Albert Dock is Liverpool in a nutshell – the world’s biggest collection of Grade I listed buildings...Albert Dock
Liverpool has come a long way from the gritty 1980s, when it was characterised by social inequality and economic depression. The locals are justifiably proud of a city whose beauty is now matched by its appetite for culture and change – a town as comfortable in the presence of poets laureate and avant garde artists as it is on the football terraces.
Don’t forget that Liverpool was the other centre of the Swinging Sixties, the city that invented mop tops, the Beatles and most of the British pop music scene for the next 30 years. A Merseyside mirror for San Francisco in terms of cultural significance, the city has also given the world Willy Russell; Michael Owen; and the Liverpool Poets (a beat-influenced group including the legendary Roger McGough). In its modern incarnation, Liverpool is fun, funky and chic. From the buzz of Albert Docks to the inspiring façade of the Metropolitan Cathedral, this is a city built on rewriting history.Read more
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In its modern incarnation, Liverpool is fun, funky and chic. From the buzz of Albert Docks to the inspiring façade of the Metropolitan Cathedral, this is a city built on rewriting history.
2008’s European City of Culture packs more artistic significance per square mile than most comparable British locations – only London, Manchester and Birmingham can claim to have had a comparable effect on the musical landscape of the world. None of the others, of course, come close to the knock-on effect Liverpool, as home of the Beatles, has had on popular culture.
There’s more to Liverpool than just music, mind. While the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo and the Bunnymen and Frankie Goes to Hollywood all occupy a cherished place in the city’s heart, there are other things on its mind. Like sport. Liverpool is home to two of the most famous football clubs in the world, Liverpool and Everton, and plays host to the Grand National every year at Aintree.
The town boasts not one but two cathedrals – the “traditional” Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool, which stands at one end of Hope Street; and the astonishingly modern Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool, which stands at the other. The two are perfect metaphors for a location whose spirit is defined by change. The centre of the city has been spectacularly redefined by a prolonged period of planned regeneration, and now boasts a combination of modern shopping, eating and drinking areas and well-kept listed buildings. Beautiful old pubs and restaurants rub shoulders with modern purpose-built clubs and bars, several city areas cater exclusively for fun (try the Ropewalk or Seel Street for a proper Liverpool experience), and the university crowd keeps a night out fresh and funky.
Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions
You can’t walk far in Liverpool without finding a museum, gallery or exhibition detailing the social and cultural history – or future – of the city. From maritime and slavery museums to the Tate Liverpool, from the Cavern Club to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, there really is something for every taste.
They say if the Liver Birds on top of the emblematic Royal Liver Building ever fly away, the city will cease to exist. They’re still here – and fresh, modern Liverpool is too.
Liverpool’s central area is compact enough to walk around. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for bargains or painting the town red, there’s no need to get a taxi between destinations (unless your bags are weighed down with shiny new things!).
John Lennon airport connects Liverpool with the rest of Europe. Flights further afield are taken from and come into Manchester international Airport, which can be reached in less than an hour by car or train.
Ferries run from Liverpool to the Isle of Man (Douglas) and Northern Island (Belfast) on a regular timetable. The city is also occasionally visited by cruise ships.
Liverpool Lime Street, the city’s main train station, is well connected to London, Manchester, Nottingham, York, Birmingham and Leeds.
The M57 and M62 motorways connect Liverpool with Britain’s major roadways – particularly the M6, which has a junction with the M62. The M57 is used heavily over the Grand National weekend, as one of the main access points to Aintree racecourse.
Liverpool’s bus services run out to the airport as well as across town. There are six daytime services – A through E – plus a night bus service, (N), which only runs on Friday and Saturday nights. Buses on the A service will call at the airport. Note that bus numbers can be confusing: look out for the letters at the end of the number to work out which route variation your bus is taking.
There are plenty of taxis in the city, which will stop and pick up off the street as well as taking you from designated taxi points. Exercise normal caution – never get into an unmarked cab, or travel alone at night. Booking is always advised.
Suburban trains operate from both Liverpool Central and Liverpool Lime Street stations – the majority of local trains run from Liverpool Central, but some also go from Liverpool Lime Street.
Like so many portside cities, modern Liverpool’s history begins in disrepute. The city’s 17th century transformation from impoverished parish to one of the three wealthiest towns in the UK was caused rapidly, by transatlantic trade and by slavery.
As the 18th century gave way to the 19th, Liverpool’s status increased – thanks to the Industrial Revolution. The city was the first ever to be connected to another by an intercity rail link (the Liverpool to Manchester railway), and was also the first to have an elevated railway.
The Second World War
The Second World War brought ruin to Liverpool’s buildings – in particular to the housing areas of the city, over half of which were severely damaged or destroyed. By the end of the war, 70,000 Liverpudlians were homeless: Liverpool’s new reputation as a land of dodgy housing estates was largely due to the rebuilding that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.
While a depressed marine industry, loss of jobs and a sharp fall in standard of living was transforming the once-proud city into a town of confrontation and hopelessness, the arts and youth culture of the 1960s was planting the seeds of Liverpool’s unexpected regeneration. With the Beatles leading the charge, the city’s vibrant art scene placed key artists and locations on the map forever. The Cavern Club, which played host to some of the Beatles’ most legendary gigs, still exists (and is packed every night).
The 1980s saw Liverpool’s worst historical period – huge unemployment, an almost bankrupt City Council and the Hillsborough Disaster, which changed the face of football stadia in the UK, and the reporting of which caused a citywide boycott of The Sun newspaper that is still in effect.
The city’s regeneration began in the 1990s, and is ongoing – making Liverpool one of the most vibrant and exciting places in the UK.
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