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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, April 21, 2008
    That's the spirit

    They mortgaged the city of Liverpool to build this brick wall. I was fascinated to watch Channel 4's Time Team special on Liverpool, where the BigDig has uncovered 'The massive brick-built wall of the Old Dock, the world's first commercial wet dock.'

    They mortgaged the city of Liverpool to build this brick wall. That's the bit of the story which most grabbed me. The Liverpool Corporation mortgaged its entire portfolio of land and property to finance the scheme, a unique rectangular pool, contained by huge brick-built walls, covering about one and a half acres, which could accommodate 100 or so ships at any time. Some gamble, that. Which they weren't to know then, as we do now, would pay off handsomely, demand rapidly exceeding capacity as the port grew in activity and wealth during the 18th century.

    'This led to the construction of further docks,' says the Time Team website, 'eventually covering a seven-mile stretch of waterfront, and the increasing size of the vessels entering the port gradually rendered the Old Dock redundant. Without it, though, and without the corporation's vision in arranging its construction, Liverpool would never have achieved the prosperity it was to enjoy from the 18th century onwards, nor become Britain's principal port in its heyday of empire.'

    Fearless, foolish, lavish, innovative... wow, that's the spirit of the place.

    Pic: Channel 4, Time Team