The Cunard Building, Liverpool

On Saturday September 26, 2009 members of the World Ship Society Merseyside Branch were given a guided tour of the Cunard Building located at the Pier Head, Liverpool.

The Cunard Building was the former headquarters of the Cunard Steamship Company until it was vacated in the 1960s. The Cunard Building was the third building to be constructed at the Pier Head on the site of the former George's Dock. Located between Brunswick Street and Water Street the plot was acquired by the Cunard Steamship Company in 1914 as a site for the company's headquarters. Construction of the building continued through World War I with completion in 1917.

The frieze around the upper part of the building is carved with shields of WWI allied countries. Built in the Italian Renaissance style the building is constructed of reinforced concrete clad in Portland Stone with an Italian marble clad corridor on the ground floor. Marble from the same Italian quarry being obtained to refurbish the building's lift cars.

The listed Grade II* building was at the time of the visit owned by The Merseyside Pension Fund with accommodation let to a variety of business and government tenants as well as providing conference facilities which are available for hire. However, much maritime memorabilia remained whilst the building accommodated around 1200 employees.

In October 2013, Liverpool City Council approved the acquisition of the Cunard Building for use as offices and as a cruise liner terminal. The Council projected that the building would accommodate 1,000 staff relocated from Millennium House and leases in the Capital Building, saving an estimated £1.3 million.

The anticipated use as cruise terminal however had to be abandoned due to the high costs associated with security and border control. Whilst the building was in the ownership of the Cunard Steam Ship Company, the ground floor provided public facilities including booking offices and waiting facilities for first class passengers.