Located at the tidal mouth of the river Mersey where it meets the Irish Sea, the maritime mercantile City of Liverpool played an important role in the growth of the British Empire. It became the major port for the mass movement of people, including slaves and emigrants from northern Europe to America. Liverpool was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management, and building construction.
Six areas in the historic centre and docklands of Liverpool bear witness to the development of one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. A series of significant commercial, civic and public buildings lie within these areas, including the Pier Head, with its three principal waterfront buildings – the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and Port of Liverpool Building; the Dock area with its warehouses, dock walls, remnant canal system, docks and other facilities related to port activities; the mercantile area, with its shipping offices, produce exchanges, marine insurance offices, banks, inland warehouses and merchants houses, together with the William Brown Street Cultural Quarter, including St. George’s Plateau, with its monumental cultural and civic buildings.
Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City reflects the role of Liverpool as the supreme example of a commercial port at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence. Liverpool grew into a major commercial port in the 18th century, when it was also crucial for the organisation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In the 19th century, Liverpool became a world mercantile centre for general cargo and mass European emigration to the New World. It had major significance on world trade as one of the principal ports of the British Commonwealth. Its innovative techniques and types of dock, dock facilities and warehouse construction had worldwide influence. Liverpool was instrumental in the development of industrial canals in the British Isles in the 18th century, and of railway transport in the 19th century. All through this period, and particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Liverpool gave attention to the quality and innovation of its architecture and cultural activities. To this stand as testimony its outstanding public buildings, such as St. George’s Hall, and its museums. Even in the 20th century, Liverpool has made a lasting contribution, remembered in the success of The Beatles, who were strongly influenced by Liverpool’s role as an international port city, which exposed them to seafarers, culture and music from around the world, especially America.
Criterion (ii): Liverpool was a major centre generating innovative technologies and methods in dock construction and port management in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. It thus contributed to the building up of the international mercantile systems throughout the British Commonwealth.
Criterion (iii): The city and the port of Liverpool are an exceptional testimony to the development of maritime mercantile culture in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, contributing to the building up of the British Empire. It was a centre for the slave trade, until its abolition in 1807, and for emigration from northern Europe to America.
Criterion (iv): Liverpool is an outstanding example of a world mercantile port city, which represents the early development of global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire.