Why are these two mythical birds perched on the clock towers of the Royal Liver Building on Liverpool waterfront?
Reflected in the waters of nearby Princes Dock the two sculptures, each of of which are 5.5 metres (18 feet) with an intricately designed sprig of seaweed in their beaks were designed by German artist Carl Bernard Bartels, who had won a competition to design the statues for the building,.
According to popular legend, they are a male and female pair: the female looking out to sea, watching for seamen to return safely home, and the male looking in to the city. Local legend suggests the birds face away from each other, for if they were to mate and fly away, the city would cease to exist. The reality is that one was designed to face the sea from where Liverpool achieved its prosperity, the other to watch the city and its people, or as the city wags put it to make sure the pubs are open!
The Liver Bird has been the symbol of Liverpool for at least 650 years, with some ancient town seals bearing a representation of the Liver birds and dating back to at least 1350. Apart from appearing on the city’s arms, it’s also on the crest of one Paul McCartney with his Liver Bird holding a guitar.
The Royal Liver Building along with neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building, is one of Liverpool’s “Three Graces” within the UNESCO-designated World Heritage site. Situated by the Pier Head on the city’s waterfront, the Liver Building, opened in 1911 was one of the first to be built using reinforced concrete.
And finally, the two birds probably based on the cormorant, are named Bella and Bertie!