Representing as the symbol of the city for over a massive 800 years, the magnificent metal liver birds have held statue across Liverpool’s breath-taking skyline since 1911.
Perched on top of the historic Royal Liver Building, the Liver Birds are said to have originated in 1207 when King John was granted a Royal Charter to register the city of Liverpool as a borough. Needing a unique seal to differentiate documents and sterling from his territory, the symbol of the bird was chosen to feature as part of his crest.
Standing an impressive 18ft tall, the Birds made of copper hold a wingspan of 24ft! The two birds are a prominent display within the city, and previously rekindled the idea that the Liver was a mythical bird that once haunted the local shoreline.
History has it that the Liver Birds are a male and female pair, that go by the name of Bella and Bertie. Bella the female, looks out to sea, watching for the seamen to return safely home. While the male, Bertie looks into the city, watching over the seamen’s families (or old wives’ tales – making sure the pubs are open!). Urban legend also has it that the Birds face away from each other as if they were to mate and fly away, the city would cease to exist! Another local tale also tells of the Birds being chained down, as if they were to fly away the River Mersey would burst its banks and flood the city of Liverpool.
Now you would be foolish to believe that Bertie and Bella are the only Birds running this city as they stand tall above the iconic Royal Liver Building, then you would be sorely wrong. In fact, there are over a hundred disseminated throughout the city!
The third metal Bird is on the nearby Mersey Chambers office building, adjacent to the Church of Our Lady & St Nicholas, the fourth was a bird carved in stone, which original topped St John’s Market Building until it was demolition in 1964. The 18ft stone Liver Bird can now be found on display at the Museum of Liverpool.
Other Birds scattered across the city and beyond including:
- George’s Dock Building (A colony of figurative Liver Birds scatter throughout its Art Deco design)
- Water Street (Above the entrance to the former offices of the Liverpool Building Society, a 3D sculpture)
- Liverpool Town Hall (The building located on Dale Street in the hall, including one incorporated into the hall’s Minton tile floor)
- Queensway Tunnel (Waving you goodbye out of the city, you will find an asymmetrical image of the Liver Bird atop of the entrance of the tunnel)
- Bluecoat Chambers (Numerous Liver Birds are contained within the architecture including sandstone statues that look over the School Lane grounds)
- Hahnemann Hospital (Originally the home of John Moores University’s School of Art & Design, there are small reliefs of the Liver Bird on either side of the arch leading to the main entrance of the building)
- Walker Art Gallery (Spot the Liver Bird originally made out of aluminium, which has been dyed aniseed green to match the corroded brass of the statue)
- Cenotaph (A war memorial that stands in the shadow of St George’s Hall has a coat of arms, each bearing the Liver Bird at either end of the monument)
- Municipal Buildings (The Liver Bird is not only contained within the coat of arms, there are also three other stone Liver Birds around the exterior of the Dale Street building)
With so many other buildings brandishing the city’s iconic emblem, have you spotted any other Liver Birds across Liverpool that has a tale to tell…