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Liverpool History

Liverpool History It is believed that Liverpool started out as a tidal pool next to the River Mersey before being founded as a port by King John in 1207 as Lifer Pol, meaning muddy pool.

The English had recently conquered Ireland and King John needed another port to send men and supplies across the Irish Sea. It wasn’t long before a market, which was then the focal point of a town, was set up leading to an influx of craftsmen and tradesmen in the area.

During the Middle Ages wine was imported through Liverpool from France, but the town’s main trading partner was Ireland, who sent over skins and hides in return for iron and wool.

By the end of the 14th century, Liverpool had a population of around 1,000, which was made up of fishermen, tradesmen and farmers, and their families. But the growing town suffered a huge set back, when it was caught up in the Civil War between 1642 and 1648, and royalist soldiers besieged the town.

However, things took a turn for the better for Liverpool when the Black Death swept through London forcing merchant families north to Liverpool. From this influx of skilled labour and capital, in addition to the local industries of coal, salt and glass, Liverpool grew rapidly and in 1715 the first dock was built.

The 18th century was the era when Liverpool’s fine architecture began to take shape with the building of the Town Hall in 1749 and the Bluecoat Chambers in 1717. Liverpool also established overseas markets, becoming renowned for its spice, sugar and tobacco trade. And from around 1730 the city’s merchants began making huge profits from the slave trade, forming trade route triangle with Africa and the West Indies.

Goods from Manchester were given to the Africans in return for slaves, who were transported across the Atlantic to the West Indies and sugar was brought back from there to Liverpool.

The slave trade was abolished in 1807, and today the story of this legacy can be found in the Transatlantic Slavery Exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

By the mid 19th century, Liverpool was home to a fully working dock complex – the historic Albert Dock, which was opened by Prince Albert in July 1846.

From 1837 royalty, presidents and rich landowners flocked to the city to attend the annual Grand National at Aintree, which has since become the world's most famous steeplechase.

By the turn of the 20th century, Liverpool had achieved city status and was the second greatest port in the British Empire. In recognition of this, the magnificent Anglican Cathedral was built in 1904.

However, the early part of the 20th century was a tough time for Liverpool, because the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal caused trade to suffer.

World War II also had severe effects upon the city, while the World War II was even more dramatic; in May 1941 eight nights of bombing left 4,000 dead, 4,000 injured and 10,000 homes reduced to rubble.

It was the Swinging Sixties that brought new prosperity to the city, with new docks being opened and, of course, the birth of the Beatles phenomenon.

Four local boys caused a stir in their hometown, playing regular acts at the now world famous Cavern Club. Their first single Love Me Do was recorded in September 1962 and the rest, as they say, is history. These days the Beatles legacy continues to bring visitors to the city, desperate to see where the Fab Four grew up.

And with Liverpool having the prestigious title of the European Capital of Culture 2008, the 21st century is undoubtedly the start of a whole new chapter in the city’s history.


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