First founded as a borough under King John’s letters patent in 1207, growth was slow until 1699, when the Liverpool Merchant, Liverpool’s first slave ship, set sail for Africa – and once trade from the West Indies surpassed that from Europe and Ireland, and the River Dee silted up, the prosperity and population of Liverpool grew rapidly. Ironically, though the slave trade allowed growth and prosperity for the city, several prominent local men (William Rathbone, William Roscoe and Edward Rushton) were in the forefront in the abolition movement. By the 19th century, forty per cent of the world’s trade passed through Liverpool, and its influence was so great it was much like the second city of the Empire –its Custom House was the single largest contributor to the British Exchequer, and it was the only British city ever to have its own Whitehall office. In 1830, the first intercity rail-link was built between Liverpool and Manchester – Manchester has been easy to reach from Liverpool ever since. During the 19th century, Liverpool built up many of its major buildings; many now hold UNESCO World Heritage Site status – such as the ‘Three Graces’ (the Liver Building, Port of Liverpool Building and Cunard Building) in Pier Head; Albert Dock, which is home to Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Beatles Story exhibition; and William Brown Street, Liverpool’s cultural quarter with the Walker Art Gallery and World Museum Liverpool must-see attractions. Other outstanding buildings worth a visit include the Town Hall, built in 1754, the neo-classical St George’s Hall which houses concert halls, law courts and exhibition rooms, and the two twentieth-century cathedrals: the Gothic-style Anglican Cathedral, one of the largest ecclesiastical structures in the world, and the Roman Catholic cathedral of Christ the King, a particularly noted piece of modern architecture.

Liverpool is the World Capital City of Pop, with Liverpudlian bands/artists producing more number one records than any other city, particularly due to the Beatles and other Merseybeat bands like Gerry and the Pacemakers, and later bands such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Echo and the Bunnymen. And Cilla Black. In 2008, Liverpool was awarded the European Capital of Culture. It is also renowned for having a strong sporting identity, with two local Premier League football teams (Liverpool Football Club and Everton), and the annual Grand National at Aintree Racecourse.

Liverpool makes for a great cruise destination around the British Isles, but it's increasingly becoming an embarkation port, too, used by Fred. Olsen and Cruise and Maritime as a home port. The city played a significant role in Cunard's 175th anniversary celebrations in 2015, with the Three Queens returning to the line's 'spiritual home', watched by over a million people, and Queen Elizabeth is due to return to the city to celebrate the Cunard Building's centenary.