5 Things you Didn’t Know About Liverpool History

Tracey Currall
Published in Blog

It’s an amazing city, Liverpool. Whenever people talk about the city it’s usually about one of two things; music and football – often both. But they’re not the only things are beautiful coastal city has become famous for.

In our 800 year Liverpool history, we’ve accomplished many things. Once we were the centre of the British empire, and Toxteth was the most expensive place to live on the planet. Sadly, our city dwindled in the 80’s and much of that history was lost. But now we’re back on top and we should take the time to remember some of those forgotten facts. 

The Original City Plan is an H Shape

That’s right, and what an H plan it was. The original city plan decreed by King John in the 13th century was an H shape had only seven streets.  In 1207, the population was only around 500 but it was granted a royal charter by King John making it a borough, allowing trade, a weekly market, and land and property to be rented. 

You may still recognise the seven streets, as they haven’t faded from history just yet. 

  • Bank Street (now Water Street)
  • Castle Street
  • Chapel Street
  • Dale Street
  • Juggler Street (now High Street)
  • Moor Street (now Tithebarn Street)
  • Whiteacre Street (now Old Hall Street)
Castle Street is now the centre of a restaurant renaissance in the district.
Castle Street is now the centre of a restaurant renaissance in the district.

Check out this trip advisor review:

TripAdvisor: 4.5
My mum and I attended the footman tour St George’s Hall on Sunday. Our guides were absolutely fantastic. Full of knowledge and interesting facts. This tour should be kept permanently for tourists coming to visit the city. I travel worldwide and do a lot of tours. And I’m not being biased because I love my city but this is the best guided tour I have been on. I would highly recommend to anybody visiting Liverpool…. if you get a chance… book the footman tour.

First city to Have an Intercity Railway in the UK

In September 1830, Liverpool became the first to have an intercity railway, connecting it with Manchester. It ran almost 35 miles and represented many firsts at the time. It was the first purely steam-powered train (other cities had links but still relied on horse-drawn carriages) the first to have a timetable and the first train to carry mail, it was also infamous for the first railway death, that of the Liverpool MP William Huskisson.

Now with the possibility of HS3 connecting Liverpool to Hull, it’s easy to look back and remember where it all started.

This is a recent picture before you question 19th century camera quality.

If the Trip Advisor review is anything to go by, it’s worth checking out:

TripAdvisor: 4.5
Bradford, United Kingdom
Jam-packed museum – must go back!  Amazing and interesting museum – inside and out.
There is so much to see and discover about Liverpool that you need several hours to take it all in.
We called in before catching our 4pm return ferry to Seacombe and were disappointed to have to leave after just half an hour. The Romans, sugar, wildlife, transport and art, and of course music and football are among the eye-catching, interactive and attractive displays on show over three floors.
Fabulous – and it’s all free!

The Confederate Embassy in Rumford Place

Liverpool was once thought to be one of the most pro-Confederate places during the American Civil War, mainly due to its dependency on its port, the money from the slave and cotton trades were critical to the city’s economy. It’s safe to say the mood of the city has changed in the last couple hundred years, however. 

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the city’s businessmen were in support of something that would bring them the most profit.  Confederate ships were built at Lairds’ and a huge spy network over 100 strong known as the Northern Union was operating to counter the South.  Liverpool’s significance in these events cannot be underestimated and both the initial and final acts of that war had Liverpool connections and were played out in the Mersey.

    • The first shot of the civil war was fired by a cannon made in Lydia Anne Street.
    • The last shot fired in the conflict was by CSS Shenandoah on 22 June 1865 at a Northern Union whaling ship in the North Pacific Ocean.
    • The very last act of the war, the surrender of the CSS Shenandoah, occurred in Liverpool on 6 November 1865, when the Confederate warship surrendered at the Pier Head.
Liverpool history
The Shenandoah pictured at the docks, you can learn more at the Maritime Museum.

Here’s a Trip Advisor review from the museum:

TripAdvisor: 4.5
margaret l
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Great day. This is a fabulous museum spent all afternoon looking at the exhibits. Some the models are from the museum by the art gallery. So it was a trip down memory lane, I remember everything My Dad told me about these models. Time passes quickly. A really enjoyable day out for all the family. While learning about the Mersey history.

The Old Dock

Did you know you can take a free tour of the Old Dock, the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock?  Carefully preserved under Liverpool One, the Old Dock had been buried since 1826 and was only discovered during excavations in 2001.  The importance of this feature cannot be underestimated, it converted the mouth of the Pool into a dock with quaysides and a river gate, making possible for ships to load and unload regardless of the state of the tide, a revolutionary facility.

Essential Liverpool
The Old Dock is one of the first to be built in history

The Trip Advisor reviews all recommend going: 

TripAdvisor: 5.0
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Fascinating free historical tour. Very interesting and informative tour of the Old Wet Dock underneath the Liverpool One Shopping Complex. Our guide Danny was funny and showed a fantastic knowledge of the city. Call to book places and meet at the Maritime Museum on the Albert Dock. Donation requested at the end which is well worth it.


Home to the Oldest Chinese Community in Europe

This fact is known fairly more around the city, but with Chinese New Year this week, it’s one that’s worth reminding people. The trade links between China and Britain via the ports of Shanghai and Liverpool were instrumental in the establishment of a Chinese community within the city, with the first vessel arriving in 1834. 

Liverpool’s population size is just over half of that of London and 1.7% of these are British-Chinese. Liverpool is actually home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe – dating back to the 19th Century. The Chinatown of Liverpool is located in the southern part of the city, centred on the Duke St area and you can’t miss the three arch paifang, the largest outside China, astride Nelson Street. Some of the street signs in the area have Chinese translations too!

Today our city has a widely celebrated Chinese culture and we are paired with Shanghai as a city.

Essential Liverpool
Liverpool is also home to the largest Chinese arch outside of China!

In case you need another reason to check out this amazing area, just read the sterling reviews:

TripAdvisor: 4.0
Nicole F
Bridgetown, Barbados
Great introduction to the history/culture of Liverpool! This tour offers an excellent opportunity to ‘hit’ all the top sites in downtown Liverpool and get some inside information about these sites. Tour started promptly at 11 a.m. at Albert Dock and our guide was top notch. He shared a lot of additional information and personal insights into the city, so much so that our tour ran to about 2 hours rather than the usual 1 hr 30 mins. Some of the key highlights – Albert Dock, the ‘Three Graces’, the hotel from which the announcement of the sinking of the Titanic was made, the Town Hall and, of course, Matthew Street with Cavern Pub and other Beatles memorabilia. Excellent value for money and well worth doing!


Hopefully you’ve learnt something new about our amazing city that you didn’t already; if you know anything that you think we won’t, then please leave it in the comment section below. Remember to like us on Facebook to learn more Essential information about the city. 


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