St George’s Dock road sign

by Martin

Liverpool, as a city, is master of reinventing itself, and re-using parts of its landscape when priorities (and economics) change. The Pier Head area is perhaps the greatest example of this, not least in the filling in of the Pool to create the first wet dock, now known as the Old Dock.

The George’s Dock / Pier Head / Strand area continues to change, but traces of the old features remain. One such trace is the old road sign attempting to remind the drivers racing past that they’re passing through “Georges Dock Gates”.

On old Ordnance Survey maps (like the 1893 edition below), we can see that a large square area just to the river side of St Nicholas’s Church labelled as George’s Dock Gates. It lay over the filled in form of George’s Dock Basin (which led into both George’s Dock and Prince’s Dock).

George’s Dock Gates 1893

Contrary to what some other websites will tell you, the street sign is not attached to an old section of the wall of George’s Dock Basin. Rather, it refers to this area, which acted as a sort of entry way into the central dock system, and George’s Dock itself was still holding water when the walls of the churchyard were erected, and the George’s Dock Gates name already in use.

The name is marked on maps right through until the Three Graces had replaced the dock basins behind the Pier Head, such as in this map from the middle of the 20th Century.

George’s Dock Gates 1959-72

For the city today, it’s a reminder that the busy dual carriageway area of the waterfront was once central to Liverpool’s central activity: trade and exchange.

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