Page 1

Photographs by Guy Woodland



by Guy Woodland

waterfront ISBN 0-9531995-5-X

Photography by Guy Woodland Written by Lew Baxter Guy Woodland is hereby identified as the author of this work in accordance with section 77 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publishers. Printed and bound by Bookprint SL, Barcelona. First published in 2003 by Guy Woodland in association with Garlic Press. 71 Prenton Road West, Birkenhead, CH42 9PZ Tel: +44 (0)151 608 7006 email:

A ‘Cities500’ project

acknowledgements Like all great ideas, the practicalities involved in a project of this magnitude often overwhelm the idea, I would like to thank all the companies, organisations and people who were able to support this project from concept. bigcheese Broadbents Capital of Culture Company Daniel Harris Associates Ethel Austin Properties Kaleidoscope Liverpool City Council Liverpool John Moores University Lorien Public Relations Ltd Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Neptune Developments Owen Ellis Partnership The Mersey Partnership The University of Liverpool

thanks So many people have helped with this project that I would need pages to thank them all. Certainly those who should be listed in despatches include Alison Duckworth and Carole Carroll at the Mersey Partnership who encouraged me right at the beginning. Then there is Andrew Lovelady, who was the first to commit to the ‘Waterfront’ project when it was still a blank page. Thanks also to Paul Beesley and Liverpool John Moores University for making the project viable. I have been heartened by the support of Liverpool City Council, in particular its chief executive David Henshaw and the council leader Mike Storey, as well as Sir Bob Scott, and the city’s Capital of Culture Company who have been so generous. And then many thanks to Taryn Rock at the University of Liverpool who effected an introduction to the chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons, who has kindly written the foreword. Of course, there is also Arabella McIntyre Brown, my partner in Garlic Press, and Peter Toyne for being open to my idea and so proactive. Thanks also to Lew Baxter and Angela Hurren (and my terrific design folk) for being a part of the ‘team’ and for beavering away at all hours helping to create the book. Last, but certainly not least, to Debbie who loves the project, and my sons George and Henry, who find it weird that their dad works weekends and drags them out of bed early to go down to the river banks in the dark, just to watch the sun rise over the Mersey…again and again and again.

contents foreword introduction dawn early morning morning midday afternoon tea time evening night

foreword Liverpool is one of the great cities of the world, a world city long before the term itself was coined. In the eighteenth century Britain emerged as the first industrial nation, in the nineteenth as workshop of the world. This was a new commercial and mercantile order, an Atlantic economy, and Liverpool was its gateway. Her famous waterfront was to become familiar to generations of mariners and it was the last sight of Europe for the millions who passed through Liverpool to find a new life in the new world.

It is of course in the nature of great cities that they go through cycles of growth, of decay, and of revival. Liverpool’s acknowledged decline in the latter part of the twentieth century is now being reversed through a vigorous renaissance. At its heart is a powerful realisation that the legacy of the city’s distinguished past offers the key to an equally distinguished future. As England’s finest Victorian city Liverpool enjoys a unique opportunity to honour its great architectural heritage by finding new uses for its eminent buildings. And the city can further endorse that inheritance by setting superlative standards for the new.

That is one of the reasons why English Heritage has enthusiastically joined forces with Liverpool City Council to launch the Historic Environment of Liverpool Project. It is a partnership that embraces the North West Development Agency, Liverpool Vision, National Museums Liverpool and the city’s Capital of Culture Company. It includes studies of Liverpool’s buildings and archaeology, a wide range of community projects and exhibitions and the vitally important Buildings at Risk strategy.

A central theme of all this important work is the bid for Liverpool’s waterfront and central commercial area to gain World Heritage status through designation by UNESCO, recognising the world significance of the city’s maritime and mercantile role. I am delighted that English Heritage is a member of the steering group committed to securing this recognition for Liverpool. The outstanding images in this book confirm that we are right.

Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman, English Heritage

“Liverpool is one of the great cities of the world, a world city long before the term itself was coined.� Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman, English Heritage

introduction Liverpool’s magnificent waterfront is one of the most memorable anywhere in the world, rivalling New York and Cape Town or Sydney and Shanghai: in large part for the imposing architectural trinity of the elegant 'Three Graces' buildings that dominate the Pierhead. It is an exciting, breathtaking vista that holds people in its thrall: those arriving by ship are often astounded at the panoramic views and it conveys a feeling of space and freedom for those gazing out towards the Estuary and the Irish Sea. Those romantic folk with poetic passion and fervour flowing furiously in their veins will argue that all the truly illustrious cities coexist alongside major rivers; dynamic waterways that are the very life force of the communities they serve, and the perpetual bonds that link generations while frequently also the fuel of economic vitality. Over the last three hundred years Liverpool's waterfront and the River Mersey have been the main arteries for trading links that spread the city's fame and influence across the world. They also helped cement Britain's Industrial Revolution. Once that waterfront was the 'gateway' to the new worlds of America, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, amongst other exotic ports of call, for millions of people who uprooted from their homes seeking success or sanctuary in far off lands. In the days of colourful sailing ships the River Mersey was pivotal to the emergence of Liverpool as probably the most important seaport in the world. Along the miles of docks that sweep north there are still pubs that throb to the fascination and association with foreign climes: establishments like the fabled Atlantic or the Dominion with its life-size statue of an 18th century seafarer, pointing seawards and west to the beckoning Atlantic Ocean that drew ships and sailors into the gusts of the trade winds. Or to the south of the Strand, the prow-shaped Baltic Fleet public house, once a haven for crusty old sea-dogs whose vessels sailed out of the Salthouse Dock, venturing into the freezing waters of Northern Europe, or the doughty whalers that cruelly extracted riches from the giants of the deep. For decades in the wake of those heady days the city turned its back on the river, much of it hidden from view behind high, stark dockyard walls of skillfully hewn granite slabs, the views of grimy sheds and cluttered working quaysides forbiddingly unattractive. Yet throughout the 20th century the awe inducing waterfront became a definition of the city's visual identity, an instantly recognisable icon both at home and abroad. Of course the river and the ferries that weave their way across the fast flowing currents to the landfalls on both sides are now an integral part of the city's musical folklore: these vessels are world renowned thanks to Gerry Marsden's episodic 'Ferry Cross the Mersey', a song that still captivates the hearts of locals and visitors alike. In the 21st century as Liverpool itself undergoes a renaissance, that same river - as well as the 70 miles of coastline that skirt it - and its scenic waterfront are acknowledged as the area's 'jewel in the crown'. This wonderful collection of images paints a striking kaleidoscope of the waterfront in all its evocative, atmospheric moods and shapes from dawn to dusk, and after nightfall. How the critics scoffed thirty years ago when it was first mooted that Liverpool's waterfront and dockland architecture could be a tourist attraction along the lines of Venice. Now Liverpool's waterfront has been nominated by the government as the UK's only prospective new World Heritage Site.


As Liverpool gears up to proudly wear the crown of European Capital of Culture in 2008, this book encapsulates as never before, the feelings and emotions of the people who use or visit the waterfront of the often wildly anarchic city, a melange of cultures and races. It is a mirror that reflects their enjoyment and use of it, not just as a facility, but a rich cultural legacy. It is an eclectic, thoughtful study of one of the world's most fabulous scenic views; images that artfully link mankind's own ability to create and coordinate lovingly crafted buildings within nature's own perfect framework. The Mersey Waterfront Regional Park is a cornerstone of the new economic action plan for the Liverpool city region through to 2005. The riverfront and the Mersey are to become the catalyst for change and regeneration throughout the region. Thomas O'Brien, chief executive of the Mersey Partnership observes that Guy Woodland's beautiful and engaging photographs showcasing the waterfront are an insightful visual commentary and a wonderful testament to the region's renewal. The river still has the potential to generate powerful economic momentum and the Mersey Waterfront is a genuinely unique asset and the envy of nearly every city-region the world over; so says Aidan Manley, the Northwest Development Agency's manager for Merseyside. Other cities such as Toronto, Melbourne and Bilbao are also capitalising on their waterfronts, attracting investments and erecting buildings like the Guggenheim. In Liverpool those schemes will be equalled, if not surpassed, by the proposed Fourth Grace at the Pierhead, a genuinely modern, inspirational construction that will complement the existing Graces. Will Alsop's incredible concept will house a new world-class cultural attraction whilst there are still hopes for a sensational entertainment and conference venue on the Kings Dock, where already the annual Summer Pops has become an international attraction boasting celebrities like Elton John, Bob Dylan, Shirley Bassey and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of New York conductor Carl Davies. The Dock site was also the venue for Sir Paul McCartney's final 'home-coming' concert on his world tour in the summer of 2003 when 30,000 fans rocked to the rhythms of the music that drifted over the meandering Mersey. According to Louise Hopkins, director of the 'waterfront park' project, the ambitious scheme will set Merseyside apart, and is the most imaginative and far-reaching proposal for the regeneration of the area ever imagined. The river has been a magnet for people for centuries; the swirling occasionally unruly tides a mirror of Liverpool's own historical ebbs and flows, both economically and politically. The waterfront displays different and often erratic moods throughout every day and night, never mind in the spectres of the past. Today the waterfront still resonates to the patter and clatter of thousands of feet as the early morning and evening commuters bustle hither and thither; all sublimely conscious of the thrill of travelling over this particular short stretch of frequently turbulent water. Sir Bob Scott, who headed up Liverpool's successful bid for Capital of Culture declares that the waterfront architecture alone is both world class and world beating. There are also plans for a ÂŁ10m cruise liner facility to be completed by 2007, that will attract some


of the world's greatest liners to the waterfront that once welcomed their predecessors, like Cunard's majestic Britannic that easily battled the stormy Atlantic. But Liverpool's familiar waterfront skyline will undergo a dramatic change over the next five years. The Beetham organisation's thrusting development on Old Hall Street is the springboard for a series of tall buildings, including a 30-storey tower on Chapel Street and a 28-storey residential block earmarked for the northern edge of Princes Dock. Council Leader Mike Storey believes this new skyline erupting over the never changing river perspective is the definitive proof that Liverpool has regained its status in the premier league of world cities. He is persuaded that Shanghai's distinctive waterfront buildings were modelled on Liverpool's Three Graces and the Bund - stretching along one of China's most stunning metropolitan waterfronts, is now framed by awesome modern buildings testifying to the city's commercial vibrancy and sense of the future. Mike Storey urges that Liverpool's waterfront must be an equally eloquent statement of ambition. That vision is almost the mission statement of the newly formed Mersey Maritime organisation, a network of nearly 570 businesses that thrive as a result of Liverpool's ports. Chief executive John Mutch reveals the aim is to create the right environment where all parts of that business sector can prosper: for the waterfront to grow into a world-class centre of excellence. Indeed, Merseyside's greatest natural asset could be the trigger to unleash a massive wave of economic development. The region's ambitious European Union-supported Objective One investment programme is getting behind many of the new waterfront and river-related projects. Objective One director John Flamson, enthuses that his team is committed to ensuring that the programme delivers in time for Liverpool - a city born on the banks of the river - to celebrate its 800th birthday in 2007 with style. Nearly ÂŁ100million has been invested in the Port of Liverpool over the past five years by its operators, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, the descendent of the Mersey Docks Board that for decades was the maritime powerhouse that ruled the waves from its headquarters in the prestigious Port of Liverpool Building. Today the Mersey Docks company - along with others within the port community - have enhanced Liverpool's prominence as one of the UK's major and most important maritime hubs. It handles over 30 million tonnes of cargo every year - more than at any time in its distinguished and long history. The imperial-looking Port of Liverpool Building was designed by Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thorneley following an architectural competition in 1901. The Edwardian Baroque style structure was completed in 1907 - the first of the Three Graces - and is now Grade Two listed. When it was finished the building was regarded as a symbol of Liverpool's national importance, reflecting the critical role of the Docks and Harbour Board in the service of the British Empire. The grand, imposing entrance hall boasts an Italian


marble mosaic floor depicting the points of the compass while around the frieze leading to the first floor painted in gilt letters is the unforgettable and apposite Psalm 107, almost a leitmotif for Liverpool: 'They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord and his wonders of the deep. Anno Domini MCMVII'. It is, though, the grandeur of the Royal Liver Building that strikes an emotional chord with natives of Liverpool and the millions of tourists and travellers on the sturdy, reliable ferries or those who set sail from the waterfront embarking on brave, new lives. Designed by Aubrey Thomas the Grade One listed building was fully open for business in 1911 as the head office of the then influential Royal Liver Friendly Society. Perhaps the most dramatic element - and Liverpool's own patriotic mascots - are the two, eighteen foot high, copper Liver Birds that squat with wings half flapping atop the clock towers of the Liver Building. One faces towards the river and the other inland, gazing over the city. Folklore dictates that if ever they fly away the city will fall on desperate times, which probably explains why they are fixed solid on a steel armature. The last - but not least - of the Graces is the Cunard Building, used for decades as the official company offices of the esteemed shipping line. Created by Willink and Thickness it has the form of an Italian palazzo but is decorated with French classical detail, derived from the American beaux-arts buildings such as those of McKim Mead and White in New York. It was much admired on completion in 1916 and many felt the luxurious fittings provided a foretaste of life aboard ship for those sailing across the oceans with Cunard. Long before these architectural gems gazed down serenely upon the river Jesse Hartley had realised his engineering dream and built the Albert Dock complex - opened in 1846 and finished in 1847. Now ranked as the largest group of Grade One listed buildings in England, and one of the most important in Europe. Since extensive and imaginative restoration in the 1980s the Albert Dock has deservedly become a tremendous draw for tourists and Scousers alike. It is home to the superb Tate Liverpool and the impressive Maritime Museum where Liverpool's merchant and Royal Navy history - along with exhibitions depicting the more scurrilous periods from the past, such as the city's - and the UK's - tawdry involvement with slavery, and the heart-rending mass emigration from Ireland at the time of the Great Famine. But it's not all hard-edged business activity at the famous Pierhead. The waterfront is also Liverpool's playground, as the popular marina in the old south docks area shows. And every summer saucy sailors and shanty singers from across the globe gleefully skip to the hornpipe while more than 300,000 guests join in the River Festival party. Now in its 23rd year the city council backed nautical jamboree is lined up to play a major part in the Capital of Culture activities in 2008. It is the biggest free maritime thrash in the UK and involves an armada of tall ships flanked by a flotilla of fishing vessels and yachts along with a dashing parade of narrow boats, all turning the river and its environs into a rainbow of flashing colour and visual delight. Sue Woodward, the creative director of the Liverpool Capital of Culture Company, summed up Guy Woodland's remarkable photographic essay focusing on what is arguably the city's most evocative image when she called it a photographer's dream. And for those who cannot share in the joy of the most amazing sunsets in the UK, this book is a terrific keepsake of the River Mersey and the waterfront that constantly captures the imagination of people worldwide. It is a tribute that will make ex-pat Liverpudlians ache with homesickness.

Lew Baxter

"For our 20,000 students the majestic Liverpool waterfront symbolises the vibrant and invigorating city in which they choose to live and learn." Professor Drummond Bone, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Liverpool

Mersey Mouth “Out of the mouth of the Mersey: Tall ships and tall stories songs, slaves, poems and pig iron, Cargoes of dreams and laughter.” Reflections on the Waterfront by poet Roger McGough

early morning

“Liverpool people have taken SuperLambBanana to their hearts and this new city mascot has so far been seen in three different guises.�


“Our aim is to transform, energise and connect the Mersey Waterfront, producing a unique sense of place to attract people to live, work and invest in the area.” Thomas O’Brien Chief Executive The Mersey Partnership


“Our plans for promoting Liverpool are boosted by the sheer elegant glory of the city’s waterfront.” Sir Bob Scott, Chairman, Liverpool Capital of Culture


“ Liverpool is recognised for native good humour, sporting successes and architectural excellence. Now the European Capital of Culture for 2008 highlights our cultural achievements and strengths.� Mike Storey Leader, Liverpool City Council

tea time

"All the great cities of the world are built on rivers: London, Paris, Rome, New York... but none so engagingly as Liverpool. Viewed from the Mersey, the Liverpool skyline stands like a guard of honour, saluting visitors and proclaiming the achievements, aspirations and genius of a people of unique creativity." Joe Riley, Arts Editor, Liverpool Echo

“Two green birds with a brown ribbon flowing forever, the Waterfront is Liverpool’s front door.” Brian Jacques Author, songwriter and broadcaster


“After the people, what I love most about this great city is the variety, innovation and splendour of its architecture. It is the most beautiful city in the world, from olde worlde pubs to classical Georgian terraces; from world class parks and a breathtaking palm house to the splendour of the waterfront.�


“Our glorious waterfront reflects Liverpool’s dynamic plans for the future, a truly 21st century city that shares a visionary approach with other modern cities such as New York, Shanghai, Dublin and Cologne.” David Henshaw, Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council

"The Liverpool waterfront is as much a part of our future as it has been of our past. This book will remind many people of what a tremendous asset we have in the city, and will act as a valuable introduction to others. Whatever the knowledge of the reader, this book is to be enjoyed." Professor Michael Brown, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Liverpool John Moores University

Liverpool's waterfront is now Britain's new nomination for World Heritage Status but, of course, the whole of the River Mersey coastal region boasts spectacular views and astounding scenic spots.

'Waterfront' is a personal series of observations, and a statement about how the river and surrounding area have had such a huge impact on me, both emotionally and as a photographer. What has always enthralled me, is that you can pick a vantage point, anywhere along the river, and watch the light altering the atmosphere and mood almost by the minute.

Guy Woodland November 2003


The waterfront is Liverpool's most famous iconic image and arguably the most evocative in the city. This is probably the first photographic...