1898: Plan of Liverpool – Royal Atlas of England and Wales
This is a more detailed map to accompany the smaller-scale Environs of Liverpool map from the Royal Atlas of England and Wales, published in 1898. Unlike most of the maps you’ll see depicting Liverpool, this map has the River Mersey at the bottom, and the north east of the city (West Derby etc) at the top. It brings the focus of the viewer to the riverfront and the Pier Head, and we see the railways coming into the centre of town at Lime Street and Exchange Stations.
Although not covering nearly as great an area as the other map, this plan includes the names of individual roads, docks, railway stations, parks and the grounds of the two biggest football teams on Merseyside – Everton and Liverpool. It also marks the names of civic buildings and institutions such as the General Post Office, West Derby Union Test House, the Collegiate, Royal Infirmary and University College (now Liverpool University).
Despite its small coverage, the plan actually covers almost all the urban area of Liverpool from the end of the 19th century, with still very rural areas seen at the top of the page, which is East on this map.
Also to be seen are details of the railways coming into Waterloo, Exchange, Central and Lime Street Stations, including where the tracks run underground (and under the Mersey), in addition to the tramlines which criss-crossed the city at the time of publication.
Highlights of late Victorian Liverpool
This map is from the end of the 19th century, part of the Royal Atlas of England and Wales, published in 1898. It’s one of my favourite views of Liverpool at the height of its global power, for several reasons.
Firstly, right in the middle are the stand-out Victorian structures, Liverpool’s central gems: St. George’s Hall, Lime Street Station, the former North Western Hotel, the Library, Museum, Picton Reading Room and the Walker Art Gallery.
There’s also a collection of other municipal buildings: the General Post Office, the Law Courts, the Police Offices, St. John’s Market and the Fish Market. This goes to show just how compact Liverpool was; a superpower with a surprisingly small base.
The other thing I love about this location is the original street layout. While a lot is recognisable, a lot has changed. Look how easy it is to spot Queen Square, Williamson Square and Clayton Square! You can see how Roe Street once curved around Queen Square’s corner, how St. John’s Market lay along one side of Great Charlotte Street, and how Old Haymarket’s size and openness fitted the use its name suggests.
Finally, look closely and you’ll notice a little label in St. John’s Gardens, behind St. George’s Hall: it says “Proposed Site of Liverpool Cathedral”. St. John’s church is present and correct, but it was proposed that it be replaced with a cathedral suited to Liverpool’s grand place in the world. This was just one site proposed, along with London Road triangle where the statue of George III stands, St. Peter’s on Church Street, St. Luke’s at the top of Bold Street, and St. James’s Mount, where the cathedral was eventually placed.
All this from just one small slice of an old map? No wonder we find them so interesting!