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Thread: Liverpool Old Dock and Custom House

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    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Exclamation Liverpool Old Dock and Custom House

    I was reading some information about Liverpool's Old Doc/ Steer's Dock that is currently beneath the new bus station and part of the Paradise Street Development opposite the Police Headquarters.


    How the area looked before the dock was constructed, Liverpool Castle still visible.

    Apparently there has been something there since the 17th century and it wasn't until the Dock Act was passed in 1709 did Thomas Steers start the work on the recognisable dock as seen on the maps. It was partially opened in 1715 for shipping.


    The dock is visible here, by now the castle was gone (1715)

    Steers was supposed to have used the old bricks and stone from the Liverpool Castle ruins to construct the dock.


    You can see the developing area around the dock



    In the years to come, Liverpool and its docks expanded and by the 19th century, problems became apparent, the small size of the dock plus its now isolated position with the north and south docks meant that with the introduction of the 1811 Liverpool Dock Act, the dock could be filled in. It stayed open until it was filled in a few years after.

    Now this is where I became interested in Liverpool's Old Custom House that was built on the site. Certainly a candidate for the great lost buildings from Liverpool's past.




    Salt House Dock in the foreground


    You can see its proximity to the Albert Dock

    How this building was lost is beyond me, it was heavily bombed during the war but the shell remained for many years afterwards. It should have been saved, no doubt



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    Since then there has been a period of poor buildings being constructed once gems have been destroyed, something we are all regretting in this conservation conscious environment in 2006.



    Remember this in the years that came? Then in 2001 came the big clear-up for the forth coming PSD.


    Chavasse Park in the distance

    Its almost heart wrenching when you suddenly realise how important historical dock locations are being filled in. The developers have promised to put a section of the Old Dock on show with a viewing gallery.


    Last edited by Kev; 06-07-2007 at 07:37 PM.
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    Still alive snappel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    Its almost heart wrenching when you suddenly realise how important historical dock locations are being filled in. The developers have promised to put a section of the Old Dock on show with a viewing gallery.
    Amazing collection of images there Kev, thanks.

    Yes, it would be good to see a bit of the Old Dock - I was excited enough just to see the George's Dock wall underneath the Cunard Building!! Imagine they'd dug up all those docks and built waterside promenades and that... It'd be so much better, far more unique and would make Liverpool a more desirable and unique tourist destination.

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snappel View Post
    Amazing collection of images there Kev, thanks.

    Yes, it would be good to see a bit of the Old Dock - I was excited enough just to see the George's Dock wall underneath the Cunard Building!! Imagine they'd dug up all those docks and built waterside promenades and that... It'd be so much better, far more unique and would make Liverpool a more desirable and unique tourist destination.
    It would be good enough to see the whole of the Old Dock as you said. We had a perfect opportunity to dig it out and put it back. What a lost opportunity!!!! What goons run this city? Only in Liverpool. The world's first enclosed commercial dock.

    The Customs house was not heavily bombed. It was fire bombed and the structure was totally intact. London decided that Customs would be centred in the south - another raping of Liverpool - so the building was demolished. In 1950 a proposal came in for a 50 plus floor glass block on the site - being Liverpool, of course it was turned down. Miraculously a similar design emerged in New York, called the Pan-Am building.
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    how it once was?


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    Thanks for the comments, once I started looking through the old maps of the area, I wanted to know much more. The change in land-use over time has interested me too, the area still retains its shape with the Chavasse Park bit once a maze of dwellings. Once the old sailors were off of the ships at the docks, I can only imagine to delights that awaited them in the pubs etc.. the atmosphere, the singing, the smells.....but now the PSD is going ahead, these might return, in a much more sumptuous environment!

    Loosing the custom house though
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    This shot of me was taken during the promo recording of "Jack: The Musical" in October 2000 in Paris. The picture behind me is the Customs House, Liverpool by Atkinson Grimshaw, reminiscent of the docklands of the East End in the same period.

    Chris
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    I'm rather late coming to this.
    The Castle wasn't on the site of the Old Dock.
    The Castle was where Derby Square is, and the Old Dock was the site of the Custom House/Canning Place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipG View Post
    I'm rather late coming to this.
    The Castle wasn't on the site of the Old Dock.
    The Castle was where Derby Square is, and the Old Dock was the site of the Custom House/Canning Place.
    Agreed. More correctly, I believe I am correct in saying that the Custom House and the Old Dock were on the site of the original Pool from which Liverpool derives its name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    Agreed. More correctly, I believe I am correct in saying that the Custom House and the Old Dock were on the site of the original Pool from which Liverpool derives its name.

    Chris
    That's right, Chris.

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    Yes, the 'Old Dock' was constructed in the bed of the tributary river- 'the Pool'- that curved round from the site of Canning Place, along today's Paradise Street and Whitechapel, where, at its head, the land was little more than a swamp. Whitechapel, in fact, was called Frog Lane "the strains from which (creatures) ever rose at dusk and did never cease till dawn".
    The Williamson family drained this swamp when they laid out the square that still bears their name around 1700 but it is said that flooding was common in the area for years afterwards and that damp conditions prevailed in the cellars along Whitechapel and Paradise Street until fairly recent times..

    There was a degree of criticism when the Old Dock was formed a few years later, many saying that, instead of creating just one dock, the course of the old Pool should instead have been excavated, deepened and widened and wharves created all along it, as was later the case in Bristol. This would have produced the remarkable effect of shipping coming right into the old town and their masts rising above the surrounding houses and shops- a wonderful concept!
    Perhaps, too, such a splendid feature would not have been so casually done away with as was the case with the Old Dock and the new buildings rising all around the area today would have been wonderfully complemented bt this waterway running through their midst.
    As it is, I agree that it is utterly unpardonable that the Old Dock was not not re-excavated as part of the redevelopment, as it so very easily could have been- a monument not just of major importance in Liverpool's history, but of that of Britain and beyond, for it set the standard for the way things would be done in the future and thus and changed the history of the world.
    But that's the Grosvenors for you. Go here-

    http://www.chesterwalls.info/newgate.html

    - th learn how they trashed the largest and most completely preserved Roman bath house complex in Britain to erect their ghastly Grosvenor Precinct in the heart of Chester.

    I agree, also, that the Customs House could easily have been restored. It suffered the same fate as the Museum- gutted by incendiaries, true, but with its shell complete and relatively undamaged. The Museum was wonderfully restored so why not the Customs House? What would it serve as today, as a centrepiece of Liverpool's world-reknowned waterfront buildings? A gallery, museum, civic centre, concert hall... who knows? It's too bad.

    http://www.chesterwalls.info/gallery/customs.html
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    ^^Thanks^^ - I agree . What has been evident though through the 2007/2008 celebrations and the massive redevelopments around town is the interest that has been created surrounding liverpool's past.
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    G'Dai again !
    While on the subject of Canning Place. One of the worst pieces of vandalism ever by a Civic Body, was the demolishing of the World Renowned Sailors Home. This was a beautiful building with a history second to none which would have been ideal for a Backpackers Hostel or something of that nature. I believe the only thing remaining, are the unique cast iron gates which were found somewhere in the Midlands, although I understand there is a scheme afoot to get them brought back to Liverpool. What tales that building could have told . An irreplaceable piece of Liverpool History lost forever. What price Culture without History ????

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    Quote Originally Posted by customhouse View Post
    G'Dai again !
    While on the subject of Canning Place. One of the worst pieces of vandalism ever by a Civic Body, was the demolishing of the World Renowned Sailors Home. This was a beautiful building with a history second to none which would have been ideal for a Backpackers Hostel or something of that nature. I believe the only thing remaining, are the unique cast iron gates which were found somewhere in the Midlands, although I understand there is a scheme afoot to get them brought back to Liverpool. What tales that building could have told . An irreplaceable piece of Liverpool History lost forever. What price Culture without History ????
    Hi customhouse

    I agree 1000% that the loss of the Sailors Home was a grievous loss to the heritage of Liverpool. Hopefully the Pooley Gates can be brought back to Liverpool where they belong, which would be something although admittedly small recompense for the loss of this outstanding building.

    Chris
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    Cadfael
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    Another view - taken from 'Liverpool from the Air' Book:


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    Default Old dock wall

    In reply to the old dock wall.
    we are currently workin on the restoration of a section of the wall beneath the area of land between Jonh Lewis, the new Hilton hotel and the steps to the park. There is a viewing panel outside Lewis's that looks down on the north east corner of the wall, unfortunatly with the cleaning and other works going on, this window is sometimes misted up.
    The works are due to finish around christmas time, and on completion there will be viewing galleries for poeple to see the wall.
    I will try to post some photo's during this time, if anyone is interested
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazdad View Post
    I will try to post some photo's during this time, if anyone is interested
    Yes please!!!! Welcome to the site
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    Senior Member danensis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by customhouse View Post
    G'Dai again !
    While on the subject of Canning Place. One of the worst pieces of vandalism ever by a Civic Body, was the demolishing of the World Renowned Sailors Home. This was a beautiful building with a history second to none which would have been ideal for a Backpackers Hostel or something of that nature. I believe the only thing remaining, are the unique cast iron gates which were found somewhere in the Midlands, although I understand there is a scheme afoot to get them brought back to Liverpool. What tales that building could have told . An irreplaceable piece of Liverpool History lost forever. What price Culture without History ????
    Yes, I've got some photographs somewhere of it being demolished - many of my pictures seem to be of grand buildings being wantonly destroyed - I just wish I knew where I'd put them!

    John

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    Angry

    Isn't it odd, that nobody is ever identified as being responsible, for making these bloody awful decisions! They seem to get off "scot free", and get to keep thier backhanders!!!! Pity there's no one here with access to council meeting minutes,etc, and maybe we could give them some well deserved publicity

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    Customs House: LRO
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    Here's the elevated view again: LRO
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Liverpool customs house and docks, salt officers (Stephenson)

    I was fascinated to read your contribution and to see the photographs and maps, especially those that show the salt house. Can you tell me, please, whether there are any sources of information on people who worked as salt officers in Liverpool docks? I am researching a William Stephenson who was a salt officer c 1766, and would love to find out more about what his work involved.

    Thanks for posting all this interesting information. I do hope more is done by the authorities to preserve Liverpool's past.

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    Amazing thread guys.

    I thought my father worked in Canning Place but may be mis-remembering. He worked his whole life for E.H. Jones, I think it was E.H. Jones, Paint Ltd. Something like that. He started there at a teenager and retired in his 70's. One job all his life.
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    I think I have a pic of E.H. Jones premises in Canning Place.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    A 1974 pic by Frank Lenhan from the book My Liverpool.







    .
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    fantastic view ged, cheers
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    Fine photograph, Ged. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Chris
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    I've just spotted the mini, cheers for thinking of me Ged!
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    The amount of times I must have driven around Canning Place and not noticed how wonderful it was!! It was all around us and we never appreciated how brilliant much of it was. When the philistines took it away we never complained. Are we as much to blame?

    Looking along the Dock Rd with Canning Place the next corner on the left. The Customs House columns can be seen.

    Last edited by Waterways; 05-20-2009 at 11:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterways View Post
    The amount of times I must have driven around Canning Place and not noticed how wonderful it was!! It was all around us and we never appreciated how brilliant much of it was. When the philistines took it away we never complained. Are we as much to blame?
    It's the same with anything local, u just take it for granted. Maybe we were brainwashed with being told how much things would be bigger and better than what's there but over the year we've come to realise that the powers that be usually talk total crap and now we kick up more of a fuss than we ever used to

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    EH Jones is at the top corner of Canning Place,

    Last edited by Waterways; 05-22-2009 at 10:16 AM.
    The new Amsterdam at Liverpool?
    Save Liverpool Docks and Waterways - Click

    Deprived of its unique dockland waters Liverpool
    becomes a Venice without canals, just another city, no
    longer of special interest to anyone, least of all the
    tourist. Would we visit a modernised Venice of filled in
    canals to view its modern museum describing
    how it once was?


    Giving Liverpool a full Metro - CLICK
    Rapid-transit rail: Everton, Liverpool & Arena - CLICK

    Save Royal Iris - Sign Petition

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    Looks like the Huskisson statue is still in situ,a wonder,with the state of the customs house! Any idea of what year this is WW?

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