Liverpool, home of the Liver Birds (with a long “i”), football, and the Beatles, suffered many changes over the years due to the city’s habit of knocking down or covering up much evidence of the past. Of course, World War II helped.
Our ship, Crystal Serenity, dropped anchor alongside Pier Head, a cement pier within walking distance of the city centre. Rather than a formal tour, I struck out with map in hand to discover the city’s treasures.
The pier housed several museums and a visitor center with Albert Dock just across a construction area. When opened in 1846, Albert Dock held the only non-combustible warehouse buildings in the world. Made of cast iron, brick, and stone, no wood served as fire fodder to destroy the buildings. Ships loaded and unloaded their wares directly to the warehouses. Now, restaurants, bars, shops, a Maritime Museum, the Beatles Story, and the Tate Museum of Liverpool fill some of the buildings. I purchased souvenir books on Liverpool.
In the May Blitz of 1941, a seven night bombardment of Liverpool, Albert Dock suffered much damage. At the same time, four thousand people lost their lives. Areas of the city were flattened. Only the shell of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church stood. Today trees grow where people once worshiped. The city left the church’s walls as a reminder of the war’s destruction.
As I headed for the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral and the Anglican Liverpool Cathedral, I found many other sites. Every city has its Chinatown. Liverpool’s sported a huge pagoda as the entrance.
I finally reached the Liverpool Cathedral. Its builders in 1901 hoped to create the largest Anglican cathedral in the world. The gothic architecture took four years to complete. Its 331 ft. tower can be seen from all over the city. At 620 feet long, it is supposedly the longest cathedral in the world. Inside, the nave stretches 479 feet to the altar and lends itself for many uses and layouts. Like other visitors, my first response to the inside was, “Wow!”
By now my stomach told me to return to the ship for lunch. I decided to forgo seeing the more modern Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral. Little did I know it was only half a mile away on Hope Street. Started in 1904, the cathedral wasn’t finished until 1978 – 74 years later.
After lunch, I remembered a request of one son. He wanted an official soccer jersey. Directions led me to Liverpool One, a huge shopping mall just down the street from our ship.
The mall covered up Old Dock. The dock designed in the 1700s offered a more inland protection from winds and storms.
At the Liverpool Football Club shop I chose “on sale” jerseys from last year since I needed six of different sizes - red for one son, black for another and his twin two-year-olds, and white for the third and his eight-year-old son.
I headed back to the ship armed with packages. I passed the Liver Building, a reinforced concrete structure covered with fourteen-inch thick granite. Atop two clock towers I viewed huge metal birds. Thank goodness I’d bought the book, “100 Years of Liver Birds.” Liver Birds, the symbol of Liverpool, decorate everything from buildings to football jerseys.
The bird is considered to be a cormorant, dove, or spoonbill, or even perhaps an eagle. Cables anchor them to their perch on the Liver Building. People believe if the birds ever fly away, the city will fall into the sea. The two copper replicas face away from each other. One gazes toward the sea looking after the sailors, ships, and travelers. The other watches over the city to protect residents as well as see when the pubs open.
My last stop, half a block away, took in a memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic. The ship registered in Liverpool and bore the city’s name. Two hundred-forty-four engineers lost their lives. The memorial was the first statue in England to honor the Working Man.
I put away my Liverpool map and looked forward to Dublin.