Thursday, 2 August 2012
Liver Buildings, Liverpool
The Royal Liver Building 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.
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 (300 ft) tall and was formerly the tallest storied building in Europe. Read more on Wikipedia
The Liver Buildings probably provide the most iconic picture of Liverpool. They are embedded in the consciousness of many people throughout the world who instantly recognise the city by the view of the building from the River Mersey.
The Liver Buildings would have been a familiar sight to Lowry walking along the promenade on the Wirral side of the river, sitting in the Egremont Ferry Hotel, crossing the river on the ferry from Birkenhead or Seacombe or when he walked up from the river to his father's workplace in the Cotton Exchange in Liverpool.
Lowry refers to the Liver Buildings in his first novel Ultramarine as Dana Hilliot daydreams aboard the ship Oedipus Tyrannus; ...he remembered just where he stood, just what he had said, and how he said it, just how the silver compasses of the Liver Building clock had indicated half-past eleven. (Pg. 19) and "At half-past seven, by the clock on the Liver Building, he returns on the ferry from Liverpool." (Pg. 131). The Consul sees the building in Under The Volcano; "How strange the landing at Liverpool, the Liver Building seen once more through the misty rain, that murk smelling already of nosebags and Caegwyrle Ale.." (Pg. 135).
The Liver Building is topped by the Liver Birds which have become symbols for the city. I am sure that Lowry would have appreciated that irony, with his love of birds, that the mythical Liver Birds are based on the cormorant, which is a symbol of deception and greed. The bird is described in Milton's Paradise Lost, a book that Lowry studied at Cambridge, sitting on the Tree of Life, as an image of Satan entering Paradise in disguise before tempting Eve. The birds become the guardians of the entry to the "dreadful city" of Liverpool.
Lowry's brother Stuart told their father Arthur that if he survived the First World War he would climb the Liver Building and retrieve one of the Liver birds. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 14).
Read more on Malcolm Lowry @ The Nineteenth Hole