National Museums Liverpool seeks to transform Canning Graving Dock

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Canning Graving Dock (Credit:National Museum Liverpool)

In a city seemingly awash with building work and masterplans, Getintothis’ Chris Flack takes a look at the next one on the list, the redevelopment of the city’s Canning Graving Docks.


It feels like you can’t move for Masterplans these days. If you look, these things are everywhere.

From the Baltic Triangle to Ten Streets, to the Fabric Quarter and the Knowledge Quarter to Bramley Dock and the most recent masterplan for the Cavern Quarter and Williamson Square.

There’s barely a square foot of the city without an architect or engagement specialist walking around with clipboards mithering people for ideas, concepts and thoughts on development.

To that list, we can now add the folk down at National Museums Liverpool.  They are on the search for planners to help them transform their waterfront estate around the Canning Graving Dock.

Built in 1737 and eventually renamed after George Canning, it is an area filled with history and stories. Much of it remains off-limits to the public and is obviously in need of some care and attention.

National Museums Liverpool are seeking tenders for the creation of a masterplan to create a modern visitor attraction that connects this historic waterfront with the city, the river and its architecture; staking its place as an integral part of Liverpool’s iconic identity.

The affected area, around the Canning Graving Docks, is at the heart of the World Heritage Site, taking in the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool and the Pier Head and Mann Island, home to dozens of annual events.

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Mairi Johnson, National Museums Liverpool’s Director of Estates said:

‘The masterplan is an ambitious undertaking that will dramatically change the visitor experience when it is complete. Liverpool’s waterfront is not only a beautiful space but also one of huge historic significance to the city, the wider region and the rest of the UK. This is an exciting opportunity to create spaces for visitors to linger within this unique setting and to really engage with the spirit of the place.

“We’re expecting this tender process to attract really creative thinkers and exciting plans, inspired by the beauty and potential of the area. We hope to see interesting ways in which we can open up the quaysides, currently not accessible to the public, with a strong, connected vision for how these spaces could be used to complement the amazing stories we tell in the nearby museums.’

Those submitting tenders will obviously have to consider the sheer volume of visitors the area attracts, how people currently use the space, the bottlenecks and open spaces.  For us, we would like to see a space that is open and useable, one that tells the story of the dock and the city.

While it sounds like an interesting proposition we’re just hoping it’s going to be better than the bus shelter/visitor centre planned for the Albert Dock.

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