Merseyside has a rich history when it comes to music and the arts. 1960s Merseyside saw the emergence of a new wave of melodic music, which became known as Merseybeat. Merseyside is probably best known for the city of Liverpool, its Liver Birds, and two football teams. It is a vibrant city with a rich musical history, not least for being the home of The Beatles. Music fans will be spoiled for places to visit, from the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles made their first performance, to the prestigious Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, one of the world’s oldest concert societies.
Well connected via its port to a network of rivers and canals, Liverpool was in a prime position during the 18th Century to become one of the key trading ports for the transatlantic Slave Trade. The International Slavery Museum on the Albert Dock is the ideal place to visit for those wishing to learn more about its history. During WWII it was the headquarters of the Western Approaches naval command and the bunker is now a museum.
Albert Dock has an innovative past, leading the way in engineering by using non-combustible materials such as cast iron, brick, and stone, at a time when wooden structures and fire risks were the norm. After becoming disused and finally closing in 1972, Albert Dock was refurbished and reopened in 1984 and has since become one of Merseyside’s most popular tourist destinations. It now makes up the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the country.
Across from the Albert Dock on the other side of the River Mersey is another historical site. Port Sunlight village was built by William Hesketh Lever, a local businessman and philanthropist. Lever built his wealth and success on manufacturing soap. His brand, Sunlight Soap, provided individually packaged bars of household soap. Prior to this, soap was not as readily accessible as it had to be ordered and cut to size.
Committed to improving welfare, Lever created the Port Sunlight village as housing for his workers. He also aimed to improve education and campaigned for a shorter work day. His legacy is perhaps best understood with a visit to the Lady Lever art gallery. As an art lover, Lever bought paintings to promote Sunlight Soap. In his lifetime, Lever amassed a huge collection of fine art, decorative art, and Wedgwood jasperware. He personally collated pieces from his own collection to include in the gallery, which was dedicated to the memory of his wife Elizabeth.