Feature, Freight News, Sea

When Liverpool led the world

[ September 9, 2015   //   ]

The port of Liverpool celebrated the 300th birthday of a shipping innovation more important than even the ubiquitous box on 31 August – the opening of the world’s oldest enclosed commercial wet dock. When it opened in 1715, the ‘old dock’, as it is now known (though presumably it was known as the state-of-the-art, cutting-edge dock back then) allowed ships to load and unload whatever the state of the tide, for the first time in history and, by the end of the 19th Century 9% of world (not UK) trade went through Liverpool.
Able to accommodate up to 100 ships at a time within its 3.5 acres, the dock took five years to build at a cost of £12,000 – this at a time when the average labourer would have earned £20 per year. If the plan had failed, the city would have gone bankrupt.
The dock was filled in in 1826, having been superseded by larger and deeper ones built into the river Mersey, but was rediscovered during excavations in 2001 and the remains of the dock have been preserved as part of Mersey Maritime Museum.
Old dock 1

Old dock 3