Bombed Out Book Cover Images: The Liver Building, Liverpool.
The Liver Building at the Pier Head, on Liverpool’s Waterfront.
The most prominent stone edifice on the front cover of my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out! (ignoring Margaret Thatcher) is Liverpool’s Grade 1 Listed Building, the Liver Building.
This post explains why I used the image, and its relevance to proceedings chronicled in the book.
The Liver Building opened in 1911 as the home for the Royal Liver Assurance group, and was one of the first buildings in the world to be built using reinforced concrete.
At 90 m (300 ft) tall, it was the tallest building in Europe from 1911 until 1932 and, unbelievably, the tallest in the UK until 1961. The building has a very “New York” feel to it, which is somewhat appropriate given how many millions of emigrants sailed from Liverpool to America over the years from ships berthed close to where the building now stands.
The building has two clock towers, both holding clock faces larger than Big Ben’s, and on top of each tower stand Liverpool’s emblem, the mythical Liver Birds (probably based on cormorants), carrying a sprig of seaweed in their beaks.
I wanted to use an image of the Liver Building on the cover of Bombed Out! to firmly fix the book in the city, without over-laboring the point. It’s also relevant to the story in the book as I passed the building every day on my way into, and home, from Liverpool city centre, on foot or by bus, for the whole time I was in the bands and going to Punk and New Wave gigs.
The Liver Building is also relevant to a life-changing late-night, angry walk home I did along the deserted Dock Road on the night I left Liverpool bands for good. I recall looking up as I walked by. It had no lights on at all inside the offices (it was about 4am, so no surprises there).
The building also overlooks the benches at the Pier Head that my girlfriend Liz and I used to sit and make out on, as we stayed overnight in the city centre in 1979, which is detailed in the book too.
And one final thing about the image of the building on the book cover – check out the time on the clock. It says seven minutes to midnight, which is, of course, a reference to the Domesday Clock – a universally-recognized symbolic clock face, representing a countdown to global catastrophe.
Reflecting dangerous international events, the Domesday Clock’s hands have been adjusted twenty times since 1947, when the Clock was initially set to seven minutes to midnight.
This I felt was highly appropriate to that part of the book which describes life in 1980s Thatcher’s Britain, especially in Liverpool, when the economy, the labour market and the city were in total meltdown.
And of course Seven Minutes To Midnight is a famous song by another contemporaneous Liverpool band, Wah! Heat, which links back to Eric’s and the Liverpool band scene, which is (obviously) well covered in the book.
And finally, the Liver Building was built on the site of a former slaving dock, George’s Dock, which was eventually filled in. This is relevant to the city’s former slaving history, which is also referenced in Bombed Out!
So hopefully that comprehensively explains why I used an image of the Liver Building on the front cover of Bombed Out!.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php