Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Pier Head (Liverpool)

The Pier Head is the usual local name for much of the fabulous waterfront area of Liverpool.

There was originally a stone pier, but there is now a line of pontoons, which are far better at coping with the changing state of the tides on the River Mersey.

The waterfront is dominated by three superb buildings, often collectively known as the Three Graces, which add to the magnificent view of the city when seen from the Wirral.

The Royal Liver Building was built in 1911 as offices for the Royal Liver Friendly Society. The top of each of the two towers is surmounted by a Liver Bird. These mythical creatures have long been an unofficial symbol of Liverpool, and are believed to be based on the cormorants which frequent the estuary.

The Cunard Building was built in 1916 as headquarters for the Cunard Line, which operated famous Transatlantic liners, including the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.

The Port of Liverpool Building was built in 1907, to serve as offices for the important business of port administration.

Behind the Three Graces ran the Liverpool Overhead Railway, which linked the many docks.

Nearby is the terminal point for the Mersey Ferries, which link Liverpool with Birkenhead. There have been ferries here since 1207, and they were originally operated by monks from Birkenhead Priory. The ferries, still very popular especially with tourists, were immortalised in the Gerry and the Pacemakers song "Ferry Cross the Mersey".

The Pier Head area was also the chief embarkation point for countless Irish emigrants to the New World, particularly after the Potato Famine. "It's not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me, but my darling when I think of thee".

A short walk along the waterfront leads to Albert Dock, with its many tourist and cultral attractions, including the Beatles Story Museum and the Tate Liverpool.

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