Two videos: The beauty of the Liverpool Waterfront – My views on the UNESCO delisting
For years, the Liverpool waterfront has been one of my favourite subjects. I’ve photographed it quite a few times, especially at dusk. For me it’s the best view in the UK.
In July 2021 I made two videos, the first entitled ‘Beauty of the Liverpool Waterfront – My response to UNESCO’ and the second ‘A Tour around the UNESCO area and my views on the delisting’.
I love the combination of the three magnificent buildings overlooking the Pier Head – the Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, combined with the newer towers on the northern side and to the south, the Albert Dock, the Anglican Cathedral and other new structures that have recently appeared.
It’s been a spectacular sight for over a hundred years. In the late nineteenth century, they decided to fill in St Georges Dock and create the reclaimed area of land known as the Pier Head. Three buildings were constructed directly on the foundations of the three former docks, which explains why we have three architectural gems standing side by side.
Silhouette of the Liverpool skyline April 2005
As soon as the Liver Building was finished in 1911, it became a major landmark and symbol of the city along with its two Liver Birds. The Cunard and Port of Liverpool Building werefinished a few years after.
Over the course of the twentieth century, more buildings appeared on the Liverpool skyline: The Anglican Cathedral, The Metropolitan Cathedral, St John’s Beacon, now known as Radio City Tower. A few were lost, including the Customs House, which was damaged in the war and could easily have been restored. The Liverpool Overhead Railway was another integral element of the waterfront which sadly closed in 1956.
In the 1970s, the ‘Three Graces’ were cleaned and for the first time since the 1900s, the pristine white stone shone in the afternoon sunlight. As a child on a visit to Liverpool, I was visually captivated by the buildings – The Port of Liverpool Building looked as if it was made of icing sugar. For me, it seemed to sing in a high, shrill voice. Seen from out on the Mersey, on one of the famous Mersey Ferries, the waterfront looked even more magnificent than before. I’ll never forget seeing that sight as a 10-year-old. It left a deep impression.
So that’s where the inspiration for my Liverpool Waterfront video came from – seeing the Liverpool Waterfront as a child and from something else I’ll mention later. But much has changed since then.
In 2004, the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City was listed as a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site
In recent years, new buildings have appeared at the north end of the waterfront, around Princes Dock, including the Beetham Tower, Katherine Tower. The Unity Building appeared just behind St Nicholas Church, the oldest building on the waterfront. To me, these buildings enhance the skyline and have been kept at a distance from the original ‘Three Graces’.
After some controversy surrounding the addition of a ‘fourth grace’, the Museum of Liverpool appeared in the second half of the 2000s. It stands at a respectful distance from the older trio, and the views from inside are stunning, including the view over the Pier Head, which we see in the video.
It seems the waterfront has never looked better. But UNESCO officials expressed concern at the height of proposed buildings that are part of Peel Holding’s Liverpool Waters development to the north of the waterfront.
In December 2015, the Liverpool Waterfront was chosen as England’s greatest place in the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Great Places award.
Around 2018, Everton FC developed plans for a new stadium on Bramley Moore Dock which for some time has been lying unused and inaccessible to the public. The plans would involve covering the dock and and constructing the stadium right above where the water is now. Other buildings on the site will also be restored. The project will bring huge new opportunities to this neglected part of Liverpool.
This plan apparently caused offence among UNESCO officials, though I understand that none came to Liverpool to speak with local decision-makers and assess the plans in detail. On 21 July, 2021, apparently without consultation with the authorities from Liverpool, UNESCO cancelled Liverpool’s UNESCO status, literally putting a line through it on the relevant page on the UNESCO website.
I had already been planning my Liverpool Waterfront video for some time. The delisting came just as I was editing the video. I decided to add a few words about UNESCO at the end. The video was premiered at 7.30 pm Wednesday 28 July, 2021, exactly one week after the delisting.
I also decided to make a further video taking a more detailed look at the UNESCO area with a more detailed response. That video will appear in a few days and will appear at the bottom of this page.
I’ve taken the view of the waterfront many times from both Woodside and Seacombe, the two ferry terminals on the Wirral side of the river. But perhaps my favourite view is from along the promenade.
I often go for a walk there and like to look back at the waterfront as the light fades. There’s nothing more magnificent than the skyline at dusk, the lights of the buildings reflected above the water. That’s the final image in my short Waterfront video. Please watch the video and don’t forget to like and subscribe. And by the way, this video was inspired by a magnificent video portraying the city of Helsinki, with superb music by Jon Hopkins. You can find this video by doing a search for ‘This is Finland Helsinki Winter I’.
And below will appear my second video that addresses the UNESCO decision. I speak out against it. The decision is wrong and I explain why. Please also watch this video, when it’s ready, and don’t forget to like, subscribe, hit the bell button and if you would like to make a comment, please do.
Originally published on 20.12.2015 at 18:33