17th July 2020
You’re back in the city, or maybe you’re here for the first time. Activities are still limited by lockdown measures, so what can you do? A walking tour can be a great way to show your family around your university city, to get some interesting exercise, or to bond with your new housemates.
We’ve pulled together a route which takes about an hour to complete and touches on 8 of the city’s most famous locations, drawing on its rich history of industry, war and the arts. It starts down at the docks and walks you back into the city centre, so you can grab lunch once you’re done!
Here’s a map of the route:
The city’s docks made it a huge international power in the early 1800s, with more than a third of all global trade passing through Liverpool’s docks. Albert Dock opened July 30th 1846 and pioneered efficiencies which allowed it to halve the unloading times for cargo compared with other docks. The dock was also critical during WWII, housing cargo and smaller ships in their hundreds, which made it a popular target for German bombers.
In the second half of the 20th century, innovations in freight moved docking operations into North Liverpool, leaving the Albert Dock to fall into disuse and become totally filled with silt. It was awarded protected status for its part in the city’s history and a commitment was made to its regeneration. In 1988, the site was reopened by HRH the Prince of Wales as the Royal Albert Dock, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site with more than six million visitors a year.
Built during World War I as headquarters for the Cunard Line, this impressive building sits on the Pier Head along from the Albert Docks. The company, established in 1840, had a record-breaking history of mail freight and passenger shipping and the sinking of its ship Lusitania is considered one of the causes for the United States’ entrance into WWI.
Neighbours with the Cunard Building is the Royal Liver Building (is this the easiest tour ever or what?), possibly the most iconic building in the city. Opened in 1911, it stands at 90m tall and its construction was a feat of engineering at the time and it was one of the first buildings to make use of reinforced concrete. Adorned by the two liver birds, local legend states that one looks protectively over those in city whilst the other looks protectively over those out at sea.
Bonus fact: the Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool building are collectively known as The Three Graces.
First opened in the 1950s, this outwardly unassuming cellar is where musical magic has happened throughout the ages, with the stage graced by Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Status Quo, and of course, the Beatles. In 1961, the flegdling Beatles performed here regularly, eventually attracting a management offer from Brian Epstein who had seen them perform there. A little over six months later, Brian had secured the band a recording contract. During the 70s the venue was forced to relocate to a different cellar across the way, but reopened at its original site in 1984. It’s changed hands a lot in its history, but the prestige of the name remains, attracting diverse acts such as Adele and Jessie J to Joe Bonamassa.
Opened in 1854, this is one for the TV and movie buffs. In addition to being a popular venue for arts events, St George’s concert hall is regularly used as a set for cinematic projects, with some of the most recently notable being Peaky Blinders and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. For war history buffs, the nearby Cenotaph is also a must-see.
Hit by an incendiary bomb on the 6th May 1941, St Luke’s is locally known as the Bombed Out Church. Originally built between 1811 and 1832 as a church and concert hall, the burnt out structure has been left standing as a monument to those who died during the war. The venue is now maintained as an unusual events space, used for fairs, weddings and art installations: it’s a spooky, beautiful must-see.
Our next stop is another of Liverpool’s mythical musical hotspots. It was opened as a coffee shop in the late 50s and frequented by the Beatles, who persuaded the owner at the time to allow them to use the space in the basement to rehearse. They decorated this space with murals which have since been restored and the basement of the Jac is still used today for regular open mic events to support upcoming local musicians.
The final stop on the tour is one of the oldest and most artistic buildings in the city centre: the 300 year old Bluecoat School. After 200 years as a school, the Bluecoat relocated to larger premises in Wavertree, leaving the building in town unoccupied and in need of a new owner. During the May Blitz in WWII, the property took major damage, and restoration on the property didn’t complete until 1958. The Bluecoat has been heavily steeped in arts and culture for much of its life, even more so across the last century, and is itself architecturally impressive. Be sure to check out its stunning interior courtyard garden.
Our final stop leaves you in the midst of Liverpool, between Liverpool One and the high street, giving you plenty of options for where to take the rest of your day. The Bluecoat itself has an excellent cafe, if open!
We’re here to make sure that Liverpool students, particularly our tenants, have the best possible time whilst studying in the city, which includes taking in its rich historical and cultural heritage!