Pier Head
The Pier Head is a riverside location in the city centre of Liverpool, England. It is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was inscribed in 2004. The historic site is adjacent Mann Island and encompasses a trio of landmarks, built on the site of the former George's Dock and are dubbed ' The Three Graces':
  • Royal Liver Building, built between 1908 and 1911 and designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas. It is a grade I listed building consisting of two clock towers, both crowned by mythical Liver Birds. The building is the headquarters of the Royal Liver Friendly Society.
  • Cunard Building, constructed between 1914 and 1916 and a grade II* listed building. It is the former headquarters of the Cunard Line shipping company.
  • Port of Liverpool Building, built from 1903 to 1907 and also grade II* listed. It is the former home of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.
Also on the site is the grade II listed Mersey Tunnel building, to the east of the Port of Liverpool building. It was built in the 1930’s and contains offices and ventilator equipment for the Queensway Tunnel. The Pier Head was subjected to an ill-fated scheme in 2002 to develop a "Fouth Grace". The Fourth Grace project; the winning entry, designed by Wil Alsop and known as "the Cloud", was abandoned in 2004 after "fundamental changes" to the original waterfront plan left it unworkable. In 2007 work commenced on a new scheme, to re-house the Museum of Liverpool Life. Work also commenced in 2007 to build a canal link between the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the South Docks. The £22 million pound 1.6 mile extension to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was officially opened on 25 March 2009. It opens to boaters at the end of April and links the 127 miles of the existing canal to the city’s South Docks, passing Pier Head and the famous Three Graces.

Landing stages

Trans-Atlantic shipping
Originally, the Prince's Landing Stage was situated at the Pier Head to serve the trans-Atlantic liner service. There were a number of these stages built during Liverpool's history, the most recent opened in the 1890s and was joined to the neighbouring George's Landing Stage, situated to the south. After further lengthening took place in the early twentieth century, the combined structure originally measured 2,478 feet, almost half a mile. Both were scrapped in 1973, following the termination of trans-Atlantic services from Liverpool.

Mersey Ferries
The Mersey Ferries operate from George's Landing Stage, owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. Ferries travel to Woodside in Birkenhead and Seacombe in Wallasey. Only a few months after a new stage (to replace the previous combined structure) was opened on 13 July 1975, it had to be refloated, after sinking in freak weather conditions. Similar conditions, and an extremely low tide on 2 March 2006, caused it to sink again, probably because one of its girder's air pockets ruptured. This time it was destroyed, and a permanent replacement was not expected until late 2007. A new landing stage has since been installed; it was initially used on the weekend of 8-9 September 2007.

Isle of Man Ferry
The Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry service also operates from Princes Landing Stage, at a berth adjacent to the those used by the Mersey Ferries.

Transport
In addition to the Mersey Ferries, the Pier Head previously served as a major tram and later bus interchange. Merseyrail's James Street station is a short walk away. The station was formerly part of the Mersey Railway. The Pier Head was also originally served by Liverpool Riverside station, connecting to main line services via the Victoria tunnel, and Pier Head station, on the Liverpool Overhead Railway. Both have since been demolished. Merseytravel are in talks with Liverpool City Council to fast track a multimillion pound ferry terminal at the Pier Head.

Open Space
The open space at the Pier Head has also seen several developments. In 1960’s the area was given over to a bus terminal; in 1963 the terminal building for the Mersey Ferry was re-furbished to include an adjoining restaurant. In 1991 the ferry terminal itself was re-configured to its present style. Running the length of the plaza is the Canada Boulevard, a walkway containing memorial plaques in memory of Canadians who gave their life in the Battle of the Atlantic. In the centre of the space is an equestrian statue of Edward VII, dating from 1921.

Memorials
The space also contains a number of memorials; Clockwise from the north are:-
  • The Titanic Memorial, to the engineers who remained at their posts during the sinking of the RMS Titanic,
  • the Cunard War Memorial.
  • the Alfred Lewis Jones memorial.
  • the Merchant Navy war memorial.
There are several recent additions to the memorials at the Pier Head; these include one to the Second World War convoy escort group commander Captain Johnnie Walker, and one remembering the Chinese merchant seamen who served and died for Britain in both World Wars, unveiled on January 23, 2006 .