How Commerce Has Shaped The City

Dockyards, Slaves & Retail Therapy

Liverpool’s fortunes have ridden some sharp peaks and dived down some serious troughs in its time; maritime trade has often been the driver behind this change.

At the start of the 13th century Liverpool was a small settlement with little in the way of trade or new business. It wasn’t until England began investing in the newly established slave trade, in the 18th century, that Liverpool’s fortunes began to turn around. A growing immigrant population, bolstered by nearby struggling Ireland, was on hand to aid the construction of Liverpool’s first wet dock in 1715 which opened the flood gates for further trade and immigration.

By 1851, Irish migrants made up 25% of the city’s population, new buildings rose out of the ground on a monthly basis and the city was starting to swell with people from all corners of the globe, including a good-sized conglomeration from China. All of these people were brought to Liverpool by sea, but there were even more people passing through the port who would never take a single step on dry land.

Liverpool is not dismissive of the part that it played in Slave Trade, in fact there is a whole museum on the historic Royal Albert Docks dedicated to this subject. The International Slavery Museum does a fantastic job of distilling how this barbaric industry exploited African nations for commercial gain, and make no bones in regards to how Liverpool as a city profited from these gains. Huge warehouses, some of which still stand today, were filled with tobacco and cotton reaped from slave-owned farms. Unlike Bristol, another city that owes its current wealth to the Slave Trade, humans were not traded in Liverpool, but the Museum in no way attempts to distance the city from the means that produced the ends.

By the time the Slave Trade itself was abolished, Liverpool had established itself as one of England’s major ports and was the largest of its kind in the world, but its success would be challenged by two things: world war and modernisation.

Thanks to its commanding port capabilities, Liverpool became instrumental in the military planning for the Battle of the Atlantic which, although good for the city, led to it be being bombed heavily. In fact, only London was targeted by more German bombers during the Second World War, causing catastrophic damage to the city some of which can still be seen today. In the years following the war, Liverpool was to become the victim of even harder times, as post-war austerity and modernisation led many of the industrial jobs that the city relied on to be unceremoniously snuffed out.

A glimmer of hope existed amidst the austerity of 20th century life in Liverpool and it emanated from four unlikely lads who would transform the way the city would be perceived. Although Britain is known for producing some of the biggest music icons in the world, there are arguably none bigger than The Beatles. The international success and ongoing cultural influence of the four lads from Liverpool is still felt to this day and has led to the city being inextricably linked with cutting edge fashion. The Beatles immortalised Liverpool, placing it on every music lover’s bucket list and transforming the city into the touristic hub that it is today.

Whilst many different types of businesses are operated in Liverpool, it the city’s commercial and tourism sectors that bring in the most money today. Although construction companies’ plan are often hampered by extensive monitoring surveys and chance historical discoveries, it is a small price to pay to have a restaurant or shop in the heart of the North-West’s most vibrant cultural centres. The past few years, Liverpool has seen an increased in new Digital focused businesses. Most of them are specialised in SEO and PPC, highly popular marketing technique.

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