History of the Albert Dock, Liverpool
Located in Liverpool’s incredible World Heritage waterfront, the Albert Dock Liverpool is one of the areas most visited tourist attractions. The site features the largest collection of grade I listed buildings in England and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site along with other areas of Liverpool in 2004.
The history dates back to 1839, when it was once a thriving port. Designed by Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick, it was the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone with no structured wood. By the 1920’s commercial shipping had virtually ceased and the site was used mostly for storage. However, it remained a working dock until closing in 1972. It then turned into a derelict site until it received a full regenerative transformation in 1988. In June 2018, the Albert dock was recognised by Her Majesty The Queen and was officially re-named the Royal Albert Dock.
Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.
Albert Dock Liverpool: Why Visit?
No trip to Liverpool is complete without a visit to the Royal Albert Dock. This historic and cultural part of the city is actually the most popular free tourist attraction in the North West of England. There is always something to do, including several museums, art galleries, as well as an regular themed events throughout the year. As well as the historical sites and museums you will also find many bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and artwork dotted around every corner. Regardless of age and interests, you’ll easily find something to do in the Albert Dock.
Albert Dock Liverpool: Things to do
There is no shortage of things to do at the Albert Dock and you could easily spend a whole day here, whether you’re visiting with your friends, family or exploring on your own.
One of the best things to do is too just walk round and explore. As you walk around you’ll notice lots of artwork, musicians and beautiful architecture. Sometimes you may even find yourself in a festival of some kind! For more information on what events are planned in the future, check out the Royal Albert Dock Website here.
Mersey Maritime Museum
The Mersey Maritime Museum showcases the maritime history of the Port of Liverpool. Highlights include ship models, maritime paintings, colourful posters from the golden age of liners and even some full sized vessels. You will also find several exhibitions including:
- Titanic and Liverpool: Discover the untold story of the famous ship.
- Seized!: Border and customs uncovered
- Lusitania, Life, Loss and Legacy: The incredible story of Liverpool’s favourite liner.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays you can also book a free tour that takes you underneath Liverpool One shopping centre to check out the carefully preserved Old Dock. The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826. For the first time in centuries the bed of the Pool, the creek that gave Liverpool its name, can be seen.
For more information check out the Mersey Maritime Museum website, entrance is free, donations welcome.
The Piermaster’s House
The Pier-masters’s house was one of four houses originally built in 1852. The Pier-master was responsible for the safe passage of ships entering and leaving the docks at high tide. The house was the only one still standing after the heavy bombing during the Second World War. The house was converted in 2003 into a wartime house complete with original period furniture, and everyday objects. Today you can wander around the rooms and find out what it was like to live during war time Liverpool.
International Slavery Museum
Located on the third floor of the Mersey Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum highlights the stories of millions of Africans who were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic by Europeans and Americans as a labour force to work, especially on plantations.
Liverpool ships alone are known to have carried 1.5 million slaves across to the Caribbean, returning with goods such as sugar, cotton, coffee and tobacco. It was this trade that made Liverpool boom! Although the British ended the slave trade in 1807, Liverpool’s connection with slavery continued through cotton and other trades that were dependent on slave labour for much of the 19th century.
The International Slavery Museum opened on the 23 August 2007, not only the date of the annual Slavery Remembrance Day, but the year 2007 was particularly significant as it was the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. The museum not only highlights stories and artefacts from the transatlantic slave trade but also focuses on modern slavery, raising awareness for slavery in today’s world!
For more information check out the International Slavery Museum website, entrance is free, donations welcome.
Tate – Liverpool
Check out some great British modern art at Tate Liverpool. Entrance is free, except for some exhibitions. Checkout the official website here.
The Beatles Story
As most people probably already know, Liverpool’s most famous export was The Beatles! Follow the story of how four young lads from Liverpool were propelled to the dizzy heights of fame and fortune.
Tickets cost £16.95 Adults £10 Children. Tickets and more information can be bought in advance on the official website here.
Are you in Liverpool with a group of friends, looking for something different to do, if so check out Escape Hunt. Groups of 1-6 are ideal but if you have more, split up and go head to head?
There are four different games to play, once locked in, you have an hour to work together as a team to figure out the clues and escape. Can you beat the clock! Afterwards enjoy the in-house bar and fun photo opportunities.
For more information check out the official website here, prices range from £20-25 per person depending on group sizes.
For some of the best views across the River Mersey and the Albert Dock head to the Liverpool Wheel. Situated next to the M&S Bank Arena and Conference Centre. The structure measures 196 feet tall, weighs 365 tonnes and incorporates 42 fully enclosed capsules offering stunning panoramic views across the city. If its a special occasion why not book the VIP package offering a private capsule, leather seats and Champagne!
For more information and to book on line check out the website here.
Check out the fabulous bars and restaurants
There are numerous bars and restaurants all located within the Albert Dock itself as well as a number of great street food options.
My favourites include:
Gusto – One of my favourite restaurants in Liverpool. If you like Italian food then this is the place to go! Also serves great cocktails! Menus and how to book a table can be found online here.
The Smugglers Cove – A great themed pub, brace yourself for the perfect pirate experience at Smuggler’s Cove’s atmospheric eatery. Menus and booking information can be found online here.
Miller and Carter Steak House – If its a steak ya after, then you definitely need to check out this place! For more information on menus and booking check the website here.
As a Liverpool lass myself, I can honestly say that the Albert Dock is one of my favourite parts of the city. You will never get tired of wandering around, coffee in hand watching the world go by. Even if you just fancy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, its a great place to relax and watch the sun go down. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve visited but will always come back for more!
Have you visited Liverpool? If so did you check out the Royal Albert Dock? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Did you enjoy reading this guide to the Albert Dock Liverpool, if so please share on you favourite social media and subscribe to my blog to be the first to hear about my future travels.
Thanks for reading,