Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City
Inscription Year on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2012
Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of the maritime mercantile City of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries. Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire and became the major port for the mass movement of people, e.g. slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management. The listed sites feature a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George’s Plateau.
Outstanding Universal Value
Located at the tidal mouth of the river Mersey where it meets the Irish Sea, the maritime mercantile City of Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire. It became the major port for the mass movement of people, including slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management, and building construction.
Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. A series of significant commercial, civic and public buildings lie within these areas, including the Pier Head, with its three principal waterfront buildings - the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and Port of Liverpool Building; the Dock area with its warehouses, dock walls, remnant canal system, docks and other facilities related to port activities; the mercantile area, with its shipping offices, produce exchanges, marine insurance offices, banks, inland warehouses and merchants houses, together with the William Brown Street Cultural Quarter, including St. George's Plateau, with its monumental cultural and civic buildings.
Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City reflects the role of Liverpool as the supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain's greatest global influence. Liverpool grew into a major commercial port in the 18th century, when it was also crucial for the organisation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In the 19th century, Liverpool became a world mercantile centre for general cargo and mass European emigration to the New World. It had major significance on world trade as one of the principal ports of the British Commonwealth. Its innovative techniques and types of dock, dock facilities and warehouse construction had worldwide influence. Liverpool was instrumental in the development of industrial canals in the British Isles in the 18th century, and of railway transport in the 19th century. All through this period, and particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Liverpool gave attention to the quality and innovation of its architecture and cultural activities. To this stand as testimony its outstanding public buildings, such as St. George's Hall, and its museums. Even in the 20th century, Liverpool has made a lasting contribution, remembered in the success of The Beatles, who were strongly influenced by Liverpool’s role as an international port city, which exposed them to seafarers, culture and music from around the world, especially America.
Criterion (ii):Liverpool was a major centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. It thus contributed to the building up of the international mercantile systems throughout the British Commonwealth.
Criterion (iii): The city and the port of Liverpool are an exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, contributing to the building up of the British Empire. It was a centre for the slave trade, until its abolition in 1807, and for emigration from northern Europe to America.
Criterion (iv): Liverpool is an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire.
The key areas that demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value in terms of innovative technologies and dock construction from the 18th to the early 20th century and the quality and innovation of its architecture and cultural activities are contained within the boundaries of the six areas forming the property. The major structures and buildings within these areas are generally intact although some such as Stanley Dock and associated warehouses require conservation and maintenance. The historic evolution of the Liverpool street pattern is still readable representing the different periods, with some alteration following the destruction of World War II.
There has been some re-development on sites previously redeveloped in the mid-late 20th century or damaged during World War II, for example at Mann Island and Chavasse Park, north and east of Canning Dock. All archaeology on these development sites was fully evaluated and recorded; archaeological remains were retained in situ where possible, and some significant features interpreted in the public domain. A new visitor centre has been opened at the north east corner of Old Dock, which has been conserved and exposed after being buried for almost 200 years. The production and adoption of design guidance minimizes the risks in and around the WH property that future development might adversely affect architectural quality and sense of place, or reduce the integrity of the docks.
Within the property, the major dock structures, and commercial and cultural buildings still testify to the Outstanding Universal Value in terms of form and design, materials, and to some extent, use and function. Warehouses at Albert Dock have been skillfully adapted to new uses. Some new development has been undertaken since inscription and has contributed to the city’s coherence by reversing earlier fragmentation. No significant loss of historical authenticity has occurred, as the physical evidence of the City and its great past remain prominent and visible, and in some cases has been enhanced. The main docks survive as water-filled basins within the property and in the buffer zone. The impact on the setting of the property of further new development on obsolete dockland is a fundamental consideration. It is essential that future development within the World Heritage property and its setting, including the buffer zone, should respect and transmit its Outstanding Universal Value.
Protection and management requirements (2009)
The property is within the boundary of Liverpool City Council and is protected through the planning system and the designation of over 380 buildings. The six sections of the property are protected as Conservation Areas under the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
The properties within the boundary are in mixed ownership and several institutions have management responsibilities relating to them. The property is subject to different plans and policies, including the Liverpool Unitary Development Plan (2002) and the Strategic Regeneration Framework (July 2001). There are several detailed master plans for specified areas, and conservation plans for the individual buildings. A Townscape Heritage Initiative for Buildings at Risk in the World Heritage site and its buffer zone is successfully encouraging and assisting the restoration of buildings within designated areas of the property. A full Management Plan has been prepared for the property. Its implementation is overseen by the Liverpool World Heritage Site Steering Group, which includes most public bodies involved in the property.
At the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee requested that the height of any new construction in the property should not exceed that of structures in the immediate surroundings; the character of any new construction should respect the qualities of the historic area, and new construction at the Pier Head should not dominate, but complement the historic Pier Head buildings. There is a need for conservation and development to be based on an analysis of townscape characteristics and to be constrained by clear regulations establishing prescribed heights of buildings.
A Supplementary Planning Document for Development and Conservation in and around the World Heritage site addresses the management issues raised by the World Heritage Committee in 2007 and 2008 and was formally adopted by the Liverpool City Council in October 2009.
The city and port of Liverpool are exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture in the 18th and 19th centuries, and played an important role in the growth of the British Empire. Liverpool is an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire. The city was also a major centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world's major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries, based on its harbour. The first ocean steamship left from Liverpool in 1840; from that date onwards the town became a fundamental link connecting Europe to America. It also became the major port for the mass movement of people: it was a centre for the slave trade until its abolition in 1807, and for emigration from northern Europe to America. Thousands of people from all over Europe gathered here to migrate to the New World.
Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management. The listed sites feature a great number of significant commercial, civic and public buildings, including St George's Plateau.
The view of Liverpool's waterfront was once very different from that of today. Where the world-famous riverside now stands was the tidal reach of the Mersey, merging with the Pool from which the town drew its name. The River Mersey is a tidal basin that flows into the Irish Sea and this geographical relationship was the foundation of its emergent overseas trade starting in the days of King John, who granted Liverpool its charter in 1207. The Pool was the safest mooring place for boats, and the borough council petitioned parliament to introduce legislation to build the first commercial wet dock in the world in 1715.
This development of the sea trade led inevitably to the expansion of associated trades such as sail-makers, blacksmiths, riggers and basket-makers. The growth of Liverpool continued dramatically in the 19th century: the population grew from 78,000 in 1801 to 685,000 by 1901. The borough council petitioned for Liverpool to be given city status, which it achieved in 1888, and by the early 20th century it was proclaimed the 'Second City of the Empire'.
After the First World War, Liverpool experienced economic downturn, yet the city council continued to make improvements with the construction of the East Lancashire Road and the Mersey Queensway Tunnel, which in its time was the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Liverpool was bombed more heavily in the Second World War than any other provincial city in Europe and was almost completely devastated. During the war 1,000 convoys entered Liverpool and the city was the headquarters of the battle of the Atlantic from 1941.
Post-war rebuilding took place and by the 1950s Liverpool was once again the second most important port in the empire in terms of the value of its imports and exports and the most important in terms of its passenger figures. In the late 20th century, after a prolonged period of unemployment and decline, the revival of the fortunes of the city lay in the redevelopment of its dock system. The Albert and Wapping Docks were restored as visitor attractions and a retail centre, and the installation of new dock gates at Canning facilitated the Tall Ships and Mersey River Festival in the 1980s and 1990s. It should not be forgotten also that Liverpool was the heart of a musical revolution during the 1960s.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Growth before 1715: The earliest evidence of human activity in the area of Liverpool is from the late Mesolithic period, some 6,000 years ago. There are traces of Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Viking settlements, followed by the Norman conquest. Liverpool was first mentioned in a charter of Prince John ca 1192. King John established Liverpool with the grant of a Charter in 1207 to enable him to mount an expansion into Wales and Ireland. Liverpool became a port for Irish and Scottish trade. Around the middle of the 17th century Liverpool merchants began to develop trade with America. The Great Plague of London caused many merchants come to Liverpool, bringing their money and experience. There was also an increasing number of religious emigrants, eg Puritans, Protestants, and Quakers, to the New World. From the end of the 17th to the early 18th centuries, the increasing wealth resulted in new urban developments, and the construction of docks and warehouses for the harbour. The so-called Old Dock was opened in 1715, becoming the prototype of commercial enclosed wet docks and the catalyst of Liverpool's subsequent rise to the status of a world port.
18th century: The principal early imported cargoes were tobacco, sugar and rum. After 1700, Liverpool joined Spain, Portugal, Bristol and London in the Triangular Trade, trading with cotton, manufactured goods, black slaves, and other goods between Africa, the West Indies, America and Europe. Liverpool became the most important centre in the world for the organisation of the slave trade. A Northern Triangular Run grew with the opening of Salthouse Dock in 1753, facilitating the export of salt, part of the system of exchange of various products between Newfoundland, and the West Indies, as well as Ireland and the Mediterranean countries. Businessmen and tradesmen came to Liverpool from all parts of Britain to take advantage of the opportunities, and by 1801 Liverpool had become the largest town in England.
With the increase of the capacity of the harbour, a reliable transport system was needed: first in improving the navigation of existing rivers, then by the construction of canals. The Mersey and Irwell Navigation opened in 1736. The Sankey Brook Canal from the St. Helens coalfield to the River Mersey (1757) is seen as the first industrial canal in the world. From 1770 to 1816, a canal was cut from Leeds to Liverpool, the longest and most successful in Britain. With the take-off of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century Liverpool's dock facilities became critical to this process, involving the cotton industry of the North West of England, as well as the iron and steelmaking industries in the country.
19th century: When ships were dependent on wind-power, storage of goods was essential, and warehouses became a part of the Liverpool townscape, especially from the late 18th till mid 19th centuries, eg Goree Warehouses (1793), others at King's Dock (1795-1812), Albert Dock Warehouses (1847) for imports, and Waterloo Warehouse (1868) for grain. The importance of coal became marked with the widespread introduction of steam power for production machines and transportation. The first steamship entered the Mersey in 1815, the first trans- Atlantic steamer from Liverpool was the Royal William in 1833, initiating a new era for shipping and leading to increases in tonnage going through Liverpool.
The idea of a railway between Liverpool and Manchester was promoted by a committee of Liverpool businessmen. The line was complete by June 1830; it was the first railway in the world to carry passengers to regular timetables as well as goods. The opening of the railway enabled goods from Liverpool Docks to be transported to other parts of Great Britain more efficiently than before and the port came to depend upon the railways for maintaining its global trading position. The Liverpool Overhead Railway was built 1889-1893, becoming the world's first elevated electric railway.
Until the beginning of the 19th century, Liverpool's traders mostly worked from home. As the scale of operations expanded, the scale and character of the centre area changed. Increasing profits from trade justified the construction of large, purely commercial buildings, three and four storeys high and subsequently more. At the same time, there were urban renewal programmes and new streets and areas were constructed in the town.
The prosperity of Liverpool and its role as a point of emigration to the New World attracted thousands upon thousands of people from across Europe. Many stayed and added to the unsanitary housing conditions in central Liverpool. In response to these problems, Liverpool introduced many advances in health care, becoming a forerunner in the country in mid 19th century. After the abolition of the transportation of slaves in 1807, ships continued to transport emigrants from Liverpool to America in vast numbers. Many European migrants came through Liverpool because it had the necessary shipping lines, choice of destinations and infrastructure, including special emigration trains.
20th century: At the beginning of the 20th century, Liverpool claimed to be ‘The Second City of the Empire'. The First World War, however, slowed down the development, causing unemployment. Later, the economy recovered, and some fine buildings were constructed.
During the Second World War, Liverpool suffered from bombing more than any other provincial town in Britain due to its strategic importance. After the war, there has been much rebuilding. Some of the old docks have been modernised and the approach from the sea was improved. The economic drawback continued however, and the city has lost nearly half of its inhabitants (from 850,000 in 1930 to 450,000 today). Nevertheless, the last decade has seen a positive turn, and the city has made major efforts to regenerate its cultural and economic life.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation