The Albert Dock was home to a string of firsts and international
innovations in its heyday. Yet although it was built to accommodate
the most modern sailing ships of its day, it thrived for just half
a century following its official opening in 1846. By 1900, only 7%
of ships using Liverpool were sailing ships, and the dock's
days were numbered - it was too small to accommodate the larger
iron and steel steamships.
There was virtually no commercial shipping activity in the Albert Dock after 1920 - although its warehouses continued to be used for some years - and, after decades of disuse, it finally closed in 1972.
Nevertheless, the historical and architectural importance of the Albert Dock had long been recognised: it was given Grade I listed building status in 1952, and made a conservation area in 1976. But still none of the many schemes mooted for the Albert Dock came to anything. By 1981, the entire complex was a scene of utter abandonment and dereliction.
The turning point came in September 1983, with the signing of an agreement between the Merseyside Development Corporation and the specially created Albert Dock Company, which enabled the dramatic redevelopment of the dock to take place. The first phase opened in 1984, and the final undeveloped space was brought into use in 2003, providing a striking home for the plethora of award-winning attractions, bars and restaurants the dock has come to be known for today.