Active Period - 1845 to 1972
Dock Engineer, Jesse Hartley (1780-1860) plans a new dock on the western side of Salthouse Dock. This will become the Albert Dock. It will deal in imported, not exported, goods. It will have warehouses and the latest hydraulic (water-powered) machinery. It will be unlike any other dock. The shipbuilding yards on the site move away. Many go to Birkenhead.
The Act of Parliament is passed and work begins on building Albert Dock. It is the first dock designed with warehouses. They are bonded and built to protect valuable goods. They are built from brick and iron and are fire proof.
Albert Dock opens. It covers about seven and a half acres (about 3 football pitches). It cost £721,756 to build (about £41 million today). Sailing ships of between 500-1000 ton cargo capacity visit the dock.
Prince Albert officially opens Albert Dock on 30 July, although the five blocks of warehouses are not complete.
The Albert Dock is very popular. Valuable cargoes, such as brandy, are unloaded from ships that then move to Salthouse Dock to load up again. However, the dock itself is already too small and entrance is difficult. Paddle steamers are too wide to get in [image, new window].
Screw-propelled steamships are now carrying cargo. They are soon too big and deep to use Albert Dock that was designed for smaller sailing ships. Also, as steamers unload their cargo much faster than sailing ships they need plenty of open space. Albert Dock does not have enough quaysides for this. With its huge warehouses the dock is difficult to enlarge so it is easier to build new docks for modern ships.
One of the Albert Dock warehouses is used as a cold store. Ice is produced for packing fish onboard Liverpool's trawler fleet.
Only 7% of vessels using Liverpool are sailing vessels and Albert Dock is too small for larger steam ships. However it is still used by coastal vessels. Barges bring cargo from other docks to the warehouses for storage. Vessels waiting for space in graving docks, and salvage and MDHB vessels also still use the dock [image, new window].
Albert Dock is almost useless for ships - there are almost no commercial ships sailing into the dock. However, the warehouses are used for storing goods carried by road and rail.
Albert Dock is used as a base for escort vessels in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. This is the last real use for the dock.
Albert Dock warehouses are no longer used as a cold store.
The Albert Dock is only used by small coastal ships and sailing barges. For most of its life it has only been used by MDHB vessels and small ships waiting to enter other docks.
Albert Dock warehouses are no longer needed. The dock system is abandoned because of the rising cost of dredging and falling traffic.