Liverpool Waterfront and South Docks
Last updated 1st March 2006
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Please note that, for the time being, this walk is the same as the original one on this site: Liverpool Waterfront and Downtown. It is my intention to split this walk into two more detailed walks in due course.
This walk around the waterfront and the downtown area is about 3 miles (5 km) in length and takes in the famous Pier Head buildings, the Albert Dock, the newly constructed Liverpool One and the commercial quarter with its imposing 19th and 20th century architecture. This is where the 'New Liverpool' is most in evidence. Liverpool's commercial quarter is also the site of the mediaeval town, little evidence of which remains except for the street names and layout. The route is circular and you don't have to start where I do; James Street and Moorfields Stations are on the route. It's not a long walk, but wear comfortable shoes and make a day of it. This will allow time to look around places of interest and do some shopping. The route also passes some exceptional pubs, including Liverpool's oldest, many of which are excellent places for lunch.

The relevant Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Explorer map is No. 275. For further information on the locations visited, click on the images.

Detailed mapping and satellite photography for this walk courtesy of Bing Maps
Printer friendly page for this walk (no photos)

Start at the Pier Head and take in the splendour of the Royal Liver Building [1], the Cunard Building [2] and the Port of Liverpool Building [3]. This area has recently been completely (and in my view very successfully) reconstructed and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal extension to the Albert dock now runs elegantly through. There are various statues and memorials around here too, such as the one of Edward VII.

This is, of course, a good place to watch the famous Mersey ferries come and go. The ferry terminal and the new Pier Head building are here. In front of you as you head south is the new Museum of Liverpool building [4]. Here, because construction work is still under way, you have to make a detour via the Strand for the time being and rejoin the route at the Albert Dock Piermasters House [6].

The Piermaster's House [6] stands at the end of the Canning Half-Tide Dock [5], which marks the location of the mouth of the former tidal creek known as the Pool (from which Liverpool partly derives its name). In front of you are the lock gates to the Albert Dock [7] with its monumental warehouses.

Head into the dockside area here at the north-west corner; immediately on your right is the Tate Liverpool art gallery [8]. Head down past the Tate and turn left at the end. Half way along the south side, turn right through the warehouses to emerge at the edge of the narrow Duke's Dock with the new Echo Arena [9] opposite. Follow the road to the left until you see Salthouse Dock [10]. Go along the south side of the dock a short way for the view back the way you have come and then retrace your steps to the Albert Dock warehouses.

Re-enter the dockside area at the south-east corner and make for the north-east corner where the Merseyside Maritime Museum [11] is located. Exit from the dockside here to emerge by the Pumphouse [12] (now a pub) and Canning Dock.

On this corner is the grand columned portico of the old Albert Dock Traffic Office. Head for the Strand where there is a grand view of the docks and you can also see the historic lightship Planet.

Cross the broad and busy Strand using the pedestrian lights and head up the steps to the right of the soaring One Park West building into Chavasse Park [14]. This is the start of the new Liverpool One shopping and leisure development that has transformed this part of the city. Head up the path to the grassy area at the top, a nice spot to rest a while.

On the eastern side of the park is the main Liverpool One shopping area. It is built on three levels. If you cross the bridge here, you reach the top level, where there are bars and restaurants overlooking the park. The bridge passes over (what used to be) South John Street. Go down the steps to the middle level, follow the walkway to the left towards Debenhams and take the escalator down to the lower level. The street to the side here has immaculately maintained toilets, to experience which you will be separated from a 20p piece. Head back along the lower level towards John Lewis and turn left and left again into Paradise Street, unrecognisable from four years ago, though a couple of historic buildings at the south end have been kept and restored.

Continue along Paradise Street into Whitechapel. Look out for tiny Button Street on the left and turn into it. Go right at the fork in the street, past a fine old pub called the White Star [15], and then left into Matthew Street. This is the Beatles centre of the universe, with the reconstructed Cavern Club and another great pub, the Grapes [16], one their haunts in those days.

At the end of Matthew Street, turn right into North John Street, crossing over Victoria Street. This is where the imposing business and municipal architecture starts. It was also once the heart of the mediaeval town and is now the location of many fine pubs. On the corner with Dale Street, one of the original mediaeval streets, is the lofty former Royal Insurance Company Building [17] with its golden dome. Opposite is a superlatively characterful old pub, Rigby's [18].

Go right along Dale Street. At Moorfields, look down to the grandiose Municipal Buildings [19]. For the benefit of pub enthusiasts, I must mention that at the end of Dale Street near the Mersey tunnel entrance is a place of some interest: the Ship and Mitre, whose unassuming exterior conceals an Aladdin's Cave of beer.

Turn into Moorfields and go past the station [20] to the junction with Tithebarn Street, another of the old streets (known as Moor Street up to the 16th century). Opposite is the imposing frontage of the former Exchange Station [21]. On the left-hand corner is a lovely Victorian pub, the Lion Tavern [22].

Turn left along Tithebarn Steet and left again at another pub, the Railway. A short way ahead are two narrow streets, Eberle Street and Leather Lane. Go along the latter, which is one of the mediaeval streets. This is so narrow that it still retains an ancient atmosphere. It emerges through an archway at Rigby's into Dale Street. Go right and immediately right again into Hackin's Hey, yet another narrow mediaeval street. Here is the Hole in the Wall [23], which, dating from 1706, lays claim to being Liverpool's oldest extant pub.

Emerge from Hackin's Hey back onto Tithebarn Street and go left past Old Hall Street (known as Mill Street up to the 16th century) on the right. Continue down Chapel Street, named after the 13th century chapel of St. Mary del Quay, once near the present Church of Our Lady and St. Nicholas [24]. Turn left through the churchyard, a pleasant place to relax, to come out into the narrow street called Tower Gardens. Here is Ma Boyle's Oyster Bar [25], a curious little pub on several levels that does actually sell oysters.

Emerge onto Water Street and look down towards Tower Buildings [26] and the Royal Liver Building [1]. Turn left up Water Street with more magnificent buildings: India Buildings [28] on the right, Oriel Chambers [27] on the left and the Martin's Bank building [29] further along on the left. Next door to the Martin's Bank building is the Town Hall [30] dating from 1759. Turn right into Castle Street for the best view of this neoclassical gem.

Castle Street also has some fine buildings. Ancient Castle Street runs up to Derby Square and the massive Queen Victoria Monument [31]. This is the site of Liverpool Castle, dating from about 1235 but in a poor state by the time of the Civil War (mid 17th century) and demolished by the start of the 18th century. The mound on which it stood has now been largely levelled out. Subsequently it was the site of the beautiful St. George's Church, also long since gone. Turn right down James Street past the station [32]. A tunnel used to run underneath here providing a hidden route from the castle to the river. At the bottom of James Street on the right hand corner with Strand Street stands the curious streaky bacon-patterned White Star Line offices [33].

Cross Strand Street via the pedestrian lights and turn to the right past the huge George's Dock Ventilation and Control Station [34] (for the Birkenhead Road Tunnel) and magnificent Tower Buildings [26]. Return around the rear of the Royal Liver Building to the start of the walk.