History of the Albert Dock

Credit: albertdock.com

The Albert Dock was not always as we know and see it today: its history dates back over 170 years to 1839. Following a period of dereliction and a complete regeneration, the Dock was officially reopened in 1988.

It was engineer and architect Jesse Hartley who submitted plans to the Liverpool Dock Office, to begin the build of the original Albert Dock.

Construction of the Dock began in 1841; the 1.25 million square feet site took five years to build and it was officially opened by Prince Albert on 30 July 1846.

Today we can proudly say that the Dock’s lofty colonnades and statuesque columns make up the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the country.

The creation of Albert Dock is a testament to innovation and engineering feats: before it, the wooden warehouses of the time made fires a huge risk. As such, the Dock was the first enclosed, non-combustible dock warehouse system in the world.

It was also the first structure in Britain to be built entirely of cast iron, brick and stone. The Dock went on to gain another ‘first’ in 1848, when the world’s first hydraulic warehouse hoists were installed on its site.

Despite such ground-breaking achievements at the time, its innovations were sadly short-lived…

The Dock was built to accommodate sailing ships with a cargo capacity of up to 1,000 tons. However, by the turn of the twentieth century, only 7% of ships using the port were sailing ships.

Barely 50 years after its completion its days were numbered, and Albert Dock was finally closed in 1972.

The Dock’s silted up and the mighty warehouses fell derelict before Albert Dock’s owner, Arrowcroft Group, completed its refurbishment through its subsidiary, the Albert Dock Co Ltd.

Planning for the Dock’s regeneration began in 1982 with work starting in 1983 and the first phase was opened in 1984. This stage was completed, just in time for the arrival of the Tall Ships Race and the International Garden Festival.

The Dock, as you see it today, was officially re-opened by HRH Prince Charles on 24 May 1988.