Liverpool, England, a city and part of the metropolitan county of Merseyside. Until 1974, when English counties were reorganized, it was in Lancashire. Liverpool lies on the estuary of the Mersey River near its mouth on the Irish Sea, about 180 miles (290 km) northwest of London. It is one of Britain's largest cities, main ports, and chief commercial centers.
The city forms a crescent on the rather flat eastern bank of the Mersey. Long stretches of docks, basins, and warehouses line the waterfront. About midway along the river rise several tall office buildings in the city's main business district. Located there are the Royal Liver Building, built in 1909 for the Royal Liverpool Insurance Company; the Custom House; and the Dock Board offices. Just south of the city the Mersey estuary is linked by a ship canal with Manchester and other nearby industrial cities.
The economy of Liverpool is based largely on shipping and related businesses. Imports are mainly foods and industrial raw materials; exports consist largely of manufactured goods. The city's manufacturing industries were originally those associated with its import trade, such as sugar refining, grain milling, and the making of tobacco products. Newer industries in or near the city include petroleum refining and the making of chemicals.
The Mersey, or Queensway, Tunnel links Liverpool and Birkenhead, a busy port and industrial city on the western bank of the river. The tunnel, built during 1925-34, is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) long and accommodates four lanes of traffic. An international airport is just south of the city.
Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican), designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and built during 1904-78, is one of the largest churches in Europe. It is built in Gothic Revival style of red sandstone quarried nearby. The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, consecrated in 1967, is in a modern style. St. George's Hall, which houses the town hall, law courts, and a concert hall, is one of the finest neoclassical buildings in Great Britain.
Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery has a rich collection of works by Italian, Dutch, French, and English artists. The large complex called the Liverpool Museums contains collections covering many aspects of science and technology. Tate Gallery Liverpool, a branch of London's Tate Gallery, exhibits 20th-century art. Cultural events include performances by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
The University of Liverpool was founded in 1903 by royal charter.
Liverpool was chartered by King John in 1207 but for centuries remained little more than a small seaport for ships plying the Irish Sea. By the mid-17th century it had developed into the main port for sending soldiers and supplies across the Irish Sea in England's conquest of Ireland.
Rapid growth came in the 18th century, when Liverpool merchants engaged in the rich “triangular trade.” They sent textiles and trinkets to western Africa, where they exchanged them for slaves. The ships then sailed to the Americas, sold the slaves there, and returned to Liverpool with cotton, sugar, and other goods.
Although the triangular trade ceased in the 19th century, Liverpool continued to prosper. At that time Britain was the world's leading industrial nation, and the city served as the main port for the highly productive manufacturing region of Lancashire and western Yorkshire. Decline came in the 20th century with the rise of air and truck transportation and Britain's relative decline as a manufacturing nation.
During World War II Liverpool was heavily bombed. Since the war the city has suffered economic decline and high unemployment, largely because of the loss of ocean shipping. Liverpool was the home of the Beatles, the rock music group that rose to worldwide stardom in the 1960's.
Population (district): 439,469.