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Royal Liver Building

Royal Liver Building

1908-11 
Listed Grade I 

The head offices of the Royal Liver Friendly Society, which had its origins as a mid-19th century burial club was designed by Aubrey Thomas. 

It is notable as one of Britain's first multi-storey reinforced concrete framed buildings. Stylistically unique in England, it is more akin to the early tall buildings of America such as the Allegheny Court House (1884) by H. H. Richardson and the Garrick (formerly Schiller) Theatre by Adler and Sullivan, with eclectic Baroque, art nouveau and Byzantine influences in its modelling.   

It has nine bays to the principal frontages and thirteen bays on the secondary return sides, and the ground and first floors, are deeply rusticated. 

The top floor steps back behind a Doric colonnade, taking advantage of the technical possibilities offered by its reinforced concrete structure. 

The roof is piled up with turrets and domes in receding stages and the clock towers have copper Liver Birds on top, by George Cowper and the Bromsgrove Guild. 

The two birds face away from each other, one towards the river and the other towards the city. The poses are traditional, the birds stand with half-upraised wings, each carrying a sprig of seaweed in its beak. 

The birds are 18 ft high, their heads are 31/2 ft long, the spread of the wings is 12 ft, their length is 10 ft and the legs are 2ft in circumference. Their bodies and wings are of moulded and hammered copper fixed on a steel armature. 

Although there are Liver Birds on many buildings in Liverpool, it is the two which roost on top of this building that are the biggest in the city and which to many people are the very identity of Liverpool.