Tours of Liverpool’s Old Dock


We had a look at this quite a while ago but I’m just catching up. It’s a fascinating piece of history. This is where it all began of course – The Pool, way back in 1715 and now it’s buried under Liverpool ONE!

There is a lot of information and found objects on display.

All scousers and anyone else interested should see it but tours are a bit limited at present.

Liverpool ONE underground attraction

Liverpool’s revolutionary Old Dock – the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock – is opening in May 2010 as the city’s latest historic attraction.

Free ticketed tours for schools and members of the public will start from Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The internationally-important Old Dock has been carefully preserved under the new Liverpool ONE. For the first time in centuries the bed of the Pool – the creek that gave Liverpool its name – can be seen.

The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826. Developers Grosvenor preserved the dock and are making it publicly accessible as an important reminder of Liverpool’s historic status.

Public tours start on Tuesday 4 May 2010 and school tours the following day Wednesday 5 May 2010.  Public tours will be held every Tuesday and school tours every Wednesday.  Additional public tours may be held on Wednesdays during school holidays.

Guided tours organised by National Museums Liverpool start at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and visitors walk to the nearby Old Dock. Schools and members of the public can book places, which are limited, by calling 0151 478 4296. Visitors are taken back in time as they see a large portion of the Old Dock rising more than 20 feet from the bed of the Pool which is clearly visible. The impressive walls are made from hand-made bricks.

A modern bridge and walkways give grandstand views. There is a bricked-up ancient tunnel in the dock wall. This is believed to be hundreds of years older than the Old Dock and may have linked Liverpool Castle with the Pool.

When built, the Old Dock was a huge risk but it paid off handsomely, paving the way to many decades of dock expansion on both sides of the river. It was one of Liverpool’s greatest contributions to progress in world trade and commerce.

The impact of this radical structure was immense and London, Bristol and Chester lost significant amounts of trade throughout the 18th century as a result.

The Old Dock was constructed in 1715 at the mouth of the Pool which had been at the heart of the town’s successes but, with increasing numbers of ships using the port, it was struggling to cope.

In 1708 the merchants who controlled Liverpool Corporation employed Thomas Steers, one of Britain’s leading canal engineers, to find a solution.

He converted the mouth of the Pool into a dock with quaysides and a river gate. It was now possible for ships to load and unload whatever the state of the tide – a revolutionary facility.

The dock was technically very difficult to build and cost £12,000, double its original estimate. The Corporation was nearly bankrupted but its success encouraged further rapid increases in overseas trade through Liverpool.

Among the first to praise the dock was Daniel Defoe, author of many best sellers including Robinson Crusoe, who wrote in 1715: “This is of so great a benefit and its like is not to be seen anywhere in England”.