Notes on the Geography of The United Kingdom: Liverpool: Photo 4
The warehouses on these new docks were entirely fireproof, thanks to cast iron, visible here in the mighty columns. The first use of cast iron as a structural member in an English building was in Liverpool's St. Anne's church (1770), now demolished. Later engineers mastered the material, which the Albert Dock put it to heroic use, with iron columns whose walls were more than an inch thick. Inside the hollow cylinders and helping to bear the weight of the building are brick piers, protected by the iron. The walls atop the columns are heavy indeed, even when the warehouse is empty, because they are 38 inches thick at the base, reduced at each floor to a minimum of 19 inches on the top floor.
The Albert Dock's designer, Jesse Hartley, was made to match. Hughes quotes James Picton describing Hartley as being of "large build and powerful frame, rough in manner and occasionally even rude, using expletives which the angel of mercy would not like to record.... Professionally he had grand ideas and carried them into execution with a strength, solidity and skill which have never been exceeded. Granite was the material in which he delighted to work." (P. 16.)
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