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20 boss things Liverpool did first

3 years ago

By The Guide Liverpool

20 boss things Liverpool did first

We’re never short of something to talk about in Liverpool, and looking at this lot, we never have been.


Pioneering, inspiring, and continually ahead of the pack, prepare to be prouder than ever of Liverpool with this list of world and UK firsts.

1 – World Shipping Trade

In 1715, Thomas Steer’s Dock opened on the River Mersey as the first ever commercial wet dock. This dock accommodated up to 100 ships, paving the way for Liverpool as a world leading trading port.

2 – Libraries

When it opened in 1758, the Lyceum on Bold Street was the first subscription library in England.

3 – Animal Welfare

The RSPCA was founded in a coffee house on Bold Street in October 1809. Founded as a ‘society for the suppression of Wanton Cruelty to Brute Animals,’ the RSPCA Liverpool Branch is now the oldest animal charity in the world.

4 – Chess Clubs

England’s oldest chess club was formed in Liverpool in 1857.

5 – The Olympics

Liverpool held an annual Grand Olympic Festival from 1862-1867, devised by John Hulley and Charles Melly. The programme for the first Olympiad in Athens in 1896 was almost identical to that of their Liverpool Olympics.

6 – Skyscrapers

In 1964, the world’s first iron-framed, curtain-walled office building, otherwise known as Water Street’s Grade I listed Oriel Chambers, became the prototype of the skyscraper built by architect Peter Ellis.

7 – Cycling clubs

Britain’s first cycling club The Liverpool Velocipedes was formed in 1867.

8 – Department stores

These days it’s better known as M&S on Church Street, but in 1867, Compton House was not only the UK’s first purpose-built department store, but the world’s largest store.

9 – Art Galleries

In 1877, the Walker Art Gallery became the first British public art gallery.

10 – Child Welfare

On a trip to NYC in 1881, Liverpool businessman Thomas Agnew was inspired by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In 1883, he brought similar help to Liverpool children, setting up the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (LSPCC). This led to the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, now known as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – or NSPCC.

11 – Equal Education

Founded in 1844, Blackburne House was England’s first girl’s day grammar school.

12 – Footie nets

In 1890, Liverpool engineer, John Brodie, invented the football net. Come in pretty useful, haven’t they?

13 – Posh Railways

Opened in Liverpool in 1893, the world’s first overhead railway was also the first to use automatic and electric colour light signals, and had the first escalator at a railway station.

14 – Tropical Medicine

When it opened in 1899, Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine was the first in Britain. The school was founded by shipowner Sir Alfred Lewis Jones – who introduced the banana to the UK.

15 – The Nobel Prize

In 1902, Britain’s Nobel Prize was awarded to Professor Ronald Ross at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, on the basis that Ross had ‘conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’ when he discovered malaria was contracted by mosquito bites.

16 – Crosswords

Liverpool’s Arthur Wynne produced the world’s first crossword puzzle, published in leading newspaper New York World in 1913.

17 – Surgery

In 1946 Thomas Cecil Gray’s pioneering research into anaesthetics became a major factor in the development of modern surgery, including the career of Liverpool resident Hugh Owen Thomas, who pioneered orthopaedic surgery using Gray’s techniques. 

18 – Helicopter Flights

The world’s first scheduled passenger helicopter service ran from Liverpool to Cardiff between June 1950-1951.

19 – Female chart toppers

In 1953, Scouser Lita Roza was the first woman to top the UK singles chart with How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

20 – Become officially boss

In 1999, Liverpool was the first city outside London to receive English Heritage blue plaques for the “significant contribution made by its sons and daughters in all walks of life.” No wonder, hey?

Got any brill Liverpool first facts? We bet you have – Tweet us @TheGuideLpool_

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