I have never seen any place like Liverpool Liverpudlians are proud of their birth place, not only for its history, supremacy as a sea port, delightful situation and surroundings, but because of its preminence of its merchant princes and citizens stability, integrity,progressiveness and humour.

My buisness career started in 1860 for a carting and forwarding agency in Regents Rd, not far from Clarence Dock. My duties involved polishing the handles of the big front door, tending to fire grates and cleaning desks. I was then given the job of attendant to the arrival of the Irish boats to list assignments, five or six per morning. I would arrange for carts to take stuff away.. I worked from 5am to 9 or 10 pm for 4 shillings a week and was allowed sixpence a week to spend. I can see myself now standing at the gang way of the Dublin boat Royal William keeping tally on the stock, cattle, pigs and sheep. It was not an easy matter to count sheep black and white heads jumping over each other.

In those days the Dublin boats were , Royal William, Ballinasloe, Prince, Princess, Duke of Kent, Trafalgar, Iron Duke and Windsor. [ I once went to Dublin on the Royal William to see Jim MACE fight Joe COBURN but the fight never came off].

The Dogheda boats were the Faugh-a-Ballagh and the Brian Boroihme.

The Dundalk boats were the Earl of Erne [dear old Capt Williams] and Pride of Erin [Capt KELLY].

The Londonderry boats were the William McCormick and the Enniskillen.

The Cork steamers were all named after birds. The principal Belfast steamer was the Semaphone [a screw]. Captain CAMPBELL who had only one eye, on one occasion finding that his boat was late and the gates closing, gently poked her nose in and opened the gates, getting into dock safely. There could have been a serious accident but he took his chances..

One of the Glasgow boats was a fine looking paddle-wheeler, Princess Royal [Capt M'CLEERY] and a screw steamer called the Silloth sailed to Whitehaven.

From the Huskisson north to the Brunswick south the docks presented an unbroken forest of masts, from ships from every known corner of the world. In those days Messers LAIRD at Birkenhead , were busy building blockade Funnels, one the Alabama. They caused so much havoc on the high seas and came close to causing war between England and America, They also built a Paddle Wheeler named Let-Her-Be she exceeded her contract speed on her first trial . She ran the blockade successfully and after the war was shortened to half to fit through the lochs on the Canadian Canals and was run on Lake Superior as a passenger boat her name changed to Chicora. She is still going strong today. The bell with the words, “Let Her Be” is still on the forecast and the very same engine placed in her by FAWCETT PRESTON and Co are there yet with the plate giving the builders name. When she got through sailing on Lake Superior she was again cut in two to get back through the canal locks and she is still sailing between Lewistown to Toronto. She rides like a duck as she did when she left the Mersey in 1861 and is still one of the fastest boats on Lake Ontario

I remember the Great Eastern sailing down the Mersey on her first trip decked in flags from stem to stern with Capt HARRISON on the bridge. Myriads of people on both sides saying good-bye. She took 2000 soldiers to Halifax about the time of the troubles over the Trent Affairs and the forcible taking of Messers SIDDELL and MASON confederate envoys from that steamer.

Those were the days to of the magnificent full rigged clippers, it was a delight to see, the Red Jacket, the Blue Jacket, the White Jacket, Lightening, Donald Mc'Kay, Dreadnought and others built for racing with sails as white as snow and decks you could eat from. They were berthed in the Waterloo dock. James BARNES and Co sailed the Black Ball Line to Melbourne, two of their ships James Barnes and Marco Polo which was brought back before her owners had thought she had reached Melbourne, too crowded with canvas. That was before the days of the Ocean Telegraph.GIBBS BRIGHT and Co had two grand auxillary screw steamers, Great Britian and the ill fated Royal Charter which went ashore off the coast of Angelsey within hours of her destination ,450 lives lost.

The British North American Co then CUNARD had the Asia, Africa, Europa, and America later the Persia and Scotia sailing to New York, their screw steamers then came in and Capt JUDKINS was made Commodore. The American steamers fired a gun when they left and then again when they returned to let people know.

INMAN and Co had another line of steamers to New York and J and A ALLAN had steamers to quebec and Montreal. They had a run of bad luck losing the Indian, Anglo Saxon, North American and others in quick succession.

Other companys I recall are John BIBBY Sons and Co, T.J BROCKLBANK, S.R GRAVES and Co, F. SHAND and Co, HORSFALL and Son, LAMPORT and HOLT, PAPAYANNI, MUSSABINT and Co. Principal vessel owners had their offices in Water St, Chapel St, James St, Rumford Place, Regent St.

Waterloo Rd from Chapel St north were filled with packet offices and Sailors' shipping offices. William Tapcott and Co and Ginon and Co being the two principal firms in the buisness. Each ship sailing to Melbourne, Tasmania and New York were full of immigrants who had to provide there own bedding, tin cups, plates and cutlery , their boarding was a sight to see.

The Brunswick Dock South end was given up to timber ships, the timber firms fronted the dock. Bland and Co and Ewing and Co. Edward CHALLONER did commission sales and would wine and dine his customers at a warehouse in Park St.

Liverpool of 1860/1870 there were giant preachers in those days Rev Hugh McNEILE. D. D., was incumbent at St Paul’s Princes Park and had the most aristocratic congregation. He was a man of commanding presence and physique being over 6ft tall and a graceful horse rider.

Every service was crowded the organ was in the loft. The Sunday school scholars in the galleries on each side of it. One Sunday I nearly came to grief, I was deputed to blowing the bellows of the organ, my girl sweetheart came to help, I forgot the bellows and the music stopped.

The Rev Mr FORREST now Dean of Worcester was at St Andrew’s in Renshaw St he was succeeded by Rev William LEFROY now Dean of Norwich.

The Rev Dr W. M. FALLOON was at St Brides. Dear old Dr RAFFLES was at the chapel in Great George St known as Dr RAFFLES Chapel

. The Rev Hugh Stowell BROWN preached at the corner of Hope St and Myrtle St. All of these men were renowned for their pulpit eloquence, strong personality and force of character.

I recall another church I visited about 8 yrs ago Dr John WATSON’S [Ian MACLAREN Church] in Ullet Rd, that was always packed to standing room only.

The principal educational institutions were the Collegiate Institute in Shaw St the principal was Rev J. W. BARDSLEY later Bishop of Carlisle.

The Mechanics Institute on Mount St and my old school St James. I remember a snowball fight between St James and the Mechanics on the mount, Inspector QUICK’S son was killed and the contests were stopped.

Before Sefton Park was opened the Princes Park and Botanical Gardens in Edge Lane were the only places of recreation.

The ZINGARI Cricket Club and the Liverpool Club played their cricket matches in Princes Park also the cricket ground in Wavertree Rd. The Zingari were generally the guests of the Earl of Sefton at Croxteth.

The only public library was BROWN’S in Shaws Brow given by Sir William BROWN Honorary Col of one of the Volunteer Regiments

Talking of Volunteer Regiments the 1st Lancashire Rifles and the 4th Lancashire Artillery greatly rendered their services to the Volunteer Movement generally by Col BOUSFIELD and Col MELLY. The regiment once went to Knowsley for a review by the Earl of Derby each man received a MELTON MOBRAY, Pork Pie and an allowance of Ale

Mr RADLEY kept the aristocratic Adelphi hotel and Mrs LYNN the Waterloo in Ranelagh St afterwards taken down for the railway station. Mrs LYNN’S Turtle soup was famous all over England. Bold St was the fashionable afternoon promenade. A noted establishment also was Jeffrey MORRISH and Co, Crompton House opposite old St Peter’s. This extensive business place was destroyed by fire an incendiary in origin it was supposed.

The Prince of Wales Theatre in Clayton Square run by Alexander HENDERSON staged the best plays, it was here that E. H. SOTHERN the elder first played Lord Dundreary and the delightful burlesques, “Ixion” and “Rumpelstilskin”. SHAW’S in Basnett St was a favourite resort for theatre goers. Oh what delicious thin buttered brown bread you got with your potted shrimps, oysters and lobsters. The lady proprietor was an Old Maid but when she was tendered pay her invariable reply was- “Thank you kindly”; pay my daughter at the bar. The daughter was a niece.

The London and North Western station was were it is now in Lime St but its front were the hotel is now was a great dead wall with passage ways in and out. In 1856 was a great strike among its employees beginning with the goods porters at Wapping and Waterloo Stations Great Howard St extending to the clerks, engineers and brake men. Traffic was almost entirely suspended The company resorted to employing inexperienced hands, passenger trains got into Waterloo and Wapping and goods trains into Lime St. It cost the company a vast sum of money. The Marguis of CHANDOS Chairman and Capt Mark HUISH General manager got directors to pass a resolution forbidding employment ever again of anyone who had participated in the strike. Mr Hardman EARL was the Liverpool director, Abraham FELL Assistant goods Manager at the London and North Western Station Great Howard St is now living a quiet retired life in Buffalo New York.

In those days all passenger trains leaving Lime St were hauled to Edge Hill by an endless rope worked by an engine at Edge Hill. The locomotive was attached at that place. There was no ventilation in the tunnel, the journey was not pleasant.

The Exchange Flags had two memorable days, one when the Cotton Merchants and the Clerks and Office boys snowballed each other so vigorously that the police under Major GREIG had to be called. The Merchants, Clerks and Boys then attacked the police resulting in many black-eyes and arrests.

The other occasion was the receptions given to Tom SAYERS after his fight with John C. HEENAN, the crowd was so immense that Tom made his way by threatening to use his one good arm.

Charles DICKENS honoured Liverpool with a visit and gave readings in the Concert Hall of St Georges Hall giving amongst other pieces ,”Boots at the Holly Tree Inn”, and the trial scene from Pickwick.

Those were the days of great elections Thomas Berry HORSFALL and Charles TURNER were successful in the Tory interests over Joseph C. EWART and another candidate . I can see the procession passing up Bold St with Red, White and Blue banners bearing the inscriptions, “Ships Colonies and Commerce”, “Church and State”, “God save the Queen”, “Half a loaf is better than no bread at all”. Etc

I once saw Rt Hon W. E. GLADSTONE on the hustings in front of St Georges Hall pelted with rotten eggs and flour The Tory candidate was served the same way. Lord SANDON and Mr Assherton CROSS candidates in those years.

I cannot close without referring to those dear old days when, Ullet Rd, Linnet Lane, Smithdown Rd, Aigburth Rd and lanes about Childwall, Allerton, Mossley Hill were bordered by fields of golden waving corn, decorated with poppies. How many lovers now no more, have rambled by moonlight in those delightful spots.

It was a lover and his lass,

With a hey and a ho and a hey nonine!

That o’er the green cornfield did pass

In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,

When the birds do sing, hey, ding a ding a ding!

Sweet lovers love the spring

Those days can never be recalled, but their memory is fragrant yet.

A. E. J.


Copyright 2002 / To date