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Shipping empire's foundations were built in city; FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, TO STRIKING LANDMARK.

THE Cunard Building has become one of the most important landmarks on the Liverpool skyline since it was built a century ago. But the waterfront edifice, one of the city's mighty Three Graces, was not the first but the third Cunard headquarters in Liverpool.

When the Cunard Line was set up in 1840 as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, it opened its offices at 14 Water Street, the site of the current grade I listed Oriel Chambers.

Business was good and in August 1857, Cunard moved further up Water Street to number 8, on the corner of Rumford Street, near to Martins Bank.

The ground housed the for first class passengers, second class third class were in the The building became the hub of an enormous Empire which saw dozens of ships sailing not just between Liverpool and North America, but also on routes to the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Northern Ireland and Bermuda.

The Water Street HQ dealt with what could be very complex travel arrangements for thousands of people, especially migrants heading for a new life in the New World and who might book not just from Liverpool to New York, but from homes in central Europe to the States' West Coast, including train tickets.

Meanwhile Americans could do a 'grand tour',' taking in the Mediterranean, for around PS40.

By the early part of the last century, Cunard's ambition became for its own purpose-built landmark building, and what is now the grade II* listed central 'Grace' on the Pier Head was constructed.

floor ticket hall while and passengers processed basement It was designed by William Edward Willink and Philip Coldwell Thicknesse, based on the Farnese Palace in Rome, and constructed of 180,000 cubic feet of Portland Stone.

The 11 floors could accommodate 250,000 people standing up, and more than 1,000 Cunard staff worked in the building.

The ground floor housed the ticket hall and lounge for first class passengers, while second class and third class passengers were processed in the first basement.

The Cunard Building was the company's headquarters until 1967 when the head office moved to New York and the operational base shifted permanently to Southampton. Still, Liverpool remains Cunard's spiritual home, and all three Cunard Queens sailed past the old headquarters in salute when they appeared together in the Mersey.

The ground floor housed the ticket hall for first class passengers, while second class and third class passengers were processed in the basement

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The Cunard offices at 8 Water Street CUNARD ARCHIVE

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2015
Words:425
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