Liverpool South Dock System

Chester and Ellesmere Basins George's Dock Liverpool Landing Stage
Canning Dock Canning Half Tide Dock Albert Dock
Salthouse Dock King's Queen's Docks Brunswick Dock
Toxteth and Harrington Docks Herculaneum Dock

Geography of the Liverpool South Docks System

The Liverpool South Docks system is complex so I have created a diagram to show the connections between the various docks to supplement other plans. The diagram also shows which docks join the River Mersey. George's Dock and Basin are not shown as they were filled in in 1899.

Liverpool South Docks
Diagram showing the inter-connections of the Liverpool South Docks system [5].

I was contacted in June 2023 by Michael Nash who kindly provided copies of maps of the docks and more accurate information about some of the images on this page and their dates.

Michael said in his comments:

My interest lies in the fact that I worked on the Liverpool South End Docks from 1963 to the end of 1968 when I went up to Head Office in Cunard Building. I worked in an office on the quay for a celebrated Liverpool firm of Master Porters & Stevedores called A. E. Smith Coggins Ltd. An excellent company that went to the wall in 1972 with everything else in our once proud shipping industry.

Official Maps and Plans


Dock System
Mersey Dock Estate in 1890 [2]

Click image for enlarged view
Dock System
Mersey Dock Estate in 1958 [3]

Click image for enlarged view

Images of Liverpool North Docks

This page is arranged in order of docks from North to South. Not all docks in the system are represented in the collection.

Chester and Ellesmere Basins

Chester Basin was situated between Pier Head and Manchester Dock and opened in 1795 as the Chester and Ellesmere Basin. It was used by canal boats and other small craft. It was filled in between 1928 and 1936.

Pier Head Chester and Ellesmere Basin
Aerial view showing the Chester and Ellesmere basins before they were filled in. [1]

George's Dock

George's Dock was connected to Canning Dock to the South and George's Basin to the North and opened in 1771. In 1899, both George's Dock and George's Basin were filled in to create what is now Pier Head.

Georges Dock
Small craft in George's Dock. The date is not known. [1]
Georges Dock
Various sailing vessels in George's Dock from circa 1890 [1]
Georges Dock
Various sailing vessels in George's Dock. The date is not known. [1]
Georges Dock
Various vessels in George's Dock in 1880 [1]

Liverpool Landing Stage

The Liverpool Landing Stage is clearly not a dock but nevertheless a key part of the overall scheme of the Liverpool Dock system and is built on the river alongside where the filled-in George's Dock once stood. The location is known as Pier Head (though properly George's Pier Head) and the area is a World Heritage Site. Many landing stages have stood on the site and the most recent was opened in 1890 and supported transatlantic crossings from Liverpool.

Liverpool Landing Stage
Landing Stage at Pier Head with view over Canning Dock - believed to be from about 1956 [1]
Liverpool Landing Stage
Landing Stage at Pier Head with view over Princes Dock - believed to be from about 1933 [1]
Liverpool Landing Stage
Landing Stage viewed from Pier Head - believed to be from about 1906 [1]
Liverpool Landing Stage
Pier Head viewed from the West - believed to be from about 1950. Rather clumsily coloured from a monochrome photo. [1]
Liverpool Landing Stage
General view of the Pier Head area taken from the West - believed to be from about 1930. [1]
Liverpool Landing Stage
Pier Head, Manchester Dock and the Canning Dock entrance - believed to be from about 1930. [1]

Canning Dock

Canning Dock is connected to Salthouse Dock to the South and Canning Half-Tide Dock to the West. It opened originally as a protected tidal basin but was completed as a wet dock in 1829. Amongst other functions it served ships involved in the slave trade. It was last used for commercial shipping in 1972 but still provides access to the Canning Graving Docks.

Canning Dock.jpg
Canning Dock viewed from Georges Dock passageway - believed to date from about 1908. [1]
Canning and Princes Docks
An aerial view showing Canning Dock, Princes Dock and landing stages and is believed to date from about 1965. [1]
Canning Dock
Bannrose and Ulster Drover in Canning Dock - believed to date from around 1965. [1]
Canning Dock
An aerial view of the entrance to Canning Dock and Pier Head - believed to date from around 1930. [1]
Canning Dock
View of shipping in Canning Dock looking towards 'The three Graces' - believed to date from around 1960. [1]
Canning Dock
'A busy corner of East Canning Dock' View similar to the previous image but believed to date from around 1908. [1]
Canning Dock
Canning Dock on a quiet day. The vessel in the foreground is the fishing vessel Margaret Duncan LL123 and part of Liverpool's once substantial fishing fleet in the early 20th Century. She was built for J. Duncan, Sons & Co. and, apart from WW1 service, was with them until 1934 when she was sold to Grimsby owners and renamed Luda Lord. She remained in the Grimsby fleet until broken up at Gateshead in 1963. The photo is believed to date from about 1920 [1]
Canning Dock
Fishing trawlers in Canning Dock - date unknown. Dock Board offices in the background. [1]

Canning Half-Tide Dock

Canning Half-Tide Dock lies between the Albert Dock and the Canning Graving Docks. It was opened in 1753.

Canning Half Tide Dock
The George's passageway looking South across Canning Dock - believed to date to about 1908. [1]
Canning Half Tide Dock
A view across the entrance to the Canning Half-Tide Dock looking towards the Liver Buildings and is believed to date to about 1920. The building in the foreground with the flagpole in front is the 'Pilotage Building' and the small craft at the river wall is the Edward C. Wheeler steam pilot launch. [1]

Albert Dock

The Albert Dock was opened in 1846 and was very advanced for its time. It had a complex of buildings and warehouses built from non-combustible materials and two years after it opened was fitted with the world's first hydraulic cranes. Its use as a dock declined and it finally closed in 1972 since when, after a long period of dereliction, it has become a major tourist attraction. It is connected to Canning Half-tide Dock to the North and Salthouse Dock to the East.

Albert to Gladstone Dock
Aerial view from Albert to Gladstone Dock believed to have been taken about 1920. [1]
Albert and Salthouse Docks
Aerial view of Albert and Salthouse Docks from the south. Date unknown. [1]
Albert Dock
An aerial view of Albert Dock looking Northwards. The date is not known. [1]

Salthouse Dock

Salthouse Dock was opened in 1753. It is connected to Canning Dock to the North, Wapping Dock to the South and Albert Dock to the West. It was a transit point for the salt industry and exported salt produced in Cheshire.

Michael Nash kindly provided these comments about the first photo shown below:

This is perhaps the most iconic view of Liverpool's docks and is frequently reproduced. You have it as c.1904 but in fact the photograph was taken in June 1897. The four-masted barque dominating the centre of the picture is The Highfields launched at Stockton-on-Tees in 1892 for Charles Walford Kellock & Co., of Liverpool. She met a tragic end. On the 15th June 1902 she sailed from Cardiff with her holds full of coal bound for Cape Town. 57 days out (10th August) she ran into a severe gale which tore her sails to shreds. On the 14th her master, his crew being exhausted, decided to run into harbour at Table Bay but in the blackness of the night she fouled the anchor cables of the German liner Kaiser lying outside the breakwater and almost immediately The Highfields foundered. Out of a crew of 27, only 4 seamen survived. Lying alongside the barque’s port side is the full-rigger Melanope built in Liverpool in 1876 for Joseph Heap & Sons. She sailed under other owners until 1907 when off the Columbia River she was thrown on her beam ends and the crew abandoned ship. She was salvaged and converted into a barge and survived until 1946 when her hulk was used as part of a breakwater.

The white-hulled vessel on the starboard side of The Highfields is the Russian three-masted fore-&-aft schooner Zeriba built in 1890. Ahead of her is unidentified but she is a barquentine. The vessel nearest the camera with her poop showing is the barque Ladas of Maryport, built 1894 and sold to Norwegian owners in 1909. She disappears off the registers in 1921. Alongside the berth at South-East Salthouse is the full-rigger Wellington built on the Clyde in 1874. In December 1906 she foundered on a voyage from the US Gulf to Rosario and was abandoned by her crew. Astern of her is the Liverpool barque Helenslea of 1882 built in Dundee. Two months after this photograph was taken, she was wrecked off Inaccessible Island which is near Tristan de Cunha. This photograph perfectly illustrates the hazards of a sailor's life in the days of deep-water sail.
Salthouse Dock
Sailing ships in Salthouse Dock in June 1897 [1]
Salthouse Dock
Salthouse Dock and the Custom House and is believed to date from about 1900. [1]

King's Queen's Dock

King's No. 1 and King's No. 2 Docks were two branch docks connected to Wapping Dock to the North and Queen's Dock to the South. They were opened in 1785, closed in 1972 and both filled in since then.

Michael Nash had the following comments about the next photo below:

Although the postcard from which this photograph is taken says that it is a view of Kings Dock, it is in fact Queens Dock, or to be precise one of her two branches. The head of the branches for Kings faced Wapping warehouse (now luxury apartments); at the head of Queens stands the single-story transit sheds of Queens Dock itself as seen here. The photograph is post-war, c.1948 perhaps. Notice the concrete-constructed dumb barges that were only built during WWII, and the bomb-damaged double-story transit shed on the North branch.
King's Dock
King's Queen's Dock with grain elevator alongside a ship and cathedral in the background. Circa 1948 [1]

Brunswick Dock

Brunswick Dock is connected to Coburg Dock to the North and Toxteth Dock to the South. It was opened in 1832. Currently the HQ of the Royal Navy is on the dock.

Brunswick Dock
The grain silo in Brunswick Dock. Circa 1938. [1]

Toxteth and Harrington Docks

Toxteth Dock connected to Brunswick Dock to the North and Harrington Dock to the South and was opened in 1841. It closed in 1972 and was filled in with many of the old dock buildings becoming part of Brunswick Business Park.

Harrington Dock was connected to Toxteth Dock to the North and Herculaneum Dock to the South and was opened in 1882. It closed in 1972 and has also been filled in with the buildings also becoming part of Brunswick Business Park.

Toxteth Harrington Docks
An aerial view of Toxteth Dock and Harrington Dock. One of a series of photos taken of the entire Liverpool dock system in the 1930s. [1]
Toxteth Dock
A view of Toxteth Dock. The date is unknown. Apparently hand-coloured. [1]

Herculaneum Dock

Herculaneum Dock was located at the far end of the South docks and was connected to Harrington Dock to the North and included two graving docks. It took its name from a pottery company that had previously occupied the site. The dock opened in 1866 and from 1873 was handling petroleum. It was enlarged over time and eventually had four graving docks. During WW2 Herculaneum Dock acted as a terminus for North Atlantic convoys. Herculaneum Dock was closed in 1972 and filled in during the 1980s; the south part of the site was reclaimed for the Liverpool Garden Festival. Much of the main dock area is now a car park and offices have been built where the graving docks were located.

Herculaneum Dock
The entrance to Herculaneum Dock and Harrington Dock. The date is not known. [1]
Herculaneum Dock
An aerial view showing Herculaneum dry docks. The date is not known. [1]
Herculaneum Dock
An aerial view showing Herculaneum Dock and looking towards Pier Head. The date is not known. [1]

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