OVER the next few years there seem likely to be major and exciting changes around the docks of Liverpool. These developments may well push forward its claims to become a City of Culture -- but for those who know Liverpool there is a strong case present already.

Visitors should start by visiting the Maritime Museum. One visit cannot possibly be enough and several long sessions are essential. There are cafes, a bookshop and displays dating Liverpool to the days of King John in the early years of the 13th century. Other displays cover memories of the Titanic, including artefacts and lots of graphic information relating to the Second World War..

Another, quite contrasting museum tells the story of The Beatles and the Cavern Club, where the world's most popular pop group first made their name. And then there are the three graces and the Ecclesiastic twins.

Three Graces

THIS is the perfect name for the three buildings which dominate the Pier Head. The granite-faced Royal Liver Building, constructed between 1908 and 1911, was the first substantial building in the world to be constructed of reinforced concrete. It has 17 storeys, a height of 304 feet (93 metres) and on top are two huge Liver Birds and the largest clock in Britain, which has four faces.

Built in 1907, the Port of Liverpool Building is surmounted by a green dome supported on pillars.

The interior of the dome is equally impressive and the rim bears the inscription "They that go down to the sea in ships and do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord and His wonder of the deep".

The Cunard Building was constructed during the First World War and also has a distinctly Italian feel about it.

Some adaptation was made during the hostilities, including the coats of arms of the allied forces which face the pier head in order to greet those approaching the city from the sea..

This was a Cunard gesture to welcome their rich and famous visitors from across the pond.