Located on the eastern side of the Mersey River in northwest England, the city of Liverpool has a population of 478,580, and is part of a metropolitan area with 2.24 million residents.
Most people associate Liverpool as the birthplace of the Beatles. The band that began in Liverpool achieved 17 number one hits during their time together, and named two of their songs – Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields — after areas in their hometown.
There’s much more to Liverpool, we learned, while researching for an upcoming visit to the city via a cruise ship.
18 Fun Facts About Liverpool
1. King John made Liverpool a borough in 1207.
In addition to granting it a royal charter, King John designed Liverpool’s original street plan of seven streets laid out in an “H” shape.
2. Liverpool experienced slow population growth until the late 1600s and early 1700s. The city owes its dramatic growth during this period to the fact that the nearby River Dee became an silted. Since Roman times, the port city of Chester and the River Dee had been used used maritime trade. When larger ships could no longer sail into Chester, they switched to the port city of Liverpool on the River Mersey.
3. In 1699, the Liverpool Merchant, a slave ship set sail for Africa from Liverpool. Fueled by the profitable slave trade and other West Indies trade, the port city of Liverpool grew rapidly during the 1700s.
4. Although the city was a key part of the slave trade, Liverpool also was home to three prominent men who pioneered the abolitionist movement: Willaim Rathbone, William Roscoe and Edward Rushton.
5. In 1715, the world’s first commercial wet dock was built in Liverpool. This 3.5 acre dock was built on the River Mersey by building walls in a natural tide pool into lock the “dock” off from the river.
6. Although Liverpool’s original dock accommodated up to 100 ships, it was considered too small and obsolete by the 19th century. In 1826 the “Old Dock” was filled in, and Liverpool’s fourth Custom House was built on the site — only to later be demolished by WW II bombs. Today part of the excavated Old Dock site can be viewed as part of the Liverpool One shopping and residential complex that opened in 2008.
7. In 1830, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened, providing faster transport of raw materials (such as cotton shipped from America), and finished goods (such as fabric and clothing), between the Port of Liverpool and the mills in Manchester. This was also the world’s first passenger railway line, complete with a timetable.
8. When it was built in 1846, the Albert Dock was one of the most advanced docks anywhere in the world; it’s often credited with helping Liverpool become a global port.Today the Albert Dock houses restaurants, bars, shops, two hotels as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story.
9. Liverpool was home to both the Cunard and White Star Line, and was the port of registry of the RMS Titanic, the RMS Lusitania, the Queen Mary and the Olympic ocean liners.
10. The economic strength of Liverpool drew immigrants from around the world, rapidly increasing the city’s population during the 1840s through the early part of the 20th century.
11. During the 1840s, about half a million Irish people escaping the Great Potato Famine arrived in Liverpool. While many them embarked from Liverpool to travel to North America, a sizeable group remained in the city, significantly increasing the Catholic population.
12. Natives of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians and as “Scousers”— a reference to a form of stew was eaten by the people of Liverpool in the 19th century. The word “Scouse” has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect.
There are hundreds of words unique to the Liverpudlian dialect; they are translated in ‘Lern Yerself Scouse’ by Frank Shaw.
13. Liverpool has two cathedrals: one Catholic and one Anglican; they are each located at opposite ends of Hope Street.
14. The Anglican Cathedral, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1904, is the largest cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest in the world. Liverpool Cathedral has 13 bells weight a total of 17 tons, in addition to a monster bell known as “Great George“, which is larger than Big Ben, weighs 15 tons, and has to be rung with a hammer.
15. On the other end of Hope Street, Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King features the world’s largest panel of stained glass. Construction of this cathedral began in 1962 after its design was chosen from a worldwide competition, won by architect, Frederick Gibberd. Completed in 1967, locals jokingly refer to the unique building “Paddy’s Wigwam” or”The Pope’s Launching Pad.”
16. The Queensway Tunnel opened in 1934 linking Birkenhead with Liverpool via roads in tunnels under the River Mersey. Today about 90,000 vehicles cross under the River Mersey each day via the two Mersey road tunnels. Visitors to Liverpool can take the Mersey Tunnel Tour, a 2-3 hour behind-the-scenes tour beneath the city through an underwater engineering masterpiece.
17. Opened in 2007, the Liverpool Cruise Terminal is a 1,150 ft. floating structure situated on the River Mersey. It allows large cruise ships to dock at Liverpool without entering the enclosed dock system or having to tender passengers.
18. Cruise passengers to Liverpool dock near Pier Head, renowned for it’s trio of buildings known as the Three Graces– the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. These buildings showcase the great wealth in Liverpool during the late 19th and early 20th century. They are part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Learn more about Liverpool, England with these resources: