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Manchester Dock Uncovered – In Liverpool!

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Archaeological project exposes Liverpool’s industrial heritage

We had a fascinating tour of the site for the new Liverpool Museum today. work started a few weeks ago on stripping off the old car park tarmac and carrying out a full archaeological survey of the area.
A viewing platform has been built on the promenade for passers-by to take a look through the railings but we were able to get up close as Mark Adams and Rob Philpott, National Museums Liverpool archaeologists explained what its all about.
Pictured here are the lock gates and below you can see the tide gauge reaching up to 20 feet and a dig uncovering various finds from Liverpool’s industrial past.

Although Manchester Basin was originally constructed in the 1780s as a tidal basin for river traffic, the dock visible today was created by the addition of an entrance lock around 1810 to 1815. The dock was in use until the 1920s when it was filled in, using rubble from the construction of the Mersey Tunnel. The dock was originally used as a depot for barges belonging to the Shropshire Union Canal Company and later the Great Western Railway. In the 19th century it played an important role in Liverpool’s import and export trade – handling coal and manufactured goods out and corn and cotton in to the city.

Manchester Dock lock is now one of the earliest surviving entrance lock in the Liverpool docks complex, other examples of late 18th and early 19th century locks having either being extensively modified or destroyed.

The excavation has uncovered the early 19th century lock, as well as the outline of the western part of the sandstone wall of the Manchester Dock, which has evidence of mason’s marks on individual blocks reflecting the construction method of the dock. The wooden lock gates, made from what is thought to be a tropical hardwood, have survived and are visible.

Any finds recovered during the archaeological dig will eventually form part of displays in one of the museum’s key galleries Port City, which will explore Liverpool’s role as a port city and the development of its architecture, infrastructure, people and commerce. It will follow the story of the industrial revolution, the development of the dock system and the people living and working underneath the rails of the Overhead Railway.

For up to date information on the dig or Museum of Liverpool visit

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