1 Welcome to Liverpool

Welcome to Liverpool! We are in one of the major cities of northern England with a population of just under half a million. But Liverpool’s people are tremendously diverse.

They include Britain’s oldest Black African community and Europe’s oldest Chinese community. Liverpool has the largest Chinese arch outside China and was also home to one of the earliest mosques in Britain.

Over the last two centuries, Liverpool has attracted economic and social migrants from across the world. People who settled here brought with them their different cultures, religious beliefs, food and languages. Today Liverpool is a multicultural melting pot.

This walk explores the imprint of immigrants on the city in religious buildings, community associations and shops. We will explore some unique architecture, beautiful sculptures and unexpected monuments. Be prepared for some surprises...

The walk was originally created in 2012 as part of a series that explored how our towns and cities have been shaped for many centuries by some of the 206 participating nations in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

We hope you enjoy it!


Ken Dodd welcomes you to Liverpool, the Chance Meeting sculpture at Lime Street station
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


From the front of Lime Street Station, turn left along Lime Street, staying on the left hand pavement. Immediately after the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, turn left up Brownlow Hill. it is quite steep so don’t rush. Stop when you reach the junction with Trowbridge Street.

2 The Welsh Streets

Our first stop is halfway up Trowbridge Street. Trowbridge is an area in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. As we walked up the hill you might have spotted another road on the left called Ranelagh Street. This is named after a village in North Wales. So what are these Welsh names doing in Liverpool?

The answer lies in Liverpool’s closeness to North Wales. Although they didn’t come as far as some of the others that we will hear about later, Welsh people were one of Liverpool’s first major immigrant communities. By the early 1800s, one in ten people in Liverpool was Welsh.

In fact, there were so many Welsh people here that an area of Toxteth, south of the city centre, is known as ‘the Welsh Streets’ because the houses were made by and for Welsh workers. These streets also have Welsh names.

The Welsh community built their own chapels where they could worship in their own language. The Welsh were mostly Protestants and at one point there were more than 50 Welsh chapels in Liverpool.

Many of Liverpool’s Welsh worked in the docks, on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and in the building construction industry. As we continue look out for the large number of red brick buildings. A lot of these red bricks came from a place called Ruabon, near Wrexham in Wales.

We will see one example further up the hill – the Victoria Building is the original building of Liverpool University - it’s also the origin of the term ‘redbrick university’.


Liverpool University Victoria Building clock tower
© Ian-S at www.flickr.com (Creative Commons licence)


Continue up Brownlow Hill. Cross over to the right when your reach the back of the Metropolitan Cathedral. Go up the steps to the cathedral plaza. There is a good view of the Victoria Building across the road. Continue round to the cathedral’s front entrance. To avoid the steps - continue up Brownlow Hill a short way to the cathedral car park and follow the paths through the cathedral gardens.

3 The Mersey Funnel

The official name of this building is the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Christ the King. This is usually shortened to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. The design is rather unusual for a cathedral, don’t you think? Many locals call it the Mersey Funnel or Paddy’s Wigwam.

This last nickname also gives us a clue who it was built for. The cathedral was built for a particular immigrant community – the Irish. After the Potato Famine of the 1840s in Ireland, around two million Irish immigrants came to Liverpool.

By 1851, a quarter of Liverpool’s population was of Irish descent. These Irish settlers brought their strong Catholic faith. As Liverpool’s Irish population grew, plans were drawn up to build a Catholic cathedral in the city. But it didn’t become a reality for many decades.

The original 1930s design, by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was going to be the second-largest cathedral in the world. Building stopped though before even the crypt was finished because the project was considered too extravagant and costly. So what we can see is a different scaled-down design by Sir Frederick Gibberd. Construction work began in 1962 and took five years.


Detail of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Go inside the front entrance of the cathedral and stop by the circular seated area in front of the altar.

4 Marble, cloth and bronze

Inside churches, cathedrals and other religious buildings are often a wealth of connections to other countries; through saints, memorials and monuments; building materials and architects; or decorative features and artwork.

Here in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, we can find some interesting examples. Above the main altar, the unusual metal structure shaped a bit like a crown is a baldachin. The term comes from the Italian ‘baldacchino’ and describes a canopy that protects and highlights the altar. Baldachin was originally a type of fine cloth made in Baghdad, in present-day Iraq.

Religious buildings often contain pieces by artists inspired or commissioned to decorate the interior. We can see some in the small chapels around the main sanctuary. For example, in the Chapel of Unity is a bronze water fountain by Italian sculptor Virginio Ciminaghi and a mosaic by the Hungarian artist Georg Mayer-Marton. Also look for a statue of the Peruvian saint Martin de Porres by Peruvian artist Isabel Benavides.


Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral altar and baldachin
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


When you are ready, leave the cathedral and go down the main steps or the path from the front entrance. Cross safely at the junction in fron t ot the cathedral and go onto the left hand side of Hope Street. Stop when you reach the Philharmonic Hall.

5 Sweet harmonies

Liverpool’s most famous musicians were, of course, The Beatles. But Liverpool was an international music centre long before the 1960s. In fact, the city is home to the secondoldest professional symphony orchestra in Britain. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1840 and is based here at the Philharmonic Hall.

The Orchestra and the Hall have their origins in the Philharmonic Society, which was founded to present classical music concerts for the city’s wealthy merchants. The Hall we can see today, complete with golden Greek lyres on the walls, was built in the 1930s after the original building was destroyed by fire.

By that time, the Liverpool Philharmonic already had an international reputation and had featured many overseas artistes. Notable conductors and composers who have performed at the Hall include Charles Hallé and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Among the many famous musicians who have played here, pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski appeared before becoming Polish Prime Minister!

Inside the entrance lobby, a memorial records members of the Philharmonic Society who were hired to play in the band on RMS Titanic. They died sadly as the famous ship sunk on its maiden voyage off Nova Scotia in Canada.


Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Courtesy of Oosoom via Wikimedia Commons 


Continue along Hope Street to the junction with Mount Street on the right hand side. Stop by the piles of luggage on the pavement.

6 International baggage

Here on the corner of Hope Street and Mount Street are what look like piles of discarded luggage. This collection of cases, trunks and bags are all made from concrete. This is a public artwork.

Pieces like this have become increasingly obvious on the streets of Liverpool, especially since the city became the European Capital of Culture for 2008. In fact, after London, Liverpool is the British city with the second most sculptures per head of population!

This sculpture is called ‘A case history’. It was made in 1998 by John King. Look around the bags and cases for bronze labels on some of them. They feature the names of famous Liverpudlians with connections to Hope Street and the nearby area.

Look out for Paul McCartney’s name on a case with a New York label. Another interesting name to look for is Josephine Butler. She was a Victorian social reformer who fought for women’s rights and opposed slavery.

Also look for the name Kwok Fong. He was a Chinese sailor born in 1882. He arrived in Liverpool in the 1900s on a Blue Funnel ship. Known as ‘Uncle Fong’ he helped many Chinese migrants settle in the city and founded one of Liverpool’s first Chinese restaurants.

As well as the Irish community we heard about earlier, Liverpool has a significant Chinese population. We’ll find out why soon.


Detail of A Case History sculpture
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Continue along Hope Street then turn left into Canning Street. At the junction with Bedford Street South, stop outside a small church set back from the road.

7 Sailors and sugar refiners

This is the Deutsche Kirche Liverpool or Liverpool German Church. There has been a church on this site since the 1850s. The original congregation were German sailors. Apparently, a local priest stumbled across one of their prayer meetings held in a disused ship on the River Mersey.

This building we can see today was built in the early 1960s. Take a look at the church’s design. There are no elaborate towers or spires. Instead the square and simple style is typical of a Lutheran church.

Lutherans are a Protestant denomination, widespread in Germany and Scandinavia. They follow Martin Luther, a sixteenth-century German priest. Luther challenged the authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic teachings. He lived a simple lifestyle that rejected material wealth.

Liverpool’s German community was at its height in the 1880s. Many worked in sugar refining. In the 1851 census, there were 44 German-born sugar workers in Liverpool. Refiners recruited more skilled workers from Germany, particularly from the Hamburg area. By 1881, there were around 200 German sugar workers here. 

Raw sugar cane was brought into Liverpool from the Caribbean and processed here for distribution and export. Sugar refining was hot, dangerous and physically demanding work. When English and Irish workers refused to do it, willing German immigrants stepped in. The hours were long but there were benefits – good pay and free beer to replace the body moisture lost in the terrific heat!

Liverpool’s German population shrank during the First World War as many were suspected of spying and deported. The exodus even included Carl Bernard Bartels. He was the German architect who designed the famous Liver Birds that sit on top of the Liver Building.

But Liverpool retains strong links with Germany. As part of reconciliation after the Second World War, Liverpool was twinned with the city of Cologne.


The German Church
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Turn right and go down Bedford Street South. At Upper Parliament Street, turn right again and cross over at the traffic lights at the junction with Princes Road. Stop by a white memorial set in the wall.

8 The lady with the lamp

In the nineteenth century, Liverpool became the principal port in Britain. As we have already heard, the city attracted various immigrant communities who were drawn to guaranteed employment in the docks and various industries.

But for these ordinary people, the quality of life was not good. Many did dangerous and back-breaking work. They lived in overcrowded and insanitary housing. Ill health was commonplace, diseases were rife. Life expectancy in 1861 was just 30 years.

One person who worked to improve the quality of life was the nurse Florence Nightingale. This memorial, set in the wall of the former Queen Victoria District Nursing Association building, records her efforts in Liverpool.

Florence Nightingale is probably best known for her work as a volunteer nurse caring for soldiers wounded in the Crimean War. She served in Scutari in modern-day Turkey. The carving in the centre of the memorial depicts her tending for a fallen soldier.

After she returned to Britain, she collected evidence about deaths during the war and concluded that most soldiers died because of poor living conditions. From then onwards, she worked tirelessly to promote public health and hygiene and set up training schools for nurses. The Liverpool Queen Victoria District Nursing Association was one of them. She also helped to establish the Liverpool Royal Infirmary and Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary.

Her work made a distinct and lasting impact on the lives of Liverpool’s poor. This memorial was erected in 1913, three years after Florence’s death, as a public sign of gratitude for her work in the city. Today Florence Nightingale Hospital on Park Road is named after her.


Florence Nightingale 
(Wikimedia Commons)


From the memorial turn into Princes Road, take a moment to read the inscription on the front of the Nursing Association building. Continue a short way along along the left hand side of the road and stop outside Princes Road Synagogue, the last of three red brick buildings.

9 A symbol of taste and wealth

Here is another religious building for a particular community. This is Princes Road Synagogue, built in 1874 for Jews from Eastern Europe who had settled in Liverpool.

In the nineteenth century, there had been anti-Jewish riots throughout the Russian Empire – particularly in Poland and the Ukraine. Thousands of Jewish people left their homes and moved to Western Europe or the United States.

Like the German Lutherans we heard about earlier, many Jews heading to America stopped in Liverpool. Rather than continue their journey, some chose to stay and joined the existing Jewish community.

These days, the synagogue is attended only on Sabbath mornings and holidays, though the descendants of former members sometimes come to hold weddings or bar mitzvah celebrations.

Although most of the Jews in Liverpool are Ashkenazi Jews, originating from Eastern Europe, this synagogue was built in the style favoured by Sephardic Jews from Spain and North Africa. This is because in the mid-nineteenth century there was a craze for all things Oriental. The building is designed in a style called ‘Moorish Revival’ and includes features typical of Ottoman Turkey and Andalucía in Spain.

Look out for the golden St David star above the door. The synagogue’s tall towers used to be the bases for minarets, or domes, similar to ones we might see on a mosque. Liverpool’s Jewish community wanted to show off their wealth and sophistication.

Princes Road Synagogue is one of the finest in Europe. It was the first synagogue outside of London to receive Grade I listed status and has become a model for synagogue building around the world. The spectacular interior of the building is also well worth a visit. Tours are available by appointment.


Princes Road Synagogue doorway detail
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


When you are ready, cross Princes Road and stop outside the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre building.

10 Creativity and faith

Across from the synagogue is another building serving one of Liverpool’s immigrant communities – the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre. Kuumba and Imani are Swahili words which mean ‘creativity’ and ‘faith’. The Swahili language is spoken across East Africa and is the official language of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The name was chosen by local children who attend an after-school club in the building.

Community centres like these help immigrants who arrive in the city to find homes, jobs and services. This centre was established by the Liverpool Black Sisters, a charity formed by local women to support women and families from Liverpool’s black communities.

The Sisters were founded in the early 1970s to provide after-school childcare for working families. Today, the centre also offers the local community office space, IT training facilities and a counselling service.

The Kuumba Imani centre is one of the latest signs of Liverpool’s large and diverse black population. The city is home to 9,000 people of Black African origin and 4,000 people with a Caribbean background. The black community in Liverpool is the oldest in Britain, dating to at least the 1730s. Many early black settlers in the city were sailors and the children of overseas merchants who were sent to school in England.


Detail of the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Retrace your steps a short way along Princes Road then turn left into Upper Stanhope Street. Take the first right into Berkley Street. Stop outside the Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas.

11 A Greek church in Turkish style

Our next stop shows how Liverpool is also home to immigrants from the East Mediterranean – in this case, Greeks and Greek Cypriots. A large number of Greeks arrived in Liverpool in 1821 after Turks massacred Greek people on the island of Chios. There were other waves of immigration in later years and today Liverpool is home to about 2,500 Greek Cypriots. Another 3,000 Greeks live in nearby Wirral and North Wales.

This church was the second purpose-built Greek Orthodox Church in England. When it was completed in 1870, it was dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers.

As we heard at the synagogue this was a period when Oriental style architecture was fashionable. Here the Greek community chose to build in the Byzantine style. Byzantine style is an elaborate form of Roman architecture that originated from the Byzantine empire. This empire was centred on Constantinople, which is now Istanbul in Turkey. The most well-known Byzantine style religious building in Britain is Westminster Cathedral in London.

The exterior of St Nicholas Church is extremely ornate, featuring arches within arches in alternating bands of white stone and red brick. There is a row of three domes on the portico, and a fourth dome over the nave, all raised on drums. The interior is surprisingly plain by comparison.

This decision to build a Greek church in Byzantine style was quite unusual. At the time this church was being constructed, many of other large public buildings in Liverpool – and cities throughout Britain – were being designed in the style of the ancient Greek empire.


Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas service board
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


A few metres beyond the Greek Church, the road becomes a pedestrian space. Stop by a circular mural in the paving stones.

12 A city united

So far we have heard about various immigrant communities who came to Liverpool during the industrial boom of the nineteenth century. Immigration continued in the twentieth century. Since the Second World War, people have come to Liverpool from Africa, the Caribbean and Southern Asia.

The shops around this square and the goods for sale give some indication of the different communities in this neighbourhood. This area of Liverpool is called Toxteth. It was hit very hard by the city’s economic decline after the Second World War.

Sadly, the name is now synonymous with riots that engulfed the district in 1981. Many factors led to the rioting, including high unemployment, poverty and racism. After hard work by city authorities and community groups, the area is now peaceful and multicultural.

In 2004, Liverpool’s cultural and religious diversity was celebrated in a year-long programme of projects and events called ‘Faith in One City’. Their aim was to bring Liverpool’s religious communities together. As part of this programme, a plaque was unveiled here that celebrates some of Liverpool’s religious communities. It looks a little like a ship’s wheel and is inscribed with the words from Psalm 33 verse 6 of the Bible: “Behold how good and joyful a thing it is brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Look closely and we can see figures showing people in a circle around the world. Look as well for the names of eight religions. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and the Baha’i and Rastafarian faiths. Each one has members in Liverpool who have settled here from across the world. Liverpool is certainly a modern multi-faith city.


Detail from the Faith in One City plaque
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Turn left into Upper Parliament Street, keeping on the left hand side. Stop at number 64, a three-storey building with a green door.

13 The centre of the community

Back in Princes Street, we saw a community centre for East African immigrants. Here is a West African community centre, specifically for Nigerians. Many Christian Nigerians worship a little further along the road at St James in the City church.

Liverpool has one of the largest and oldest Nigerian communities in Britain. Liverpool’s relationship with Nigeria can be traced to the seventeenth century when the British imported goods such as cocoa, rubber and palm oil from Nigeria to Liverpool.

Nigeria was also one of many African countries affected by the slave trade. We will hear more about slavery a little later in the walk.

There are several other community associations in the neighbouring streets. Liverpool was also one of the first British cities to have a place of worship for Muslims. In 1887, a lawyer who had converted to Islam – William Abdullah Quilliam – opened a mosque in a terraced house on East Danby Road.

That no longer exists, but there have been purpose-built mosques constructed more recently. The Al-Rahma masjid on nearby Hatherley Street is the oldest of three Muslim mosques in Liverpool. It was built in 1965 and has been extended over time as the city’s Muslim population has grown. Today the Al-Rahma masjid has facilities for up to 2,500 worshippers.


The Nigerian flag
Wikimedia (Creative Commons licence)


Continue along Upper Parliament Street then cross over and turn right into St James Road. Take the steps up into the grounds of Liverpool Cathedral. Keep the Cathedral on your right and stop outside the front entrance. To avoid the steps - continue along St James Road. Pass the bollards and bear right into the cathedral car park. Follow the signs to the front entrance.

14 A towering landmark

Liverpool is unusual in that it has two cathedrals. Earlier we saw the Metropolitan Cathedral built for the Irish Catholic community. This is the Cathedral Church of Christ which was built for the city’s Anglicans. Ironically, the designer of the Anglican cathedral was a Catholic while the designer of the Catholic cathedral was an Anglican!

The two cathedrals are quite different. This one was built in a Gothic Revival style. The term ‘gothic’ describes elaborate buildings made from the twelfth century onwards in southern European countries such as France, Italy and Germany. Gothic Revival describes a building design that imitates these styles.

Gothic Revival design makes the cathedral look imposing and also much older than it really is. Construction began in 1902 and the work was officially completed in 1978.

Look up at the cathedral tower that dominates the city skyline. At 331 feet tall – or over 100 metres – it is one of the world’s tallest church towers. It is called the Vestey Tower after two Liverpool businessmen, William and Edward Vestey, who helped fund the building work.

In 1897, these brothers founded the Union Cold Storage Company. The company imported meat and dairy products from America, eggs and poultry from Russia and kept these goods fresh in freezer ships. Known as Blue Star, they became one of the most famous shipping lines in the world.


Liverpool Cathedral entrance statue
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Go through the main entrance and inside the cathedral. Stop a little way past the porch.

15 Sculptures and soldiers

The oldest part of the cathedral is the Lady Chapel, which was consecrated in 1910. Here we can find a fifteenth century wooden statue of the Virgin Mary called ‘Kneeling Madonna’. The statue was probably part of a set of nativity figures and in 2002 the Cathedral commissioned a figure of the baby Jesus to accompany it.

Also in the Cathedral we can find various war memorials. The War Memorial Chapel houses the Roll of Honour, which records the men from Liverpool who died in the First World War. Over 40,000 Liverpool men lost their lives in the trenches of France and Belgium. There are also Second World War memorials. Liverpool was a major military port and the chapel has a book of remembrance listing 38 countries affected by the Battle of the Atlantic.

Take your time to explore the interior of this incredible building. On your way around, you might discover something that looks rather out of place – an old telephone box. The cathedral’s architect, Giles Gilbert Scott, was just 22 when he won the international competition to design this building. Later in his career he designed the K2, K3 and iconic K6 red telephone boxes – that’s why we can see one in here.


Kneeling Madonna by Giovanni Della Robbia in The Lady Chapel, Liverpool Cathedral
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


When you are ready, leave the cathedral and go across the plaza to Upper Duke Street. Continue down Upper Duke Street to the junction with Berry Street and Great George Street. Carefully cross over to the Chinese arch at the top of Nelson Street.

16 Oriental connections

This huge arch now takes our story of multicultural Liverpool to the other side of the world. The arch was built in 1999 to celebrate Liverpool being twinned with Shanghai in China. But it is also a symbol of a much longer relationship between Liverpool and China dating back to 1834.

This was when the first ever Chinese ship arrived at Liverpool docks carrying a cargo of Chinese silk and cotton. From this journey a major trading partnership grew. By the late 1850s, a company called the Blue Funnel Line ran ships between China and Liverpool importing cotton, silk and tea. They employed many Chinese sailors and built homes for them beside the docks.

Some of these sailors settled in the city. As a result, Liverpool has the oldest Chinese population in Europe. By the 1890s, the first Chinese shops and businesses had set up and by the start of the Second World War there were 20,000 Chinese sailors in Liverpool.

This arch is over 13 metres high, making it the largest Chinese arch in Europe. It marks the entrance to the area south of the city centre known as Chinatown. This thriving district has a range of Chinese businesses, shops and restaurants. Look out for Chinese street signs, even Chinese writing on the parking meters!

There is a Chinese community association and a Chinese Gospel Church a little further down on Upper Pitt Street. Liverpool’s trade relationship with China is still going strong. Liverpool was the only British city represented at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.


Chinese Arch detail
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Continue down Nelson Street. Take your time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown. Turn right onto St James Street. Stop at the mini roundabout with Jamaica Street.

17 Slavery and sugar

The first stop on our walk was a Welsh street name. Here we are at another revealing street name. Jamaica Street recalls Liverpool’s historical links with the West Indies.

Britain seized Jamaica in 1655 and in time it became Britain’s largest colony in the West Indies. Two products from Jamaica came through Liverpool’s docks – sugar and rum. But a third link between Liverpool and Jamaica was neither sweet nor refreshing. Jamaica became central to the slave trade.

Ships set sail from Liverpool to West Africa. There they picked up a cargo of people from countries including present-day Senegal, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. They were then transported across the Atlantic to Caribbean islands.

Enslaved people were sold in exchange for goods such as rum and sugar, which were then brought back to Liverpool. This process was known as the slave triangle.

Many Liverpool merchants were involved in the slave trade. By the end of the 1700s, Liverpool controlled over 80 per cent of the British slave trade and over 40 per cent in the whole of Europe. The profits from the slave trade made Liverpool a very wealthy city.

Altogether, nearly one and a half million Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic in Liverpool ships. Some of the West African and West Indian community in Liverpool today can trace their roots back ten generations to the era of the slave trade.

You can find out more about Liverpool’s involvement in the slave trade at the International Slavery Museum in the Albert Dock.


A sign of the past on Jamaica Street
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Continue along the left hand side of St James Street, which becomes Park Lane. At the corner with Cornhill stop by the red brick church with a row of flags on the wall.

18 An octagonal church

Here is the last example of a community who left their mark on Liverpool in the form of a religious building. This is the Gustav Adolfs Kyrka, or the Swedish Seaman’s Church.

Like the Irish, German and Jewish communities that we have already heard about, many Scandinavians arrived in Liverpool en route to America but chose to settle here rather than crossing the Atlantic. Other Swedes were sailors working on the ships that brought timber from Sweden and the Baltic to Liverpool. The Baltic Fleet pub – a favourite watering hole of these sailors – is nearby at the bottom of Cornhill.

By the 1880s, up to 50,000 Scandinavians were passing through Liverpool every year so this church was built for them. It was completed in 1884. It was the first Swedish church built outside Sweden and is one of only four octagonal churches in Britain. The design also includes some distinctive Scandinavian features. Look for stepped walls and the concave-sided spire.

The church is now a Grade II listed building but is still used by the Scandinavian community. It is home to the Liverpool International Nordic Community, known as LiNC. LiNC’s activities support and promote all of Liverpool’s Scandinavian people including those from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark. You can see all their flags hanging outside.


Flags outside Gustav Adolfs Kyrka
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


Continue along Park Lane until you reach a triangle of open ground on the right hand side just before the junction with Paradise Street. Stop in the small gardens.

19 A story of movement and migration

We’ve now reached the end of our walk. And this garden is perhaps a fitting place to stop after we have learned about the many different ethnic and religious communities that live in Liverpool today.

The garden is a memorial to one of Liverpool’s oldest church communities. St Thomas’s church was consecrated in 1750, making it the third-oldest in Liverpool. But by 1905 the church had closed and the land was redeveloped. This triangle was created on the site of the church to mark this lost Liverpool community.

Today it is a little oasis on the edge of Liverpool city centre. The garden illustrates how Liverpool’s population has constantly evolved and changed along with the city itself. And like many of the city’s people, many of the plants and flowers in the garden have come from overseas. Lavender, for example, originated in the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira before spreading across the Mediterranean to the Middle East and South Asia.

This walk has been a story of movement and migration. Liverpool’s closeness to Wales and Ireland helped to build the city and fill the new streets with workers. Liverpool’s slave ships plied their triangle trade between West Africa and the Caribbean. Germans and Scandinavians en route to America chose to settle in Liverpool rather than cross the Atlantic. Eastern Europeans and Greeks found refuge from oppression in Liverpool. Liverpool has had a long association with China. The city is home to more recent migrants from Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.

Each of the communities that settled in Liverpool brought their own culture, religion and language. One of the best ways of seeing their impact on the landscape of the city today is through their religious buildings and community associations.

We’ve also heard about the overseas musicians who filled the Philharmonic Hall with new sounds from around the world, international artists whose works are on display in Liverpool’s churches, and foreign architectural styles that have been copied here in Liverpool.

Our journey through Liverpool’s streets has been a journey across the globe, discovering how Liverpool has been shaped by people from across the world.

We hope you have enjoyed the walk.


Liver bird plaque, St Thomas’ Memorial Garden
Rory Walsh © RGS-IBG Discovering Britain


From St Thomas’s Memorial Garden you can turn left to go to Albert Dock or right to the central shopping area.

To return to Lime Street station, continue ahead to the junction with Liver Street. Take the road that bears right and join Hanover Street. Turn right and continue along Hanover Street which becomes Ranelagh Street, which you passed near the start of the walk. Turn left at the end and retrace your way along Lime Strret. The station will be on the right after the Adelphi Hotel.

Multicultural melting pot

Liverpool Chinese arch © Rory Walsh RGS-IBG Discovering Britain

Liverpool communities walk

A city walk in the heart of Liverpool

Liverpool is one of Britain's most multicultural cities. 

The city is home to Britain’s oldest African community and Europe's largest Chinese community. It was also the site of one of the country's earliest mosques.

Many of Liverpool's diverse people arrived via the docks - whether through work, trans-Atlantic travel or to escape persecution in their home countries. Those people who settled here brought with them their different cultures, religious beliefs, food and languages. 

This walk explores how these migrants have shaped the city. A walk through its streets is a journey across the world.

Follow the walk by clicking on the map pins
or downloading the guides below

Location: Liverpool city centre, Merseyside
Start point: Lime Street railway station, L1 1JD
Finish point: St Thomas’ Memorial Garden, Park Lane, L1 8JF

Liverpool communities walk credits

Thanks to - 

Eugene Rae for researching this walk

Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials

Rory Walsh for editing the walk materials and providing photos

Nick Stanworth, Kristian Wall, Emma Richardson, William Dyson and Christine McKenna for their assistance 

Charles King for helpful comments and information

Sue Adair, Raymond Arritt, Chowells and Ian-S for photos reproduced under Creative Commons Licenses

“Behold how good and joyful a thing it is brethren to dwell together in unity!”Psalm 33, Verse 6