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A day in Liverpool

"Liverpool will have you captivated!"

Philippa Lacey Brewell -  history travel writer at British History Tours

​Vibrant, energetic and welcoming, Liverpool is a city proud of its heritage and history (even the not so nice bits)! It is a relatively new city as far as British cities are concerned, its first significant date being 1715 when the first dockyard was completed. From that point on Liverpool's fortunes have been on a rollercoaster from which it is now emerging as one of the top European destinations for travellers who travel here for its history, musical heritage, culture and shopping!

RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) 2-hour walking tour

Have your photo taken with the 'Fab Four' of Pier Head near the Mersey Ferry terminal.

Liverpool's architecture tells a story of rapid growth, wealth, destruction, serious decline and regeneration. Your RIBA guide will take you through the history of Liverpool as told in its architecture. Even if you don't go on one of their tours make sure that as you walk around the city look up and look around and notice the different periods of buildings. There is a lot they tell you. For instance, why is the beautiful 'Albion Building', built as the Headquarters of White Star Line (of Titanic fame), surrounded by monstrous 1960s concrete creations? Well, because that area twas wiped out in the horrendous arial bombardment Liverpool suffered in 1941 when 15000 German bombs hit the city in one week! Albion House survived but everything around it was destroyed. If you are interested in the Second World War you may also like to take a quick visit to St Luke's Church, on the corner of Berry Street and Leece Street. It stands a perfect shell; walls and tower intact but without a roof or interior. It has been left as it was, as a lasting memorial to the city and those who died in the bombardment of 1941.

International Slavery Museum

Stonework at the entrance to Martin's Bank recognising their links to the slave trade.

Liverpool's docks were a centre for international trade in goods like tea, tobacco, silk and cotton. The secure warehouses, which had built up around the docks, made it a quick and simple task to unload the ships. However it was not just goods that were being imported here. Slavery was legal until its abolition in 1807 by which time it had made many people rich. Some of the street names in Liverpool are named after wealthy merchants whose businesses included the trade in men, women and children. The world famous 'Penny Lane' is named after James Penny who captained 11 slave trading voyages. The story goes that a lobby group was calling for the name of Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles song of the same name, to be changed as it was glorifying the name of a slave trader. Liverpool City Council refused to change the name but instead set up the International Slavery Museum to increase awareness of the history and legacy of slavery. It does not shy away from telling the story as it is and visitors may find it an emotional experience. It is not merely a museum to the past as it highlights stories of slavery going on in the World today. The Slavery Museum is within the Maritime museum which could easily take at least half a day to explore (probably full day for a history geek like me). Other exhibitions to catch include their award winning Titanic exhibition and an exhibition dedicated to the tragic sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German u-boat during the First World War.

The Beatles Story

Located in Albert Dock, The Beatles Story walks you through the story of the Beatles right from the very beginning with the fateful meeting of Paul McCartney and John Lennon through their rise to phenomenal fame to their split and what happened to them all after the band broke up. Get your tissues ready because the final room, a mock up of John Lennon's white room with 'Imagine' playing, is quite an emotional ending. The Beatles Story continues at Pier Head which is also the terminal for Mersey Ferries (see below).

The Magical Mystery Tour

You can't miss the magical mystery tour bus (literally, it's a big multi-coloured bus!). Visitors are taken on 2-hour trip of Liverpool to see places linked with the Beatles; where they lived, hung out together as well as places featured in some of their most famous tracks including Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. You are dropped off down the road from The Cavern Club which continues to support live music and new acts, just as the original Cavern Club did.

Mersey Ferry Trip

Philippa and Barney the BHT bear on board the Mersey Ferry with the Three Graces in the background.

"So Ferry, 'cross the Mersey, 'cause this land's the place I love and here I'll stay"…sing along! A ferry has operated across the Mersey since the monks of Birkenhead Abbey, over the Mersey from Liverpool, were granted a royal charter by Edward III in 1330 to transport people and goods across by boat! The ferry remains a commuter ferry on weekday mornings and evenings but is geared toward tourists the rest of the day. You can choose to get off at one of its two stops; Seacombe/Wallsey or Woodside/Birkenhead, or stay on for the round trip.

The ferry is a great place to get a view of Liverpool waterfront.

A day in Liverpool will have you eager to come back and explore more of the city. Here are just a handful of some of the other places you might want to visit.

  • Museum of Liverpool 
  • Liverpool Philharmonic 
  • Liverpool Anglican Cathedral 
  • Liverpool Catholic Cathedral 
  • Tate Liverpool 
  • Liverpool One (for shopping and eating) 
  • The Cavern Club

Having trouble knowing what to do?

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