Liverpool Town Council’s Dock Committee was the original port authority in the city. In 1709 it had been authorised to construct Liverpool’s first enclosed ship basin, the Old Dock, which was the first commercial wet dock in the world. By 1750 the Dock Committee had been replaced by the Liverpool Dock Trustees. In order to provide stone for the construction of the expanding dock system, from 1830 the Trustees operated large quarries at Creetown in south-west Scotland.
From around 1850 the Liverpool Corporation came under increasing outside pressure from Parliament, Manchester, and dock users, to relinquish control of the port to a separate public body. This resulted in the creation of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (M. D. & H. B.) in 1858 which became the overall port authority for the Lower Mersey.
The Board comprised 24 elected members and four nominated by the Mersey Conservancy Commissioners. An elaborate administrative system developed, including nine standing committees to oversee the work of each major department.
In 1972 the M. D. & H. B. was reconstituted as a company called the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company to allow it to raise finances for new building initiatives and projects, including the new container dock at Seaworth.
In 2005 the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company was acquired by Peel Ports, part of the property and transport group Peel Holdings.