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"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Ferry Cross The Mersey River Cruise Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Life goes on day after day, hearts torn in every way. So ferry cross the Mersey, cause this land’s the place I love, and here I’ll stay”.

May 2019. And so goes the 1964 hit song Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry and the Pacemakers. I remember listening to this timeless tune at least two to three times a week as a kid. Usually while running around the house playing with Lego and Micro Machines.

It was on a 60s compilation CD my mum and dad had, thus it became kind of ingrained in me. Now, over thirty years later, I was actually boarding a ferry to cross the River Mersey on my first day in the city of Liverpool!

Boarding the Ferry Cross the Mersey Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

I’d arrived in Liverpool just a few hours earlier with my old friend Steppers. Having checked into our hotel, we took one look at the afternoon sunshine and figured we’d better hit The Mersey while the going was good. After all, one can never take this kind of weather for granted in England.

On the Ferry Cross the Mersey in Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Mersey Ferries operates Liverpool’s river cruises and there are a bunch of options depending on one’s tastes and how much time you’ve got. We opted for the 50 minute River Explorer Cruise that basically does a loop of The Mersey with three optional jump-on-jump-off points along the way.

River Mersey Explorer Cruise Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Needless to say the famous song was playing that afternoon as Steppers and I boarded. Picking out some choice seats, we found ourselves listening to the recorded commentary that provides historical info about The Mersey and the iconic buildings that make up Liverpool’s waterfront.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Royal Liver Building Liverpool.

Liverpool’s impressive waterfront skyline.

With the ferry chugging away from Pier Head, we got some amazing views of the structures in question. Pictured top left, crowned with a pair of gorgeous clock towers, stands The Royal Liver Building.

This iconic Liverpool landmark dates back to 1911 when it was purpose built for the Royal Liver Assurance Group. The society provided support to Liverpudlians who’d recently lost a wage-earning relative.

The Royal Liver Building in Liverpool.

The Royal Liver Building.

Moreover, it was cool to hear about the building’s two metal liver birds that keep watch over Liverpool. The bird facing away from the water Bertie, who guards the city. Bella meanwhile, facing The Mersey, protects the river and its sailors.

Liver bird sculpture Liverpool.

Bella. Or perhaps Bertie.

Photo courtesy of Chowells.

A German sculptor by the name of Carl Bernard Bartels designed the mythical birds. Legend has it that should they ever fly away, Liverpool would simply cease to exist.

Cruising the River Mersey Livepool.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

It didn’t take long for us to pull well away from the waterfront. Taking a self-guided tour of the boat, we enjoyed a highly relaxing cruise, with an invigorating breeze and the odd seagull flapping overhead.

Liverpudlians are incredibly friendly and indeed it wasn’t long before we got chatting to a local man in his early seventies. Much like Gerry Marsden of The Pacemakers, he proclaimed a lifelong love for The Mersey. What’s more, he even claimed to have been on one of the very first services across the river in the 1960s.

What To See & Do, Liverpool.

MV Snowdrop Liverpool.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Elsewhere, I managed to get a nod from the captain, who looked very dapper in his pressed shirt, tie and sunglasses. It was also here that we learned our boat’s name, MV Snowdrop. A look online reveals she was launched in 1959 and can hold around 1200 passengers. Originally christened MV Woodchurch, its current name took hold in 2003.

Ferry Cross the Mersey.

MV Snowdrop.

One of the ferry’s stops that day came at the Seacombe Terminal, home to a museum called Spaceport. “Experience life beyond the stars!” came the advert, which trumpeted the museum’s observatory, space rides, planetarium and private exhibition of Star Wars memorabilia.

Spaceport Mersey Ferries Seacombe terminal Liverpool

RIP: Spaceport.

Unfortunately, during my research for this article, I see that Spaceport has since closed down. It’s due to be replaced by a new attraction, Eureka! Mersey, a centre aimed at children that focuses on learning through play. At the time of writing they say it’ll open in mid 2022.

Not tempted by the prospect of Spaceport, Steppers and I decided to stay on Snowdrop and continue our voyage down the Mersey. Besides, we’d actually boarded that afternoon with the intention of jumping off at another attraction, the U-Boat Story.

U-Boat Story Museum Liverpool.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

This fascinating museum details the life and times of the World War II German submarine, U-534. Built by The Nazis, this mammoth vessel was sunk by a Royal Air Force bomber on the 5th of May 1942 near the Danish island of Anholt.

U-534.

U534 Submarine Ferry Cross the Mersey

A big ol’ submarine.

Photo courtesy of Paul Adams.

After 42 years on the sea bed, it was a Danish wreck hunter who discovered it. With the help of a fellow Dane, the millionaire, Karsen Ree (who mistakenly believed there was Nazi gold onboard), the great submarine was finally raised from the water.

U-534 in Merseyside.

U-Boat Story Museum.

Beautifully presented, the exhibition talks you through a typical day in the life onboard. You can also watch newsreels and listen to archive audio footage. But of course the highlight is getting to see U-534 itself, one of only four of the world’s remaining German WWII submarines.

The U-Boat Story Museum Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

U-534 was so huge it had to be broken into four parts for transportation to Liverpool. It arrived in 1996, purchased by the Warship Preservation Trust. In 2009, it finally became the star of its own show with the opening of the U-Boat Story. As you look around, don’t miss a few of the holes from when it was fatally struck in 1942.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Ferry Cross The Mersey Liverpool.

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

Having bid farewell to U-534, Steppers and I got back on the ferry for our return journey to Pier Head. As we closed in on dry land, this time I focused my lens on the domed Port of Liverpool Building.

Port of Liverpool Building.

Port of Liverpool Building.

Constructed between 1904 and 1907, it served as HQ for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board for 87 years. A wonderfully restored example of Edwardian Baroque, the structure stands as Liverpool’s fourteenth tallest building. It’s possible to visit the ground floor and see its lavish furnishings, including a stunning granite staircase.

Experience the Ferry Cross the Mersey in Liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool.

I certainly recommend the Ferry Cross The Mersey experience. Our tickets that day were £11 per person and we simply bought them on arrival. It’s not a bad deal when you consider it includes entry to the U-Boat Story, otherwise priced at £8 per person. To plan your River Mersey journey and look at the different pricing options, check out the Mersey Ferries website here.

“People around every corner,
Seem to smile and say…
We don’t care what your name is, boy.
We’ll never turn you away”. 

Like this? Check out more of my pieces from around Liverpool.

Or maybe search further afield with my articles from all around England.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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23 Comments

  • David A Lockwood

    Gosh this took me back, 1971 infact. Used the ferry quite a lot.

    July 19, 2019 - 9:49 pm Reply
    • leightonliterature

      Oh wow, that’s incredible. How was it back then?

      July 19, 2019 - 9:50 pm Reply
      • David A Lockwood

        It has changed out of all recognition, for the better I might add.
        The water front was still a working port (just) but there was some good bars ? that had live music. Remember Roger McGough was very popular as a poet, saw Pentangle live, but I was supposed to be learning Electronics at the time. There was a wine bar near the Cavern call The Slaughter House which I spent more time in than was probably good for me – it’s still going I think.

        July 19, 2019 - 10:13 pm
      • leightonliterature

        Amazing, I would have loved to have seen Liverpool back in the day. Hope you enjoy my other reports from Liverpool.

        July 19, 2019 - 11:01 pm
  • Little Miss Traveller

    So interesting to read this post after my own visit a couple of weeks ago. Great that you were able to take a ride on Snowdrop *love the name) and visit the U-boat museum. Excellent information Leighton for people planning a visit. Have a good week. Marion

    May 10, 2021 - 10:36 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ve had a blast working through these articles over the last two weeks. It was a great trip and I’m having a tough time with the fact that this was two years ago. The clock stops for no one.

      May 10, 2021 - 10:39 am Reply
  • ThingsHelenLoves

    Liverpool looks brilliant, I’d love to visit. I had no idea about the U boat, definitely something to check out. Slightly surreal feeling looking at the pre pandemic pictures. How casually we used to travel and mix with no idea what was coming!

    May 10, 2021 - 11:08 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Helen, and yes you’re right. It seems like another world. Glad you enjoyed this one and hope there are more revelations over the next thirteen Liverpool articles.

      May 10, 2021 - 11:24 am Reply
  • kagould17

    Some of the best city harbour tours are simple ferry crossings. Smart cities capitalize on this and it looks like Liverpool has done just that. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    May 10, 2021 - 3:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Allan! The Mersey is a fine looking river and that Skyline isn’t bad either.

      May 10, 2021 - 3:32 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    Funny, I’ve heard that song, probably in movies, but never really thought about it actually being a place. Now I’ll have it stuck in my head all day:) Maggie

    May 10, 2021 - 4:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha that’s great Maggie, puts a smile on my face. Thanks for dropping by!

      May 10, 2021 - 4:21 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    I love that song! And I loved getting to see the ferry in all its colorful wonder and all you see from on board it. How interesting to learn about the U Boat Museum too. Great post! -Meg

    May 10, 2021 - 5:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Meg, so happy to deliver this little slice of Liverpool to you. The singer, Gerry Marsden, is a Liverpool legend and every bit as revered as the likes of Lennon and McCartney. Thanks for reading!

      May 10, 2021 - 5:38 pm Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        for me personally, I like him even more than the fab four 🙂

        May 10, 2021 - 5:47 pm
  • wetanddustyroads

    This was now an interesting read! I’ve just read Marion’s posts (Little Miss Traveller) about Liverpool … and now, you’ve added an interesting twist as to why one should visit Liverpool.
    I love that you could visit a U-Boat! And that song – yes I’ve definitely heard it before and now I can actually listen to it while putting your photo’s in the song 😉.

    May 10, 2021 - 6:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Aw, thanks for the kind feedback. And indeed your follow. The song is a charming tribute to the river and the city. And I think, a simpler time in many ways. Thanks again.

      May 10, 2021 - 6:46 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    A surprise it was to open up WordPress and see a post from you from your native country, as opposed to Thailand, Cambodia, or the UAE. Definitely refreshing and insightful, as Liverpool’s a place I haven’t gone to yet, but has since piqued my interest. The ferry ride looks to be a pleasant one, as well as covering plenty of ground in terms of sightseeing the city. Thanks for sharing, Leighton!

    May 11, 2021 - 5:31 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy to keep you on your toes! I felt a change of tone was needed and hopefully Liverpool will provide just that over the next thirteen instalments.

      May 11, 2021 - 8:09 am Reply
  • travelling_han

    I absolutely love the photos of the Liver Building from the water, it’s so beautiful!

    May 12, 2021 - 12:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It is gorgeous! Thanks for reading Hannah.

      May 12, 2021 - 12:28 pm Reply
  • Memo

    What a colorful ferry. I always take city tour buses when first visiting new places. The ferry was an interesting way to see the city from the water. I would have loved the u-boat. Could you actually go inside?

    May 12, 2021 - 6:27 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Memo, unfortunately you couldn’t enter the u-boat. That would have really been something!

      May 12, 2021 - 6:28 pm Reply

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