Merseyside in northwest England was officially established in 1974. Before that, of course, the area became known as the birthplace and spiritual home of The Beatles – arguably the greatest band in history. Liverpool also has more Grade II listed buildings than any British city outside London. The city’s sensational Anglican Cathedral is Britain’s largest.
The county borders Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, and the Irish Sea – and has a focused central business district in vibrant Liverpool City Centre. Merseyside’s population of 1.38 million resides in a mix of high-density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations. Most people live in the metropolitan area on both banks of the Mersey Estuary. This urban spread comprises five boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool. These areas are linked by two Mersey Tunnels, the Mersey Railway, and the Mersey Ferry.
The area became widely known when the Albert Dock complex was opened in 1846 by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, after whom it was named. This was the first state visit by a member of the royal family in the city’s history. The dock subsequently became a popular store for valuable cargoes – including brandy, cotton, tea, silk, tobacco, ivory and sugar.
These days, Merseyside is home to two of England’s most successful football clubs. It also offers cultural treasures, brilliant nightlife and some picturesque beaches. The local ‘Scouse’ accent is effectively a colourful language in its own right. The ceremonial county takes its name from the River Mersey – with a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff.
Road: There are direct links with many major areas of England via the M62 motorway (which connects with Hull, Manchester, Leeds and Huddersfield). The M62 interchange with the M6 connects to more distant areas (including Birmingham, Staffordshire, the Lake District and Scotland). The Kingsway road tunnel accesses the M53 and M56 motorways. The A41 leads to Cheshire and Shropshire; and the A55 road runs along North Wales’s coastline.
Rail: Merseyrail is an urban network operating on the Wirral and Northern lines. It is reputedly one of the most reliable railway networks in the UK, running almost 800 trains a day. There are 66 stations on the network (four of which are underground in the city centre).
Air: Liverpool John Lennon Airport is located to the south of the city. Buses run to the airport from Liverpool city centre and Liverpool South Parkway rail station.
Bus: This form of travel accounts for the majority of all public transport journeys in Merseyside. Services are run by operators including Arriva, Stagecoach, Avon and Halton Transport.
Water: Mersey Ferries has become the region's most popular tourist attraction as well as a way to cross the River Mersey, operating a year-round weekday commuter service, River Explorer cruises, summer evening cruises and Manchester Ship Canal cruises.
In 1911, the Liver Building on Liverpool’s waterfront became England’s first ‘skyscraper’. Since 2008, the tallest building is the West Tower (40 floors) at just over 459 feet. But new schemes are coming in all shapes and sizes; the diversity on offer for buyers has never been greater. With the highest density housing schemes clustered in built-up areas, flats above the fourth floor tend to offer views of the River Mersey, commanding the largest premiums.
There’s been a pickup in activity in the city centre due to better access to mortgage finance and fewer households in negative equity. New developments are under construction and the increasing availability of mortgages has also driven a recovery in the second-hand market.
The lettings market is characterised by high levels of tenant turnover. Growth has come from increasing numbers of students and the development of purpose-built student accommodation in the city centre. Resultantly, non-central areas, such as Wavertree, have seen properties converted back into family homes.
Located on the A561 Speke Road, New Mersey is one of the nation's top shopping destinations. The park offers numerous favourite retail brands – including H&M, Next, Marks & Spencer, Outfit, Currys PC World, Clarks, and more. There are also popular places to eat and drink here.
Meanwhile, the Strand Shopping Centre is a split-level mall hosting high-street lifestyle and electronics stores plus supermarkets and cafes. Then there’s St Johns Shopping Centre, which has been Liverpool's largest covered shopping centre since 1969, boasting over 100 retailers. If you're seeking fashion, beauty, household goods, or the latest gadget, they may well stock it there. And Clayton Square is a light-filled mall with a domed glass ceiling housing high street fashion, beauty and homeware stores.
Sports: Liverpool Football Club was founded in 1892 and has played at Anfield since its formation. Liverpool established itself as a major footballing force during the 1970s and 1980s. The club's anthem is "You'll Never Walk Alone". Goodison Park football stadium in Walton is home to soccer rivals Everton and is one of the world's oldest football grounds. The current Haydock Park Racecourse was opened in 1899. Merseyside Sports Partnership is committed to developing sport at all levels across Merseyside.
Culture: The Beatles Story tells the story of how four Liverpool lads – John, Paul, George and Ringo –became the world’s best-known band. Replicas of the Casbah, Mathew Street and The Cavern authentically capture the early 60s. Their ‘Living History’ audio guides are available in ten languages. The Albert Dock complex is a major tourist attraction – and vital element of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. It features the UK’s largest collection of Grade I listed buildings. National Museums Liverpool is a group of museums and galleries and among the most important and varied in Europe. Its exhibitions contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.
Family: Chester Zoo encloses 8,000 beasts and is a registered charity, so visitors help fund vital global conservation work. Spaceport offers space-related interactive exhibits and audio-visual experiences plus a 360° Planetarium dome show.
Events: Liverpool Fashion Week is the most prolific fashion event in the north of England. Its catwalks have launched careers all over the world. The 10-day Liverpool Irish Festival celebrates Merseyside’s links with Ireland. It features food, music, dancing and more.