Sunday, 3 February 2008

Liverpool waterfront


The famous Liverpool waterfront, photographed by me in the 1960s before the Liver Buildings were cleaned up. One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Royal Liver buildings are no longer black but off-white, being made of reinforced concrete; one of the first examples of multi-storey reinforced concrete construction. It is 295 feet tall with 13 floors and was completed in 1911. When I find a transparency of the buildings in their cleaned up state I shall scan it in and post it.

The clock, by the famous clockmaking firm Gent, has faces that are 25 feet in diameter - 2½ feet bigger than the dials of big Ben. They are the largest electronically driven clocks in the UK. This photo shows a dinner being held around one of the completed faces prior to its erection. The clocks were started at the exact time King George V was crowned on 22nd June 1911.

On top of the two towers stand the mythical Liver Birds created by Charles Bernard Bartels. Allegedly one Liver Bird is male and looks inland to see if the pubs are open while the other is female and is watching the port to see if it can spot any handsome sailors! Local legend suggests that if either bird were to fly away the city would cease to exist. The birds are therefore chained to their domes.

The other two buildings that complete the famous skyline are the apparently uninspiring “square” block that is the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building (otherwise known as the Dock Board). The Cunard Building is actually not square but is 30 feet wider at the back than the front, supposedly so as to resemble the prow of a ship. It is made of reinforced concrete faced with Portland Stone and was completed in 1917. It now houses the Prudential Insurance. The Dock Board Offices were completed in 1907 and the dome houses an octagonal hall which rises from the ground floor with galleries running around it.

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