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The Port of Liverpool Building

Completed 1907 
Grade II*
 

Port of Liverpool Building
The Port of Liverpool Building was erected as the head office of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. It was designed by Briggs, Wolstenholme and Thorneley following an architectural competition in 1901. It is a monumental structure in the Edwardian Baroque style with pediments and tall lantern towers. 

It has five storeys plus a basement and the principal elevation has thirteen bays with canted corners in the form of full height octagonal towers. 

The central entrance facing the Pier Head is flanked by free-standing three metre high statues on plinths by Charles John Allen. They are classically draped female figures, representing Commerce and Industry and above the entrance are relief sculptures of ships in cornucopias. 

The corner towers have tall glazed drums, with coupled Ionic columns supporting domes. The central dome is on a two stage drum and was introduced by the architect late in the design stage in response to the board's requirement that the building be given more architectural presence. 

Underneath the coffered dome there is a full height octagonal hall, from which radiate passages leading to office suites. It has round arched openings to the galleries with iron railings, and solid balconies with bronzed lamp standards supported on fish for feet, to alternate floors. The hall has mosaic paving depicting the points of the compass and around the frieze between ground and first floor in gilt letters is Psalm 107: 

"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" 

The ground floor is connected to upper floors by lifts incorporating gilt maritime emblems of sea-horses, the globe and anchors, the hall and staircase windows have stained glass, with maritime images of Poseiden, anchors, ships bells and shells, and dedications to countries of the British Empire: Singapore, British Honduras, British Guiana, Jamaica, Ceylon, New Zealand, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, South and North Rhodesia, Canada, Australia, Gold Coast, Gibralta, Aden, Cyprus    and Malta.   

There are 2 square rusticated stone piers opposite the entrance to The Pier Head, with dentilled cornices and globes of the world with gilded continents, supported on dolphins, one of the strongest symbolic elements of this highly allegorical building. Other features include cast iron gates and gate piers decorated with mermaids, shells, chains and anchors and tritons, and with shields with the initials "M.D. & H.B.", a granite balustrade with stone lamp holders on the ends and continuing around the whole building with stone lamp holders in the form of naval monuments. 

On completion, the building was seen as a symbol of Liverpool's national importance, and of the role of the Board in service of the Empire.