The Royal Liver Building at St Nicholas Place, Pier Head, Liverpool, designed by the extremely gifted local architect Walter Aubrey Thomas (1864-1934), with engineers L. G. Mouchel & Partners. This famous building is Grade I listed, constructed of reinforced concrete with 14"-thick granite cladding on the frame (see Sharples 68). 1908-11. Considered "perhaps the most extraordinary office block of its date in the country" (Sharples 70), it is popularly and widely known as one of the "Three Graces" adorning Liverpool's Pier Head. The other two are the Cunard Building to its east, and the Port of Liverpool Building beyond that. These three all belong to Liverpool's World Heritage site, as part of this Maritime Mercantile City.

The Royal Liver Building itself was built as offices for the Royal Liver Assurance group which had been established in mid-century. According to the listing text, it was "[o]ne of the 1st multi-storey concrete framed buildings in the world." As well as a basement, it has ten upper floors, and six more again in the two clock-towers, "making it the tallest building in Britain until the advent of tower blocks in the 1960s" ("Royal Liver Building," Engineering Timelines).

Much admired for its architectural presence, it holds a special place in Liverpudlians' hearts: each of its clock-towers is adorned by a giant copper Liver bird, on whose continued presence, according to legend, the city's existence depends. These distinctive figures were executed by the Bromsgrove Guild; each, as shown on the left, carries a frond of seaweed in its beak.

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Photographs, formatting and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


"Liverpool — Matritime Merantile City." Unesco World Heritage. Web. 18 July 2016.

"Royal Liver Building." British Listed Buildings. Web. 18 July 2016.

"Royal Liver Building." Engineering Timelines. Web. 18 July 2016.

Sharples, Joseph, with contributions by Richard Pollard. Liverpool. Pevsner Architectural Guides. New Haven: Yale, 2004.

Created 19 July 2016