Canada Boulevard and the Pier Head area Liverpool Waterfront

An area extending from the Museum of Liverpool as far as the Liverpool Cruise Terminal – approximately 500 meters in total. This whole area is one part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This is neither a museum nor an exhibition but is, nonetheless, an area of considerable interest to those who enjoy maritime history.

Access to the area is unrestricted and free.

There are two grassed areas in this area and plenty of seating – on days when the weather allows it is a pleasant and interesting area to picnic.

The Liverpool tour buses start from an area in front of the Cunard Building.

The three large buildings on the Liverpool waterfront which are commonly known as “The Three Graces” form one of the most recognisable skylines in the world. Two of the buildings – the domed Port of Liverpool Building and the Italian Renaissance inspired Cunard Buildings owe their existence directly to Liverpool’s position as a port of international importance and although access to both buildings can be limited – The Port of Liverpool Building is closed to visitors at weekends – the architecture of both buildings is worth careful study.

Of major interest to those who enjoy maritime history are the numerous memorials in this area. The avenue of maple trees in front of the Three Graces are a gift from the people to Canada “ … dedicated … to the sacrifice of, valour and industry of Canadians in the defence of freedom during the Battle of the Atlantic 1939 – 1945 and in recognition of the special relationship that developed between Canada and the City of Liverpool during those dark days”. Memorial stones set into the footpath give the names of Canadian units involved in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the only battle in which Canadian forces were under Canadian command independent from British forces.

Canadian Memorial stone

In front of the Cunard Building is a simple yet striking memorial to Cunard personnel who gave their lives in the two World Wars.

A memorial to Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, the founder of Elder Dempster Line and a philanthropist who assisting in the setting up of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine can be seen in front of the Royal Liver Building.

Memorial for the heroes of the marine engine room

Crossing the roadway that takes vehicle traffic for the Isle of Man onto the Landing Stage is Sir William Goscombe John’s striking “Heroes of the Marine Engine Room” memorial which is remarkable from a number of different points of view. The memorial was originally designed as a memorial to the engine room crew on RMS Titanic although, by 1916 when it was unveiled, the scope was extended to cover all engine room crews who had given their lives. Because it was unveiled in 1916 it is considered to be one of the first memorials to victims of the First World War. The memorial has representations of engine room crewmen and, as such is, almost certainly, the first memorial to ordinary working people (other than military personnel). Careful examination of the memorial will reveal that it bears the scars of Second World War shrapnel. After the Second World War it was debated as to if this damage should be repaired but it was considered that the damage and the story of how it was made added to the memorial rather than detracting from it.

Memorial inscription

On the wall which bounds the ‘floating roadway’ is a memorial to United States Army engineers who worked in Liverpool during the Second World War.

Heading back towards the Museum of Liverpool with the Mersey on your right you arrive at a building which houses a Beatles exhibition and shop but also the ticket office for the historic Mersey Ferries. Inside this ticket office high on the wall to the right is a memorial to John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. There is, however, something of an issue concerning this memorial because it does, effectively, commemorate a slave trader because John Newton made three slave trade voyages from Liverpool between 1750 and 1753.

On your left after this building is a larger than life size statue of the Beatles – a very popular place for people taking photographs.

A little further on towards the Museum of Liverpool a visitor will come to a collection of memorials to those from several nations killed during the Second World War. There are memorials to Chinese, Norwegians, Belgians, Dutch Polish, and British Merchant Navy personnel as well as the victims of the sinking of HMTS Lancastria and the SS Arandora Star.

Two memorials require special consideration; one is the simple yet dramatic Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial to those who died in the maritime services during the Second World War and have no grave but the sea and the second is Tom Murphy’s statue of Captain “Johnnie” Walker – the most successful Allied submarine hunter of the Second World War.

The memorials in this area are a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by men and women of many nations during the Second World War in a campaign which was the longest and most complex naval campaign in history and one upon which the whole Allied military efforts in Europe depended upon for its success.

The area is some 500 meters from the Merseyrail station – Liverpool James Street. It is possible to get to this station from the mainline station at Liverpool Lime Street Merseyrail Wirral Line – all trains that pass through Lime Street also call at James St.

There is no car parking at Canada Boulevard and you are better advised to park in other commercial car parks and make a short walk.

A number of bus routes have their terminus at the Pier Head.

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David Hearn

After spending some time in the British Army (we did not get on) I had a first career in banking and a second in management consultancy before going to university for the first time at the age of 55 to take a BA in history at Liverpool John Moores University followed by a Masters in International Slavery Studies at the University of Liverpool.

I published a guide to England’s best First World War Memorials in 2018 and I am currently working on a book about Liverpool’s involvement in slavery which will be called Liverpool: a City Built on Slavery although this is still quite a way off publication.

I have a small publishing company known as The Dusty Teapot Company which I run jointly with my older son we concentrate on reproducing copies of historic books about Liverpool but we also undertake photographic digitisation and oral history.