Funny men, football, and ferries were certainly an impression I had of this great North West maritime city in England.
Liverpool home of British 60’s pop culture is now bringing to its home yet a culture.
Freighters, cargo ships brought produce and materials from all over world to this Atlantic coast gateway. They moored along the docks of the City and today those ships are being replaced by land based Merseyside monoliths containing lashings of art and culture that is being unloaded to an appreciative audience.
These giant containers are not corrugated metal boxes or wooden crates; these are modern cutting edge designed buildings whose cargo of art, paintings and the tales of life of a bustling city and its people.
In the early nineteenth century the city was a boom town its regency quarters were the place to be if you were in business or trade, not the place to be was perhaps the back to back housing areas of the city, but the city did grow together, if not fairly and today it has the look of a boom town again.
Its current shopping quarter is I suspect the envy of many other cities and towns around the country, the overall impression of the city is one of a place going somewhere and its Regency and Victorian buildings said it was going places back then and it is certainly seems to be going places again now.
A boom in building both arts and commercial properties is seeing Liverpool tourism developing as a very European style city destination and continuing with its very cosmopolitan heritage that was in the City pretty well from its beginning.
LIVERPOOL TOURISM BOOSTING ALL ITS BUSINESSES
It re-developed its industrial wharfs pretty early on into homes, businesses and today the Tate has one its four art museums in the country based there, bang on the harbourside. A recent exhibition was that of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ a detailed look at the life, legacy and impact of writer and illustrator Lewis Carroll had on society through to today. He did in fact grow up at nearby Daresbury, where a special Lewis Carroll’s visitors centre has just opened at All Saints church, the place where his father was parson, not many churches are blessed with such literary connections.
Moored figuratively just up river on the Mersey from The Tate is the stunning Museum of Liverpool, this houses in a really modern setting a vast collection covering transport, social, historical and contempory exhibits, it even has a ‘Little Liverpool’ section just for the very young visitors.
A short walk away and this is certainly a walking city as most of the major places of interest can be accessed easily on foot. Just opened is the Open Eye Gallery, which is devoted to photography, a modern space with changing displays scheduled throughout the year.
In the older Regency area not far from Lime Street station is the Walker Art Gallery, this has a real eclectic collection and again it rings changes by bringing in items to stimulate and perhaps amuse. A recent exhibition was that of comedian Paul O’Grady’s alter ego Lilly Savage’s outrageous costumes. In other rooms somewhat more traditional museum fodder you could find a touring exhibition of works by Matisse, in another a wonderful collection of Pre-Raphaelites paintings or you may find yourself looking at “When did you last see your father?” an iconic painting and there it is in Liverpool art gallery.
As well as the sights inside, if you want to see and get a real sight of Liverpool it has to be to the Anglican cathedral as the view from the tower is stunning as are the views inside too. The warm sandstone building designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott of British red telephone box fame. Its more than worth the short walk up the hill to see such an inspiring view and the clear layout of the streets below can be clearly seen from way above. It is here that you get an idea that although it is a city it is not as big as one could think.
Known of course as the home to The Beatles and Mersey sound of the 1960’s it’s hard to miss that fact even if you had little knowledge of pop history, you have the Cavern Club the place where it all started, well nearly. What was the original Cavern that has now gone, but this brilliant recreation using the original bricks, and materials your back there in 1960’s. It’s roughly back in the same place but a little up the street from its original location!
There are a number of other places offering yet further Beatles insights a themed hotel and yet another one on the riverside just in front of the famous Liver Building. Themed breaks and tours also include those for an interest in shopping and of course football, for both Liverpool and Everton are known pretty worldwide.
The era of pop stars seem to be now waning and the rock stars seem to be celebrity chefs and Liverpool has two fairly high profile restaurants. Jamie Oliver has one in ‘Liverpool One’ shopping area and the est to open is that of Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill at the also ultra Hotel Indigo very much in the business and tourist area of the city a stone’s throw from the Liver Building.
One of the best and relaxing ways to get there certainly if via London is by train just two hours centre to centre on Virgin trains from Euston to Lime Street.
Getting some help from registered tour guides these friendly people will see “You’ll never walk alone” they are informative bunch these ‘Blue Badge’ guides like Paul will give you the ‘Scouse’ lowdown!
Liverpool tourism is setting out its stall to be an all the year round destination and it has more than enough sights, and places of interest to visit at all seasons. Entertainment is well up there with theatres and concerts often offering international stars on their bills, the club and party scene is there too for the younger set.
A good selection of hotels across the spectrum, many in the middle of the city so you could easily leave your car at home (and that’s not a slight on the once perceived perception that many could have of the city from days gone by), it is fact fairly traffic free and relaxing, but on foot is certainly the way to see and experience the compact city and dockside, plus of course its friendly, outgoing and welcoming people, who make the place.
‘Scouse’ by the way is in fact a meat stew type dish popular with all from Liverpool whether that be the Red or Blue side of the city, this is to Liverpool, as pasties are to Cornwall or clotted cream is to Devon or Hamburgers are to Americans.