Another Albert

Stanley Dock, Liverpool (1983)

Stanley Dock, Liverpool (1983)

Stanley Dock, in Liverpool’s north docks, comes as a surprise to those who only know the celebrated tourist honey-pot of Albert Dock.

Built soon after Albert by the same engineer, Jesse Hartley, and opened in 1848, Stanley is the only one of the Liverpool docks to lie inland from the dock road.  This is because it forms the link between the dock system and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Only in recent years has this link been extended through what remains of the north docks, across Pier Head in a cutting and into the Albert Dock complex.  Now you can sail your narrow boat all the way into the heart of the rejuvenated city centre:

Stanley Dock itself has hardly been touched since the Second World War.  Its austere brick warehouses, with iron columns and semicircular crane-arches, are very similar to the buildings at Albert and Wapping Docks.  Adjacent are entertaining Hartley buildings such as the battlemented gatepiers and the Hydraulic Power Centre (1854).

The southern half of the dock was filled in at the end of the nineteenth century to accommodate Anthony George Lyster’s gigantic Tobacco Warehouse (1900).  Probably the largest warehouse in the world, this impressive structure held raw tobacco in bond.  Alongside is the King’s Pipe, in which scrap tobacco was burnt to avoid paying duty.

The Tobacco Warehouse is gigantic, thirteen storeys (125 feet) high and forty-two bays wide with a floor-area of 36 acres.  Joseph Sharples, in his Pevsner Architectural Guide Liverpool (2004) points out that its great depth and low ceilings (only 7 feet 2 inches because the tobacco was stored in short stacks to prevent damage) have been an obstacle to redevelopment since it came out of use in 1980.

Now at last it looks as if Stanley Dock and the Tobacco Warehouse are ready, after years of planning,  for redevelopment:  see and

This enormous project will require the disruption of one Liverpool’s Sunday-morning amusements, the Heritage Market:

There is a superb series of images of the Tobacco Warehouse in its current state at

The photographer, an urban explorer who goes by the name ‘rookinella’, says, “Stanley Dock has made for a fine night’s sleep the few times that we’ve been to Liverpool.  Picturesque views, period features and private en-suite bathrooms for everyone…”  What can they mean?

For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on Liverpool architecture, please click here.

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