Ok, hands up who has never heard of Liverpool or only knows it because of The Beatles, because I am here to dispense the news that the attractions of Liverpool are plentiful and worthy. Liverpool is a city in the north and the fourth largest in England. It sits on the River Mersey and used to be a major port (especially for the slave trade and between the UK and Ireland). Liverpudlians are affectionately known as Scousers and are known to be very hospitable and for having a fabulous sense of humor. Liverpool is also nicknamed the “City of Pop,” as according to the Guinness Book of Records, more number ones have come from artists out of Liverpool than anywhere else! So, apart from the Scouse (a meaty stew), The Beatles and The Mersey, what are the great attractions of Liverpool?
1 St George’s Hall
If you visit by train, one of the first attractions of Liverpool you will see on exiting Lime Street Station is St George’s Hall. The neoclassical grade 1 listed building has St John’s Gardens to the rear and St George’s Plateau to the front. It has a magnificent organ built by Henry Willis and at one time police holding cells were underneath. There is a stunning mosaic floor made from Minton tiles but that is only on display at certain times. There have been recent renovations and it is a lovely building to walk around.
2 Walker Art Gallery
This gallery is home to one of the biggest art collections outside London. The first 37 paintings were installed in 1819 and they were from William Roscoe’s personal collection that he had to sell after his bank failed. Some of the most important works on display are Yeames' “And When Did You Last See Your Father?” along with works by Rembrandt, Degas and more recent exhibits by David Hockney and Lucien Freud. For really recent additions there is a Banksy called “Cardinal Sin” which is supposed to be a reaction to the scandal in the church as it is a defaced statue of a priest.
3 Hope Street
The aptly named Hope Street has the Anglican Cathedral at one end and the Catholic Cathedral at the other. There are a number of high range restaurants, including 60 Hope Street and the London Carriage Works, along with the Philharmonic Hall and Philharmonic pub. Listening to the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will make an excellent start to the night. The Philharmonic pub is probably the only public house where the male toilets are the main attraction. The Victorian tiling is still in excellent condition and many men have been hurried out so female visitors can view the décor.
4 Pier Head
One of the most astounding sights of Liverpool, the Pier Head is a World Heritage Site and this is down to the 3 Graces – The Cunard Building, The Liver Building (with its famous Liver Birds) and The Port of Liverpool Building. The recent addition of the Liverpool Museum put that title at risk, as its modern design was not considered to be in keeping with the style of the existing buildings, but so far no damage has been done. There are many exhibitions in the museum and it is ideal for adults and children alike. After walking around the museum and seeing the Football show, the Beatles Exhibition and From Western Front to Waterfront, there are a number of restaurants at Albert Dock.
5 Albert Dock
Formally old warehouses, the Merseyside Development Corporation renovated them to turn the Albert Dock into a shopping parade with restaurants and the Tate Liverpool. Some famous users have left – some small arts and craft type stores along with Granada TV studios, but the main attractions such as the Maritime Museum are still there. The area is used for the Tall Ships regatta and a visit during this seafaring festival is one of the most wonderful things to do in Liverpool. Large companies have moved in and it is now known more for the nightlife with a number of trendy bars and restaurants – Blue Bar and Spice being two very popular ones.
6 Speke Hall
One of the oldest remaining buildings in Liverpool, Speke Hall has its beginnings in Tudor England, although there were renovations in the 1800s. Built by the Catholic Norris family, there is a priest’s hole which was used to hide members of the clergy during the Reformation. The gardens will take just as long to walk around as the hall and as with many homes of this age, there’s a ghost, so look out for Mary Norris who is full of remorse having killed her young son. If you visit at weekends you will find guides dressed in Tudor costumes carrying out the tours.
7 The Cavern Club
One of the most famous attractions of Liverpool, The Cavern Club is a nightclub that opened way back in 1957. That’s an awful long time for a nightclub to be open, and it is all thanks to The Beatles who put the club securely on the map, and into the annals of pop music history in the early 1960s. Back then, it was the center of the music scene. Today you can still enjoy shows in front of the famous main stage and it’s a must visit if you are on a “Beatles Tour” of Liverpool.
As a major city, there are plenty of attractions in Liverpool to keep visitors happy. Take a ferry across the Mersey, go shopping, attend the Merseyside Derby football match, paddle at Crosby Beach or catch a show. Does it sound like your kind of place?