Tours of Liverpool's Old Dock

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Tickets

Adults: £6.50

Concessions: £5.50

Children 6-17 years: £2

Children 0-5 years: free

50p off each ticket for group bookings of 10 or more

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The origin of Liverpool’s fortune lay buried under Liverpool ONE for centuries. Revealed during excavations on the site in 2001, the story of the world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock unfolded. Take a guided tour of Liverpool’s historic Old Dock and discover how a brave idea and an innovative feat of engineering shaped Liverpool’s destiny forever.

Tour details

Tours are available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10.30am, 12 and 2.30pm. Each tour lasts an hour.

Guided tours, organised by National Museums Liverpool, start at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and visitors walk to the nearby Old Dock.

On the tour 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 - the creek that gave Liverpool its name. A modern bridge and walkways give grandstand views. 

Schools and groups

History of the Old Dock

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.

Excavations

Liverpool One's Estate Director, said:

"Working with Oxford Archaeology North who undertook the initial excavations in 2001, Grosvenor has incorporated the Old Dock into the design of Liverpool One and has developed a visitor facility which is run by National Museums Liverpool.

The driving force throughout the whole process, Grosvenor funded the interpretation centre up to the completion of the building and with support received from Liverpool Vision, the funding for the fit out of the exhibition space and also the design and production of the exhibition was kindly provided by the North West Development Agency."

Image: © Liverpool Record Office

Dates

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Merseyside Maritime Museum
Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AQ

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"This is of so great a benefit and its like is not to be seen anywhere in England"
Daniel Defoe, 1715

 

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Image a Prospect of Liverpool, about 1725, is an oil painting by an unknown artist. The Old Dock is at the bottom right, behind the bridge.

Old Dock 300 Festival, 1715-2015

2015 is the 300th anniversary of Liverpool’s Old Dock – the world’s first enclosed commercial wet dock. The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826.

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