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Community archaeology excavation on Piermaster’s Green this Summer

This summer, Museum of Liverpool’s (MoL) archaeology team are leading a community archaeology excavation on Piermaster’s Green, Royal Albert Dock (adjacent to the Piermaster’s House). 

Part of a waterfront research project which will inform the wider waterfront transformation plans, and with £10,000 funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRA), the excavation will involve researching and investigating the site of two of the four houses which stood at Albert Parade, numbers 7 and 8 Albert Parade.  

During the Blitz of the Second World War, the bustling Royal Albert docks became a target for the German bombers, causing substantial damage. Residences that were built from 1852, were extensively damaged and later demolished, and it is this very area which will be excavated, with hope of the site containing some remnants of the homes. Additionally, this excavation is also part of the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Albert Dock by Prince Albert in 1846. To celebrate this milestone, the dig will aim to uncover and explore the material culture associated with the pier master’s, dock masters and their homes where families once resided. 

Liz Stewart Lead Curator for Archaeology & Historic Environments at Museum of Liverpool said: “We are very excited to be exploring the homes of the dock masters and their families through this community excavation. Working with local people this is a great chance to explore a site at the heart of Liverpool’s waterfront.  

National Museums Liverpool has ambitious plans to transform the experiences visitors will have at our waterfront sites, over the next ten years, and this project is one of the initial steps to understand the history of the place in detail.” 

Opening between two and three trenches, MoL’s team hope to educate and inform local communities about archaeology, and the importance of this historical site. Enabling adults and children to engage and learn archaeological techniques, people will come away with an enhanced knowledge of life on the Albert Dock. Hoping to discover items from daily family life dating from pre-war periods, findings will hopefully highlight the normal family life that existed along these docks.  

Using old maps and aerial photographs and drawings of the area from before the Second World War, as well as satellite images, budding archaeologists will be well armed to know where to start the dig. Old census documents have also been used to find out the names of the people who lived in these houses. There are also a number of old plans showing the houses before demolition.  

This community archaeology project plays a significant part of the waterfront transformation project as we continuously research and inform the historic significance of the site. Spanning the area between the Royal Albert Dock and the Mann Island, the transformation project will take in key landmarks including the creation of pedestrian links to the Canning Docks and their quaysides while also bringing life to multiple buildings and providing new commercial opportunities within the Cooperage, Mermaid House, Pilotage, Piermaster’s Office, and the Great Western Railway Building. This dig will reveal stories of the docks while directly engaging with local communities and teaching new skills.  

The dig will take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each week from the 26th of May until 30th July with Covid-19 safety measures in placeFind out what the team get up to as you pass by on your daily walk, on the website or via social media using the hashtag #DockHouseDig. The excavators will be sharing what we discover throughout the project and if you have any memories of the houses or the docks we would love to hear those too! 

For information on the waterfront transformation project, please visit: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/waterfront  

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