Strategy & Insights
“Remember the Albert Dock in 1979. Rotting, derelict, toxic, 600 acres written off. Look at it today. The site itself is transformed. The city is transformed. The lesson of the dock from 1979 is that what matters is the person and the people in charge.” Lord Michael Heseltine, 2016
Designed by architect and dock engineer Jesse Hartley (1780-1860) [link this to page below about Jesse Hartley], it was officially opened by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert in 1846.
It is characterised by monumental dockside warehouses grouped around a system of historic docks. Granted a royal title in 2018 to mark its role in the City’s maritime history, Royal Albert Dock is one of the largest groups of Grade I listed buildings in England.
Detail from Panoramic map of Liverpool, 1865, Jackson and Sulman, showing the Albert Dock.
The creation of the docks in this area began in the early 18th century by infilling the Pool of Liverpool and reclaiming the tidal margins of the River Mersey. The Old Dock of 1715, constructed by Thomas Steers, is the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock. Liverpool flourished as the great world port, at the centre of transatlantic trade.
The success of the Old Dock encouraged further investment:
- Canning Dock (1737) as a dry tidal dock.
- Salthouse Dock (1753).
- Canning Graving Docks (1756).
- Duke’s Dock (1773).
- Canning Half-tide Dock (1844).
Once a hive of industrial efficiency, the area is masterfully regenerated, with commercial and residential uses revitalising buildings and waterways.
The area has been integrated into the physical and social fabric of the city, incorporating the contemporary Mann Island development with the RIBA North WHS hub. It includes the new Museum of Liverpool, the Merseyside Maritime and International Slavery Museums and Tate Liverpool.
The former Old Dock, which was infilled in 1826, is now the site of Liverpool ONE. It is possible to look down and see the walls of the Old Dock from a viewing point located outside John Lewis.