Day 1. Exploring Liverpool – Pier Head and Albert Dock

After almost four months of lockdown the sheer novelty of boarding a train was an uplifting experience, just sitting gazing out of the window at the changing scenery as our journey progressed.  We’d planned a four day city break in Liverpool which is located in north west England on the banks of the River Mersey.  It’s a city we were unfamiliar with but one we were eager to explore.  Between the 18th and 20th centuries Liverpool was a major trading and migration port and in more recent times has become famous as the hometown of ‘The Beatles’.

Concourse, Liverpool Lime Street Station
Concourse, Liverpool Lime Street Station

Our train arrived into Lime Street station at noon and after grabbing a cappuccino from Costa we made our way to the Quest Liverpool City Centre Aparthotel just a short five minute walk from the station.  The hotel is located on Church Street, one of the city’s main pedestrianised shopping thoroughfares.  Check-in was quick and efficient and we were pleased to be able to access our apartment almost three hours ahead of the usual arrival time.

Quest Apart-hotel, Liverpool
Quest Apart-hotel, Liverpool

Our spacious, modern studio was well equipped and had everything needed for a comfortable stay.  Views from our fourth floor windows looked over the front of the building from where we could watch all the activity along the high street with shoppers taking advantage of the sunshine and the re-opening of retail.

The Three Graces, Liverpool Pier Head
The Three Graces, Liverpool Pier Head

After quickly unpacking, we were soon ready to start exploring and decided to head to Liverpool’s historic waterfront, taking us fifteen minutes on foot.  Strolling along the banks of the River Mersey is an unforgettable experience as the Pier Head forms part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The famous Liverpool waterfront is without doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the city.  Pier Head was the point of departure for millions of migrants from Europe to America and further afield.  The elegant skyline is dominated by three majestic early 20th century buildings referred to as The Three Graces and were constructed as symbols of the city’s international prestige.

The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool
The Royal Liver Building, Liverpool

The Royal Liver Building – This iconic building was designed by Aubrey Thomas as the headquarters of the Royal Liver Friendly Society.  Sitting on top of the clock towers are two huge Liver Birds, each 5.5m (18 feet high).

The Liver Birds, Pier head, Liverpool
The Liver Birds, Pier head, Liverpool

The Liver Birds are the emblem of Liverpool as they relate to the city’s maritime heritage.  One Liver Bird looks out across the River Mersey and is said to represent the wives who stayed at home gazing out to their sailor husbands at sea.  The Liver Bird facing the city is believed to represent the sailors out at sea who are looking back to the city and their families.  The building is now used as offices of several prestigious companies.

The Cunard Building, Liverpool
The Cunard Building, Liverpool

The Cunard Building – Next door stands the equally beautiful Grade 2 listed Cunard Building designed in a style influenced by the Italian Renaissance and Greek Revival.  Sculptural portraits of people from around the world can be seen above the ground floor windows, symbolising the global operations of the company.  Since the building first opened and until the late 1960’s it was the headquarters of the Cunard Cruise Line which still operates today.

Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head
Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head

Port of Liverpool Building – This domed Edwardian Baroque building was the first of the Three Graces to adorn the waterfront opening as the headquarters of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board where they resided for 87 years.  Liverpool’s docks dominated world trade in the 19th century with 40% of global trade passing through these docks.

Statue of The Beatles, Pier Head, Liverpool
Statue of The Beatles, Pier Head, Liverpool

Dotted along the waterfront are numerous statues and monuments, the most popular is the one of The Beatles who rose to fame from their hometown of Liverpool.  The statue was given to the city by the Cavern Club – the venue synonymous with the Fab Four in the 1960’s.  It commemorates 50 years following their final appearance in the city’s Empire Theatre in 1965.  The bronze sculpture depicts the band walking along the Mersey reflecting a real photo-shoot and it has since become a place of homage for fans visiting Merseyside from all parts of the world.

Mersey Ferry, Liverpool
Mersey Ferry, Liverpool

Ferry boats depart from Pier Head across the River Mersey and I’m looking forward to returning when they are operating a normal service to enjoy the views from the perspective of the water whilst listening to the sounds of the iconic Gerry and the Pacemakers 1960’s melody ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’.

Museum of Liverpool
Museum of Liverpool

Moving on slightly, in stark contrast to the majestic, historic buildings stands the Museum of Liverpool, a landmark building completed in 2008 and dedicated to the history of Liverpool and Merseyside.  I’ll leave you to ponder its modernist features but I’m told there are stunning views to be enjoyed from its top floor viewing gallery when it re-opens shortly.

Great Western Railway Warehouse, Albert Dock, Liverpool
Great Western Railway Warehouse, Albert Dock, Liverpool

Among the splendid buildings located in and around Pier Head is the Great Western Railway warehouse.  Parts of this building are more than 250 years old and an unusual aspect is that the Great Western never actually ran a service to Liverpool.  GWR ran trains over in Birkenhead with connecting ferries and cargo boats for passengers and goods over to Liverpool.  The warehouse has been restored to its former glory and now forms an open-air museum.

Statue of Billy Fury, Liverpool Waterfront
Statue of Billy Fury, Liverpool Waterfront

Continuing a few steps further we had now arrived at the entrance to Albert Dock.  Positioned just in front of the Pier Master’s House we came across a statue of yet another Liverpool legend, that of Billy Fury, who was often referred to as the Elvis Presley of Great Britain.  The sculpture looks out over the Mersey reflecting on his time working as a deck hand on the Mersey River tugboat, The Formby before becoming a Rock and Roll legend of the early 1960’s.

Pier Master's House, Liverpool
Pier Master’s House, Liverpool

Pier Master’s House on Albert Parade was originally built in 1852 for the Pier Master and his family.  His role was to ensure the safe passage of ships entering and leaving the dock at high tide.  It’s more recently been transformed back into a wartime house complete with period furniture and everyday objects of the time including ration books and gas masks.

Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool
Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool

Albert Dock was officially opened by HRH Prince Albert in 1846 and is characterised by its monumental dockside warehouses grouped around a system of docks.  In 2018, it was granted a Royal title to mark its role in the city’s maritime history.  Today, Royal Albert Dock is one of the largest groups of Grade 1 listed buildings in England and remains an example of one of the world’s major trading centres.

Albert Dock, Liverpool
Boats moored in Albert Dock

It’s a delight to stroll beneath the colonnades surrounding the docks which comprise a series of buildings and warehouses. These were the first of their kind to be built from non-combustible materials of cast iron, brick and stone.  At the time of its construction Albert Dock was considered to be revolutionary as ships were able to be loaded and unloaded directly to and from the warehouses.

Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool
Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool

In 1986, the Merseyside Maritime Museum was the first museum to open in the Dock, located in an old warehouse that was used to store tea, silk, sugar and spirits.  Since then it has also become home to the International Slavery Museum, Tate Liverpool, The Beatles Story and numerous hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.

Tate Liverpool
Tate Liverpool

Despite these attractions not being open it was still a pleasure to wander around admiring the boats and stopping off at one of the cafes for drinks on its sunny terrace.  We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather as it was truly spring like with clear blue skies and unusually warm April weather.

Walkway between the waterfront and Liverpool One
Walkway between the waterfront and Liverpool One

After leaving the Dock we crossed the road leading to Liverpool One, a gleaming development containing over 170 stores and restaurants spanning Paradise and Hanover Streets.  It was constructed on the site of the former Old Dock which had been infilled back in 1826.  From a viewpoint located outside the John Lewis department store, it was interesting to see part of the original walls of the old Dock.

Chavasse Park, Liverpool
Chavasse Park, Liverpool

Chavasse Park forms a scenic link between the waterfront and the city centre.  Beautifully landscaped gardens with winding pathways lead up a terraced hillside with graduated steps to the roof terrace of Liverpool One.

Chavasse Park, Liverpool One
Chavasse Park, Liverpool One

The lawned terrace seemed to be a perfect place to either meet friends for a picnic or for outdoor dining at one of the many bars and restaurants surrounding the lawns.  From there doors lead into the shopping mall where we enjoyed a much needed dose of retail therapy after enduring such a lengthy spell of store closures.

Liverpool One Shopping
Liverpool One Shopping

Leaving the shopping mall by a different exit our attention was drawn to an elaborate green and gold wrought iron structure at the southern end of Paradise Street.  On inspection, we discovered it was the original gate to the Liverpool Sailors’ Home, which once stood on almost the very same spot.  For more than a hundred years the home provided accommodation to thousands of mariners from all corners of the world until its closure in 1969.

Liverpool Sailors' Home Gates
Liverpool Sailors’ Home Gates

We then gradually made our way back towards the hotel taking a short detour to view one more landmark, that of the beautiful Blue Coat building located on School Lane, just off Church Street.  This exquisite Grade 1 listed building was constructed in 1717 as a charity school and is the oldest surviving building in central Liverpool.  Following the school’s move to another site it became the first Arts Centre in the UK.

Blue Coat, Liverpool
Blue Coat building, Liverpool

Back in our apart-hotel we reflected on our wonderful introduction to maritime Liverpool and looked forward to the coming days and to discovering more of what this fascinating city had to offer.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

A weekend in Manchester

A short break in Cheshire

 

If you use Pinterest consider sharing and pinning the image below or follow me here:

Liverpool Day 1

 

78 thoughts on “Day 1. Exploring Liverpool – Pier Head and Albert Dock

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    Interesting to read it was a city you were unfamiliar with, I figured it would be close enough that you’d visited a few times. I’ve only ever been to Goodison and perhaps more strangely Liverpool’s airport so I don’t know the city at all. Definitely somewhere I want to spend a bit of time in at some point, looking forward to reading what you got up to in the rest of your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it’s very strange that we are always focussing on Manchester when Liverpool is equally nice and not so much further away. Od. That you took a flight from Liverpool airport but if it was a really attractive fare then it would be worth the journey. You’re one up on me as I haven’t flown from there yet!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in these posts on Liverpool Andy. The three grand buildings on the riverfront demonstrate how prosperous a port it used to be. Hopefully you can schedule in a visit when you’re back in these parts. Have a good weekend, Marion.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Day 1. Exploring Liverpool – Pier Head and Albert Dock – advocate concept

  3. Pingback: Day 1. Exploring Liverpool – Pier Head and Albert Dock – Site Title

  4. My hometown, born in Liverpool but live on the west coast of Canada. Liverpool is an amazing place to visits, so much to see. It is a movie makers delight due to some parts of the city centre have a resemblance of London.

    The Liver Birds are chained down as the story goes, if they where to ever fly away Liverpool would suffer a great flood from the Mersey.

    Thanks again.

    Derek

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: Day 1. Exploring Liverpool – Pier Head and Albert Dock – allScore

  6. Thanks for letting us experience this little city break is beautiful Liverpool vicariously through you! The introduction about taking the train again after a lengthy lockdown really hit the nail on the head. Looking forward to the day we can experience travel here in France again!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you so much for the fabulous post on Liverpool. My husband and I are hopeful we can visit this beautiful city in 2022. In the past few years we have visited much of Europe. 2020 was to be our year to spend time in England, Scotland, and Ireland but the lockdowns prevented our travel plans. Looking forward to more of your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for taking an interest in the first of my series of posts on Liverpool. It’s a fascinating city and I do hope that you are able to spend time visiting Liverpool and exploring more of England next year. I feel certain that it will be possible and something really nice to look forward to. Marion

      Like

  8. It’s a shame that you weren’t able to go into the attractions yet. That’s really what I’m waiting for at the moment. I love that idea with the circles on the grass for social distancing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Shane for your kind words. Liverpool is a great city and we delighted in strolling around taking in the sights and enjoying the spring sunshine. Hope this series of posts inspires you to return before too long and relive the music for yourself. Doubt your in the market for another typewriter! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve only heard of Liverpool due to The Beatles, and I’ve often dismissed it as a working-class city with little to do. I must admit that I was very wrong, and your post confirms the city’s beauty! Looks to be much to do that one can easily spend a weekend taking everything in…and it appears you went on a beautiful, blue-sky day! Thanks for sharing; I’ll have to visit Liverpool sometime. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think a lot of people formed this impression of Liverpool Rebecca but with its historic Dock and magnificent buildings it has become a desirable destination for a short break. We were so lucky with the weather for April in northern England too! Hope you enjoy the remainder of the series and are inspired to visit. sometime. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  10. An interesting insight to some architectural gems of Liverpool, Marion. The Liver Friendly Society had me bemused for a while thinking – was this something to do with Livers…. but then it is Liverpool! I am sure you enjoyed getting out and about; it must feel good to stretch your wings again even if it is still within your own shores.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks Marion for the post. We need to revisit the city. My partner did her first post doc there in the late 90s until we left in March 1999 to travel round the world for a year. We need to go back and see how it has changed.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Fascinating post! I feel like Liverpool is one of those places that we all know the name, but know next to nothing about because any knowledge about the city begins and ends with the Beatles. So it was so wonderful to get such a great tour of this city and learn more about it! I really loved the historic buildings that have been named ‘The Three Graces’ and the symbolism used on them.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Liverpool looks like a fun city to explore. I am glad to hear you are enjoying the freedom to finally travel and explore. Sounds like Scotland and Wales are all ahead of Ireland with non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums open to the public. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Aiva, it was so wonderful to be able to get away again last weekend and Liverpool fitted the bill beautifully! Hopefully it won’t be too long now before restrictions are eased with you as well. Thanks so much for taking an interest in this post. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Such a great post on Liverpool Marion. So much history, so many beautiful buildings. I heard that they had put real effort into tidying up their image. We only made it to the outskirts to visit relatives in 1977 and it was a pretty rough town then. Looks like a great place to visit, for sure. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Liverpool is a fascinating city and I don’t know why I’d only made a couple of brief visits in the past. We were so lucky with the weather and I thought the station looked particularly impressive with the sunlight drifting through its glass roof. Thanks for your welcome thoughts. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The weather on the first weekend after lockdown couldn’t have been better and Lime Street station did look beautiful with the sun shining through its glass roof. The grand buildings on the waterfront are truly majestic. I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading this post and have been able to learn a little about the city. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Wohoo for travelling again. We are heading to Liverpool for a weekend break in November with the hope of exploring all of the museums (especially as by then the weather will be awful!). Thanks for sharing, it’s made me even more excited to go 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s great to read that you’ve also arranged a weekend break in Liverpool Hannah. You’ll have a brilliant time and definitely something else for you to look forward to! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post, it’s much appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Really enjoyed this! Took me back to my four day trip in the summer of 2019. And what a coincidence, because Liverpool happens to be next up for mw to SEO and republish. Seems you had fine weather and the Quest Apart-hotel looks very swish. Eagerly awaiting your upcoming instalments!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Leighton for taking an interest in the first of my series of posts featuring Liverpool. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather and we savoured every minute of our new found freedom in such a fascinating city. Will be fun to also read your take on the city! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.