The Liver Bird

You know you’re in Liverpool when you see this, the Liver Bird.

The Liver Bird

In fact, there are two.

Made from copper, they stand 18 feet tall with a wingspan of 24 feet and weighing 4 tons each.

The Royal Liver Building

They even have names, though it is not known how these names originated.  The female, Bella, faces out to sea to guide sailors safely into port, and the male, Bertie, faces out across the city to protect its citizens (or is he waiting for the pubs to open?).  There are numerous legends surrounding the Liver Birds.  It’s said that if they ever turn to face each other, Liverpool will no longer exist.  Football fans have their own speculations too – Evertonions have said that should Liverpool ever win the FA cup, the Liver Birds would leave the Liver Buildings.  Liverpool has indeed won the cup though, thankfully, the birds remain firmly fixed to the clock towers.

I said that there are two Liver Birds but, if you look round the city, you will see many variations of them.


Go on a Liver Bird trail.


They’re everywhere – even on a purple wheelie bin.


There’s a miniature version too.


So, what kind of bird is the Liver Bird? It seems to be an ornithological enigma which all began with King John (1166 – 1216) who acknowledged Saint John as his patron saint, the eagle being Saint John’s emblem.  He needed a seal to emboss important documents in his dealings with Liverpool, so he commissioned an artist to design one in the image of an eagle.  This was the result:-


What was intended as an Eagle turned out more like a duck, and it is to be wondered if the artist ever knew what an Eagle looked like.  As the years rolled by, confusion has grown as to what the bird was really supposed to be.  It has been likened to the Cormorant, a Dove, Heron and even the Great Auk, provoking much discussion between historians, biologists, ornithologists and just about everyone whose imagination is captured by the Liver Bird.

Whatever species the Liver Bird may be, it has been a part of the fabric of the city of Liverpool for hundreds of years, since the 1350s.  It is unique and inspirational and a wonderful emblem for a spectacular city.






Why Liverpool?


A few years ago, I wrote a novel for Nanowrimo.  It was about a vicar’s naughty daughter … or was it a naughty vicar’s daughter … no, it was definitely the daughter who was naughty.  Anyway, she ran away and ended up in London and got into all kinds of scrapes.  I had the first rough draft of a novel which I put aside and ignored because it had just been a bit of fun.  However, no matter how hard I tried to move on from it, the story kept  swirling around in my head.  What had started out as the bawdy tale of a cleric’s wayward offspring evolved into that of a story I will be proud to tell … though I have to admit, I did enjoy my mid-life experiment in erotic literature!

By now, London had become Liverpool.  Why Liverpool?  I knew next-to-nothing about the place … I hadn’t even been there, for goodness sake.  I grew up in the 1960s, so I knew that the Beatles were Liverpudlians and so was Cilla, and that it was somewhere up north, but that was the full extent of my knowledge!  Could I not just simplify things and revert back to London, or choose somewhere I was more familiar with?  No, it had to be Liverpool.  I wasn’t sure entirely why, but I had made up my mind.

The purpose of this blog, therefore, is for me to explore the history of the city of Liverpool as I write the second draft of my novel though, in truth, there is very little of the first draft left since cutting out all the titillating bits!

To date, I have read and googled quite a lot about the city and visited it in June of this year, another visit planned for October.  I am so glad that my protagonist made her way to Liverpool, instead of London, for I’ve fallen in love with it, and I am excited to see what further treats are in store for me as I continue my research and relate the story of my vicar’s daughter who is, in many ways, still naughty.