Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Exchange Flags, Liverpool


Exchange Flags was the site from the 1700s of the Liverpool cotton exchange and the insurance and shipping business. These buildings were erected in 1863 and were the third on the site. At one time you had to be invited to walk on the flags which form a square behind the Town Hall.

Since I took this photo in the 1960s the flags have got even quieter and the seats around the edges have disappeared. When Queen Victoria visited Liverpool in 1851 and looked out from the rear balcony of the Town Hall onto Exchange Flags, where the merchants of Liverpool still conducted business in top hats, she remarked that never before had she seen so many well-dressed gentlemen together.

In 1813 this monument to Nelson was erected on the flags as a tribute to a man much admired in a city so dependent on shipping. It was Liverpool’s first public monument.

There are four grills in the monument which provided air vents for a tobacco warehouse underneath the flags. Now they provide a repository for rubbish! Also under the flags was the secret wartime bunker where the North Atlantic operations were masterminded.

The figures around the side of the monument look as though they represent slaves but in fact they symbolised prisoners from Nelson’s four major battles - Cape St Vincent, The Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a young man I spent a lot of time at Exchange Flags. Partly because, as a member of the Town Clerk's staff I carried out a lot of protocol work which took me to the Town Hall which overlooked and formed one side of the Flags and partly because my best friend, Ron Arbuckle, worked in one of the offices overlooking the flags.

    On one occasion I was bet that I would not go on a pogo stick across the Flags. After I had won another bet by walking down Dale Street dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland the person who made the pogo stick bet decided to cut his losses and offered me half the bet without me having to perform the task. I accepted because, unbeknown to him, however willing I was to carry out the task I was unable to master a pogo stick!


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