Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,481 pages of information and 233,901 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Liverpool Docks

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1838. Plan of Docks. Named on map from north to south (left to right): Graving Docks, Clarence Dock, Waterloo Dock, Prince's Basin, Prince's Dock, George's Basin, George's Dock, Canning Dock, Salthouse Dock, King's Dock, Queen's Dock, Brunswick Basin, and Brunswick Dock.
Liverpool Docks showing Langton Dock, Brocklebank Dock, Carrier Dock, Canada Dock, and Huskisson Dock.
Liverpool Docks showing Canada Dock, Huskisson Dock, Sandon Dock, Bramley-Moore Dock, and Nelson Dock.
Liverpool Docks showing Canning Dock, Salthouse Dock, and Albert Dock.
Liverpool Docks showing Queen's Dock, Coburg Dock, Brunswick Dock, and Toxteth Dock.
Liverpool Docks showing Toxteth Dock, Harrington Dock, and Herculaneum Dock.
1868. Corn warehouses at Liverpool.
1898. Roof crane.

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Liverpool's first dock was the world's first enclosed commercial dock, the Old Dock, built in 1715. The Lyver Pool, a tidal inlet in the narrows of the estuary, which is now largely under the Liverpool One shopping centre, was converted into the enclosed dock.

Further docks were added and eventually all were interconnected by lock gates, extending 7.5 miles (12.1 km) along the Liverpool bank of the River Mersey.

The interconnected dock system was the most advanced port system in the world. The docks enabled ship movements within the dock system 24 hours a day, isolated from the high River Mersey tides. Parts of the system are now a World Heritage Site.

From 1885 the dock system was the hub of a hydraulic power network that stretched beyond the docks.

Most of the smaller south end docks were closed in 1971 with Brunswick Dock remaining until closure in 1975. Many docks have been filled in to create land for buildings: at the Pier Head, an arena at Kings Dock, commercial estates at Toxteth and Harrington Docks and housing at Herculaneum Dock. In the north, some branch docks have been filled in to create land. Sandon and Wellington Docks have been filled in and are now the location of a sewage works. Most of Hornby Dock was filled in to allow Gladstone Dock's coal terminal to expand.

The largest dock on the dock network, Seaforth Dock, was opened in 1972 and deals with grain and containers, accommodating what were the largest containers ships at that time.

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Sources of Information