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The lost dock of Liverpool (1709)....

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The lost dock of Liverpool (1709)....

Post by THE BOSS on Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:31 pm

Liverpool appears to have sprung to life when King John granted it a Royal Charter in 1207. John needed to establish a port in northwest England from which he could quickly dispatch men and supplies across the sea to reinforce his interests in Ireland. As well as port, a weekly market was also started which of course attracted folk from all over the area to Liverpool; even a small castle was built.

A further charter granted to the folk of Liverpool in 1229 allowed the merchants of Liverpool the right to form themselves into a guild. In medieval England, the Merchant's Guild effectively ran the towns and the first Mayor of Liverpool was elected in 1351.

By the 14th century it is estimated that the population of medieval Liverpool comprised around 1,000 people, of whom many would have been farmers and fishermen with tradesmen such as butchers, bakers, carpenters and blacksmiths supporting the tiny but growing settlement.

Construction on the dock, which was to become known as the Old Dock began in 1709, opening in 1715.
The design and construction of the dock was turned down by several notable engineers before being awarded to Thomas Steers. Steers came down from London eventually settling in Liverpool becoming a man of note.
His first recommendation was to abandon the idea of a canal system, putting forward the proposal to convert the pool into a wet dock controlled by floodgates.
The idea of floodgates was not a new one, however the use of floodgates to enclose a harbour was a bold one, and would set the pattern for future dock systems the world over.

It is said the dock that Steers built in Liverpool was not the first wet dock in the world, and that the Howland Great Wet Dock at Rotherhithe, on the Thames has that honour.
However it is known the dock at Rotherhithe was designed to act only as a shelter dock for vessels, and the actual loading or unloading of vessels did not take place on this dock, but on the opposite side of the river between London Bridge and the Tower. The first commercial wet docks were not built on the Thames until the West India Docks were cut across the Isle of Dogs in 1802, seventy three years after Steers dock.
The other earliest recorded docks were at Leith 1720, Hull 1778 and Bristol 1809.
The dock had an area of three and a half acres, and was designed to safely harbour one hundred ships, the entrance to the dock was thirty feet wide.
The approach to the Old Dock was via a narrow gut opening out to a pool of one and a half acres, with a graving dock on the north side.
There was some argument as to what form the dock should be, some preferring a long narrow dock. Similar to a canal, in the end it was decided that a rectangular form would be a better design.
The Old Dock was an instant success for all concerned, with trade expanding so quickly that soon the Old Dock’s capacity was found to be insufficient to meet the requirements of the merchants.
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