Inventions Liverpool gave to the world – in chronological order


Liverpool is one of the most famous cities in the world and the Scousers have every reason to be proud to call it home.

Every year we welcome millions of tourists and guests with countless attractions and events to keep visitors entertained.

Some come for the football while others want to visit the birthplace of the Beatles, but that’s just the start of what makes Liverpool so special.

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Not only have Liverpool brought the best music and the best in football to the world, but we are also responsible for incredible inventions and innovations that many are unaware of.

The world’s first rail tunnels were built under Liverpool and the world’s first integrated sewage system was also built in the city.

Here are some of the things you might not have known that came from Liverpool and right over the water.

Girls high school

Blackburne House on Hope Street, Liverpool, was built in 1788 for John Blackburne, the former Mayor of Liverpool. It was bought out from Blackburne by George Holt and in 1844 Holt opened the Girls’ Grammar School with a Latin motto which translated as: “Born not for us alone but for the whole world”. The building is now a pioneering social enterprise with thousands of visitors using their services.

Lending library

The Lyceum on Bold Street, Liverpool, was built in 1802 and was the first library where people could take out books for free. Prior to that, the upper middle class subscribes to the library for private and commercial use and is allowed to read the books provided by the institution for a small fee.


In 1809, a meeting was held at a cafe on Bold Street where the Society “For the Suppression of Unjustified Cruelty to Crude Animals” was formed. It is now the oldest animal charity in the world and then developed into a branch of the RSPCA Liverpool which helps Merseyside animals find homes.

Chess clubs

England’s very first chess club opened in 1857 in the Lyceum building, Bold Street. Despite being the first official club, records show that chess was a big part of the city long before the company was founded. The Mercury newspaper would publish a column on the game and there were competitions between Manchester and Liverpool.

Specially designed ambulance

In 1883, Liverpool was the first place to have its own specially designed ambulance service. It was horse drawn and based at the Old Northern Hospital. It was also the town that had the very first motorized fire truck, which first operated in 1902 at the Hatton Garden Fire Station.


We know Scousers didn’t really invent the banana. But they brought it to Britain in 1884 when Sir Alfred Jones, a man from Merseyside, carried fruit from West Africa on the Elder Dempster Lines (a British shipping company). He was a pioneer in the way fresh food was transported by bringing goods to Liverpool on refrigerated ships.

Football nets

Liverpool city engineer John Alexander Brodie revolutionized the sport around the world when in 1889 he designed the very first football goal net. His invention was tested by the FA in 1891 on the grounds of Nottingham Forest’s Town during a North vs South match. The first goal to be scored in one of his nets was that of Everton player Fred Geary who was the first player to legally hit the back of the net.

Aerial railway

Although it was London that is known for its extensive underground network, Liverpool were the first to have an overhead railway. In 1893, the world’s first aerial railway was opened to help reduce traffic along the docks. As it provided shelter from the rain, locals commonly referred to the station as the “dockers’ umbrella”.


The crossword first appeared in New York World on December 21, 1913, and was created by Scouser Arthur Wynne when he was designing the puzzle page for the paper. It was originally called the “Word Cross” and the very first one was released in the form of a diamond with the word “fun” already written.

Small Toys

In 1934, just before World War II, a factory in Binns Street, Liverpool, began producing Dinky Toys, one of the most popular collectible vehicle sets. In the late 1930s, six cars were introduced to the collection, including a truck, delivery van, farm tractor and sports coupe. These were made until 1979, but are still popular with collectors today.


Not quite Liverpool but close – Wallasey was at the forefront of the pioneering transport system – the hovercraft. In 1962, the world’s first hovercraft service from Wallasey in North Wales opened. The first craft to leave was a VA-3 Vickers Armstrong which weighed 12 tons and could reach speeds of 69 mph. The first trip was 17 miles and took 24 passengers to Leasowe Common.

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