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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(475,000 in 1991)
City and port in Merseyside, on the north bank of the estuary of the Mersey. First used as a harbour in the 13C for sending supplies to Ireland, it only became of major importance in the 18C with the development of manufacturing industry in Lancashire. This enabled Liverpool's merchants to benefit from the import of raw materials and the export of finished goods as well as enjoying extra profit from slaves on the middle section of the *triangular trade.

Liverpool's public collections of the 19C are of outstanding quality. The County Museum, founded in 1860 by William Brown (1784–1864, bt 1863) and standing in the street named after him, has among its treasures the *Kingston Brooch. Next door the Walker Art Gallery, the gift in 1877 of Andrew Barclay Walker (1824–93, kt 1877, bt 1886), has a broadly based collection of European painting of the 14–20C of a quality unrivalled in England outside London; the remarkable early works came from the collection of the Liverpool historian and connoisseur William Roscoe (1753–1831). The Gallery is the setting for the biennial *John Moores Exhibition.

In 1900 Liverpool had no cathedral (it had been a diocese only since 1880). It now has two. The Anglican cathedral, designed by Giles Gilbert *Scott, is the largest church in the country, in a severe Gothic style; it was completed in 1978. The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is very different; a round tent-like structure in the shape of a crown (by Frederick Gibberd, 1908–84), it was built in 1962–7 above the crypt of an abandoned project by *Lutyens.

In recent years economic and political troubles have given Liverpool unwelcome publicity. Riots in 1981 in the black community of Toxteth focused attention on inner-city problems and racial discrimination. And the city was seen as the prime example of the threat posed to the Labour party by the *Militant Tendency, particularly while Derek Hatton (b. 1948) was deputy leader of the council.

The superb docks, and in particular the redbrick warehouses of Albert Dock (1841–5), fell into decay with the decline of the port but have recently been restored as museums – among them a northern extension of London's Tate Gallery, the Merseyside Maritime Museum and a museum describing a local success story, the Beatles. On the waterside stands a building of 1910 which is the city's best-known landmark – the Royal Liver Building, with its two towers surmounted by the legendary Liver Birds (pronounced for some reason lie-ver) which supposedly gave Liverpool its name.

On the other side of the street, and completing the great array of Victorian classical buildings in the heart of the city, is St George's Hall, originally providing a concert room and assize courts (begun in 1839 to a design of Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, 1813–47). It acquired in 1870 a confident new Victorian neighbour of a different kind, *Lime Street Station.

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