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Liverpool Historical Sites Walking Tour (Self Guided), Liverpool

Three of the most remarkable buildings of Liverpool-- Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool-- are all situated in the Pier Head. They are called the Three Graces of Liverpool. This self guided walking tour leads you to discover some of the most important historic buildings in Liverpool.
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Liverpool Historical Sites Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Liverpool Historical Sites Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Liverpool (See other walking tours in Liverpool)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Albion House
  • Town Hall
  • Oriel Chambers
  • Hargreaves Building
  • Tower Building
  • Royal Liver Building
  • Cunard Building
  • Port of Liverpool Building
1
Albion House

1) Albion House

Albion House is situated in Liverpool’s historic docklands, on the corner of the Strand and James Street. Located next to the Pier Head and ferry terminals, Albion House was built in 1898 to house the headquarters of the city’s famous White Star Line shipping company. After relocating to the new building, White Star Line grew to become one of the world’s most famous shipping companies. It is however best remembered for the sinking of its ship, The Titanic, in 1912. Following the disaster, crowds gathered at Albion House as employees read the names of casualties from the balcony, too afraid to face the angry mob gathering below.

Albion House was designed by architects Richard Norman Shaw and J. Francis Doyle and closely resembles their first project, the Scotland Yard building in London. A grade II listed building, Albion House has a distinctive red and white striped façade, comprised of Portland stone and red brick – earning it the local nickname of the ‘streaky bacon’ building. The entrance hall features a mosaic of South America, a continent regularly visited by White Star Line ships. The shipping company merged with rivals Cunard Line in 1927 and relocated – Albion House is now a private office building.
2
Town Hall

2) Town Hall

Liverpool Town Hall was built between 1749 and 1754 according to a design by John Wood the Elder. An extension to the north, designed by James Wyatt, was added in 1785. The town hall is built of stone with a slate roof and a lead dome. The building has two storeys and a basement; the stonework of the basement and lower storey is rusticated. The south face has nine bays. Its central three bays are occupied by the portico. This has three rounded arches on the ground floor, and four pairs of Corinthian columns surrounding a balcony. Above the upper storey windows on all faces are panels containing carvings.

The dome stands on a high drum supported on columns. Around the base of the dome are four clock faces, each of which is supported by a lion and unicorn. On the summit of the dome is a statue, representing Minerva. It is a Grade I listed building, described in Images of England as "one of the finest surviving 18th-century town halls".

Why You Should Visit:
Inside, visitors will find the grandest suite of civic rooms in the UK and a magnificent example of late Georgian decoration.
You also might want to go onto the balcony where the Beatles stood when returned to Liverpool.

Tip:
Guided tours inside are available, but check the opening times prior to visit or just take photos from the Castle Street.
Once the main business district, the area is now replete with bars and restaurants, so refreshments are only minutes away/opposite.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Oriel Chambers

3) Oriel Chambers

Oriel Chambers is the world's first metal framed glass curtain walled building. Designed by architect Peter Ellis and built in 1864, it comprises 43,000 sq ft (4,000 m2) set over five floors. A Grade 1 Listed Building, it is located near to the town hall. Oriel Chambers, and the architect's only other known building at 16 Cook Street, are amongst the city's precursors of modernist architecture. However, its simplified forms and large windows meant that the building initially courted controversy, being described as "an agglomeration of great glass bubbles" and even "a great abortion" which led to the disheartened Ellis abandoning architecture.

Today it looks a little different, combining its period architecture with a 1950s extension, which was added to the building after it was bombed during World War II. The building's primary tenant is a set of barristers' chambers, which have been in occupation in various parts since 1965.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Hargreaves Building

4) Hargreaves Building

The Hargreaves Building, located in Chapel Street, close to Liverpool’s docklands, was built in 1859 as a head office for Brown Shipley Bank. The bank was founded by local finance magnate and philanthropist Sir William Brown. Designed by architect and renowned local figure Sir James Picton, the building was a collaboration between two of the city’s most famous sons. Designed in the Venetian style with rounded window frames, Hargreaves Building also bears symbols of the city’s rich maritime heritage. Images relating to history’s great explorers – Columbus, Vespucci and Pizarro, amongst others – are engraved above the windows. The building is actually four stories in total, as it has a large basement level below ground.

When the Brown Shipley Bank moved to London in 1888, the building was converted to house offices. It was then taken over by the city’s Racquet Club, who turned it into a brand new premises, comprising squash courts, a swimming pool and a billiard room. This followed a grim chapter in Liverpudlian history, when the club’s previous building was destroyed during the Toxteth Riots of 1981. The Hargreaves Building is now a hotel and restaurant, still bearing the Racquet Club name. The building was awarded Grade II listed status by English Heritage in 1966.
5
Tower Building

5) Tower Building

Tower Buildings stand close to the waterfront in Liverpool city centre, directly opposite the ‘Three Graces’ – three grand old buildings which face out across the River Mersey from the waterfront. Tower Buildings has a rich history of its own, with the current structure bearing hallmarks of the first to stand here – a sandstone mansion, built in 1256. This was replaced by the Tower of Liverpool, a fortified house built in 1406. Throughout the 18th century, the building was used as a civic hall and even a prison. Liverpool Corporation bought the site in 1774, but it wasn’t until 1846 that a new structure, the first to be known as Tower Buildings, was built by Sir James Picton.

The current building was completed in 1910, and designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, a local architect who also created the Royal Liver Building. True to its roots, the building maintained a sandstone effect frontage, and is heavily fortified – it was one of the first buildings in England to be constructed around a steel frame. An office building for much of the 20th century, Tower Buildings were renovated in 2006, and are now a mixture of retail units and private residential accommodation. The original structure, composed of granite laid over its steel frame, with white terracotta tiling, is Grade II listed.
6
Royal Liver Building

6) Royal Liver Building

The Royal Liver Building is located at the Pier Head and, along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building, is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's famous and iconic waterfront. A Grade I listed building, it is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO-designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

One of the first structures in the world to be built using reinforced concrete, the Royal Liver Building stands at 98.2 m (322 ft) tall to the top of the spires, and 50.9 m (167 ft) to the main roof. Opened in 1911 (three years before World War I), it was the largest building in Europe up until the mid-thirties. It is now, however, only the joint-fourth tallest structure in the City of Liverpool, having been overtaken in height by West Tower, Radio City Tower and Liverpool Cathedral.

The Royal Liver Building remains one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of Liverpool and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.

Why You Should Visit:
In September 2019, during the UK Heritage Open Days, for the first time in its 100+ year history, the Royal Liver Building unlocked its doors to the public with the launch of Royal Liver Building 360, a brand new fully guided tower tour offering a world class audio visual experience complete with panoramic 360° views across Liverpool from the 15th floor viewing platform – a true ‘bucket list’ must-see attraction.

Tip:
Guided tours take around 70 minutes, with each group limited to 14 people to ensure that everyone gets a great view and the chance to capture images. Visitors are allowed access to all areas inside and outside of the building – from the marble lobby to the roof and a climb up the "chicken stairway" under the Liver Bird cupola. Yes, you can climb to as high as it gets and it is a quite incredible, unique experience, but in order to get tickets, you need to book well in advance.
Before booking tickets, prospective visitors should note that the tour is physically demanding and requires the negotiation of 124 steps, 71 of which are a narrow spiral stone staircase. The tour is also not open to children under seven years of age.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Cunard Building

7) Cunard Building

The Cunard Building is located at the Pier Head and, along with the neighbouring Liver Building and Port of Liverpool Building, is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront. It is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

It was designed by William Edward Willink and Philip Coldwell Thicknesse and was constructed between 1914 and 1917. The building's style is a mix of Italian Renaissance and Greek Revival, and its development has been particularly influenced by Italian palace design. The building is noted for the ornate sculptures that adorn its sides.

The building was, from its construction until the 1960s, the headquarters of the Cunard Line, and still retains the name of its original tenants. It was also home to Cunard's passenger facilities for trans-Atlantic journeys that departed from Liverpool. Today, the building is owned by Liverpool City Council and is home to numerous public and private sector organisations, including The British Music Experience.

Why You Should Visit:
While there is no general public access to the building, it can be fully appreciated from all sides via the surrounding public thoroughfares.

Tip:
Consider taking an extra layer of clothing when visiting this attraction, as Liverpool's waterfront can be chilly even on the sunniest days.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Port of Liverpool Building

8) Port of Liverpool Building

Like its neighbour, the Liver Building, the Port of Liverpool edifice overlooks the mouth of the Mersey River in the historic city docks district of Liverpool. It forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site which commemorates the historical importance of the city to the Merchant Navy. This building was designed in the early 20th century in Edwardian Baroque style, emphasizing the importance of Liverpool to the British Empire.

Throughout the building, there are numerous references to the sea and the maritime operations of both Liverpool and the British Empire. The main entrance gates are decorated with a globe supported by dolphins, while the cast iron gates and gate piers are decorated with mermaids, shells and anchors, and have shields with the initials "M.D. & H.B.". The outside light fittings are designed such that the lights themselves appear to be held in the hands of the Roman God Neptune. Similarly, the lifts are also decorated with maritime references, in the form of gilded emblems representing the globe, seahorses and anchors. In the central hall, the frieze between the ground and first floor is adorned with the words of Psalm 107: "They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. Anno Domini MCMVII".

Why You Should Visit:
To marvel at an architectural gem reflecting the designs of the British Empire, rich in history and with many beautiful and distinctive features: façade with a large central portal beneath Baroque columns and a pediment; iconic copper dome rising from the center with a spire reaching 220 feet (67 meters) in height and twin towers on the corners; plus 10-foot (3-meter) statues of women on either side of the main entrance representing Commerce and Industry.
Cross the River Mersey and enjoy the view of the enormous white building from a distance.
The Port of Liverpool Building has had its fair share of Hollywood screen time being used as a film set in several productions, including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes & Foyles War (TV series).

Tip:
You can step inside the lobby, but that's about it. Otherwise, take some photos.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Liverpool, England

Create Your Own Walk in Liverpool

Create Your Own Walk in Liverpool

Creating your own self-guided walk in Liverpool is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part I

Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part I

The birthplace of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Star, Liverpool is called the “Beatles Capital” for an apparent reason. The city saw the dawn of their musical career and has plenty of Beatles-themed bars, restaurants, hotels and other associated places. This guide will take you to some of the most prominent of them.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part II

Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part II

Liverpool is permeated with The Beatles who seem to be everywhere! There are so many places associated with the Fab Four in the city: childhood homes, schools, bars. Some of them are rather unassuming places, at a glance, and thus can be easily overlooked. To prevent this from happening, take this self-guided walk to find the memorable spots in Liverpool no Beatles fan can afford to miss!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Museums and Galleries Walk

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part III

Beatles Tour in Liverpool, Part III

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
Top Religious Sites Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Liverpool Introduction Walk

Liverpool Introduction Walk

Famously, the hometown (aka the “capital”) of the Beatles, Liverpool is more than just the Fab Four. Closely associated with the arts, music, culture, and architecture, as well as industrial innovation, the city is renowned for its multitude of historic landmarks, world-class sport arenas and shopping/entertainment. The abundance of art galleries, national museums and listed attractions in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles