The Liverpool Old Dock Tour

A guest blog post by NearlyErica

About two months ago I got a leaflet through the door with various coupons for half price parking at Liverpool One, or a massage to relax you in between doing your Christmas shopping. There was also a slip advertising a free tour of the Old Dock at Liverpool.

I knew my boyfriend was coming up for a visit on the dates mentioned, so I called the number for the Maritime Museum and managed to squeeze us onto the 10.30am tour.

Merseyside Maritime Museum - taken from http://liverpoolstudy.wordpress.com/ - The Liverpool Old Dock Tour

Merseyside Maritime Museum - taken from http://liverpoolstudy.wordpress.com/

The day arrived, and we made our way over to Liverpool.

We went straight to the Maritime Museum, which wasn’t open yet, they only open at 10 am. This made Dan very happy, though, as it meant we had time to go to Costa in the Albert Dock! The Costa in the dock is lovely and quirky with a great view of the dock itself. The dock was being battered by high winds and rain at the time, though because the day we were there was the day of a storm that saw flooding in areas all around the coast of the UK.

Once we returned to the Maritime Museum, we checked in at the information desk and were told to wait in the lobby for our tour guides. They arrived and introduced themselves as Danny and Yaz giving us a brief outline of how the tour would progress. The tour we had was slightly altered from the norm apparently, due to the high winds. They explained how the layout of the new Liverpool One development had been tailored to reflect the city’s history, pointing out features that I had seen many times, but never understood the nuances behind the design.

We were taken out of the museum and back over the main road toward Liverpool One shopping centre. Passing the water feature “The Pool of Life” and the fountains based on the tidal readings of William Hutchinson, the Dockmaster in Liverpool from 1759. He took twice daily readings from 1764 until 1793, the first such complete set of tidal measurements in the UK. There is more information here about his work and the meanings in the Liverpool One pavements and water features.

The Pool of life in Liverpool - The Liverpool Old Dock Tour

The Pool of life

Our guides led us through the doorway under Chavasse Park leading to the car park entrance, then through various security doors into a room with display boards about the Old Dock. Here we were told about the idea behind the Old Dock, and how the money was raised to begin the building work. Then we were led down steps underneath Liverpool One, to see the excavated remains of the oldest enclosed commercial wet dock in the world. The dock itself is amazingly well preserved (at least to my untutored eye!) and the guides pointed out things of interest all around the area.

There is a modern walkway allowing you to look across and down on the brick built dock walls. The area visible to you on the tour is just one corner of what would have been an enormous dock, even so I found the sheer scale of this dock, built in 1715, quite incredible. As we looked around the site our two guides told us more of the history of the dock.

One of the best things about the tour is the humour and badinage between the two guides. They make the history come alive and the hour-long tour flew past. I loved the way they took opposing stances in order to cover various theories, for example, on possible reasons for the city being named Liverpool.

Once our time was up we were led back up to the surface and released back into Liverpool One. It was raining heavily by this point so we all scuttled off our separate ways. Dan and I had wanted to follow some of the features that had been described, like the black paving lines that demarcate the sides of the Old Dock on the surface, and the paving that shows the route of the original river into Liverpool itself, but the weather put us off. Next time, Liverpool…

Old Liverpool Dock beneath Liverpool One - The Liverpool Old Dock Tour

The Old Dock beneath Liverpool One (photo taken from http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk)

Official website: Liverpool Museums - Old Dock Tours

Public tours are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10.30am, 11.30am and 2.30pm.

Please note that places are limited so booking is essential - call 0151 478 4499 to reserve your place.

Official Twitter account: @MerseyMaritime

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