The popular Old Dock tours are back! 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.

Safety measures

Each tour is open to only one household or support bubble and is limited to a maximum of six people. Please wear a facemask (unless exempt), maintain good social distancing and make use of the hand sanitiser.

'We're Good to Go!' tick logo: recognised by VisitEngland, the National Tourist Board of England

The Old Dock tours have been awarded Good To Go status, designed by Visit England and recognised by the National Tourist Organisations of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

This Industry Standard mark confirms that we have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, have a Risk Assessment in place and a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.

Tour details

Tours are available on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10.30am, 12 and 2.30pm. Each tour lasts up to an hour.

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

Tickets cost £20 for a group of up to six people from the same support bubble or household.

Guided tours, organised by National Museums Liverpool, start by the large anchor outside 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. 

Access

The Old Dock is accessible, the space allows up to two wheelchair users per tour.

Visiting the museums

Please note that Old Dock tour tickets do not include entry to Merseyside Maritime Museum or the International Slavery Museum. Please book a separate ticket to visit the museums before or after your tour if you would like to combine a visit. You can book free tickets to visit the museums and find out more about the measures that are in place to keep everyone safe on our visit page.

Members

Limited free tickets are available for members but these can only be booked by ringing the box office on 0151 478 4444. Please note that if a member books anyone from their household or support bubble who is not a member on the same tour then there will be a charge for the non-members' tickets. Please speak to our box office team for details.

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