Albert Dock was home to a string of international innovations in its heyday, and the story of its regeneration is fascinating.
Although it was built to accommodate the most modern sailing ships of its day, the Dock thrived for just half a century following its official opening in 1846.
By 1900, only 7% of ships using Liverpool were sailing ships, and the Dock’s days were numbered – it was too small to accommodate the larger iron and steel steamships.
There was virtually no commercial shipping activity at Albert Dock after 1920, although its warehouses continued to be used for some years. Finally and after decades of disuse, it closed in 1972.
Nevertheless, the historical and architectural importance of Albert Dock had long been recognised. It was given Grade I listed building status in 1952, and made a conservation area in 1976.
But still, none of the many schemes mooted for Albert Dock came to fruition and by 1981, the entire complex was a scene of abandonment and dereliction.
The River Mersey has the second highest tidal range in the country, and the Dock’s waters rise and fall by 1.5 inches with every tide.
But by the 1980s, the dock had silted up, and 12 feet of sand and silt was dug out to enable water to be restored, shipping to use the dock again and for marine life to thrive.
The turning point for Albert Dock came in September 1983, with the signing of an agreement between the Merseyside Development Corporation and the specially created Albert Dock Company. Signing this agreement is what enabled the dramatic redevelopment of the Dock to take place.
The first phase of Albert Dock opened in 1984, and the final undeveloped space was brought into use in 2003.
The last and most recent phase provided a striking home for the plethora of award-winning attractions, bars and restaurants the Dock is known for today.