Liverpool – More than Just the Home of the Beatles (3 of 6)
The City of Liverpool, and the Metropolitan Borough of Merseyside, comprise the second of the two core economies of the North West of England. After decades of decline following the Second World War, Liverpool is on the up with a developing Knowledge economy and strong performance in the Service and Tourism industries.
For centuries, the economy of Liverpool has centred around its port whose old dock, when it was first built in 1715 was the first enclosed commercial dock in the world and, according to contemporary accounts, a technological and architectural marvel. Throughout the 18th century and into 19th, the dock drove the booming city economy on the back of the slave trade, until it was closed in 1826 and filled in. By this time, however the port had been extended to cover the 7.5 mile stretch of the River Mersey through a series of interconnecting locks which now form
the basis of the modern Port of Liverpool. The city has a long tradition of innovation in heavy industry too: The railway, transatlantic shipping, electric trains and municipal trams were all pioneered here.
During the Second World War, the city, and the port in particular suffered heavy bombing which, along with the collapse of the UK shipping and heavy industries after demilitarisation, threw the economy of Liverpool into decline. The port and heavy industry now account for only 10% of employment in the city and it has taken more than 50 years for Liverpool to regain its footing as a major economic force in the region. Now, though, even the port is starting to show new signs of life with the re-engagement of Japanese shipping firm NYK, the Danish Maersk Line and the proposed £5.5bn Peel Group development known as Liverpool Waters. This last in particular could transform the face of the city, creating 17,000 jobs, 23,000 new apartments and several hotels more than 50 storeys high.
A major part of the post-war rebirth of the city has been the Tourist industry stimulated to a large extent by, dare I say it, the worldwide success of The Beatles and other ‘Merseybeat‘, bands of that era, undoubtedly Liverpool’s most famous export. Despite the danger of it becoming a cliché in discussions about Liverpool, the phenomenon of Merseybeat, together with the City’s history as an historic port, and the Slave-Trade capital of the world, is a significant part of the fact that Liverpool is the 7th most visited city in the UK and in the top 100 cities in the world for international tourism.
Outside the tourist industry, however, the real heart of the new city may well be the area known as the ‘Knowledge Quarter’. This region contains several major universities including N8 and Russel Group Member The University of Liverpool, the Liverpool Science Park and the world renowned Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, both the cathedrals and the Philharmonic hall. Around this hub of learning and creativity, a number of national and international companies have gathered and begun to establish themselves, most notably in ‘New Media’ where major players in computer games development like Sony and Activision now have a permanent creative presence. The knowledge quarter and related industries now account for more than 15% of total employment in the city.
Like many other UK cities, the Service industry in Liverpool is strong and currently accounts for some 60% of the total employment. The UK passport office, HMRC and criminal records bureau all have their offices in the city. The Royal Liverpool University Hospital is currently the regional major trauma centre for Merseyside and Cheshire and a specialist unit for transplant surgery nationwide. After major redevelopment work to be completed in 2017 it’s expected to be the largest hospital in the UK. Within the Services sector, banking, finance and insurance are some of the most rapidly growing industries in the city with major firms like Barclays, JP Morgan, RBS and HBOS investing heavily in the last few years.
Despite its difficult history, Liverpool is a major player in the economy of the North West and of the UK as a whole. What’s more, it’s growing fast and, if even half of the planned developments
get going, could take off in a big way. If you have a business in software development or finance, this might just be the place for you.
Jan 26, 2015