I AM proud to add my voice to the tributes being paid to Leonard Eppel CBE following his sad death at the age of 84.
Although he was not a household name, he deserves our gratitude as the man who, in the 1980s, placed his faith in a struggling Liverpool by investing in the regeneration of the then-derelict Albert Dock.
When it was first opened by Prince Albert in 1846, the dock was revolutionary, its advanced non-combustible warehouses making it a busy and important docking system.
After the damage of the Blitz and the decline of docking in Liverpool, it was forced to close – only to reopen again in 1988, thanks to the work of Mr Eppel’s development company, Arrowcroft.
He said he was moved on his first visit to the dock by its strong character and sense of history. These are features that I recognise throughout the whole city, which has benefited enormously from the regenerative renaissance of which Albert Dock’s reopening was a key part.
That unique character is what now draws more than 4m visitors to the rejuvenated Albert Dock every year, making it our most vital tourist attraction and one of the most popular in the country.
In 2011, when Liverpool welcomed the Labour Party’s Annual Conference, the dock’s wide variety of venues played host to many fringe events and meetings.
I eagerly look forward to seeing the conference return so that it may benefit from, and contribute to, the ever-improving resources and atmosphere of this wonderful historical site.
Liverpool as a whole has every reason to thank Leonard Eppel for his vision.
Nearly 30 years after his company first entered negotiations which would save Albert Dock, much-needed regeneration is still taking place throughout the city, with plans in place for new housing, shops, hotels and much more.