Stanley Dock Warehouses
Buildings in Transition
Stanley Dock Warehouse
As the Stanley Dock complex enters a new and exciting phase in its history with a £130m pound re-development seeing the opening of the highly impressive Titanic Hotel in the North Warehouseand the commencement of works on the Tobacco Warehouse itself, it is perhaps a good time to look back. Liverpool is now proving that such important historic gems can be saved and adapted for modern usage. As key symbols of the city’s maritime and mercantile heritage this is both exciting and essential as we strive to enhance our reputation as a key visitor destination. Let’s remember the history….
Stanley Dock, named after Earl of Derby whom previously owned the land, itself opened in 1848, another masterpiece of Jesse Hartley. Along with Collingwood and Salisbury Docks it created an enclosed interconnecting system linking to the river. There is also the link between Leeds/Liverpool Canal and Stanley Docks with its four super all granite locks – the only ones in the UK.
1854 saw the still standing Hydraulic Pumping Station completed and the North and South Warehouses followed in 1855 along with the ‘Kings Pipe’ (This tall round chimney in the south east courtyard served a furnace for the destruction of floor sweepings of tobacco and damaged tobacco). Built from 1897 the immense Tobacco Warehouse was completed in 1901. The ugly White Tomkins & Courage Grain Silo was built in 1913, and the final addition was the Rum Warehouse in 1953 (in use until 2013), which now forms the exhibition space of the new Titanic Hotel. The impressive Bascule Bridge on Regent Road across the link to Collingwood Dock is of 1932 (restored 2010 at a cost of £600,000). The importance of this collection of building was recognised in 2002 when designated as a Conservation Area, and of course in its inclusion in the World Heritage Site listing of 2004.
At the time of its 14 storey construction (including vaults) the, now Grade II Listed, Tobacco Warehouse was said to be the largest built brick structure in the world, taking some 27million bricks to do so! It required the filling in of part of the original Stanley Dock and wasdesigned by Dock Engineer Anthony George Lyster. Utilising steel beams and iron columns along with hydraulic lifts and hoists it could store 70,000 hogsheads of tobacco (each weighing 1,000 lbs). On the south side there are a number of later bridges linking to the South Warehouse and this area between the Tobacco and South Warehouses was known by Dockers as "Pneumonia Alley" because it is almost always in shade and acted as a wind tunnel.
Author and research Rex Steven, photograph Glyn Akroyd
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