All of Liverpool’s Influential Liver Birds
Liverpool is an utterly unique city; with a loud and proud reputation built upon a mixture of bold traits from its dominating industrial maritime growth, unshakeable tight-knit communities where you will never walk alone, revolutionary creative breakthroughs and boss slang. The pool of life truly has been the mother of some of the world’s most fiercely intellectual, rebellious, humorous and talented individuals that have shaped history and influenced on a global scale. It could be argued that the distinctive culture has been a huge contributor in shaping the people of Liverpool, radiating their distinct accent, dialect, ideologies and their unbreakable spirits, cementing common traits that make up the widely recognised “scouser”.
As reported on the Visit Liverpool website, the origins of the City of Liverpool date back to 1207, when King John issued letters advertising the establishment of a new borough – ‘Livpul’, allowing for centuries of historical influence that are benefitted even in the 21st century.
Liverpool has always been a city where justice has been so passionately sought after, a strong sense of community oozes amongst the streets which comes as no surprise that the city has been voting Labour consistently since 2010, but what may come as a surprise is that one of the founding members of the party and one of the first black British mayors was from Liverpool and that most of the social welfare problems were tackled by a woman.
The University of Liverpool report that John Archer (1863 – 1932) was born in Liverpool to a Barbadian father and an Irish mother and as a child lived at number 3 Blake Street, behind the present-day Lime Street Station. John settled with his wife in Battersea, London, in the 1890’s and became interested in the world of politics where he was driven by his strong socialist ideologies, specialising in social welfare. Fighting off significant racism, John successfully was elected Mayor of Battersea and went on to drive racial changes where he was elected as a representative to the first Pan-African Conference. John even organised a petition to Queen Victoria to consider the plight of ‘the native races’ and continued to successfully campaign for the equal rights of minorities throughout his career and tackled the important issue of racism in politics.
Signatures Liverpool notes another key political figure to come out of Liverpool as Bessie Braddock who was Liverpool’s first female MP. Elected in 1945, Bessie was the daughter of fiercely passionate suffragette Mary Bamber, with a strong need for justice and a fighting spirit running through her veins Bessie spoke up on a range of social issues ranging from the poor housing conditions, housing shortages and proposed demolitions of slum areas. She was also a passionate campaigner for improved public health condemning the harmful effects of unhygienic, overcrowded and inadequately ventilated accommodation. Bessie was also the first woman to be awarded the freedom of the city of Liverpool and as of 2021 her statues proudly welcomes many thousands who arrive at Liverpool Lime Street Station, proudly protecting a city she was honored to have fought for.
In addition to the mighty fighting spirits, Liverpool has produced and is home to some outstanding creative talents. Most famously, Liverpool rocked the world on a global scale and revolutionised the music industry from the 1960s with the success of The Beatles. Arguably the most influential band in history, The Beatles were viewed as the catalyst of society’s developments on the post-war youth, British identity, music being viewed as art and the growing phenomenon of counterculture with critics such as Ian MacDonald stating that the band were keen observers who discovered trends in their infancy and were adept at mirroring the era’s “social and psychological changes”.
Geographically Liverpool proved to offer significant influence over the developing and unique sound The Beatles produced, and the terms “Mersey sound” and “Merseybeat“ were applied to bands and singers from Liverpool, making it the first time in British pop music that a sound and a location were linked together. The city had the cultural benefits of being the UK’s main transatlantic port and having an ethnically diverse population; local musicians were able to access records by American musicians through the Cunard Yanks working on the shipping routes. The Beatles formed their sound from skiffle and a combination of American influences, especially rhythm and blues and girl groups, and honed their live act through seasons performing in the red-light district of Hamburg in West Germany.
Homing in on the recognisable scouse rebellious and loud attitudes, The Beatles provided one of the first opportunities for female teenagers to exhibit individuality, spending power and publicly express sexual desire, while the group’s image suggested a disregard for adults’ opinions and parents’ ideas of morality. The band’s sociocultural impact in the US began with their February 1964 visit, which served as a key moment in the development of generational awareness with, American sociologist David Riesman stating that the Beatles’ success was “a form of protest against the adult world”.
At the height of the Beatlemania era, a total of 63 singles were released with an estimated sales of 2 billion, accompanied by 13 album releases with an excess in 600 million copies sold. The Beatles continue to bring Liverpool attention with multiple attractions attributed to the band from the statue at Piers Head and the Beatles Story on the docks. The continued legacy of The Beatles adds nearly £82m to the Liverpool economy each year and supports 2,335 jobs in the city.
Liverpool is truly blessed with one of the most spectacular skylines, encompassing the listed and magnificent, the broken and history ridden and the new and modern all in one city.
The Three Graces of Liverpool feature the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building situate on Pier Head. The Royal Liver Building, was the home of the Royal Liver Assurance and was designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas and opened in 1911, is considered the jewel in the crown. It is a grade I listed building and features the famous two Liver Birds who stand proud on top, the bird (Bella) that looks over the Mersey River is said to represent the wives who stay at home and look out to their sailor husbands out at sea and the bird (Bertie) that looks over the city represents these sailors out at sea, looking back over to the city and their family. The Liver Bird stands as the city’s emblem local legend says that if the two birds were ever fly away, Liverpool would cease to exist.
A raw and rugged reminder of the past, the grade II listed St.Luke’s “bombed out church” is a reminder of the Liverpool Blitz suffered during the Second World War and the significance the city of Liverpool played in the war. Built between 1811 and 1832 and designed by John Foster, Sr. and John Foster, Jr. the church served as a community hub for worshipping and as a concert hall. In 1941 during the May Blitz the church was hit by a bomb which subsequently started a huge fire, leaving the shell that is left standing today. It was decided to be kept and maintained as a shell to commemorate those who lost their lives during the war and is now the site for regular social activities, adding to the tight-knit community and rebellious attitude of the scousers that they will not be beaten but will respect their own.
As the old folk song goes, “if you want a Cathedral, we’ve got one to spare”, Liverpool is home to two separate cathedrals. VisitLiverpool explains, they are located either end of the aptly named Hope Street, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Catholic) are vastly different in architecture but both majestic and beautiful.
The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral boasts 14 bells and is Britain’s biggest Cathedral standing at 101m tall and took a total of 74 years to build from the foundation stone being laid in 1904. The grade II listed Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd and was completed in 1967, however it was noted in early 1850 that Liverpool required a catholic cathedral as a result of the Great Irish Famine, which saw an influx of the Irish population relocating to Liverpool to escape. Overall Liverpool is unique in having two cathedrals serving the different faiths of the community, expressing the tight-knit pact that makes up the DNA of the scouse attitudes.