On the Waterfront

dockers in the Albert Dock and crowds by a ship at Liverpool's waterfront

Left image: Stevedores, Albert Dock, 1945 © National Trust Images/Edward Chambré Hardman Collection, Liverpool.
Right image: Liverpool Landing Stage, 1937 (Stewart Bale collection, 14051-5) © National Museums Liverpool.

25 November 2015 to 19 June 2016

This exhibition has closed

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Liverpool’s docks transformed the fortunes of the city. Their story is a 300 year journey that turned a small, regional port into one of the world’s great maritime centres.

Marking the 300th anniversary of Liverpool’s Old Dock - the world’s first commercial wet dock– this exhibition covered the period from the 18th century up to the present day. Personal stories showed how the waterfront has changed and the impact it has had on the city and the lives of local people. 

In addition to stunning photographs of waterfront workers and buildings throughout Liverpool’s history, visitors could see:

  • the first known painting of Liverpool,
  • the itinerary for Prince Albert’s visit to the city to christen the Albert Dock,
  • a register of vessels showing the first ship using the new Albert Dock in 1846, and
  • huge dock scales used to weigh cargo. 

A section dedicated to the Three Graces at the Pier Head included reproductions of two newly donated Stewart Bale images of the Cunard building under construction during the First World War. One of the photographs, dated 1913, is now the oldest image held in the Stewart Bale collection.

The exhibition also recognised 21st century changes to the waterfront including another National Museums Liverpool venue, the Museum of Liverpool

The waterfront has changed greatly in appearance and use since the construction of the Old Dock, but it remains an important symbol and focal point of the city.

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