The Docklands Page 1

1862 Map

Name POOLGARTH Launched 04/12/1922 Completed 01/1923 Engine builder Smith's Dock Engine type T. 3 cyl. GRT 179 Length (feet) 90.2 Beam (feet) 22.7

Rea Towing Company, Liverpool. Fate 22/12/1940 sunk by a mine off South Canada Dock, Liverpool.

Name: Huntingdon. Cargo vessel. Built Bremen: 1920. Owner: Federal Steam. Fate: Torpedoed 24th February 1941


I found the image on the right in a copy of Life Magazine dated 18th September 1939.
Bombers arriving in Liverpool Docks.  


Canada Dock October 1967 left above and right

St Georges Basin Liverpool 

Huskisson Dock 1967

Empress of England in dock December 1967


Clytoneus (scrapped 1972) & Ixion (scrapped 1972)  at West Float Birkenhead approx 1969 - 1970. I took these with a tiny plastic camera. Gordon Lowe, via - provided me with cargo layout sketches for various Ixion voyages. Here they are below - August 2016. 2 are dated 128 and 1940.

1912 - Torpedoes and sank 1941

1951 - Scrapped 1972

Maria Assumpta at Albert Dock

I love this image and would love to find the original
This was scanned from a very old copy of a magazine

 Nearest IOM ship is the Manxman

Vittoria Dock (a clue to the date is that the Clan Line shed is still being built). I worked in the Mills, top left  

Originally RFA Fort Grange, Renamed in 2000.
Recently refitted at cost of £28m, support vessel to RN Response force Task Group

Manx Fishing Vessel Manx Beauty. Locally owned and now operates from Birkenhead along with the Sarah Jane
Built in 2007. Blue Dragon a Cargo Vessel  
  Saw action in the Gulf War. The Leaf Class 'Orangeleaf' 5000 ton.

As the MV Blader Wood she also saw action in the Falklands War in 1982

Had a major refit conducted in 2009, at the time of this image.

Primary current role is refuelling Allied vessels in the Gulf.

LM Construction vessel seen in East Float Birkenhead by the Clan Line Shed

WW2 Bomb damage on the Hydraulic Tower. Four Bridges 

Vittoria Dock Birkenhead

Birkenhead's Dockland

From The Illustrated London News - Saturday, April 10, 1847
The Opening of Birkenhead docks

On Monday last, a portion of the immense docks at Birkenhead was opened with the (????) befitting such an important incident, and a vast concourse of persons assembled to witness the ceremony. The works thrown open form but a small part of the magnificent and comprehensive scheme, but what has already been accomplished gives a goodly promise of a speedy completion of a most useful and efficient series of docks, the promotors of which may hope, at no very distant day, to see them, on account of their extensive usefulness, worthy of being associated in importance with those on the other side of the Mersey. Birkenhead may now be said to have entered into competition, or rather into articles of partnership, with Liverpool, the great north outlet and inlet of our foreign and transatlantic trade. At any rate, it will henceforth divide the palm with Liverpool, and participate in the prosperity and profit derivable from its immense mercantile marine. Birkenhead may fairly be looked upon as of Liverpool lineage and alliance, and having been literally called into life by that leviathan of trade itself in its effort towards finding an ampler field for the accomodation and convenience of its over-grown trade. Birkenhead will now become a sort of chapel of ease for the redundant commerce of the mother port, and probably there is no port in the kingdom, not excepting Liverpool itself, that presents such grand natural facilities. A few years hence, and Birkenhead will become a second Liverpool, launched upon the Mersey; for time was when, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Liverpool itself, now the entrept of all our trade with the Americas and Indies, was simply a fishing village. The same a few years since  might be said of Birkenhead. At present it is not even mapped out as a town upon the Mersey, a few years ago,

Both are probably the finest examples on record of the brilliant results of unfettered British enterprise. Anciently the settlement and consolidation of a town was the work of generations; now, thanks to steam, they spring up and prosper with all the rapidity of the famed ice palace of the Queen of Russia. Great advantage may be expected to accrue to the public and frequenters from froeign ports from the generous emulation that will be established between the old and the new ports, and in a few years the northern, no less than the eastern arm of the Mersey, may be expected to be the seat of a crowded and busy community. It will give no insignificant idea of the immenseness of Liverpool, that it extends for three miles along the Mersey., and is upwards of a mile in depth. Liverpool has for years had at her command a comprehensive and splendid chain of railways, and unsurpassed port facilities. Upon these Birkenhead is only just entering. Monday gave England, in the latter respect, a new point of ingress and egress to the western seas; but Birkenhead will have to wait awhile for the completion of her railways. It is true that she has long had one, but this is less than half what she wants. Ere long she will be the very "rosette" of railways, for, in addition to the existing Chester and Birkenhead, she will have the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction, operations on which have just been commenced by the contractors in real ernest, and which, in addition to drawing all the commerce of the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire to the Mersey, will give to Birkenhead the mineral trade of Wales, the salt traffic of Cheshire, the immense products of the potteries, besides having with Holyhead the traffic to Ireland. If Rome was not built in a day, Birkenhead, by a figure of speach, assuredly has been. We have in it a great mercantile community, with all its moral and commercial apparatus springing simultaneously and almost magically into action under the vivifying power of English enterprise. We have it put in possession, at the same time, of docks for forests of foreign masts, with warehouses for hiving their wares, and with a railway for their transit to inland homes.


docks.jpg (49450 bytes)


To enable a large party from London to attend the entertainment an express train was harnessed for six o'clock, and started precisely at that hour from the splendid station of the London and North-Western, at Euston Square. The arrangement under the superintendence of Capt. Huish, the superintendent, and Mr. Brookes, the traffic-manager, were excellent. The train worked its way at a slashing pace, time and space apparently being secondary things - say at forty miles an hour - to Liverpool, with as much ease, and apparently in as little time, as it would take to peregrinate between Hammersmith and Hampstead. Having breakfasted in London, the next consideration was that of practically achieving of luncheoning at Liverpool. There were five first-class carriages to the express train, and two luggage-vans, weighing together 32 tons. To draw this special load, one of Stephenson's long-boiler engines, with an outside cylinder, and seven feet driving-wheel, was selected. The line was understood to be laid out for the special performance of this engine, and it was anticipated that she would make a splendid run to Birmingham, (a hundred and twelve miles) in two hours and a half, and to Birkenhead (two hundred and twelve miles) in five hours, at forty-two miles to the hour; but , owing to the over-straining of the staple works of the engine in order to attain the attempted velocity, the cylinder became heated, which prevented its accomplishment. It is only fair to state, that a strong lateral wind prevailed the whole way, which presented, of course, considerable retardation. At ninety-three miles up the line, which from starting at 6 A.M., was reached at 13 minutes past 8, the cylinder gearing became red-hot, and the speed was slackened to 8 or 10 miles an hour, the old coach average, for several miles, and for some distance to 3 or 4 miles an hour. Close upon Birmingham this engine came to a dead stop, and it was found necessary to supersede her by a new pilot engine, and lay her up in the locomotive hospital. Ultimately, the train fell foul of Birmingham at 28 minutes past 9, doing the distance, 112 miles, in 3 hours and 5 minutes, or at a rate of 40 miles an hour. The train, after stopping 13 minutes, started from Birmingham for Birkenhead at 16 minutes past 9, passing Stafford and Crewe, where there is a splendid new station, built in the Elizabethan style, and at a minute or two past 12, the train, amidst the mingled artillery of its own rattle, salutes from six-pounders and the artillery of tongues, made a triumphant entry into Birkenhead, amid strains of "See the Conquering Hero comes". 


Here the scene was truly splendid and imposing. The immense estuary of the Mersey, one of the noblest arms of the sea in England, was mirrored over with multitudes of masts and men - with steamers stemming its tumultuous tide, with vessels of all climes sleeping tranquilly on its surface, bellying at intervals with their white wings to the breeze. It was a scene of animation such as the waters of Liverpool have never seen before, nor perhaps ever will see again, burdened with all the beauty of which both Birkenhead and Liverpool could boast. The proceedings of this part of the inauguration were commenced by the Birkenhead Dock Commissioners, the Birkenhead Improvement Commissioners, the Directors of the Birkenhead Dock (Warehouses) Company, the Directors of the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway, and the Directors of the Chester and Birkenhead Railway, receiving Lord Morpeth (the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests), Lord Lincoln, and other distinguished visitors, on board a new steam packet, the Lord Warden, built by Mr. John Laird, which was in readiness at Monk's Ferry.

The Lord Warden is a beautiful iron steam-vessel, just completed, under the superintendence of Mr. Morrison, the foreman of Mr. Laird. She is a companion to the Clementine, of quick-sailing celebrity, and is expected to prove a clipper. She is now fitting out in Trafalgar Dock.

Leaving Monk's Ferry, the Lord Warden, with the party on board, proceeded, amid vociferous cheering and music, past Woodside Ferry Pier, and the whole extent of the Dock works, and entered the Birkenhead Docks by the Woodside Basin.

The two docks already constructed are the "Passage Dock", near Woodside Ferry, and the "Bridge End Dock", now so called from its being on the site of a small valley, formed originally by a rivulet, or more correctly by a creek, or armlet of the sea, the tide having passed up it, under a bridge, time out of mind.

The walls of both of the new Docks are built of red freestone, principally quarried on the ground, and with ashler bindings. There are a number of arches (facing the river) of the upper Dock, on each side of a tongue forming a quay running westward, which protect the mouths of the sluices, intended to scour out the Great Basin, yet to be constructed on the east. These arches, apparently about twenty in all, and also the piers, are beautifully built of Bolton and Longridge stone.


Albert Dock Liverpool

Alfred Dock Birkenhead
In its heyday, the Hydraulic Tower - note Naval vessel passing through   

Victorian Hydraulic Tower - Four Bridges

Duke Street Bridge
  Lovely image of three tugs by the 4 bridges area - 1950s

Egerton Bridge & an original part of the dockland road - this part is by the 'Four Bridges'

  Left: Formerly the home of the Warship Reservation Trust. The U534 can clearly be seen in its original resting place untreated and uncared for. The owners sold out to developers and the museum ceased to exist and we lost another relic of the past. One or two vessels are still lying in the docks awaiting new homes in 2012. 
East Float Egerton Bridge Feb 4th 2009 

One of the very few remaining cranes. Taken Feb 4th 2009

Remains of Sarsia. Owner went bust and just left it
Dark satanic mills! Now 'luxury' apartments in 2011
  The entrance to Morpeth Dock. Dated 1868, these dock gates stand just south of Bridge Street between Hamilton Square Railway Station and Woodside Ferry Terminal. Image: Sept 2008 
Near the site of the former Grayson, Rollo & Clover shipyard, next to Woodside Ferry Terminal is this giant "plug" - the chain is one of those holding the Ferry Terminal in position. I pl;aced this image once in a local group and asked people to identify it, only one got it, out of several dozen!!   
Woodside Ferry Terminal in September 2008 and Duke Street Bridge Sept 2009 

Egerton Bridge 2009 

The 4 bridge area, now only 1 bridge

Duke Street Bridge and lorry driver not looking where he is going!!

Bidston Dock, now filled in
These cranes have been demolished and were subject of a tv programme - Site of Bhead Priory & Cammell Laird
  The One O'Clock Gun at Morpeth Dock, fired remotely from the Observatory on Bidston Hill last fired in the late 60s. There was an amusing tale told back when the gun was fired manually. "How do you know when it is 1 oclock" the gunman was asked. "I look at the Liver Buildings clock" was the reply. The clock master of the Liver Buildings was asked when he was making adjustments, "How do you know when it is 1 oclock?" He replied, "I listen for the one oclock gun" !!! 

It was last fired on 18th July 1969

Two images of Morpeth Dock from opposite ends 
  3 images of the Cheshire Railway Building in Bridge Street Birkenhead.
The first image was taken from the nearby Irish Ferry Terminal - Feb 4th 2009
The building of the Ark Royal At Cammell Laird shipyard 1949  
  Loco on dockland railway heading for Bidston 0-6-0 Tank Engine

Clover Ship Yards
In this image, off to the left would be Cammell Laird, above the yard is the A41 Chester Road, to the top right is the tower of Hamilton Square underground station. To the right of the yards is the steam railway terminal. Top centre is Hamilton Square with the tower of the Town Hall. On the dock gates can clearly be seen the word 'Clover' and the timbers shoring up the ships in the dry docks. Second from right could possibly be a Mersey ferry boat. I suspect this image is 1920's possibly nearer 1930. The crews of these ships, whilst in dock, would be 'ship paid off'. Strange thing is that, until the 1960s, not all that much changed. I would take the Ferry, daily, to the Pier Head coming in on the 21 limited stop from Moreton. (Fare 2d) I remember the railway, still in use, I vaguely recall seeing these dock gates as the Ferry left Woodside. I remember the tenements opposite Cammell Laird gates, gungy places.

'wirraldon' from allowed me to reprint this image above of what will become Grayson, Rollo, Clover shipyard located alongside Woodside Railway Station and Ferry.  History of the Royden Family 1808 - 1930 by W Heaton Wakefield, which is reproduced in full on John Royden's Web Pages:  In this site are various references to Graysons, who allthough labelling themselves as Ship Builders, never built a ship from 1830 - 1915.
Very interesting reading here:

  Launching of the Ark Royal  1950 

West Float Birkenhead - Sept 2009

Entrance to Morpeth Dock next to Woodslde Ferry the large builidng is the ventilation for the 'old' Mersey Tunnel

Well overgrown former railway bridge at the Bhead entrance to the Four Bridges area

right: the original Duke Street Bridge
Crane on Cavenish Wharf West Float

Below a few images of the Liverpool Dock Road

South Bramley Moor Dock
The last dock bridge on the Liverpool Dock Road. At the time I took this photo, the road was closed off to facilitate repairs and renovations. No idea what it looks like now. Located near Stanley Dock

The original Dock Road was tarmac'd over, but lack of road works and traffic have ensured the road again sees
the light of day. Hopefully more will appear since I took this in 2008

More images of Albert Dock are here

Replica Brigantine Zebu

This vessel once ran aground off Holland

Blue Funnel 'Nestor' in Gladstone Dock
This locomotive (left) is being shipped out abroad from the area between
Ocean Mill and Duke Street Bridge on Wallasey Dock Road

Stone Manganese Wallasey Dock Road
  Left: Wallasey Tidal Pool which preceded the building of Birkenhead Docks. At this time people used to throw their foul refuse into the Pool where it went out with the tide, but as always, it came back with the tide, mortality was high!

Below two images of part of Birenhead docks taken from Bidston Hill on 23rd May 2015 

The Liver Buildings is on the left of the image, in front is Tower buildings, behind that is India Buildings

These images below are reprinted with permission

Some of these images were artifically coloured, I have returned them to black & white. Also many had figures added to the original image.
This was a prevalent practice as I have images of Sutton Coldfield where wives and children have been added by the 'artist'.

Bramley Moor Dock

Brunswick Dock

Canning Dock

Canning Dock Lock Gates

Canning Dock

Canning Dock

Canning Dock

Salthouse Dock

The Liverpool Overhead Railway opened in 1893 with lightweight electric multiple units in the Liverpool Docks, Lancashire, England. It was the world's first electric elevated railway and the first to use automatic signalling and electric colour light signals. It was referred to locally as the Docker's Umbrella. In the early 1900s electric trains ran on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway to Southport and Aintree; special trains to Aintree ran twice a year after these regular services were withdrawn. A local railway, it was not nationalised in 1948. In 1955 a report into the structure of the many viaducts showed major repairs were needed that the company could not afford. The railway closed at the end of 1956 and the structures were dismantled in the following year.

Shovelling brazil nuts into sacks for distribution

This shows Princes Dock, taken from the (then) new Liver Buildings

The RMS Empress of Britain (above) was an ocean liner built between 1928 and 1931 by John Brown shipyard in Scotland and owned by Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. This ship was the second of three CP vessels named Empress of Britain — provided scheduled trans-Atlantic passenger service from spring to autumn between Canada and Europe from 1931 until 1939.  In her time, she was the largest, fastest, and most luxurious ship between England and Canada. She was torpedoed on 28 October 1940 by U-32 and sank. At 42,348 gross tons, she was the largest liner lost during the Second World War and the largest ship sunk by a U-boat.


Barque from Germany 1923 - sunk in 1944 off Hamburg, built by Krupps Keil. Below at sea

The figures and small craft left are faked into the image

Gladstone Dock sbove and below

The former base of Capt Walker RN in WW2. These buildings came after WW2


Wallasey Videos: