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The Royal Liver Building

Without doubt the most characteristic image of Liverpool is theRoyalLiverBuilding. Completed in 1911 having taken three years to build. Designed by W. Aubrey Thomas the building supports two sculptural domed clock towers surmounted by the mythical Liver Birds. The clocks are 2 foot wider in diameter than that of Big Ben.

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.

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.