Liver Birds

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Liverpool, UK
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The Liver bird is the symbol of the city of Liverpool. It’s use dates from the Middle Ages and it is normally described as a cormorant with a frond in its mouth, although there is still some discussion as to what exact species the bird actually is. It may have started out as an eagle, one of the symbols on the seal of King John, who granted the city’s original charter in 1207, but more modern depictions have tended to resemble a cormorant.

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The most famous examples of the liver bird today seen on the top of the Royal Liver building, built in 1911. One bird looks out over the city, watching over its people, and the other looks out to sea, watching over the city’s sailors and the source of the city’s prosperity. There is a legend that if the birds fly away the River Mersey will flood and destroy the city.

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This example of the Liver bird was originally from above the doorway of the city’s Seaman’s home, which served as a place of temporary accommodation for seaman arriving in the port. A census in 1881 recorded 118 sailors from many different nations staying at the home. It was closed in 1969 and demolished to make way for a new shopping centre. This Liver bird is now on display in the Museum of Liverpool.

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