our THIRD LYVER BIRD project
some history, some legends. some memorabilia.

The Awesome Lyver Bird...
... on the night of the red moon.

Who designed it?
How huge is the Liver Clock
What kind of bird is it?
Other sites about the Liver Birds
back to the Lyver Bird Project home page.

a page of Lyver Bird pictures....
[...which may take a while to download. Sorry!]

some Lyver Bird facts and history.

Funding the Third Lyver Bird.

Here are the other pages of this site:
(E-mail me at gerry.jones@tiscali.co.uk)

Liverpool branch of the RSCDS
Liverpool Country Dance Band
Liverpool CONTRA Folk-dance club
Country Dancing Classes
Mersey And Deeside folk dance clubs
Gerry Jones, the handy musician

For other links of interest,see foot of page.

and here are some historic pictures of the Liver Building Clock.

One dial, as a banquet table for the directors. And one of the Minute Hands.


Carl Bernard Bartels 1866 - 1955.

The two Liver Building Birds - a cross between an Eagle and a Cormorant - were designed by a German sculptor, Carl Bernard Bartels. Son of Carl Julius Bartels who lived 1841 - 1911 and was a German Protestant Mastercarver / Woodcarver from the Black Forest, Germany, Carl Bernard Bartels was born in 1866 in Stuttgart, Germany.A wood carver himself, and resident of the Black Forest, he came to England on his honeymoon at 21 years of age, in 1887, and loved it so much he stayed, and took British nationality. Bartels won a competition to design the Liver Building Birds, and created the magnificent design we see today, two 18ft high copper sculptures completed in 1911, with the involvment of the Bromsgrove Trust.

When the Great War broke out Bartels was arrested as a German citizen and imprisoned on the Isle of Man as panic over enemy aliens ran rife. He stayed interned in P.O.W. Camp - Knockaloe Isle of Man 10743, Hut 5.6 1914- 1918.
Worse still, he was forcibly repatriated at at the end of the war, despite having a wife in Harringay, London, He could not return unless an employer asked for his services. His nephew's employer did so, and in the end he did return to England, though it took him many years. He lived in Harringay until his death in 1955, and he has at least one great-grand-daughter and two great-great-grandchildren.
The City of Liverpool removed all references to his achievement, very successfully as the next article shows, but there are now at least 20 pages found by Google referring to Bartels.

Step-brother Frank Carl Bartels - Sculptor. Member of NAFTA. Carvers Branch No. 6.
Further commissions include items for a Chapel inside Durham Cathedral, the old "Mauretania" (Liner), Exhibited at Royal Academy 1951, & Stately Homes .
Lived in Harringay, London.

HANS WALTER / NICHOLA KEWELOH reports having seen information in a book on C.B. Bartels: Address - DEUTSCHER SCHIFF AHRTS MUSEUM, ENTEN MOOR WEG, BREMERHAVEN 47. Tel: 0049 421 27578.
This information was provided by Tim Olden, a great-great-grandson of Carl. Tim also writes;" With the original official history we were told that a foundry in Worcester created them, which was later discredited latter as a red herring. This was by the history professor brought in during our visit to Liverpool. (he may be the man named in the second letter).

He also told us of the xenophobia concerning every German national living in Liverpool at the time of the WW1. 75% of all the butchers were German before the start of WW1 but after the war there were none. The John Moores University in Liverpool had a portrait of all the lecturers, and the only one to be defaced was the German teacher. So it is not surprising that a false story was created to cover their tracks and that the history books were rewritten. Who would want the star emblem of the city created by a German?

Carl Bernard was imprisoned at the Knockaloe P.O.W. camp on the Isle of Man and repatriated back to Germany after the war. Leaving his wife in the UK. Only when he got sponsorship/endorsement from a family member here could he come back. He didn't give up carving but produced work for stately homes, in Durham Cathedral, and he submitted work to the Royal Academy. During the WW2 he produced artificial limbs."

It was on 18 July 2005 that I first heard about the actual sculptor of the Liver Birds. Until then we all tended to believe that the Birds were "the brain child of Aubrey Thomas, architect of the Royal Liver Building,." as Paul Kennedy. says, Dec. 26th 2001.in an Echo article on NewzBar Liver bird, which has no "laver" in its beak.;
"The Liver Birds appeared in 1910, the brain child of Aubrey Thomas, architect of the Royal Liver Building. Although the birds are mythical, they were modeled on the cormorant, which in earlier times was known as a "laver bird" (laver meaning seaweed GBJ). The cormorant is a common bird in the Mersey.The Laver bird fed on seaweed which the Liver Bird carries in its beak.The Liver Birds are 18 ft tall, and have a 12 ft wing span (must mean per wing GBJ),And are made from heavily gilded hammered copper. ( copper yes; gilded, I think not; GBJ).

Fri. 4th Jan 2002. Echo Article on Gerry Jones and project. By Jane Woodhead; she says Liverpool has three Liver Birds, two at the Pier Head. The third is on Mersey Chambers by St. Nicholas' Parish Church, and is half the size.The liver Bird was created after the original Seal of the city, which was the Eagle of King John, was destroyed in a siege. The replacement looked more like a seabird, and became known as the Liver Bird.

Leaflet as issued by Royal Liver company in 2000, giving facts about the building. Foundation stone laid 11 May 1908 It was opened by Lord Sheffield 19th July 1911. Height to top of Liver Birds is 322 feet. Height of the actualLiver Birds,18 feet.
Diameter of clock dials 25 feet i.e. 2,5 feet wider than Big Ben dials.
Weight of opal glass in each dial One ton.
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Here is a little-known verse from "In my Liverpool Home";
Our LIVerpool Ladies will HUG and kiss Men, (but a
VIRtuous Lady you'll find now and then
Our eighteen-foot Lyver Birds perched up on high,
They FLAP their great WINGS every time she goes by.
In my Liverpool Home, ......etc.

.... or, as the Romans used to say; "Virgine perambulante, alas agitavero"


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For another excellent article on Carl, see the archives of Liverool "Daily Post" local newspaper, by David Charters, in 2005. (URL to follow).

More Pages concerning the Lyver Bird.
The Liverpool Third Lyver Bird project.
Mike Royden's Local History pages.
The Liver Bird.
Timbo's Liverpool - The Three Graces.
A psychedelic Liver Bird. from the Sixties introduces a site for artworks with a Beatles theme; http://www.beatlspirit.co.uk/

Here are the other pages of this site:

Liverpool branch of the RSCDS
Liverpool Country Dance Band
Liverpool CONTRA Folk-dance club
Country Dancing Classes
Mersey And Deeside folk dance clubs
Gerry Jones, the handy musician

Here's an article from the internet, by Reg JOnes ("a Liverpool Iconoclast!") HisURL will be inserted here soon.
Reg Jones - The Liver Bird
"WHAT'S A LIVER BIRD?"
OR, "AN ORNITHOLOGICAL ENIGMA."
,Above the heart of Liverpool the eponymous fowl flaps its wings, a landmark for mariners atop the famous building which bears its name, a heraldic device for schools and colleges, the badge of my own 23rd Armoured Brigade, a totem for the city and the Corporation, borne on the coat of arms of ancient tramcars, but false and fictitious as the roc and dodo. The 'Liver' in Liverpool is a corruption of the word used by the aborigines of the area, who being Ancient Britons spoke. Welsh. to describe the geographical location of the original hamlet, Llethr-pwll, (Still in Welsh, Lerpwll, "the slope by the creek"), still preserved in a nearby area as Litherland.)

Then what kind of bird was it meant to be? The story begins on Mount Ida, near Troy, where Zeus the King of the Gods espied a handsome youth and sent down an eagle to pick up the child Canymede and carry him up to Olympus to be his cupbearer. Now the Lords of Stanley in South Lancashire happened to be the hereditary cupbearers to the Kings of England, and one of them was advised by a wise man, presumably a monk with classical knowledge , that this legend was appropriate to his feudal duty, so he adopted as his blazon the Eagle and Child, a device still seen on many inn signs locally.

But when it came to designing the seal some local craftsman, who had probably never seen an eagle, drew a bird which rather resembled a duck, and not knowing that the eagle carries large items of prey in its talons, attached the strange burden to its beak. Subsequent copyists did little to improve the device, so that the 'child, looked more like a fish, a twig or a leaf and the carrier looked like a cormorant, a bird which I often saw before the war in the estuary, an apt sample of Mersey marine life. Then by artist's license the legs were lengthened and the shape was more like that of the heron. Hence by a false derivation the product of an artist's imagination was immortalised as a Liver Bird.
Sorry, folks. A Liverpool Iconoclast!


This is supported by a LIVERPOOL HERITAGE WALK booklet which contains the following; The mythical Liver Birds are made of copper and are 5.5m( 18 ft) high. The clock faces are 7.6m (25') in diameter , making them the largest public striking clocks in Britain. The origin of the Liver Bird is as follows;
King John, in 1207, requiring a port for the conquest of Ireland, granted letters patent to Liverpool, and the town adopted a corporate Seal, - the eagle of St. John, the emblem of the House of King John. During the siege of 1644, when cavalier forces sacked Liverpool , the seal was lost.
In 1655 it was replaced by a second seal, but this did not resemble an eagle, possibly due to the ignorance or artistic shortcomings of the designer.. As time went by, the bird, which looked like a seagull, came to be regarded as a cormorant, as such birds are prevalent in the Mersey. In the birds beak is a sprig of foliage, probably of broom, the "planta genista" of the Plantagenet royal family.
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