Saturday, 4 February 2017

The one and only Albert Dock

You cannot write a series of blogs about Liverpool without mentioning the Albert Dock, which is the biggest tourist attraction in the city and also one of the most popular in the UK outside of London with over 4m visitors a year. This is even more remarkable to those of us who remember the early 1980s when the Dock was closed, run down and a depressing example of urban decay. To be honest I have little memory of what it was like back then because, like everyone else, I never went!

So here is a quick history lesson. The docks were opened in 1846 by….yes you guessed it…Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. It was built of iron, brick and stone making it the first fire proof warehouse in the world. 

Its dockland hey day was in the late 19th and early 20th Century by which time the demands of modern trade and gradual decline of Liverpool took its toll. By the Second World War there was little by of shipping although the warehouses remained very active. Extensive damage in the May Blitz of 1941 did not help. The docks never really recovered. In the early 1960s demolition was considered. The dock finally closed in 1972 and remained in a derelict state until the revival which began in the 1980s.

It is now impossible to visit the dock without encountering hundreds of visitors from across the world. The attractions are varied and fascinating.

The first port of call for many is the Beatles Story. This a must for any Beatles fan – or anyone else who wonders what the fuss is about – 

The current highlight is a set of Sgt Pepper suits!

A short walk around the old docks brings you to the Tate Gallery. 

Its historic setting merits the visit and a coffee on the dockside is an essential experience. But the gallery itself has hosted some great exhibitions. I have been to Dali and Klimt  presentations and you can currently see Tracy Emin’s memorable unmade bed.

You can also take in the Maritime Museum which merits a blog post of its own. There are endless places to eat and drink including Revolucion de Cuba and  Liverpool Comedy Central –

But I have to say that my favourite activity is simply walking around the area taking in the vibe, the nostalgia and the sheer beauty of the old and modern beautifully reflected in the still water.

I drive past the Albert on my way to and fro work everyday and have begun to take it for granted. But for anyone visiting for the first time or old timers like me who take a moment to stop and look, it is a world class attaraction which can still take the breath away ..

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