Vessels that have journeyed through all waters, outrun pirates, and endured every clime, drop anchor, and begin to unburden themselves of a seemingly endless array of commodities. Master stevedores, sinewy, dextrous, and hard as nails, roar orders to lumpers and porters, the days labour will be as it always is, back breaking. Hooves clack, thieves skulk, merchants barter, and the hollow eyes of poverty stricken Irish migrants look on. Fleeing famine, these poor souls hope only to gain passage to the ‘New World’. Bales of cotton are hoisted, so too are sacks of sugar, crates of earthenware, and bottles of Caribbean rum. Dyewood, tobacco, coffee, cocoa, and all manner of animal, mineral, and exotic vegetable tumble forth from Indiaman’s, barques, barges, and steamers. Thus, the heart of Liverpool’s docks continues to beat. Liverpool is not now, nor was it ever, a city inclined to be ordinary. At a time when our great isle was at the peak of its global influence, it was
Liverpool, not London that produced the world’s first ‘wet dock’, a technological wonder of the industrial age. Covering 3 1⁄2 acres, the Old Dock was the first of an interlocking network that would eventually span 7 1⁄2 miles of the River Mersey, and bring about Liverpool’s rapid rise to wealth, prosperity, and commercial dominance.
In time, more than 40% of all the worlds trade would pass through Liverpool’s illustrious docks. 1715 saw an inward shipping tonnage of 18,800, and an outward of 18,400. By the mid 1800’s, inward tonnage had reached 1,4 million tons, and by the 1900’s, it had peaked at 12.4 million. So, how is it that by the late 1970’s, Liverpool and its docks had become an unemployment blackspot?
Technological advancements, economic structural changes, the development of competitor ports such as the Seaforth Docks near Bootle, and containerisation all had a hand in the docks fall from grace. The docks would survive the blitz, but would not withstand the expedited process of deindustrialisation, urban decay, deprivation, and dereliction, bought about by Thatcher’s policies. Once pulsating with life, Liverpool’s docks were now a backfilled, silt logged, wasteland.
If you walk along Liverpool’s abandoned docklands, it’s not long before the mind wanders, stirred by the imagined echoes of the docks working class men. The silence of the docklands wasted potential, is at times overwhelmingly melancholic. The remnants of Liverpool’s maritime heyday, lay strewn with tyres, car engines and vintage Burco laundry boilers. The crumbling brick-built warehouses, once used to store copious amounts of snuff and tobacco, are now graffitied with mirthless text, such as ‘Here is a ladder to nowhere’.
That which has fallen, with help, can rise again, and the Liverpool based developer Romal Capital are doing just that. Greg Malouf, chief executive at Romal, brings over 40 years of waterfront city living and expertise to Central Docks’ Liverpool Waters. He understands the typologies of urban regeneration that work best having a successful career in regeneration Sydney, Australia. Romal Capital know the value of waterfront living, the right design for it and are passionate about building a community that optimises a unique inner city waterfront land holding. Importantly, they also recognise that community and heritage need to be preserved and will build accordingly whilst maintaining a focus on public benefits. Greg Malouf says ‘this is the most exciting land holding in the Uk currently with so much on off er’. Tipped to be the hottest place to work rest and play, each of these wonderful apartments will off er park and river views, community hubs to meet and greet, hyper-fast broadband, efficient energy solutions, and much coveted aspirational lifestyle alongside parks and river. Cycle, walk or catch a river taxi from Bramley Moore to The Royal Albert- Liverpool’s Docklands are reborn!