Liverpool Firsts
  • 1007 – First mention of the River Mersey, in a deed from the reign of Ethelread II, the name is old English from Maere, meaning boundary
  • 1166 – First mention of Liverpool, in a deed of the Earl of Mortain, later King John.
  • 1207 – King John signed a Royal Charter, creating the borough of Liverpool, on Tuesday 28th August 1207.
  • 1235 – Liverpool Castle built (near the modern Derby Square, demolished 1721).
  • 1272 – First census, population 840. 1282 – First Mersey ferry, established by monks at Birkenhead Priory.
  • 1351 – First recorded mayor, William, son of Adam.
  • 1515 – Liverpool’s first Town Hall built.
  • 1522 – First grammar school (founded by John Crosse of Crosse-Hall).
  • 1580 – Liverpool’s first Town Council.
  • 1647 – Liverpool was made a free and independent port, no longer subject to Chester.
  • 1648 – First recorded cargo from America landed at Liverpool.
  • 1650 – The council passed an order creating Liverpool’s fire brigade: “That the bailiffs cause leather buckets and four or six hooks to be made for pulling down any house being on fire – which God defend”.
  • 1676 – Liverpool’s second Town Hall built.
  • 1679 – Liverpool’s Mayor founded the world’s first charity for sailors.
  • 1700 – Liverpool’s population 5,714. The first recorded Liverpool slave ship, the Liverpool Merchant, sold a cargo of 220 slaves in Barbados.
  • 1708 – The first reference to scouse (by Ned Ward in The Wooden World Dissected).
  • 1709 – First cargo of cotton traded in Liverpool.
  • 1715 – World’s first wet dock controlled by floodgates (Steer’s Old Dock, Canning Place). 1754 – Liverpool’s third Town Hall built, designed by John Wood the Elder of Bath.
  • 1758 – First circulating library (Lyceum).
  • 1763 – Liverpool’s Dock master built the first lighthouses to use parabolic mirrors (at Hoylake and Bidston).
  • 1774 – Matthew Dobson, a Liverpool physician, discovered the link between sugar and diabetes.
  • 1776 – First public use of Ether as an anaesthetic. Liverpool’s first newspaper published (Liverpool Advertiser).
  • 1786 – Europe’s first purpose built prison (Great Howard Street).
  • 1790 – World’s first American Consul (James Maury).
  • 1791 – First school for blind people (Commutation Row, and later London Road in 1800)
  • 1793 – The only municipality with the right to issue its own money (300.00 pounds).
  • 1795 – Liverpool Town Hall severely damaged by fire, reconstructed by James Wyatt.
  • 1797 – The Liverpool Athenaeum founded. 1800 – Liverpool’s population 77,708.
  • 1803 – First underwriters association (Liverpool underwriters Association).
  • 1812 – The only assassination of a British Prime Minister. Spencer Percival was shot by bankrupt Liverpool merchant John Bellingham. Britain’s first balloon ascent by J Sadler of Liverpool. In 1824, he was ‘thrown out of his balloon near Blackburn, which caused his death’. 1813 – Liverpool’s first outdoor public sculpture (Nelson Monument in Exchange Flags), first paid for by public subscription.
  • 1814 – World’s first cast iron church (St Georges, Everton).
  • 1823 – First mechanics lending library.
  • 1825 – World’s first school for deaf people.
  • 1830 – World’s first train shed and first large wooden railway station roof at Crown Street Station). First railway passenger fatality (William Huskisson).
  • 1835 – World’s first railway timetable published (Lacy’s).
  • 1838 – First travelling Post Office (a horse box fitted out as a sorting office) ran between Liverpool and Birmingham on 6th January.
  • 1840 – World’s first scheduled transatlantic passenger service (the wooden paddle-streamer Britannia owned by Samuel Cunard). Britain’s first Borough Engineer appointed. Welsh national Eisteddfod held in Liverpool (and in 1851, 1884,1900 and 1929). World’s first photograph developing and printing service.
  • 1841 – Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals, later RSPCA, founded. First British purpose-built office block (Brunswick Buildings).
  • 1842 – World’s first public Baths and Wash-houses founded by Kitty Wilkinson (Upper Frederick Street).
  • 1844 – First girl’s day grammar school in England (Blackburne House).
  • 1846 – Albert Dock opened by Prince Albert, now the country’s largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings.
  • 1847 – World’s first Medical Officer of Health (Dr William Duncan).
  • 1848 – First British trades council (Liverpool Trades Guardian Association).
  • 1850 – First borough to establish a Library Committee. Royal Liver Friendly Society (a burial club) formed, it later became a major insurance company that built the Royal Liver Buildings.
  • 1851 – First provincial children’s hospital (Upper Hill Street).
  • 1857 – World’s first Rugby Club (Liverpool Rugby Club). Britain’s first Chess Club (Liverpool Chess Club).
  • 1859 – First nurse to be paid for looking after the poor (employed by William Rathbone).
  • 1860 – First purpose built public library.
  • 1861 – Britain’s first ecumenical conference. First shot in the American Civil War was fired from a gun made by Liverpool firm Fawcett and Preston (also see 1865).
  • 1862 – First provincial School of Nursing.
  • 1864 – First major Slum Clearance Scheme, the Liverpool Sanitary Amendment gave the Medical Officer of Health the power to order the demolition of unsafe and unfit buildings.
  • 1865 – The last confederate ship to surrender at the end of the American Civil War (Shenandoah, 6th November, to the Mayor at Liverpool Town Hall).
  • 1867 – Liverpool Corporation brought Britain’s first steamroller. Britain’s first cycling club (Liverpool Velocipedes). World’s largest train shed (200 ft/61 meters).
  • 1868 – First borough to secure and Act of Parliament to establish a tram system.
  • 1869 – Britain’s first municipal housing (St Martins Cottages, Silvester Street).
  • 1870 – First society of accountants (Liverpool Society of Accountants).
  • 1875 – First disarmament campaign (Liverpool Peace Society)
  • 1877 – First British public Art Gallery (Walker art Gallery)
  • 1880 – Queen Victoria grants Liverpool the right to call itself a city (11th may). Liverpool’s first Bishop appointed (Rev John Ryle). T.P. O’Connor elected as the first Irish Nationalist MP to represent an English constituency (Liverpool Exchange).
  • 1883 – The Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, later the NSPCC, founded on April 19th by T.F. Agnew and Samuel Smith.
  • 1884 – Britain’s first woman to qualify as a doctor opens a practice in Liverpool.
  • 1886 – First under-river railway tunnel constructed under the River Mersey. First purpose-built ambulance in Britain (at the Northern Hospital)
  • 1889 – First pre-payment gas meters installed by the Liverpool Gas Company (Cazeneau Street). Liverpool’s Police Force the first to be equipped with rubber soled boots for night duty.
  • 1890 – Football goal nets invented by ex-City Engineer John Brodie.
  • 1892 – The first Marine Biological Station (at Liverpool University).
  • 1893 – World’s first overhead electric railway opened by the Marquis of Salisbury on February 4th. League of Welldoers founded by an American, Lee Jones. Queen Victoria grants Liverpool the right to have a Lord Mayor (August 14th).
  • 1895 – First British School of Architecture and Applied Art.
  • 1896 – First British use of x-ray in medical diagnosis (at the Southern Hospital).
  • 1897 – First to employ women health visitors.
  • 1898 – First to appoint a Municipal Bacteriologist.
  • 1899 – Britain’s first School of Tropical Medicine opened on April 22nd
  • 1900 – Liverpool’s population 684,947. The largest tobacco warehouse in the world built at Stanley Dock. It was built of 27 million bricks and has 36 acres of storage space and could hold 70,000 hogsheads of tobacco.
  • 1901 – Britain’s first anti-tuberculosis campaign. First escalator in a railway station (at Seaforth Sands Station, on the Overhead Railway). Patent for Meccano taken out by Frank Hornby.
  • 1902 – Britain’s first motor fire engine (at Hatton Garden Fire Station).
  • 1903 – Liverpool’s first regular tram service began between the Pier Head and St Helen’s.
  • 1904 – Foundation stone of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral laid. University of Liverpool the first in Britain to establish a school of Veterinary Science.
  • 1909 – Britain’s first woman Councillor (Eleanor Rathbone). Britain’s first Woolworth’s opened at 25 Church Street.
  • 1911 – The Royal Liver Building Clock, the biggest in Britain, started at the moment of King George V’s Coronation, June 22nd.
  • 1912 – First automatic telephone exchange.
  • 1913 – Britain’s first Flag Day held, in aid of the Council of Social Service. The world’s first crossword puzzle was compiled by Liverpool born Arthur Wynne and appeared in the New York World.
  • 1919 – First and only Police Force to go on strike. First department of Oceanography (at Liverpool University).
  • 1924 – First hyperbolic cooling tower in Britain (at Lister Drive power station).
  • 1927 – Liverpool’s first woman Lord Mayor (Margaret Bevan). First British Arts Centre (Bluecoat).
  • 1932 – First purpose built boxing stadium in Britain (Bixteth Street).
  • 1933 – Foundation stone of Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral laid. First use of gas and air in childbirth (Dr R.J. Minnett at the Maternity Hospital). Liverpool Airport opened at Spekes.
  • 1934 – First Mersey Tunnel opened (Queensway). First British police force to use a two way radio communications system. First provincial news theatre (the Tatler in Church Street).
  • 1936 – First act giving a council the right to buy, sell and develop land (Liverpool Corporation Act). First purpose built municipal industrial estate (Speke).
  • 1937 – Liverpool highest recorded population 867,000.
  • 1944 – Britain’s first Chinese newspaper (Hua Chow Pao).
  • 1946 – First footballer to score three consecutive hat-tricks (Jack Balmer, playing for Liverpool FC).
  • 1947 – World’s first Radar Lighthouse.
  • 1952 – First hospital radio service. Britain’s
  • 1952 – First package holiday flight (from Liverpool Airport).
  • 1953 – Liverpool singer Lita Roza the first British woman to top the chats (How Much is that Doggy in the Window?).
  • 1959 – Britain’s first drive-in bank (National Westminster Bank in Prince’s Road).
  • 1959 – First mass x-ray campaign.
  • 1960 – First bank in the world to use a computer (Martin’s)
  • 1962 – First port in Britain to use a computer (Mersey Docks & Harbour Company).
  • 1964 – First Police Force to use closed-circuit television.
  • 1967 – First seminar in Britain for orchestra conductors (held by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra). Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral consecrated.
  • 1970 – Britain’s first public planetarium (Liverpool Museum).
  • 1971 – Second Mersey Tunnel opened (Kingsway).
  • 1978 – Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral is consecrated. The world’s largest Anglican Cathedral has the world’s largest organ and highest and heaviest peal of bells.
  • 1984 – First football club to win three major competitions in one season (Liverpool FC).
  • 2007 – Liverpool celebrates its 800th birthday.
  • 2008 – Liverpool is European Capital of Culture.

8 Responses to Liverpool Firsts

  • Annie says:

    Get more up to date ones

  • John Lawler says:

    Sorry to disappoint all of you. School for Deaf. Liverpool was not the first in world.

    Paris Germany Holland Sweden Edinburgh London(1792) Birmingham Manchester(1823) Liverpool(1825). FACT

  • Martyn Paul Barber says:

    1878 The city’s first professional football club Everton was formed – as St.Domingo FC. Changes it’s name a year later to Everton. Founder members of the Football League 1888. I would have thought that is a first for the City whether people are interested in sport or not.

    Fascinating society and interesting read I think I may join.

    Out of interest my Father and Uncle own a company called S.Barber & Co Ltd (Printers) and we are 100 years old this year. I am the 5th generation to be employed and I am almost certain we are the oldest established printers in Liverpool. It is hard going at present but we are still there. Started off in Tempest Hey, then South John Street, then Kitchen Street, then Lipton Close in Bootle (fire destroyed premises in July 2012), now in Vauxhall Road.

  • Denys Owen says:

    I just want to wish you continued success. My own parents lost their business in the air raids.

  • Monica Clark says:

    can anyone tell me about the 1st Jones Pet shop in Liverpool please

  • Ann says:

    Trying to find out who owned 4 Windows lane in 1953 when I lived there

  • Eric James says:

    Wifes Uncle served apprenticeship with family firm of Bolton’s Bookbinder Liverpool at the turn of century anybody know anything about them?

  • Susie Mac says:

    This is brilliant! Wow! Who knew?
    It would be even better if you were able to record any 1st’s for Liverpool in the past 10 years and if you had a link for me and others to share this to Facebook and other social net works.
    I noticed a couple of typo’s but the only one I can remember is on the 1933 line ‘Spekes’.
    Anyway, well done and keep it up!

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