The Old Dock tour
No current dates available
Discover the origin of Liverpool's fortune, buried underneath Liverpool ONE. Revealed during excavations on the site in 2001, the story of the world's first commercial enclosed wet dock is explored on this guided tour. You will discover how a brave idea and an innovative feat of engineering shaped Liverpool's destiny forever.
Guided tours, organised by National Museums Liverpool, start by the large anchor outside the 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.
The Old Dock tours are available on Wednesdays, Fridays and every other Thursday and Saturday at 10.30am, 12pm and 2.30pm. Each tour lasts up to an hour.
Please note, visitors in wheelchairs must be able to self transfer to access part of the Old Dock.
Visiting the museums
To find out more about the history of Liverpool's docks, why not combine your Old Dock tour with a visit to the Maritime Museum to see the On the Waterfront exhibition before or afterwards.
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.
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