Active Period - 1207 to Today
Monks from Birkenhead Priory begin the first ferry service across the Mersey. The users are often farmers who sell cattle and other produce in Liverpool. There are no true docks or a Pier Head yet on the Mersey.
Steam ferries begin to run between Liverpool and Birkenhead. The ferry is the only transport for the growing number of commuters. It also helps business communications.
The first floating landing stage is built at what will become known as the Pier Head. It is set out from the river wall and rises and falls with the tide, so boats can berth there at any time.
A new stage for the local coast passenger trade is constructed to the north and named Princes Stage.
A traffic census shows that thousands of people every week cross the bridges leading to the ferry service (although not all are passengers) [image, new window].
The small landing stage at the Pier Head becomes a huge floating structure. It is the longest in the world at the time.
A floating roadway is built. This allows road vehicles on to the landing stage, so they can be carried by ferry to Birkenhead or Seacombe on the Wirral side of the river. These vehicle ferries are known as luggage boats.
Riverside Station opens. This connects the Pier Head to the mainline railway system.
The first of the Three Graces, the Port of Liverpool Building, opens at the Pier Head. This is the headquarters of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company. It is made from portland stone and designed in the style of an Italian renaissance palace with a copper dome. The interior is very rich with a huge octagonal hall. Today the Port of Liverpool Building is a Grade II listed building used as offices.
The Royal Liver Building opens at the Pier Head. Today this is one of the oldest reinforced concrete buildings in the world (its stonework is only a covering). It still has its famous Liver Birds and the clock faces are still Britain's largest.
The third and final Grace, the Cunard Building, opens at the Pier Head. This is the headquarters of the Cunard Line (the Line has since moved) [image, new window].
Fewer passengers and boats are using the Pier Head landing stage. Much of the huge length is no longer needed.
The Pier Head's landing stage is very rusty. It is replaced by a smaller stage, serving only the Mersey Ferries and the Isle of Man boats. It sinks on its opening weekend (an inspection port had been left open) but is successfully raised and there are no further problems.
The Pier Head landing stage is still the home to the famous Mersey Ferries. There are with regular tourist and commuter services across the river. The Three Graces still stand, with plans to build a fourth [image, new window].