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Pier Head

Pier Head

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The Pier Head is a riverside location
River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....

 in the city centre
Liverpool City Centre
Liverpool city centre is the commercial, cultural, financial and historical heart of Liverpool, England.Unlike many other cities in the United Kingdom, a ring road doesn't distinguish the city centre from the remainder of Liverpool, although an inner ring road of sorts does exist, with the recent...

 of Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site in Liverpool, England. It comprises six locations in the city centre of Liverpool including the Pier Head, Albert Dock and William Brown Street, and includes many of the city's most famous landmarks.UNESCO received...

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, which was inscribed in 2004.
The historic site encompasses a trio of landmarks, built on the site of the former George's Dock
George's Dock
George's Dock was a dock, on the River Mersey, England, within the Port of Liverpool. It was connected to Canning Dock to the south and George's Basin to the north....

 and referred to since at least 2000 as 'The Three Graces':
  • Royal Liver Building
    Royal Liver Building
    The Royal Liver Building is a Grade I listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited 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 waterfront...

    , built between 1908 and 1911 and designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas
    Walter Aubrey Thomas
    Walter Aubrey Thomas , was a British architect.Walter Aubrey Thomas was born in 1859 at Tranmere, Birkenhead. He was the son of Humphrey Glegge Thomas who listed as an architect and engineer....

    . It is a grade I listed building consisting of two clock towers, both crowned by mythical Liver Birds
    Liver bird
    The Liver bird is the symbol of the city of Liverpool, England.-History:The earliest known use of a bird to represent the then-town of Liverpool was on its corporate seal, dating from the 1350s. The seal is now held by the British Museum. In 1668 the Earl of Derby gave the town council a mace...

    . The building is the headquarters of the Royal Liver Friendly Society
    Royal Liver Friendly Society
    Royal Liver Assurance is a friendly society with over 1.7 million members in Ireland and the UK. Subject to Financial Services Authority approval, Royal Liver and its subsidiaries will become part of the Royal London Group on 1 July 2011.-History:...

  • Cunard Building
    Cunard Building
    The Cunard Building is a Grade II* listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited 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...

    , constructed between 1914 and 1916 and a grade II* listed building. It is the former headquarters of the Cunard Line
    Cunard Line
    Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

     shipping company.
  • Port of Liverpool Building
    Port of Liverpool Building
    The Port of Liverpool Building , is a Grade II* listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited at the Pier Head and along with the neighbouring Liver Building and Cunard Building is one of Liverpool's "Three Graces", which line the city's waterfront...

    , built from 1903 to 1907 and also grade II* listed. It is the former home of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.

Also on the site is the grade II listed Mersey Tunnel building, to the east of the Port of Liverpool building. It was built in the 1930s and contains offices and ventilator equipment for the Queensway Tunnel
Queensway Tunnel
The Queensway Tunnel is a road tunnel under the River Mersey, in the north west of England, between Liverpool and Birkenhead. It is often called the Birkenhead Tunnel, to distinguish it from the Kingsway Tunnel, which serves Wallasey.-History:...

The Pier Head, and the adjacent Mann Island
Mann Island
Mann Island is a small area in Liverpool, England.It lies on the waterfront next to the River Mersey between the Albert Dock to the south and the Pier Head to the north.-History:...

, were subjected to an ill-fated scheme in 2002 to develop a "Fourth Grace".

The Fourth Grace
Fourth Grace
The Fourth Grace was a planned development to be built on the Liverpool Pier Head, as a part of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 bid.The winning entry, named "The Cloud", was designed by the architect Will Alsop....

 project; the winning entry, designed by Wil Alsop and known as "the Cloud", was abandoned in 2004 after "fundamental changes" to the original waterfront plan left it unworkable.

In 2007 work commenced on a new scheme, to re-house the Museum of Liverpool Life
Museum of Liverpool Life
The Museum of Liverpool Life was a Museum in Liverpool, England, part of National Museums Liverpool, that focused on the contribution that the people of Liverpool made to national life...

Work also commenced in 2007 to build a canal link
Liverpool Canal Link
The Liverpool Canal Link is a £22m waterway link that connects the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, at Liverpool, to the South Docks. The new link adds of navigable waterway to the canal system.-History:...

 between the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the South Docks. The £22 million pound 1.6 mile extension to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was officially opened on 25 March 2009. It opens to boaters at the end of April and links the 127 miles of the existing canal to the city’s South Docks, passing Pier Head and the famous Three Graces.

Trans-Atlantic shipping

Originally, the Prince's Landing Stage was situated at the Pier Head to serve the trans-Atlantic liner service. There were a number of these stages built during Liverpool's history, the most recent opened in the 1890s and was joined to the neighbouring George's Landing Stage, situated to the south. After further lengthening took place in the early twentieth century, the combined structure originally measured 2,478 feet, almost half a mile. Both were scrapped in 1973, following the termination of trans-Atlantic services from Liverpool.

Mersey Ferries

The Mersey Ferries
Mersey Ferry
The Mersey Ferry is a ferry service operating on the River Mersey in north west England, between Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula. Ferries have been used on this route since at least the 12th century, and continue to be popular for both local people and visitors.The current fleet consists of...

 operate from George's Landing Stage, owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company
Mersey Docks and Harbour Company
The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company , formerly the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board , owns and administers the dock facilities of the Port of Liverpool, on the River Mersey, England...

. Ferries travel to Woodside
Woodside, Merseyside
Woodside is a small riverside locality in Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, England, situated almost opposite Liverpool Pier Head across the River Mersey.-History:...

 in Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

 and Seacombe
Seacombe is a district of the town of Wallasey, on the Wirral Peninsula, England. Administratively, Seacombe is a ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral. Before local government reorganisation in 1 April 1974, it was part of the County Borough of Wallasey, within the geographical county of...

 in Wallasey
Wallasey is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in Merseyside, England, on the mouth of the River Mersey, at the northeastern corner of the Wirral Peninsula...


Only a few months after a new stage (to replace the previous combined structure) was opened on 13 July 1975, it had to be refloated, after sinking in freak weather conditions.
Similar conditions, and an extremely low tide on 2 March 2006, caused it to sink again, probably because one of its girder's air pockets ruptured. This time it was destroyed, and a permanent replacement was not expected until late 2007.

A new landing stage has since been installed; it was initially used on the weekend of 8–9 September 2007.

Isle of Man Ferry

The Isle of Man Steam Packet
Isle of Man Steam Packet
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited is the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2010....

 ferry service also operates from Princes Landing Stage, at a berth adjacent to the those used by the Mersey Ferries.


In addition to the Mersey Ferries, the Pier Head previously served as a major tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 and later bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

Interchange station
An interchange station or a transfer station is a train station for more than one railway route in a public transport system, and allows passengers to change from one route to another. Transfer may occur within the same mode, or between rail modes, or to buses...


Merseyrail is a train operating company and commuter rail network in the United Kingdom, centred on Liverpool, Merseyside. The network is predominantly electric with diesel trains running on the City Line. Two City Line branches are currently being electrified on the overhead wire AC system with...

 James Street station is a short walk away. The station was formerly part of the Mersey Railway
Mersey Railway
The Mersey Railway connected Liverpool and Birkenhead, England, via the Mersey Railway Tunnel under the River Mersey. Opened in 1886, it was the second oldest urban underground railway network in the world. The railway contained the first tunnel built under the River Mersey. It was constructed by...

. The Pier Head was also originally served by Liverpool Riverside station
Liverpool Riverside railway station
Liverpool Riverside was owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and located at Liverpool's Pier Head ship liner terminal. The station was specifically used for ship liner traffic, opening on the June 12, 1895....

, connecting to main line services via the Victoria tunnel
Victoria Tunnel (Liverpool)
-History:The Victoria Tunnel in Liverpool, England is a 2,475 metre long rail tunnel. Opened in 1849, its eastern portal is adjacent to Edge Hill station. The western end opens into a short cutting, between Byrom Street and Fontenoy Street, the short Waterloo Tunnel exits the cutting terminating...

, and Pier Head station
Pier Head railway station
Pier Head was a railway station on the Liverpool Overhead Railway. Opened on 6 March 1893 by the Marquis of Salisbury, it was located close to the landing stage of the Mersey Ferry, and next to the land on which the Royal Liver Building was built a few years later, within the city centre.The...

, on the Liverpool Overhead Railway
Liverpool Overhead Railway
The Liverpool Overhead Railway was the world's first electrically operated overhead railway. The railway was carried mainly on iron viaducts, with a corrugated iron decking, onto which the tracks were laid. It ran close to the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, following the line of Liverpool Docks...

. Both have since been demolished.

Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive
The Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive is the Passenger Transport Executive responsible for the coordination of public transport in the metropolitan county of Merseyside, England...

 are in talks with Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool City Council is the governing body for the city of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. It consists of 90 councillors, three for each of the city's 30 wards. The council is currently controlled by the Labour Party and is led by Joe Anderson.-Domain:...

 to fast track a multimillion pound ferry terminal at the Pier Head.

Open Space

The open space at the Pier Head has also seen several developments.
In 1960’s the area was given over to a bus terminal; in 1963 the terminal building for the Mersey Ferry was re-furbished to include an adjoining restaurant.
In 1991 the ferry terminal itself was re-configured to its present style.

Running the length of the plaza is the Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 Boulevard, a walkway containing memorial plaques in memory of Canadians who gave their life in the Battle of the Atlantic.

In the centre of the space is an equestrian statue of Edward VII, dating from 1921.


The space also contains a number of memorials;
Clockwise from the north are:-
  • The Titanic Memorial
    Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic
    The Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic is a granite monument located in St. Nicholas Place, Pier Head, Liverpool, England. The city of Liverpool is strongly associated with the ill-fated liner that sank on April 14, 1912 after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic with the loss...

    , to the engineer
    An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

    s who remained at their posts during the sinking of the RMS Titanic,
  • the Cunard War Memorial.
  • the Alfred Lewis Jones
    Alfred Lewis Jones
    Sir Alfred Lewis Jones , British ship-owner, was born in Carmarthenshire, Wales.At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to the managers of the African Steamship Company at Liverpool, making several voyages to the west coast of Africa. By the time he was twenty-six he had risen to be manager of the...

  • the Merchant Navy war memorial.

There are several recent additions to the memorials at the Pier Head; these
include one to the Second World War convoy escort group commander Captain Johnnie Walker
Frederic John Walker
Captain Frederic John Walker, CB, DSO and three Bars, RN was a British Royal Navy officer noted for his exploits during World War II...

and one
remembering the Chinese merchant seamen who served and died for Britain in both World Wars, unveiled on January 23, 2006.

External links