An A-Z Journey Around Britain

28 Liverpool


Liverpool is the most successful football city in the UK. Everton and Liverpool football clubs have won 27 League titles, 12 FA Cups, 5 European Cups (Liverpool alone), 1 European Cup Winners Cup, 3 UEFA Cups and 24 Charity Shields. Liverpool is where the Beatles decided to become musicians. They became and remain as famous as Elvis.

Allen Ginsburg compared the City to San Francisco and said Liverpool was the centre of the Universe. But he thought wherever he stood was the centre of everything.

John Pilger said, ‘As a keeper of the sweat, blood and tears of ordinary people, Liverpool has few equals.’* No Conservatives were elected to the present Liverpool City Council.   Bill Drummond managed Echo and the Bunnymen. In 1990 he took a million pounds of the money that he had earned from pop music and burned it on the Scottish island of Jura. Living in Liverpool did him no harm, then.

Carl Jung described Liverpool as the pool of life. He had a dream and saw a sooty city, a tree and a pool. King John also thought the place had potential. He is supposed to have designed the seven street lay out that forms the basis of the city and is somehow shaped in the letter H. Liverpool became a borough in 1207 and a city in 1880. Although the city was slow to grow, the port was important enough to inspire an 18 day Civil War battle. No figures are available to say how many were head butted. A head butt in Liverpool is known as the Kirkby Kiss.

Economic glory and failure followed. The rich left and blame the locals they exploited. My first job was working for a stockbroker on the Liverpool Stock Exchange. The experience shaped my left wing politics.

If the 19th Century glory of Liverpool carries shame, the hardship its ordinary people endured inspires pride. Thanks to the Atlantic slave trade the wealth of Liverpool exceeded at times that of London. Somebody had to pay for the fabulous seafront and the magnificent St Georges Hall.


Pomp And Circumstance by Elgar was premiered in Liverpool in 1901. The memory sends shivers around Eton. The first UK railway tunnels were constructed under Liverpool, and around then Liverpool acquired the first integrated underground sewer system. The Lumiere Brothers filmed Liverpool, and the film included the first tracking shot in cinema. Daniel Defoe described Liverpool as ‘one of the wonders of Britain’. The first Afro-Caribbean and Chinese communities of the UK settled in Liverpool. The Empire Theatre has the largest two tier auditorium in Britain. Liverpool had the first UK airport. But, while this happened, dockers began every day in pens and wondered whether they might work that day.

The recent economic revival is as lopsided as ever but GVA, that is the goods and services produced in the City, rose by 71% between 1995 and 2006. Per capita in Liverpool is £17,484 and above the North West average. Today there is much to see, and tourism has contributed to the economic growth. Many famous people come from Liverpool. Their names can be found on the Internet. The relatives I have that are from the City are like Dorothea in Middlemarch. They ‘rest in unvisited tombs’.

*Quote taken from The People, The Rise And Fall Of The Working Class 1910 -2010, Selina Todd. The book is recommended.

 Next week, more ‘refined’ than Blackpool, Lytham St Annes

Howard Jackson has had four books published by Red Rattle Books. His 11,000 mile journey around Brazil is described in Innocent Mosquitoes. His latest book and compilation of horror stories is called Nightmares Ahead. Published by Red Rattle Books and praised by critics, it is available here.

If you want to read more about his travels click here.