Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse

Stanley Dock Tobacco WarehouseI wanted to find out a bit more about this huge, iconic building and thought I'd share my discoveries. The basic statistics are impressive in themselves. Designed by Anthony George Lyster, the last of Liverpool's famous dock engineers, the 14-storey building covers 26 acres. There are 42 bays divided by seven loading bays. Its construction took 27 million bricks, 30,000 panes of glass and 8,000 tons of steel. It is said to be the largest brick-build building in the entire world and at the time of its construction it was the largest warehouse in the world of any description. I couldn't determine for certain whether this remains the case. It has few exits to prevent theft and the area between it and the South Stanley Warehouse is known as "Pneumonia Alley" because of a localised wind-tunnel effect and because it is always in shade.

The first tobacco shipment arrived from Virginia in 1648. Trade steadily grew and Liverpool had to build ever larger warehouses to store and supply demand all year round from what is, of course, a seasonal crop. This kept the market stable and free of wild price fluctuations. Stanley Dock was opened in 1848 and had locks linking the docks to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The new tobacco warehouse was opened at the turn of the century and at the time was state-of-the-art. At a high level on the west end in raised brick figures and letters are "MDE, 1900". It is believed that MDE is an acronym for Mersey Docks Estates. (Thanks to Ron Formby at the Scottie Press for digging that out) 

Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse fell out of use in the 1980s and is now Grade 2 listed. English Heritage has said it believes the building should be saved as landmark of Liverpool's port history.

The ongoing development of the Sunday Heritage Market held adjacent to the warehouse, which already brings upwards of 750,000 people a year to the area, can only help to protect the warehouse and find new uses for the buildings. Ex-London barrow-boy Frank Tough is already transforming the Heritage Market as he strives to emulate or even out-do London's Camden Market, the top most-visited tourist destination in the UK. At the Stanley Warehouse, there is massive scope for expansion, in contrast to Camden which is butting up against a lack of available space for growth. With Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008 now rapidly nearing, the Heritage Market can reinvigorate the entire area and secure a modern future for the important buildings it inhabits. For more on Frank's plans, see this interesting feature from Market Trader news. (Photo c English Heritage)


23 Responses to “Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse”

  1. Peter Quinn Says:

    Hello -I was reading your article on the Stanley Dock Warehouse and was wondering if you knew how tall it was. Thanks -Pete.

  2. liverblog Says:

    Hi Peter,
    I don’t have a figure for the height and haven’t so far been able to find one. I guess the best way to get an approximation is to multiply the number of storeys (14) by the height of each floor; I’m not sure what this is but for the allowance of ample storage I’m guessing the ceiling height is 10-12 feet. So you’re looking at between somewhere around 150 feet.

  3. Tony Hynes Says:

    My Family lived in Saltney Street which ran From Great howard Street to the Dock Road, this street consisted of 2 blocks of ‘Tenaments’ and the infamous ‘Courts’. Lokking out from our house the Wall of the Stanley Tabac was 11/12 feet away. When it was hit with incediary bombs during the May Blitz the ash appeared as Snowflakes and the water from the firehoses caused the gutters to run with nicotine water, this caused the demise of quite a number of pets.

  4. Stu Tudorose Says:

    I was lucky enough to see the inside of the warehouse once, and what an amazing building it is.
    There was a large quantity of graffiti about a fella (I assume a gaffa) dubbed ‘onion head’. Does anyone know who he was?!

  5. mick sheehan Says:

    anytime im in liverpool i always go to the sunday market beside the old tobacco warehouse,this is just an amazing building and for it to be sitting there idle is just a disgrace.its a shame to see such an iconic buliding of liverpool not being put to good use.

  6. Rosie Says:

    I thank you for your comment.

  7. Pete T Says:

    Visited the tobacco warehouse whilst up from London on business. Only saw it from outside, but my, what a fabulous and imposing building. My gt gt gt Grandfather lived on Saltney street in the 1840’s and 1850’s in the “courts” Anyone know if there are actually any pictures of the courts anywhere? Would love to see them.

    • june howard Says:

      In 1854 my gt. gt. grandparents were married from Saltney Street, their names were Joseph Swindles (originally from Manchester) and her name was Mary Davies, from Chester. We pass the street frequently but have not been able to trace any photographs of houses at that time.
      June Howard.

  8. Maggie Says:

    Does anybody knows how I can get inside the building? I am an architecture student and I am just so facinated by the warehouse. I have been 2 times for the market but I couldn’t go to the uppers floors… I am also looking for people who used to work there or could tell me more about the memoty of the building
    thank you

  9. Automobile Says:

    just passing thru….

    Looking for something else, but nice site. Have an excellent day….

  10. camden markets Says:

    Top Post, Im subscribing to you blogadded to my Google readerjust stumbled this post have added this post to Digg,

  11. Michelle. Says:

    Hi the building is 125foot (38m) in Height.


  12. Camden Market Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Camden Market has lots to offer every type of visitor, and it’s why it’s one of the city’s!the capital’s favourite tourist magnets.

  13. Hermina Flight Says:

    A Fantastic write up, I will be sure to save this post in my StumbleUpon account. Have a good day.

  14. mary Says:

    My great aunt Annie Reynolds lived in Saltney Street till in I think her seventy’s. She moved then to pagemoss. We would visit her of a sunday, and used to play by the warehouse, it was indeed an imposing building. Great Howard street was to me as a child vast, a big long wide road with such tall buildings. St. Augustines church, so plain and unobtrusive from the outside, and to me so magnificently beautiful inside with it’s three altars. Then there was the convent, which seemed a mysterious place. Nightime going home waiting for that lonely bus on that very cold and eerie road was not a pleasent experience,but worth it!

  15. anthony ryan Says:

    My Mother used to live in Saltney St.Does anyone remember her.Her maiden name was Ryan later changed to Cann through marriage.I beleve she had a half brother ,Tommy Miveld.Regards Anthony.

    • Kathy hamlin Says:

      I am interested in your comment about a Tommy Miveld being your mothers half brother. My great grandfather was Thomas Miveld but he also had a son called Thomas. I do not know anything much but I do know they may have lived around or in Saltney St back in the early 1900’s. Would be interested in more information if you have any. Kath.

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