Liverpool’s historic docks

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Yesterday we drove over to Liverpool. We’d not been for a few months and there were new exhibitions at the Tate, Open Eye and Walker Galleries that we wanted to see. But after some miserable weather over the past couple of weeks it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day (until it clouded over late in the afternoon) and the Liverpool waterfront and historic docklands always look great in the sunshine.

As usual we parked up on a manned car park on the site of a demolished building on King’s Dock Road (cheaper than the city centre car marks and safer than parking on the street) and then crossed over and walked along by the Wapping Dock towards the Albert Dock.

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The large brick warehouse along the eastern side of the dock was built in 1856 and is of a similar architectural style to the warehouses surrounding the nearby Albert Dock. It has neo-classical features including the huge cast iron Doric columns and the simple frieze running along the top of the building.

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Today it’s been converted to flats.

Walking along the dock we spotted some cormorants taking in the sun.

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A short walk away is the Albert Dock.

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Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was opened in 1846 by Prince Albert, after who it is named. When I was at Liverpool University in the late 70’s the dock was derelict. But in 1981 the Merseyside Development Corporation was set up and the dock was redeveloped, being officially re-opened in 1988. Today it’s a major tourist attraction with shops and museums (the northern outpost of the Tate gallery and the Merseyside Maritime Museum).

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The dock is dominated by the massive brick built five storey warehouses. Constructed from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood, they were designed to be fireproof.

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Like the Pier Head and other nearby docks, the Albert Dock is built on land reclaimed from the Mersey and the massive granite and brick construction effectively floats on mud and silt.

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After visiting the Tate, we walked along past the Museum of Liverpool Life and “Three Graces” at the pier head towards the Princes Dock. This has a very different character. All the old warehouses are gone and it’s been redeveloped with modern buildings – offices and hotels.

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