The historic site encompasses a trio of landmarks, built on the site of the former George’s Dock and referred to since at least 2000 as ‘The Three Graces’:
Royal Liver Building, built between 1908 and 1911 and designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas. It is a grade I listed building consisting of two clock towers, both crowned by mythical Liver Birds. Opened in 1911, the building is the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, which had been set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative. One of the first buildings in the world to be built using reinforced concrete, the Royal Liver Building stands at 90 m (300 ft) tall and was the tallest building in both Liverpool and the United Kingdom for over half a century. Today the Royal Liver Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of Liverpool and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.
Cunard Building, constructed between 1914 and 1916 and a grade II* listed building. It is the former headquarters of the Cunard Line shipping company.The Cunard Building’s architectural style can be generally described as a mix of Italian Renaissanceand Greek Revival, with a degree of Beaux-Arts influence on the building’s structural form. Willink and Caldwell’s designs were heavily influenced by the work of Italian architect Baldassare Peruzzi and more broadly Italian Renaissance palace design in general,with the Farnese Palace in Romebelieved to have been particularly influential. Despite the strong Italian influence, the architects chose to introduce Greek style for the details around the building itself and, as the building itself is larger than the Italian palaces that provided its inspiration, its structural form was prominently based upon American Beaux-Arts buildings such as those in New York.The frame of the building was constructed from reinforced concrete, which was then clad in Portland stone. Several highly detailed sculptures adorn the outside of the building, including ones of Britannia and Neptune, as well as others representing peace, war, and storms. There are also sculptures of the Zodiac and the coat of arms of the United Kingdom’s allies during the First World War.Another series of sculptures on the building depict different races from around the world, which reflect the global operations of the Cunard company. Marble was used to furnish several parts of the inside of the building, particularly on the ground floor corridors that link the north and south entrances. It was imported from several locations in Italy and Greece, including Attica, Carrara, and Arni Alto.
Port of Liverpool Building, built from 1903 to 1907 and also grade II* listed. The building was designed by Sir ArnoldThornley and F.B. Hobbs and was developed in collaboration with Briggs and Wolstenholme. It was constructed between 1904 and 1907, with a reinforced concreteframe that is clad in Portland Stone. The Port of Liverpool Building is designed in Edwardian Baroque style and is noted for the large dome that sits atop it, acting as the focal point of the building. It is approximately rectangular in shape withcanted corners that are topped with stone cupolas. At 220 feet (67 m) the building is the fourteenth tallest building in Liverpool. Like the neighbouring Cunard Building, it is noted for the ornamental detail both on the inside and out, and in particular for the many maritime references and expensive decorative furnishings.During the Second World War, Liverpool’s importance as a major port saw it become a target for the Luftwaffe and during the May Blitz of 1941, a heavy bombexploded in the basement, on the eastern side of the building. The damage from the explosion was significant with the eastern wing being seriously damaged by fire. Nonetheless the building’s structural integrity meant that much of the building could be re-occupied with only temporary repairs. In the aftermath of the war the building was fully restored. Throughout the building, there a numerous references to the sea and the maritime operations of both Liverpool and the British Empire. The main entrance gates are decorated with a globe supported by dolphins, while the cast iron gates and gate piers are decorated with mermaids, shells, anchors, and have shields with the initials “M.D. & H.B.”. The outside light fittings are designed such that the lights themselves appear to be held in the hands of the Roman God Neptune.
Also on the site is the grade II listed Mersey Tunnel building, to the east of the Port of Liverpool building. It was built in the 1930s and contains offices and ventilator equipment for the Queensway Tunnel. The first tunnel under the River Mersey was for the Mersey Railway in 1886. The first Mersey Road Tunnel started in 1925. In 1928 the two pilot tunnels met to within less than 25 millimetres (1.0 in).The tunnel entrances, toll booths and ventilation building exteriors were designed by architect Herbert James Rowse, these are Grade II listed buildings. Of the 1,700 men who worked on the tunnel during the nine years of its construction, 17 were killed.At the time of its construction it was the longest underwater tunnel in the world, a title it held for 24 years.
The space also contains a number of memorials; Clockwise from the north are:-
The Titanic Memorial, to the engineers who remained at their posts during the sinking of the RMS Titanic,
The Cunard War Memorial.
The Alfred Lewis Jones memorial.
The Merchant Navy war memorial.
There are several recent additions to the memorials at the Pier Head; these include one to the Second World War convoy escort group commander Captain Johnnie Walker, and one remembering the Chinese merchant seamen who served and died for Britain in both World Wars.
Cunard War Memorial
The Cunard War Memorial is located on the west side of the Cunard Building and was erected in memory of the Cunard employees who were killed during the First World War, and later the Second World War. A Grade II listed monument, it was designed by Arthur Davis, who acted as consultant during the construction of the Cunard Building itself. It was erected around 1920, although it wasn’t officially unveiled until 1921, by the Earl of Derby, Edward Stanley. Prior to being located at the Pier Head, the monument had been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The monument consists of a large bronze statue that sits atop a Doric style column, which is itself raised above the ground by a pedestal base. The statue was sculptered by Henry Pagem, whilst John Stubbs & Sons provided the stonework. Due the architects wishes that the monument be in keeping with the design of the Cunard Building, Davis designed the memorial to match the Greek features of building. The figure on top is of man, who is said to represent victory, standing above the prow of a Roman ship. Around him there are other naval references including ropes, anchors, and shells. After the Second World War, the monument become dedicated to all Cunard employees who died in both wars. An inscription on the side of the memorial reads “pro patria“, which is Latin for, “for one’s country”.
Liverpool Canal Link
The Liverpool Canal Link is a waterway link that connects the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, at Liverpool, to the South Docks. The new link adds 1.4 miles (2.3 km) of navigable waterway to the canal system.
It was always intended that the Leeds and Liverpool Canal would be linked to the docks in Liverpool. It was only in 1846, 30 years after the canal’s completion, that the canal was directly linked to the docks via the Stanley Dock Branch.
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