The history of the Liver bird

The history of the Liverbird

Where did the Liverbird originate, and why is it associated with the city of Liverpool and Liverpool Football Club

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Liverpool and the Liverbird go hand in hand, but where did the legendary birds originate, and why are they so closely linked to Liverpool Football Club?

Few images represent the city of Liverpool better than the iconic Liverbird.  Indeed, the twin statues standing atop the Liver Building are amongst the most photographed landmarks in the city.  But where did the Liverbird come from?  And why is it so closely linked to the City and the Football Club?

The origins of the Liver bird

The Liver bird can be traced all the way back to 1229, but the origins of the City of Liverpool go back even further, to 1207, when King John created the borough of Liverpool.  Originally spelt Liuerpul, it is believed that King John created Liverpool as a centre of trade, to aid in his Irish Campaigns, where men and supplies could easily be embarked on ships for the short journey to Ireland.

By 1229, the town had been granted a Royal Charter.  To aid in the development of the new town, citizens were allowed to self-govern through trade guilds.  To certify these guilds, a new, one-of-a-kind seal was created.  The seal incorporated an eagle - which was the symbol of St John.  This is the first reference to the modern day Liver bird.

The seal continued to be used throughout the Middle Ages, but in 1644 it was mysteriously lost.  A new seal was commissioned, but this time the artist replaced the eagle, with a bird more local to the area - the cormorant.  It was this image that came to be known locally as the Liver bird.

The Liver bird in modern history

In 1797 the city of Liverpool was granted an official Coat of Arms, which incorporated the cormorant, this time holding a piece of seaweed in its beak, symbolising how important the sea had become to Liverpool.  This was the beginning of the modern Liver bird we see today.

But it wasn't until 1911, and the opening of the Royal Liver Building, that the Liver bird entered popular culture.  Sitting atop the building are two metal birds, known locally as Bertie and Bella.  They are believed to be a mated pair of cormorants, and legend says that if either bird flies away, the City of Liverpool will fall.

An emblem of Liverpool FC

As a symbol of the city, the Liver bird has been used by both Everton and Liverpool - although Everton replaced the Liver bird with their more familiar 'Everton Lock-Up' in the 1930's.  Liverpool first incorporated the Liver bird into their crest in 1901, but did not include it on their kit until 1955.  Since then, the Liver bird has become central to the club's logo and identity, used on everything from scarves and flags, to pens, cups and slippers.

The history of the Liver bird

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About the Author

About the Author

Peter Farrell

Lifelong fan with a passion for all things Liverpool. First memory of football is watching John Barnes score a dramatic last minute equaliser in the FA Cup when he was 4. Feels lucky to be a part of the 'Klopp' era.

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