Explore Liverpool’s myths and customs

    Liverpool, Royal Liver Building, LIver birds
    The Liver birds on top of the Royal Liver Building Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

    Liverpool is one of the most vibrant cities in Britain and, like most urban areas, it has its fair share of unique myths, customs and oddities. We take a look at a few, from the historic to the plain bizarre.

    Birds of a feather

    Stories surrounding Liverpool’s famous liver birds, which sit atop the Royal Liver Building, are almost as old as the birds themselves. It has been said they are based on a mythical bird that once looked out over the shoreline. Legend has it that if an honest man and virgin woman should meet in front of the Royal Liver Building, the two birds would to fly away and the city would cease to exist.

    Another urban legends suggests that while the female bird is is looking out to sea,  the male is looking the other way, waiting for the pubs to open in town.

    The Cavern Club on Mathew Street, Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles Credit: VisitBritain/ Rod Edwards
    The Cavern Club on Mathew Street, Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles. Credit: VisitBritain/Rod Edwards

    Scouse isn’t Scouse

    The stew-like dish of scouse – or lobscouse – from which Liverpool residents derive their famous nickname, doesn’t originate from Liverpool. The popular stew-style dish comes from Norway and it’s still eaten by sailors in northern Europe. It arrived in Liverpool via the busy docks and became a hit. The name is believed to be derived from the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs and Danish labskovs (or the Low German Labskaus).

    Paul is still with us

    The “Paul McCartney is dead” conspiracy theory claims that Paul died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. Rumours suggest that clues in Beatles songs played backwards revealed the truth. Played backwards, Strawberry Fields Forever features John Lennon saying what sounds like “I buried Paul” towards the end of the song.

    The Beatles themselves played along by throwing in hints in their music, while always stressing that it was just a myth. Paul even took the joke as far as releasing a live album in 1993 called Paul is Live.

    New Speak

    Liverpudlians have one of the most instantly recognisable accent in the UK. But until the 19th-century city residents sounded rather more like their Lancastrian cousins. The unique Scouse accent is the result of the influx of Welsh and Irish people into Liverpool in the 19th century to work at the thriving docks, as well as the words and sayings picked up from global arrivals. It’s a good job it’s one of the most popular accents in Britain; there’s a little of us all in it.

    Fishy story

    One of the more bizarre urban myths claimed it was illegal to be topless in Liverpool unless you were a clerk in a tropical fish store. Sadly, it’s been debunked by council officials – but where does such an absurd urban legend spring from? Nobody knows…

    For more on Liverpool, see the August/September 2016 issue of Discover Britain, on sale now.


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