Jesse Hartley (1780-1860)

Designer of the Albert Dock and Civil Engineer and Superintendent of the Dock estate in Liverpool 1824–1860.

Hartley’s most famous achievement is the Albert Dock, but he was also responsible for designing many of the buildings along the waterfront that show his extraordinary style.

Hartley’s pragmatic approach and his innovations in the designs for the docks changed the face of Liverpool’s landscape. In the 36 years he spent working for the Liverpool Dock Trustees, Hartley either built or altered every dock in the city.

Jesse Hartley

Jesse Hartley (1780-1860).

Image courtesy of E. Chambré Hardman Archive.


Hartley continually worked to improve on existing technology and he was always experimenting and trying new things.  He recognized that ease of access and safety for ships was essential to trading success.  So he designed each dock as part of a whole system, rather than as stand-alone basins, and improved the connectivity between the docks, the railways, canals and roads.

He experimented and built models to test designs for brick arches and new uses for iron including crane arches on the walls of the warehouses. He used sheet metal below the timber floorboards in the warehouses with their precious cargos to withstand fire for longer. These designs were influential in the future development of the dock estate and were used to fireproof mills throughout Lancashire.