Trading Places - a history of Liverpool Docks
There are many fascinating stories behind the docks' names. Below you to learn how names are given, or a check a particular dock.
Docks are sometimes named after royalty.
Some docks are named after people who have been particularly important to Merseyside.
Some docks are named after the place with which they traded.
Important events like military victories often provided the inspiration for a name.
Some docks are named after the area in which they are built [image, new window].
Others have slightly stranger backgrounds. Can you guess the idea behind 'Great Float'? (the answer is that it kept boats 'afloat' in low tide, and was 'great' because it was so big).
The dock is named after the local town, which takes its name from Seaforth House. This was the home built by Sir John Gladstone who was MP for Liverpool in 1813. The word Seaforth is a Norse word meaning 'sea loch'.
Many people think that Gladstone Dock was named after the Liverpool-born Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone. However, it is actually named after his second cousin, Robert Gladstone. He was a Liverpool merchant, and Chair of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board from 1899-1911. He was also involved in the founding of Liverpool University and the planning of the Anglican Cathedral.
Canada Dock was once the main dock at Liverpool for importing timber. Canada, the country, was a major source of timber at the time, and gave the dock its name.
This dock is named after William Huskisson, MP, to recognise his political impact on Liverpool's growth and wealth.
Huskisson had an eventful life (and death). It is thought he was at the fall of the Bastille (a prison which fell during the French Revolution) and to have arranged for people to flee France.
This dock was named after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. (Waterloo is in Belgium). An army of English, Dutch and Prussian troops, led by the Duke of Wellington, beat Napoleon's French army. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena shortly after.
Princes Dock was named after the Prince Regent (the person who rules a country if the real monarch is too young, ill etc.) It opened on the day of his coronation as George IV in 1821. The decision to name the dock after the Prince was made in 1811, but by 1821 public opinion had changed because of his bad behaviour.
The Prince had a reputation for drinking, gambling, racing, affairs etc. In 1787 he was forced to ask Parliament for money to cover his debts. He later married Princess Caroline, but it is thought that he was already married to a local widow, making his marriage to the Princess illegal. The public did not like this.
His fast living caught up with him in later life and he became ill and addicted to laudanum (made from opium). By Feb 1830 he was partially blind and was convinced that he had commanded a division at Waterloo and ridden winners at Goodwood.
This was the first dock so it didn't have a name. However, as other docks were built it became referred to as The Old Dock.
Canning Dock was named after the Liverpool MP, George Canning (born in London in 1770). He worked for Free Trade and for the repeal of the Corn Laws (the Corn Laws had protected British farmers against foreign imports of corn but led to higher food prices for the rest of the population). Canning became Prime Minister in April 1827 but died in August of the same year.
The Albert Dock was named after Prince Albert Francis Charles Augustus Emmanuel, the husband of Queen Victoria. The Prince sailed into Albert Dock aboard the Royal Yacht, Fairy, on the day of the official opening in 1846. There he attended a reception for 1000 people held in the dock warehouses
The name 'Pier Head' referred to the original stone jetty (a pier to protect a harbour). However, the jetty disappeared when land was reclaimed from the river and the floating landing stage was built.
Wapping Dock is named after the nearby 18th century road of the same name. The road takes its name from a district in the east end of London.
The dock is named after the Herculaneum Pottery Company that had been based on the site. They specialised in commissioned and maritime pieces. Many of these were exported.
The Birkenhead Dock system is made up of a number of individual docks. They are: