Royal Liver Building
The Royal Liver Building (pronounced /ˈlaɪvər/ ) is a Grade I listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited at the Pier Head and along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront. It is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. Opened in 1911, the building is the purpose-built home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, which had been set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative. One of the first buildings in the world to be built using reinforced concrete, the Royal Liver Building stands at 90 m tall and was, until the construction of St John's Beacon in 1965, the tallest building in the city. Today the Royal Liver Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of Liverpool and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.

In 1907 the Royal Liver Group had over 6000 employees and given the need for larger premises the company gave the go-ahead for the construction of a new head office. Designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, the foundation stone for the building was laid on 11 May 1908 and just 3 years later on 19 July 1911, the building was officially opened by Lord Sheffield. The building became the first major structure in Britain, and one of the first buildings in the world to be constructed using reinforced concrete, and given the building's radical design was considered by some to be impossible to build. Since its completion in 1911, it has overlooked the River Mersey from its waterfront location on the Pier Head and forms one of the 'Three Graces' along with the Port of Liverpool Building and the Cunard Building. This is reflected in the building's Grade I listed building status. It stands at 90 metres (295 feet) and has 13 floors. The building is crowned by a pair of clock towers: as a ship passed along the river, mariners could tell the time from these. The clock faces are 25 ft (7.6 m) in diameter, larger than those of London's famous landmark, Big Ben, holding the distinction of being the largest electronically driven clocks in the UK. They were originally named George clocks, because they were started at the precise time that King George V was crowned on 22 June 1911. In 1953, electronic chimes were installed to serve as a memorial to the members of the Royal Liver Friendly Society who died during the two World Wars. During hours of darkness, the clock dials are illuminated. Atop each tower stand the mythical Liver Birds, designed by Carl Bernard Bartels. Popular legend has it that while one giant bird looks out over the city to protect its people, the other bird looks out to sea at the new sailors coming in to port. Alternatively, local legend states one Liver Bird is male, looking inland to see if the pubs are open, whilst the other is female, looking out to sea to see if there are any handsome sailors coming up the river. Yet another local legend, reflecting Liverpudlians' famous sense of humour, avers that every time a virgin walks across Pier Head, the Liver Birds flap their wings. It is also said that, if one of the birds were to fly away the city of Liverpool would cease to exist, thus adding to the mystery of the birds. As a result, both birds are chained to the domes upon which they stand. During the early 1950s the sixth floor was occupied and used by No 3 Movements Unit (Embarkation) of the Royal Air Force, overseeing and controlling the movement of RAF personnel and goods through the port. The building remains the head office for the Royal Liver Friendly Society. It is reputed to be the Gothic inspiration for both the Manhattan Municipal Building in New York and the Seven Sisters in Moscow.


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