Liverpool ‘invented’ the modern port. As a key centre of trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, Liverpool was a centre of technological innovation – particularly in the development of modern port technology, transport systems and management – advances that influenced ports all over the world.
And if the story seems a little ‘wet,’ in Liverpool it’s anything but. The huge wealth that trade brought to the city was translated into architectural grandeur, as reflected in its stunning collection of public buildings, including the ‘Three Graces’ – the Port of Liverpool Building, the Cunard Building and the Royal Liver Building, which is topped by Liverpool’s symbol, the famous 5.5m copper Liver Bird – St George’s Hall and the magnificent neo-Gothic Liverpool Cathedral, Britain’s largest church and the world’s largest Anglican cathedral.
The story of the port – both good and bad – is told in brilliant, exciting detail in the cluster of museums around Albert Dock, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum, which pulls no punches in acknowledging the city’s role in the horrors of the slave trade.
And the port helped to indirectly shape pop culture. In the 1950s, the latest rock ‘n’ roll records from America would arrive first here, giving Liverpool a jump-start on the emergence of British rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s and the explosion of the Beatles. This story is told in Liverpool’s most popular fee-charging museum, the Beatles Story, also on Albert Dock. Liverpool’s central role in the development of rock ‘n’ roll told in the British Music Experience on the ground floor (once a first-class lounge and waiting room) of one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the Cunard Building.
The warehouses on Albert Dock are the biggest collection of protected buildings in the UK outside of London.