at high speed over long distances, operating as a mobile command centre, working close inshore, and operating as a helicopter carrier. At the end of the five year charter, she was handed back to Incat in early 2006. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register and re-listed as "IX-532" (unclassified experimental). She then underwent a refit and was painted in the livery of Express Ferries. Plans for her to enter service as a car and passenger ferry never materialised.
Now owned and operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, HSC Manannan mainly provides a seasonal service between Douglas Harbour and the Port of Liverpool. She can accommodate 850 passengers and 200 vehicles and ca travel at 40–42 knots (74–78 km/h; 46–48 mph) while fully laden. (Left hand photo courtesy of Wikipedia / US Navy).
Below: The new Everton Football Club stadium under construction will replace the team`s traditional home at Goodison Park.
Liverpool attraction ‘The U-boat Story’ is set to be refreshed as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Mersey Ferries announce a partnership with Big Heritage on the historic Woodside based attraction. ‘The U-Boat Story’ exhibition, which is currently closed, tells the story of U-boat U534, the last U-boat to leave Germany before its surrender in May 1945. The vessel was sunk by an RAF Liberator off the Danish Island of Anholt on May 5th, 1945.
The submarine was first raised in 1993, and artefacts from it were immediately conserved. Merseytravel acquired the submarine in 2007 to display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal as ‘The U-Boat Story’ until its closure in 2020. Ahead of a new exhibition, some of the on-board items are now being analysed for the first time by historians at Big Heritage, the operators of Western Approaches, the former secret underground WWII bunker turned visitor attraction in Liverpool city centre. In addition to secret Nazi war documents, there are two Enigma machines, the famous encryption devices used by the Germans during the war to transmit coded messages. The hoard is now housed in an undisclosed warehouse in Wirral.
(Above photo: museumsandheritage.com)
Still on a nautical theme, but back on the Liverpool side of the river, this bronze statue looks out to sea on the waterfront at Pier Head. It pays tribute to local hero Captain Frederic John ‘Johnnie’ Walker who sank more U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War than any other British or Allied commander. Created by Liverpool sculptor Tom Murphy, the statue was unveiled by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in In October 1998.
After several years laid up in Birkenhead Docks, but officially still listed as part of the active fleet, stores ships RFA Fort Rosalie (A385) and RFA Fort Austin (A386) were sold in October 2021 for further service to the Egyptian Navy. Both vessels, designed to carry a wide range of dry stores to support fleet task forces, have two flight decks.
They were built by Scott Lithgow at Greenock in the 1970s and saw service in the Falklands War.
Cammell Laird was awarded the contract to reactivate them with the vessels being renamed ENS Luxor (232) and ENS Abu Simbel (233) respectively. My visit coincided with Luxor being towed out of the shipyard and repositioned on the Liverpool side of the river where she was checked prior to her long journey to her new home. Abu Simbel left for Egypt a few weeks later. Both vessels were towed by an ocean-going tug, in Luxor`s case, Alp Forward, which may have also been tasked with towing the second vessel.
The Museum of Liverpool tells the story of the city and its people, and reflects Liverpool`s global significance. It opened 2011 as the newest addition to the National Museums Liverpool group replacing the former Museum of Liverpool Life. The museum is housed in a new purpose-built building on the Mann Island site at the Pier Head.
The museum displays are divided into four main themes: The Great Port, Global City, People's Republic, and Wondrous Place, located in four large gallery spaces. On the ground floor, displays look at the city's urban and technological evolution, both local and national, including the Industrial Revolution and the changes in the British Empire, and how these changes have impacted the city's economic development. The upper floor looks at Liverpool's particular and strong identity through examining the social history of the city, from settlement in the area from Neolithic times to the present day, migration, and the various communities and cultures which contribute to the city's diversity.
The Wondrous Place section celebrates the city’s staggering roll call of trailblazing entertainers, musicians, sports people, writers, poets, visual artists and comedians and continues to showcase Liverpool’s internationally recognised creative expression and influence. The city won a competition to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023.
Perched on top of he Pier Head’s Royal Liver Building, the world-famous Liver Birds are the symbols of Liverpool. They were created by German sculptor Carl Bernard Bartels, who won a competition to design the iconic creatures. They are believed to be a cross between the cormorant and the eagle of St John the Evangelist. They are copper-green and each weigh around four tonnes.
The Titanic Memorial
This memorial was originally intended to commemorate all 32 engineers who lost their lives in the sinking of Titanic on 15 April 1912. Although the ill-fated liner never visited the city, Liverpool was the Titanic port of registry, as well as the home of the ship's owner, White Star Line. Funds for the construction of the memorial were funded by international public subscription.
Spaces were left on the monument to record the names of other engineers. However, due to the heavy loss of life throughout World War I, its dedication was broadened to include all maritime engine room fatalities incurred during the performance of duty. Shrapnel damage from bombs that fell during the Second World War can be clearly seen on the monument.
The Maritime Museum
The Merseyside Maritime Museum occupies warehouse block D at the Albert Dock, along with the Piermaster's House, Canning Half Tide Dock and Canning Graving Docks. Exhibits reflect the international importance of Liverpool as a gateway to the world, and focus on topics such as emigration, the Merchant Navy and the RMS Titanic. The UK Border Agency National Museum, 'Seized! The Border and Customs uncovered' is located in the basement gallery.
The building also incorporates the International Slavery Museum that focuses on the history and legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Its three main galleries focus on the lives of people in West Africa, their eventual enslavement, and their continued fight for freedom. Additionally the museum discusses slavery in the modern day as well as topics on racism and discrimination.
The Walker Art Gallery
The Walker Art Gallery is an art gallery in Liverpool, which houses one of the largest art collections in England outside London. It`s part of the National Museums Liverpool group and admission is free although there may be a charge for some temporary exhibitions. The collection includes European Renaissance paintings, masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Turner and Stubbs, Pre-Raphaelite artworks by Rossetti and Millais, Impressionist works by Monet and Degas and contemporary works by Hockney, Wylie and the winners of the John Moores Painting Prize. The gallery's sculpture collection is renowned and includes works made between the 18th century and the First World War, from the high period of neo-classicism to the era of 'New Sculpture' in Britain. There is also an outstanding selection of British and European decorative art, dating from 1300 to the present day.
The monument to the King's Liverpool Regiment (below) dominates St John's Gardens in the city centre. The memorial commemorates those members of the King's Regiment (Liverpool) who lost their lives on campaign in the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880), the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885–1887) and the Second Boer War (1899–1902). It was funded by a public subscription and with the support of the Corporation of Liverpool. Unveiled on 4 August 1905 by Field Marshal Sir George White, the monument is a rare example of a large-scale public regimental memorial from the pre-First World War era. Its central figure is that of Britannia with other statues showing soldiers of the regiment in 1685, 1743 and 1902.
A church and cemetery previously occupied the site and now the terraced sculpture gardens, display other listed monuments from the late Victorian and Edwardian era including the Alexander Balfour monument, a merchant shipowner; William Gladstone monument, who was Prime Minister and born in Rodney Street; James Nugent monument, a founder of schools and orphanages; Thomas Lester, founder of Kirkdale Industrial School for children of the working classes and of Stanley Hospital; Arthur Forwood, merchant and shipowner, Liverpool’s mayor and conservative MP; and last but not least, William Rathbone, founder of the district nursing movement and the University of Liverpool.
Further memorials honour those involved in more recent events such as the one above to British Nuclear test veterans.
The World Museum
(Above photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Across the street from the gardens in William Brown Street is the World Museum which houses extensive collections covering archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. Special attractions include the Natural History Centre and a planetarium. Like most of the city`s major museums, entry to this one is free although you have to pay for some of the temporary exhibitions. Luckily my visit coincided with the excellent `Dr Who Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder` which ran from 27th May - 30th October 2022.
The Western Approaches Museum
The Western Approaches Museum has displays showing the work of Western Approaches Command, which was the principal control centre during the Battle of the Atlantic during WW2. The site was responsible for coordinating Atlantic convoys and protecting them from the German U-boat menace. The large complex was situated below ground, housed in an unobtrusive building in the centre of Liverpool, Around 100 rooms are set over two levels and during wartime, the bunker was a workplace for over 300 people. Although not all the rooms are open to the public, there is a lot to see here and a visit will give you a great insight into a pivotal period of European history. (Left hand photo: courtesy of Visit Liverpool.com).
(Above shots courtesy of Imperial War Museum)
A model of HMS Bluebell (K80), a Flower-class Corvette. Ordered from Fleming & Ferguson of Paisley, Scotland, on 27 July 1939, she was launched on 24 April 1940 and commissioned in July 1940. She served in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Arctic campaigns, escorting several convoys to Russia, and also took part in the invasions of Sicily and France. Bluebell was torpedoed and sunk by U-711 in the Kola Inlet on 17 February 1945 while escorting the convoy RA 64 from Murmansk. Only one member of her crew survived.
More information can be found on the official website: www.liverpoolwarmuseum.co.uk.