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    Default The Liverbirds

    David Charters - Daily Post



    WITH his skilled hands and soaring imagination, the man with the modest smile could give life to a block of wood.

    But nobody ever spoke of the gentle carver's greatest creations, even when they became one of the most potent symbols in the world - silent sentinels over a throbbing port, ever-watching the sullen-grey roll of the water below them.

    Now, 50 years after his death, a forgotten and shunned German is to be remembered for designing the two birds which perch high on the Royal Liver Building, at the Pier Head.

    A plaque in his memory is to be placed in the entrance hall to the building. It should be up in plenty of time for the celebrations of 2007, marking the 800th anniversary of King John granting Liverpool its Royal Charter, which provides the ideal lead into the following year's European Capital of Culture.

    After all, we are talking of a European who made a huge contribution to Liverpool's recent history, though his name will not be familiar to many of you.

    For most of the history books do not mention Carl Bernard Bartels, designer of the Liver Birds, known to people all over the world as the emblem of Liverpool.

    Yes, New York has its Statue of Liberty, or Liberty Enlightening the World, the 150ft colossus of the sculptor August Bartholdi, placed on an iron framework designed by Gustave Eiffel, who also gave Paris its 984ft tower.

    But the association between Liverpool and its birds is unique. They are on the crest of numerous companies and organisations, most notably Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Football Club.

    It is impossible to calculate how much they would have been worth if they were a commercial brand - but think of a big number and then add noughts until you fall asleep.

    More than all that, though, they were a vision of comfort to homeward-bound sailors. If the Liver Birds were on their perch, God must be in his Heaven. Their disappearance into the distance has swelled lumps in the throats of the thousands leaving the river, some never to return.

    Of course, they weren't the port's first Liver Birds. But the design of the pair atop the Liver Building became the standard, copied by everyone else.



    Their "father", Carl Bernard Bartels, was the son of Carl Julius Bartels, a wood carver from the Black Forest. The boy was brought up in Stuttgart and trained under his father, before coming to Britain in 1887 with his young bride, Mathilde Zappe. He was 21.

    The couple immediately liked the country and decided to make it their home. They took up British nationality and settled in the London borough of Haringey, where they had a son, Bernard Charles Bartels, and a daughter, Maggie.

    Gradually, their father was gaining a reputation as an exquisite worker in wood. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, in 1908, work began on the construction of the Royal Liver Building, designed by the architect Walter Aubrey Thomas. An international competition was held to find a design for the two birds which were to sit on its twin clock towers.

    Carl won. His birds were made by the Bromsgrove Guild, a group talented in the Arts and Crafts movement which ceased to be many years ago. The famous building, in many ways similar to those in New York, was completed in 1911.

    Three years later, the Great War broke out. Anti-German feeling swept through the UK. Yet, since the middle of the 19th century, Germans had been settling in Liverpool. Pork butchers from the Hohenlohe area, near Stuttgart, knotted their sausages. The fruity smells of baking pastries and the steam from sauerkraut joined the air of a city already rich in aromas.

    Other Germans worked in the sugar refineries and public houses. But that did little to assuage the hostility of local people. In this mood, Bartels's blueprints and sketches of the Liver Birds were lost or destroyed.

    Even more seriously, Bartels was interned with others of German origin in a camp at Knockaloe, on the Isle of Man, even though he had been a naturalised Briton for more than 20 years.

    Conditions were harsh at the camp, but a spirit of camaraderie developed, particularly among the artists. In Liverpool, anger against the Germans reached its zenith with the sinking of the Lusitania, inbound to the port, in May, 1915. There were riots and German properties were stoned and looted.

    After the war, Bartels had to return to Germany, though we are not sure why, leaving his family in London. To come back to his family in England, he had to find an employer, who would vouch for him. This was done.

    More



    ADVERTISING


    Last edited by Kev; 11-25-2006 at 09:18 PM.
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    Default A Third Liverbird - should it be built?

    The Liverbirds themselves are a cross between the cormorant and the eagle of St John the Evangelist adopted by King John, who had granted Liverpool its Royal Charter as a port in 1207.



    Plans that are being discussed have suggested that a 3rd Liverbird should built and errected on the ground to give people a sense of the size of the original Liverbirds that have stood proud for so long. The new bird would be constructed in time for 2007.


    Read the details of this here….

    What do u think?
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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    That would be brilliant.

    I like that !

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    Looks nice but Scallies will climb on it.
    Gididi Gididi Goo.

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    I can't remember where I read it - The Liverpool architecture walks book I think - but he was saying the actual construction of the birds is really shoddy - and only works because you don't see them.

    I wonder if they'd tidy it up if they make a third- I also think it would destroy some of the magesty of them if you saw them up close!

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    Whoever wrote that article can sure write articles!
    Gididi Gididi Goo.

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    Default Meccano Liver Bird

    As seen in my Avatar folks:

    THE mythical Liver bird has been recreated in one of Liverpool's most famous exports - Meccano.

    The image by Chris Vine is one of several works of art in the new Artworks Capital of Culture series.

    It was unveiled last night in the atrium of the Royal Liver Building, home to Liverpool's two iconic 18ft Liver birds.

    Guests who were invited to cast a beady eye over the mechanical bird included photographer and cultural ambassador for Wirral, Mike McCartney, and ECHO arts editor Joe Riley.

    A spokeswoman for Artworks said: "We recently commissioned a number of talented local artists to produce aseries of stunning images for a new Capital of Culture series.

    "The collection is inspired by Liverpool '08 and aims to support artists and the community in celebrating Liverpool's spectacular cultural renaissance."

    The collection also includes art by Alex Corina, who created the Mona Lennon image.

    Liverpool's Frank Hornby took out apatent for Meccano in 1901, first calling it Mechanics Made Easy.

    Over the 20th century it became the world's most famous toy based on engineering principles.
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    Thumbs up Scouse History

    You learn summit everyday

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    Senior Member A.D.W's Avatar
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    Bought 'The Little Book of Liver Birds' by David Cottell yesterday. It's a decent book and highly recommended at £9.99.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cissie Braithwaite View Post
    Bought 'The Little Book of Liver Birds' by David Cottell yesterday. It's a decent book and highly recommended at £9.99.
    Brilliant
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipG View Post
    Beautiful pictures.
    Isn't the Liver Bird based on the Cormorant?
    Hi Philip and Kev

    Yes, great pics, Kev. Many thanks!!!

    Yes the image of the Liver Bird is based on the physical appearance of the cormorant, although the story is that the idea for the mythical bird came from the eagle of St. John on the early city charters. Here is the explanation from Gerry Jones's site, quoting an article by Reg Jones, "WHAT'S A LIVER BIRD?" OR, "AN ORNITHOLOGICAL ENIGMA.":

    "The origin of the Liver Bird is as follows; King John, in 1207, requiring a port for the conquest of Ireland, granted letters patent to Liverpool, and the town adopted a corporate Seal, - the eagle of St. John, the emblem of the House of King John. During the siege of 1644, when cavalier forces sacked Liverpool , the seal was lost.

    "In 1655 it was replaced by a second seal, but this did not resemble an eagle, possibly due to the ignorance or artistic shortcomings of the designer.. As time went by, the bird, which looked like a seagull, came to be regarded as a cormorant, as such birds are prevalent in the Mersey. In the birds beak is a sprig of foliage, probably of broom, the 'planta genista' of the Plantagenet royal family."

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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    Senior Member Howie's Avatar
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    See also the pics at www.liverbirdology.com.

    Here's one for Max:


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    Thanks Howie, that's a good little site.

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    Default watch the birdies

    Hi everyone. I edit a magazine called Space in Liverpool (general lifestyle stuff, city’s renaissance, culture and heritage etc) and I’ve just written a book about the Liver Bird – mythical symbol of the city of Liverpool and everywhere to be seen if you really look. Three years in the making and a labour of love. Here's the link to the publisher's website if you'd like to find out more…
    http://www.breedonbooks.co.uk/public...859835473.html
    Best wishes
    WavyDavy

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    Quote Originally Posted by wavydavy View Post
    Hi everyone. I edit a magazine called Space in Liverpool (general lifestyle stuff, city’s renaissance, culture and heritage etc) and I’ve just written a book about the Liver Bird – mythical symbol of the city of Liverpool and everywhere to be seen if you really look. Three years in the making and a labour of love. Here's the link to the publisher's website if you'd like to find out more…
    http://www.breedonbooks.co.uk/public...859835473.html
    Best wishes
    WavyDavy
    Hi wavy a warm welcome to the site. I've seen and read Space many times and love it. I'm sure the Liver Bird book is great!

    Kev
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    Quote Originally Posted by wavydavy View Post
    Hi everyone. I edit a magazine called Space in Liverpool (general lifestyle stuff, city’s renaissance, culture and heritage etc) and I’ve just written a book about the Liver Bird – mythical symbol of the city of Liverpool and everywhere to be seen if you really look. Three years in the making and a labour of love. Here's the link to the publisher's website if you'd like to find out more…
    http://www.breedonbooks.co.uk/public...859835473.html
    Best wishes
    WavyDavy
    You didn't used to work down Le Bateau did you as Wavy Davy Gravy?

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    I knew I recognised your real name Davy
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    Can't claim to be Wavy Davy Gravy I'm afraid. Used to work on a football mag called 90 Minutes. My Cockernee colleagues thought it highly amusing to call me Davy Liver.
    Felt a bit cheeky plugging the book, so hope you don't mind. Over 100 places in the city-centre and suburbs where you'll see the little feathered chaps, on and inside buildings.
    Also did a section on Liver Birds in London (old HQ of Martins Bank), Manchester (Free Trade Hall) and other places in UK. Would love to hear from anyone who's seen them in other surprising places, too. They get everywhere. I believe there might be one or two in New York, for example in the old Cunard building over there…

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    Yes, they are evrywhere. No problem about you plugging your book, it has a firm Liverpool focus which we are interested in. Are you still working for Space? Maybe you could give us a plus there....
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wavydavy View Post
    Hi everyone. I edit a magazine called Space in Liverpool (general lifestyle stuff, city’s renaissance, culture and heritage etc) and I’ve just written a book about the Liver Bird – mythical symbol of the city of Liverpool and everywhere to be seen if you really look. Three years in the making and a labour of love. Here's the link to the publisher's website if you'd like to find out more…
    http://www.breedonbooks.co.uk/public...859835473.html
    Best wishes
    WavyDavy

    I have bought this book and would recommend it. Splendid work.


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    Quote Originally Posted by wavydavy View Post
    I believe there might be one or two in New York, for example in the old Cunard building over there…
    There is one (included in the Liverpool coat of arms) on a building on Wall Street. I do have a slide (somewhere) with this image but, it is at my northern address and would take Sherlock Holmes to find it. There is/was also a Liver Bird on a building on Washington Street in Boston, MA., not far from the Filenes department store building.

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    Default liver birds over america

    Will certainly plug the website in Space (next issue out Mon 18 Dec), and thanks for your kind comments, Cissie!
    Interesting to read Sloyne’s comments about Liver Birds in USA. Here’s a few little extracts from my book…

    In 1921, five years after the completion of its landmark Pier Head offices in Liverpool, Cunard opened a second HQ at 25 Broadway in New York – the first major edifice built in the city after the First World War and still one of Lower Manhattan’s most architecturally and historically significant structures. At 22 storeys it towers above its Pier Head cousin, but it shares the same rusticated base (Indiana limestone rather than Portland Stone) of arches crowned with carved keystones and boasts a cavernous Great Hall decorated with murals and reliefs of great maritime explorers, classical nautical scenes, Cunard’s shipping routes and the arms of Liverpool and other British ports…
    Above the doorway to the Royal Insurance Company building in New York, opened in 1927 at the corner of William Street and Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan, a Liver Bird in relief still accompanies the monogram RIC above the doorway…

    And some closer to home in London and Manchester…

    At 68 Lombard Street in the City of London are four columns, their capitals featuring three front-facing Liver Birds with raised wings and curled sprigs of seaweed in their bills. A grasshopper sits upon a gable outside. The street was named after Italian bankers from Lombardy who settled here in the 13th Century, and these are the former London offices of Martins Bank, listed on this site as early as 1794 in Kent’s Directory. In 1918, Martins was acquired by the Bank of Liverpool but retained its name and boasted ‘over 560 offices and agents in all the principal towns at home and abroad’ with its HQ on Water Street. The grasshopper refers to the inn where Elizabethan banker Thomas Gresham traded…
    Due west at Smithfield market (built 1868) is another Liver Bird, this time below a female statue of Liverpool – along with fellow personifications of London, Edinburgh and Dublin that together represent the major towns to which meat was despatched…
    Martins were prolific and familiar exporters of the Liver Bird in the early 20th Century. The Liver Bird and grasshopper from the bank’s old Manchester office are still visible at 47 Spring Gardens (now occupied by fashion boutique Vivienne Westwood). Manchester has another carved Liver Bird on the façade of the former Free Trade Hall on Peter Street. It’s one of several emblems of Lancashire and Cheshire towns that campaigned against the Corn Laws in the 1840s, when the industrial classes overturned the price of grain set by the land-owning aristocracy to counter cheaper imports…

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    Newbie wavydavy's Avatar
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    Default birds of a feather

    Thanks for mentioning my book, Cissie. Being a newcomer to this site, I started a thread on the Gen Discussion and didn’t realise there was a separate thread about Liver Birds.
    I spent three years compiling the Little Book of Liver Birds, eventually recording and photographing over 100 sites in and around Liverpool where you’ll see them. They’re all there in the book, but I’d love to hear from people who’ve found more.
    My personal faves are the ones along the top of Exchange Flags, front-facing with wings along, sculpted by the same guys (Thompson and Capstick) who carved the birds on the George’s Dock Building/tunnel ventilation shaft on the Pier Head (along with Liverpool master-sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith).
    Originally posted the following on Gen Discussion forum. It’s from a section in the book about Liver Birds in London and Manchester, and also short extracts about LBs in the States…

    At 68 Lombard Street in the City of London are four columns, their capitals featuring three front-facing Liver Birds with raised wings and curled sprigs of seaweed in their bills. A grasshopper sits upon a gable outside. The street was named after Italian bankers from Lombardy who settled here in the 13th Century, and these are the former London offices of Martins Bank, listed on this site as early as 1794 in Kent’s Directory. In 1918, Martins was acquired by the Bank of Liverpool but retained its name and boasted ‘over 560 offices and agents in all the principal towns at home and abroad’ with its HQ on Water Street. The grasshopper refers to the inn where Elizabethan banker Thomas Gresham traded…
    Due west at Smithfield market (built 1868) is another Liver Bird, this time below a female statue of Liverpool – along with fellow personifications of London, Edinburgh and Dublin that together represent the major towns to which meat was despatched…
    Martins were prolific and familiar exporters of the Liver Bird in the early 20th Century. The Liver Bird and grasshopper from the bank’s old Manchester office are still visible at 47 Spring Gardens (now occupied by fashion boutique Vivienne Westwood). Manchester has another carved Liver Bird on the façade of the former Free Trade Hall on Peter Street. It’s one of several emblems of Lancashire and Cheshire towns that campaigned against the Corn Laws in the 1840s, when the industrial classes overturned the price of grain set by the land-owning aristocracy to counter cheaper imports…

    In 1921, five years after the completion of its landmark Pier Head offices in Liverpool, Cunard opened a second HQ at 25 Broadway in New York – the first major edifice built in the city after
    the First World War and still one of Lower Manhattan’s most architecturally and historically significant structures. At 22 storeys it towers above its Pier Head cousin, but it shares the same rusticated base (Indiana limestone rather than Portland Stone) of arches crowned with carved keystones and boasts a cavernous Great Hall decorated with murals and reliefs of great maritime explorers, classical nautical scenes, Cunard’s shipping routes and the arms of Liverpool and other British ports…
    Above the doorway to the Royal Insurance Company building in New York, opened in 1927 at the corner of William Street and Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan, a Liver Bird in relief still accompanies the monogram RIC above the doorway…

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    Quote Originally Posted by wavydavy View Post
    Will certainly plug the website in Space (next issue out Mon 18 Dec)…
    Many thanks
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    Default Liver Birds.

    I'm very pleased to see so much interest in the Liver Birds. I am the Gerry Jones whose site www.gerryjones.me.uk was referred to in one reply. I am trying to get Culture Company to build a Third Lyver Bird, full-size, at ground Level, where all the tourists can photo each other, as public art, for 2008, and for 2011 when the birds wil be 100 years old.
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    Default Eagle or Cormorant?

    Chris George printed an explanation about this. Here is another version of the same explanation; except you can SING this one, to "In my Liverpool home"

    In 1207 when John was the king,
    We were ON the Town Seal when they signed anything
    We started as Eagles - the bird of St John -
    Till they found our original image had gone.

    An artist who'd never seen an eagle before,
    had seen many cormorants along our sea-shore,
    He tried drawing eagles, he tried it for weeks,
    But we ended up like cormorants with weed in our beaks.
    CHORUS:
    Liver Birds are the best. tra-la-la!
    Liver Birds are the best.
    Venice has pigeons , that's all that they've got.
    London has sparrows, that cough quite a lot,
    We've got the best that the others have not,
    our Liver Birds are the best!"

    All together, from the top, hit it! 1,2,3, ....

    Gerry.
    PS: for the full song, try www.gerryjones.me.uk then Liverpool Lyrics.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Jones View Post
    I'm very pleased to see so much interest in the Liver Birds. I am the Gerry Jones whose site www.gerryjones.me.uk was referred to in one reply. I am trying to get Culture Company to build a Third Lyver Bird, full-size, at ground Level, where all the tourists can photo each other, as public art, for 2008, and for 2011 when the birds wil be 100 years old.
    Great idea. I like it. One on plinth slightly above grade.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

    Save Royal Iris - Sign Petition

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    I also agree that a ground level Liver Bird would be an impressive and memorable way to celebrate Liverpool's uniqueness. Great idea. Good luck with that proposal, Mr. Jones.

    Chris George
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Jones View Post
    I am the Gerry Jones. I am trying to get Culture Company to build a Third Lyver Bird, full-size, at ground Level, where all the tourists can photo each other, as public art, for 2008, and for 2011 when the birds wil be 100 years old.
    Hi Gerry, I actually suggested this same project way back for the International Flower Festival in 1984. The suggestion was made to Councilors Westbury and Hamilton and later to Pam Wilsher of the Mersey Partnership and Katie Muotsakis of Merseyside Tourism, sadly, to no avail. I fully support your efforts and wish you every success in this project. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sloyne View Post
    Hi Gerry, I actually suggested this same project way back for the International Flower Festival in 1984. The suggestion was made to Councilors Westbury and Hamilton and later to Pam Wilsher of the Mersey Partnership and Katie Muotsakis of Merseyside Tourism, sadly, to no avail. I fully support your efforts and wish you every success in this project. Good luck.

    Hi Sloyne and Gerry

    I actually think the time is right to have the life size Liver Bird at ground level, with the conjunction of both the 800th anniversary of the city's first charter and the Capital of Culture year. Exactly the right time! Again, good luck in your effort, Gerry. If you wish for support letters from Sloyne and myself and others, I for one would be willing to write such a letter and I should think Sloyne would as well given his prior interest in this very project.

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

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