William SIMPSON, aged 52
Death of William SIMPSON 1883

Death of William SIMPSON 1883

Liverpool Mercury, June 18th 1883

Death of Mr W. SIMPSON

In the sudden and unexpected death of Mr William SIMPSON at his residence Princes Landing-stage, at an early hour on Sunday morning, Liverpool has lost a citizen who for many years played an active and not unimportant part in its political and social life, and the poor and distressed a kind-hearted and generous friend. The melancholy event was the result of a few hours illness and surprised none so much as the members of his own family and the most intimate of his acquaintances.

Some 12mths months ago Mr SIMPSON, whilst driving, accompanied by one of his daughters in a suburb of the town, was thrown out of the trap and sustained serious injury to the right hand and severe shock. Though apparently quite recovered from the shock, his hand never regained its normal condition and strength, but whether the accident in any way conduced to the shortening of his life it is difficult to conjecture. On Friday morning he crossed by the Woodside Ferry in his usual state of health and took a drive to West Kirby in his pony carriage, which he stabled on the other side of the river. Returning home in the evening he became suddenly unwell and it was with great difficulty that he drove his carriage back to the stable without assistance. When he got home he told his wife how he felt, and believing that a vapour bath, which he was in the habit if taking frequently, would do him good, he went to the Pierhead for that purpose, remaining there for half an hour or more. After the bath he stated he felt relieved , but retired to bed the moment he got home about 8.30pm. There was nothing in his condition to cause alarm, and he himself believed he would be quite well after a nights rest. Under the circumstances it was not thought necessary to call in medical advice. Shortly after midnight intense pain in the bowels returned and at about 3am his eyes closed in what appeared to be a refreshing sleep. In a few minutes however, a change in his appearance betokened death, and although a medical man was called in immediately, his services were to no avail and he pronounced life extinct. Stoppage of the bowels is supposed to be the immediate cause of death.

A man of marked individuality, almost approaching to eccentricity, Mr SIMPSON stands out conspicuous among the public characters of Liverpool. He was born at Lancaster on the, 18th June 1829, so that had he lived today would have been the 54th anniversary of his birthday. His father was a working joiner and came to Liverpool in his son's infancy. What is known in Mr SIMPSON'S life has been gathered from his own statements in public and private. Possessing considerable capacity of speech, an eloquent tongue, and a large fund of information, it was his proudest boast that his education cost his parents 2d a week, and he got very little at that. He was always fond of reading and had some leaning towards literature, though beyond a collection of poems which he wrote in early life, and snatchings from which he was fond of reciting when in friendly company, he did not make any use of his abilities in that direction. His mother was a remarkable woman in her time. She took a very active part in the teetotal movement in Liverpool in about 1840, being totally designated, the "Queen of teetotallers". Young SIMPSON used to recite at the gatherings which his mother addressed and it was no doubt that in this way he acquired as a boy that self-confidence which was always a prominent trait in the character of the man. Mr SIMPSON was himself a teetotaller, and for some time prior to his death wore the "blue ribbon".

His career has been a very eventful one, few men have experienced life in more varied aspects than he. The first position of any note which he filled - he was trained to no trade or calling, his father dying in his son's youth, was that of manager of the old Zoological Gardens, West Derby Rd. Later he became manager of the Rhyl Steampacket Company and subsequently of the New Steamtug Company Ltd. He is best known in his private life, however, as the refreshment caterer on the landing stages, having carried on the confectionary business there on his own account since 1857. By the great fire in 1874 in which the whole stage was reduced to ashes, Mr SIMPSON was a severe loser, in fact, it was said he lost his all in the flames. But this did not seem to dishearten him very much, he was a man of indomitable perseverance and courage and with the assistance of the Mersey Dock Board, who built him a temporary shed, in which he carried on business until the new stage was built, he soon forgot his misfortune. As a business man he was fairly successful, and an appeal for charity was never made to him in vain. Besides his liberality with his personal limited means he was in various ways instrumental in raising large sums of money for the alleviation of distress and it is the poor of the town by whom he will be most missed, "Simpson's bowl" has obtained an almost worldwide notoriety and by the means of this most novel expedient of collecting the unostentatious free will offerings of the Liverpool public and others leaving and arriving at the port by sea, he raised some thousands of pounds towards the Irish Distress Fund and for the South Wales miners on the occasion of the great strike. He also went among the distressed in Ireland and Wales and made himself personally acquainted with their condition. He it was, too, who originated the Hospital Saturday cages for receiving the small contributions of the working classes and others in the streets. He a few years ago borrowed a number of parrot and other cages from his Son-in-law Mr CROSS of Earle St, and obtained the permission of the authorities to suspend them from lamp posts a considerable amount of money was then raised, the experiment so successful as to justify the annual adoption of the Hospital Saturday cages. One of the last charitable acts of his life was performed on Friday morning when he substantially assisted a poor but respectable widow in a case of oppression by her landlord.

The Graphic October, 1878, The Abercarne explosion, Simpson's bowl.
In politics, Mr SIMPSON, until a few years ago identified himself with the Conservative party, he was one of the early members of the Liverpool Parliamentary Debating Society and was for some time the recognised Conservative leader in the amateur "House". In the parliamentary campaign of 1868, during Mr GLADSTONE'S candidature for South West Lancashire, Mr SIMPSON was one of his most ardent opponents, and though he took credit to himself for having been the means of defeating a great man, he has since denounced his conduct on that occasion as the greatest folly of his life. At the Liverpool parliamentary election of 1873, in which the party candidates were, Mr John TORR [C], and Mr W. S. CAINE [L], Mr SIMPSON issued an address as an independent candidate, but he did not go to the poll, the Tory party having influenced him to retire. In the following year at the general election he was again nominated as an independent candidate, the party nominees being, Lord SANDON and Mr John TORR, Conservatives, Mr W. RATHBONE and Mr W. S. CAINE, Liberals. Mr SIMPSON obtained only 2435 votes, being 13.366 behind Mr CAINE, the unsuccessful candidate. There is no doubt Mr SIMPSON had an ambition for a seat in parliament, and though his name has not been mentioned in connection with the representation of this city since the 1874 election, he up to the last boasted that he would some day sit for Liverpool. In municipal politics the deceased gentleman has played a not less conspicuous part, and in the matter of electioneering he instituted a new order of things, which will long identify his name with purity of election.

At the November election of 1879 he contested West Derby Ward in opposition to Mr J. NICHOL now Alderman NICHOL and discarded the tactics of his opponents, dispensing with both canvassers and cabs. To the surprise of the town generally he poled 232 votes more than Mr NICHOL, the voting being 2376 for SIMPSON and 2144 for NICHOL. Mr SIMPSON was afterwards unseated on petition by the Conservatives upon a pure technicality, the contention being that his place of residence being on the landing-stage, was not within the borough and that therefore he was not legally on the register.. Having duly qualified himself, however, he again in November last contested West Derby Ward in opposition to Mr Leigh GREGSON, but the adoption of the latter gentleman of cabs, canvassers and other agencies proved too strong for Mr SIMPSON'S, "purity ticket" and he was not successful.

The gallant fight for the representation of Preston as a working man's candidate against Mr Cecil RAIKES the nominee of the conservative party, on the occasion of the vacancy caused by the elevation of the late Lord Justice HOLKER to the judicial bench, is on of the most memorable contests in the history of that borough - a stronghold of Toryism. Entering the field a week after his formidable rival, with only three clear days between his advent and the day of polling, he succeeded in polling no less than 4212 votes without the aid of any of the electioneering machinery used by the opposite party. He succeeded in very considerably reducing the majority gained by Mr ECROYD at the by-election in the previous year, when the Liberals had a candidate of their own adoption in the person of Mr Yates THOMPSON. Mr SIMPSON had not even the recognition of the local Liberal leaders, although he expressed pronounced Liberal views, his chief supporters at his meetings being working men. In recognition of his great moral victory and his purity of election principles, the working men of Preston subsequently subscribed to and presented him with a handsome service of plate. Mr SIMPSON was very prominent in connection with the great strike among the Liverpool dock labourers when he championed their cause and acted as a sort of mediator between them and their employers. He had a great influence with the men, and exerted it on the side of peace and order, for which he received a public acknowledgement from the city magisterial bench.

Mr SIMPSON was identified with many social movements in Liverpool. Besides his advocacy of the temperance cause he was an active supporter of the agitation for the repeal of the C.D. Acts, and was largely instrumental in the foundation of the Needlewomen's Institution. He was for some time a member of Reform and Junior Reform Clubs, and also for many years up to his death belonged to the Everton Lodge of Freemasons.

Mr SIMPSON leaves a widow and six children [two of whom are married] to mourn his loss. On Saturday the Town Hall flag floated half-mast as an acknowledgement of his former connection with the Corporation. His body will be interred at Smithdown Rd, Cemetery at 4pm this afternoon. Friends who wish to follow the remains to the grave will please assemble at the Princes Landing-stage at three o' clock. The procession will leave the stage by No 5 bridge, thence along Water St, Dale St, Old Haymarket, John's Lane, Lime St, Mount Pleasant, Oxford St, Abercromby Square and Smithdown Lane.

At the meeting yesterday of the, West Derby branch of the Irish National League, held at 2 Holdsworth St, Kensington, the following vote of condolence was unanimously passed :-

"That we the members of this branch have heard with much regret of the death of Mr W. SIMPSON, the ever ready philanthropist and friend of the distressed, and we take this first opportunity of tendering our hearty condolence to Mrs SIMPSON and family in their great bereavement."

Funeral of William SIMPSON 1883

Liverpool Mercury, June 18th 1883

Funeral of William Shaw SIMPSON

Amid tokens of universal sympathy the mortal remains of William Shaw SIMPSON, who died suddenly at his residence the Princes Landing-stage, on Saturday morning, were consigned to their final resting place in Smithdown Lane cemetery yesterday afternoon. The condition of the corpse was such owing to its peculiar situation and disturbances by the continuous oscillation of the stage, which accelerated decompostion, that an early funeral was considered advisable.

Notwithstanding the comparative short notice of the mournful ceremony conveyed by yesterdays morning papers, the cortege which followed the coffin from the Landing-stage to the grave was of a thoroughly representative character, and one of the largest that has been witnessed in the city for some time. It was attended by deputations from different associations both political and social, in this district and other parts of Lancashire and Cheshire, almost every local organisation of which Mr SIMPSON had been connected, and the labouring bodies whose causes in troubled times he had exposed, and whose interests he had protected were represented among the mourners. Few public men who have sprung from "the people" have done more with the limited opportunities which he possessed than Mr SIMPSON for that class to which he belonged, and the homage which the thousands of working men and women did to his memory by their presence at the graveside was a fitting tribute of affection for one whose life was cut short when it gave most promise of usefulness.

The Princes Landing stage was crowded with people of all classes long before the cortege was timed to start and the decorum of the vast assembly was a noticeable feature. The police force under the direction of Insp PURCELL, had to cope with the ordinary contingencies of a crowd , their task was very light owing to the willingness of the public to conform to the arrangements. The Dock Board gave permission for the hearse to be drawn in front of the deceased late residence for the reception of the coffin, the mourning coaches and other conveyances forming part of the funeral procession remaining on the quay close to No 5 bridge. About 3.30pm the coffin was borne from the refreshment rooms and whilst it was being placed in the hearse hundreds of heads were uncovered.

The inscription on the coffin which was of polished oak, was in the following simple terms :-

"William Shaw SIMPSON, died June 16th, 1883, aged 53yrs."

Upon it were placed about fifty wreaths, most had cards attached bearing tokens of tender affection. That placed by Mrs SIMPSON, bore the words, "From your loving wife."

Another from Mr and Mrs WHITE [daughter and son-in-law], "In loving memory of my dear father, from one of his bouquets and her husband."

Other wreaths were placed upon the coffin by Mr and Mrs CROSS, [son-in-law and daughter] and other members of the bereaved family. Another a gift from a class of public servants amongst whom Mr SIMPSON was very poplar, "With much sympathy from the letter-carriers of Liverpool." A handsome wreath was sent by the Junior Reform Club of which the deceased was a member, described on the mourning card were the words, "From a few friends members of the Junior Reform Club." A body of badge porters, dockgatemen, and stagemen in their uniforms formed in processional order walked in front of the hearse along the stage, across the pontoon bridge to the square in front of St Nicholas Church, where the carriages drew up in the rear of the mourners who followed the hearse on foot.

Occupants of the mourning coaches in the following order :-

1st carriage, Master Isodore D. SIMPSON, only son of the deceased, Mr William CROSS, son-in-law, Master William CROSS nephew, Mr C. WHITE son-in-law.

2nd carriage, Mr C. BURNELL nephew, Mr Alfred SWAN and Mr Henry SWAN brothers of the deceased's widow, Mr Leigh DAVIES nephew.

3rd carriage, Mr Thomas TRUMBLE, Mr BUTCHER, [of the Seamen's Home], Mr J. CARTER, Mr Silas DANBY, [representing the Dock Board].

4th carriage, Mr W. H. CHADWICK, Manchester [representing the National Reform Union], Mr CALDERWOOD, Mr Jas CROSS and Mr NORBURY.

5th carriage, Mr F. J. RICHMOND, Mr J. KING, Mr MURRAY, and Mr S. STOTT.

6th carriage, Mr Fredk SWAN, Mr J. W. HARRISON Snr, Mr J. W. HARRISON Jnr, Mr William BANNISTER, and Mr GEARING.

7th carriage, Mr Ronald MC DOUGALL Snr, Mr R. MC DOUGALL Jnr, Mr MAHOOD, and Mr Henry VAUGHAN.

Next followed the Mayor's carriage, and 18 private cabs containing friends. Among others who followed the remains on foot or in conveyances were, Messers, William SHEPHERD, Alexander PHILLIPS [conductor of the outdoor missions of which the deceased was one of the originators] G. BENSON, Charles KNIGHT, Thomas HARROP and George COLLING, who, with Mr J. W. HARRISON Jnr, acted as bearers at the stage, and the cemetery, J. C. KELLY, who assisted in the funeral arrangements, J. J. FITZPATRICK who represented Father Nugent's Temperance League. J. MARTIN representing the crew of the Liverpool Lifeboat, D. MC CARTHY, W. J. FREEMAN, J. THOMAS and J. HIPKINS, of the Independent Order of Good Templars, Thomas YARE and Joseph SHAW, representing the Radical working men of Preston, from whom Mr SIMPSON received a substantial acknowledgement of his gallant fight on the "purity ticket" at the by-election in that town in February last year. Captain WINSTANLEY, Joseph SHEPHERD, M. HYNES, J. MC ARDLE, Dr CARSON, The Rev J. Bennett HARRISON, [Byrom Hall], J. W. FAIRBROTHER, R. STAFFORD, Edward SUMMER, Liverpool Cabmen's Missionary, H. DAVIES [deceased's solicitor] J. CROMPTON, J. A. KEAN, E. BUTTER, Dr FARMER, E. JEVONS, Dr WHITTLE, W. W.WALKER, Edward JONES, J. THOMAS, representing the Liverpool Temperance Society, and J. W. JULIAN.

After leaving the stage the procession swelled in numbers along the line of the route, every place of vantage for viewing the cortege was densely crowded, from the steamers in the river to public buildings flags drooped half-mast. On each side of the procession on route to Smithdown Rd, the streets were packed with people whom uncovered their heads as the hearse was passing, the windows of the shipping and other mercantile offices were crowded, the gentlemen who frequent the flags of the Exchange mixed with the crowd on each side of the Town Hall. The blinds of the Reform Club were drawn and at many places of business which the mournful procession passed similar tokens of respect were observed. Along St John's Lane a large concourse of people lined each side of the thoroughfare, whilst hundreds of people took up vantage places in the churchyard and on the steps and flags at the west end of St Georges Hall, in Lime St, traffic for a time was suspended. The remaining line of route was along Mount Pleasant, Oxford St, through Abercromby Square and Smithdown Lane, drawn blinds being noticeable at various residences and vast concourses of people at different points, before reaching the churchyard a contingent of letter-carriers joined the procession.

At the cemetery there was an assembly of several thousand people who had been waiting an hour or more for the arrival of the cortege, which did not enter the gates till after 4.30. Among those present were representatives of various organisations with which Mr SIMPSON at one time or another had more or less to do.

P.M, W. J.LUNT, P.M, W. WILSON, Bro KING [Georges stage] and Bro MACDONALD [Princes stage] represented the Everton Masonic Lodge, of which deceased was for many years a member. The Management Committee of the Liverpool Liberal Association, the Reform Club and Junior Reform Club were represented, among the gentlemen being, Messers, R. K. MUSPRATT, [president of the Reform Club, and one of the vice presidents of the Liberal Association], J. PATTERSON [vice presidents of the Liberal Association], E. R. RUSSELL, C. H. BOSOMWORTH, J. MILES, T. E. STEVENS, and J. DAVIES, M. ZICALIOTTI, R. W. MANNING [secretary of the Reform Club], James SAMUELSON, J. MC COMB, [secretary of the Liberal Association], F. WELLS, W. LEVY, representing the Junior Reform Club. The Edge Hill Reform Club of which the deceased was a member was represented by Mr Thomas BELL [President] R. PIERCE, J. PRICE, W. ADAMS, and Captain DANIELS. Representatives from the following Good Templary Lodges also attended, "British Workman","Rose of Everton", "Seacombe Crusaders", "Star of Liverpool", "Standard", and "Star of Promise".

Among others present were, Councillor LEWIS, R. BENNETT, [Secretary of the Conservative Association], George LEGGE, [representing the firm of Messers BALFOUR, WILLIAMSON and Co], W. THOMAS, J. MAHOOD, J. R. MACDONALD, and E. BORELAND [representing the Young Men's Temperance Association], D. S. COLLIN, [Honorary secretary of the Popular Control Association], Captain BRIDGE and R. EDWARDS, CROUCH, R. BRADBURN, , The Rev Major LESTER, the Rev P. T. FORFAR etc.

The burial took place in the Church of England portion of the ground, the officiating clergyman was the Rev William DUNKERLEY of St Thomas's. The chapel in which the first portion of the service was conducted was crowded. The coffin was borne to the graveside just after 5pm.

Dr CARSON addressed those around him at the graveside, he said, they were gathered around the honoured grave of one of the greatest citizens of their city, his doings in both public and private life known to all. He was a striking embodiment of brotherly love, philanthropy, manly spirit and sympathy and they offered his remains the homage of their presence. Let one feeling among them depart from that place, let them remember that there lay all that remained of William SIMPSON the true friend and the sincere lover of the lowly and the poor, the manly asserter of all that the people required. He was the sworn enemy of drink and hundreds and thousands of men and women had directly or indirectly been claimed from its influence by him. His life, in so far, was open to all of them to imitate, they had been beside him in times of great excitement, but, they never heard him speak a word against those who opposed him which might not now be spoken against his grave. He kept his mouth and heart free from all enmities and that was a great part of the secret of his power, the moral power which he had wielded. In him were splendidly developed those fine family feeling which made home life what it ought to be. He was ever a friend to the poor in distress and all his efforts were put forth to raise men to a higher and nobler position in life. The assembly joined in singing "Safe in the arms of Jesus."

The funeral was arranged by Mr R. MC DOUGALL Jnr [MC DOUGALL and Co] and carried out satisfactorily.

During the funeral ceremony it was suggested that a monument to Mr SIMPSON'S memory should be erected, and with that view Mr J. THOMAS has opened a subscription list and will be glad to receive the names of gentlemen willing to co-operate in the movement.

At the management committee of the Liverpool Liberal Association, yesterday Mr E. K. MUSPRATT in the chair, the following resolution was adopted, "That as a mark of respect to the late Mr SIMPSON this committee stand adjourned for a week."

Simpson Memorial

Simpson's Fountain, 1881, courtesy Liverpool Records Office
Liverpool Mercury, Aug 1st, 1883

The memorial to the late Mr William SIMPSON

In the Concert Hall, Lord Nelson St a public meeting was held last evening of the subscribers to the Simpson Memorial Fund, the object being the consideration of the most fitting form the memorial should take. The Rev T. Major LESTER presided over a large attendance, which included on the platform, Dr HITCHMAN and Messers, Charles MC ARDLE, D. CARSON, William PESKETT, J. W. HARRISON Snr, John CARTER, Luke CURRIE, J. W. FAIRBROTHER, C. F. BOSOMWORTH, H. DAVIES, J. BOWMAN, Wm CLOUGH, D. DAVIDSON, A. PHILLIPS, R. BIRKBECK, M. T. HUBBACK, WINSTANLEY, J. C. KELLY, John HAND, C. K. KING.

Mr J. THOMAS, the Hon secretary stated the fund now stood at £150, the Chairman read a letter from Rev J. GRIFFITHS of Merthyr Tydvil, forwarding a subscription of two guineas, in this letter the Rev Gentleman stated that Mr SIMPSON, by means of the "bowl" at the Landing-stage helped greatly to alleviate the distress which prevailed in 1877-78 in South Wales.

Mr MC ARDLE then moved in a touching and sympathetic speech the following resolution, "That this meeting desires to express its deep sense of the great loss occasioned by the death of the late Mr William SIMPSON to his wife and family and to the community at large, and that the chairman be requested to forward a letter of condolence to Mrs SIMPSON on behalf of this meeting."[applause] Mr J. CARSON seconded the resolution which was carried unanimously. Mr CARSON after an address in which he eloquently alluded to the qualities of the late Mr SIMPSON and the services he had rendered to his fellow men moved the following resolution. "Having regard to the life and efforts of the late William SIMPSON in helping to ameliorate the conditions of the working classes and others in this city and elsewhere, the meeting is of the opinion that a suitable public memorial should be erected in his memory." [applause] Dr HITCHMAN in seconding the resolution referred to labours of Mr SIMPSON in the cause of temperance, and said the best way to perpetuate his memory was to emulate his noble deeds. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Mr C. F. BOSOMWORTH then moved that, "This meeting was of the opinion that the memorial should consist of a drinking fountain and a figure of Mr SIMPSON, and that the following be the committee with the power to add to their number, The Rev Major LESTER, Messers, J. THOMAS, J. W. FAIRBROTHER, D. W. WINSTANLEY , J. W. HARRISON Snr, , J. W. HARRISON Jnr, H. DAVIES, James HUGHES, Charles MC ARDLE, M. BIRKBECK, Alfred ARMITAGE, Luke CURRIE, John CARTER, M. HUBBACK and T. CONNOLLY." Mr H. DAVIES seconded the resolution.

Mr C. K. KING was of the opinion that the erection of a drinking fountain would be an utterly inadequate tribute to the memory of the deceased. Mr SHEPHERD from the body of the hall, moved an amendment, deferring the consideration of the form of the memorial. Mr J. A. KEAN seconded the amendment which was accepted by the committee, so far as it related to the shape the memorial should take. It was ultimately decided to defer the final consideration of the form of the memorial to a future meeting to be held shortly.

Liverpool Mercury, Oct 11th 1883

The Simpson memorial

The council referred to the Finance Committee for report, a letter dated 19th September, signed Rev T. Major LESTER, Chairman, Mr James SAMUELSON, Treasurer, Mr Joseph THOMAS and Mr J. W. FAIRBROTHER, Hon secretaries, on behalf of the memorial committee, requesting the Council to grant a site near the Landing-stage approaches and to permit the erection thereon of an ornamental drinking fountain in memory of the late Mr William SIMPSON.

Liverpool Mercury, April 30th 1884

The Finance Committee and the Simpson memorial

A meeting of the William SIMPSON, memorial committee was held on Monday afternoon at Davidson's Temperance Hotel, Whitechapel, for the purpose of considering a letter from the Finance Committee the following resolution was passed :-

"That the memorialises be informed that the committee would not object to placing a suitable mural memorial fountain against the new retaining wall of St Nicholas Churchyard, the design and position of such a fountain to be approved by the Council."

A letter had also been received by the secretary from the surveyor Mr SHELMERDINE saying that the Finance Committee could not grant them a site in the street at Georges Gate as was desired, but they had better consult the Rector of Liverpool with a view of constructing a fountain against the wall of St Nicholas Churchyard. The Chairman said the Corporation had really offered them nothing at all, their position was now that they had to go to the Rector of Liverpool and ask him whether they might erect a fountain. He confessed that when he received that reply he thought it was a fair snub from the committee. The Finance Committee had thrown them on the Rector of Liverpool which was a most unfair thing to do and if they followed that advice they would have to go cap in hand to the Rector, and ask for permission to erect the fountain. The Corporation had granted them nothing and literally thrown them overboard and told them to go to the Rector of Liverpool.

Mr CARTER said that the way in which their request for an isolated site in the street for a monument had been treated by the Finance Committee he looked upon as a piece of impertinence, Mr FAIRBROTHER did not think they ought to be put off with the document received from the Finance Committee, which was really no reply to their request, but which simply stated that they did not object to see them go begging to the Rector of Liverpool. That could have been done without waiting on the Corporation, but the fact was that the memorialisers thought that some site near the Pier-head should be secured for a small monument. He thought, however, that the Finance Committee ought to have another chance to think over their decision.

Councillor MC ARDLE said he was sure some mistake had been made with regard to the Finance Committee, he had spoke to Alderman FORWOOD on the subject, and he understood they lacked some £40 to £50 to complete the monument. He [Mr MC ARDLE] told Mr FORWOOD that they were prepared to meet any deficiency. Mr FORWOOD then said the matter would be receive the consideration of the Finance Committee, he also promised he would do what he could to secure a nice site. Mr MC ARDLE therefore believed that the Finance Committee must be under some sort of delusion and he thought the matter ought to be brought before them again. Mr William SHEPHERD then moved that another deputation wait upon the Finance Committee and again represent their case and explain everything it might be necessary to clear up. This was seconded by Mr James SAMUELSON and carried unanimously. A number of gentlemen were then chosen to form the deputation.

Liverpool Mercury, July 11th 1885

The memorial to the late Mr William SIMPSON

Amid many demonstrations of wide-spread sympathy, the ornamental drinking fountain erected at the Chapel St corner of St Nicholas Churchyard in memory of the late William SIMPSON, was last evening unveiled. Mr SIMPSON was, as everyone knows, very popular in the city, and the slender tribute to his memory was at its unveiling witnessed by thousands of persons, Sir James PICTON on the invitation of the memorial committee unveiled the fountain.

The Mayor [Mr Alderman RADCLIFFE] was present in his official capacity, and the company included the following, the Rev Canon LESTER [honorary treasurer of the Memorial Committee], Sir James A. PICTON, John YATES. C.C, S. B. PACKARD [ex-American consul], Joseph NIXON [Chester], J. CARTER, J. W. HARRISON Snr, Samuel STOTT, J. Bennett ANDERSON, J. W. FAIRBROTHER [honorary secretary], Joseph ROGERSON [Sculptor of the fountain], Thomas COX [Architect], W. BLOOD, George BENSON, D. W. DAVISON, J. W. HARRISON Jnr, Richard JONES, Scott ANDERSON, Alfred ARMITAGE, J. HAWLEY. C.C, Thomas GRIEVE, G. W. WYNNE, A. HUBBACK, John HENDERSON, Charles MC ARDLE, James SAMUELSON, Thomas BELL, James MC ARDLE, George GLOVER, Henry VAUGHAN, Edward BUTCHER, J. R. MACDONALD, William CROSS and members of the family of the late William SIMPSON.

At the onset of the proceedings Mr J. W. FAIRBROTHER stated that he had received a large number of letters from gentlemen in various parts of the country expressing sympathy with the movement. Among others Mr W. CROSFIELD and Mr R. D. HOLT, wrote apologising for their absence owing to other arrangements and giving expression to the sense of the good work of the late Mr SIMPSON.

The Rev Canon LESTER [received with applause] on rising to introduce Sir James PICTON said, he was glad to see with them the Mayor who represented so unusually well the trade and commerce, the activities and benevolence of the city, [applause] and they welcomed Sir James PICTON as representing Liverpool's scholarly dignity, research and art [applause]. They had met to do honour to the memory of one who had been seriously missed since he had been called from this earth [applause], missed because he was a friend to those in perplexity. He helped those in distress and was every ready to do a kindness and good. The speaker having referred to Mr SIMPSON'S efforts in behalf of the distress among the South Wales colliers and in Ireland by means of his now famous bowl, by which he raised large sums of money, and in other ways, said they must have William SIMPSON remembered because he was a man who would do a kindness, was not afraid of trouble and had a sound heart. ["Hear, hear" and applause].

The fountain was then unveiled by Sir J. A. PICTON, amid loud applause from the large assembly. The structure is of an artistic design, the body of the fountain is of hard Yorkshire stone from the Bolton Wood Quarries, considered the most durable of its kind, the base and plinth of Dalbeattie granite in large blocks, and finished with a finely-picked face, the only polished section being the bowl, which forms a nice contrast with the rough surface. Above this bowl is a proportioned arched recess divided into panels. In the tympanum is a circular medallion in bronze of the late William SIMPSON, a very good portrait and worthy the master's hand of Mr ROGERSON the sculptor. In the centre panel are the words in bronze lettering, "Simpson fountain", on a polished Aberdeen red granite slab. Below this again we have the water supply to the fountain, the tap, plate, cups, chains, etc, being designed in keeping with the rest of the work. Provision is also made for an overflow from the basin to the trough for dogs, etc, below, which will, the committee trust, be found useful during the summer season. Above the arched opening, the surface of the wall is pierced with tracery and carving between, mullions, transoms etc, of unique character finishing with an embattled cornice. Setting back from this is the dome-shaped roof carved out in one large stone, the apex block terminating in a carved foliated corona. On the angle buttresses of the structure which is semi-hexagonal, are conventional lions supporting shields which could have borne monograms of figures but for the resolution adopted by the Council. The style adopted for the fountain is in keeping with the well designed tower of St Nicholas's Church and the adjacent boundary wall, gateway etc. In selecting this period of Gothic art, the designer has had recourse to precedents in our own country, also fountains in France and Germany. In the former country, examples are found of monumental fountains exceeding in richness and detail any such work found on this island of ours. The contract for the whole of the work was carried out by Mr ROGERSON the well known sculptor of this city. All the bronze castings were executed under the entire superintendence of Messers J and R. COOPER of London Rd, from models supplied by Mr ROGERSON. The designer and consulting architect for the entire work was Mr Thomas COX, of 40 Castle St, whose drawings were selected in a limited competition by the Simpson Memorial Committee.

Sir James A. PICTON, then said, "We are met here to dedicate this memorial to one of our citizens who passed away in the prime of life about two years ago. It is natural and proper to inquire why this honour is done to his memory, what there was in his career and character worthy of thus being commemorated. Public monuments should not be lightly strewn broadcast in our public places, but reserved for those who have distinguished by some acts of usefulness in their day and generation. [applause] Now, what claim has the memory of William SIMPSON to this public recognition.? Before calling to mind who he was I will allude briefly to what he was not. He was not a hero, either military or naval. He had not bled in his country's service, not obtained by his bravery the distinction of the Victoria Cross. He was not a scientific man nor a learned philosopher. He had made no discoveries, he had written no books, painted no pictures, nor enlarged the bounds of human knowledge. He had not made a fortune, nor built a public library or art gallery for the benefit of his fellow citizens.

What then , did he do worthy of having his name handed down to a future age ? His life was comparatively humble and commonplace with few opportunities to distinguish himself - hear, hear, - but he did this. He found an open but comparatively un-trodden path of usefulness and he followed it out. [Applause] He saw lying at his feet opportunities for doing good, and he availed himself of them with signal success. [Loud applause] He had the gift of natural eloquence and a persuasive manner, and his voice was always raised on behalf of the poor and down-trodden, and in the promotion of charity and kindness. In the case of temperance he was a zealous and successful advocate,. [Hear hear and applause] At a time when the branch of industry represented by the dock porters was violently agitated by disputes between the masters and men, threatening to lead to bad blood and violence. Mr SIMPSON, in conjunction with one or two coadjutors, among them Mr James SAMUELSON, [hear hear] stepped into the breach and by his wise counsels and persuasive manner ultimately succeeded in effecting an arrangement which still subsists. [Applause]. But the action by which he will be chiefly remembered was the celebrated bowl which for some years was a household word in the city. [Loud applause]. Mr SIMPSON was the keeper of a temperance restaurant on the Landing-stage and was brought into contact with the thousands crossing and re-crossing the river. At a time when collections were being made for the Indian famine fund it occurred to him to place a bowl at the door of his establishment to receive the chance coppers that the passers by might throw in. [Hear hear] This was so far successful that £203 was collected in this way, and paid over to the fund . [Applause] Next came the distress in South Wales arising from the Strikes, towards which, incredible as it may appear the sum of £1080 was dropped into the bowl by daily contributions. [Applause] Several others followed and in the whole the large sum of £3720-12s-6d, was raised for six successive charities. Loud applause] The last collection was for the distress in the West of Ireland [applause] the distribution of which amongst the starving peasantry Mr SIMPSON undertook a journey to Connemara. [Hear hear] Mr SIMPSON also originated the system of receiving contributions for Hospital Sunday in boxes out of doors attached to buildings and lamp posts. [Hear hear] The bowl was also used for the reception of flowers to be distributed amongst the various hospitals. Mr SIMPSON in addition to a kind heart and fluent eloquence had a smart and ready wit as was manifested when Mr BRADLAUGH visited the city and was met by a challenge from Mr SIMPSON, which led to a two-nights debate before crowded audiences. Of Mr SIMPSON'S political career I say nothing. Whether right or wrong in his changeable views, at all of them he held them conscientiously - applause - and was prepared to defend them with eloquence and skill. [Hear hear] As a member of the City Council for a short time I was brought into contact with him, and can bear willing testimony to his moderation, [hear, hear] his courteous bearing and the clear expression of his views. [Applause] The respect in which he was held by the Dock Board, whose tenant he was, was manifest by prompt and ready way in which, after the disastrous fire at the Landing-stage, they did all in their power to mitigate the loss and restore the premises. [Applause]. But it may be said there is nothing in all this very extraordinary, anyone else might have done the same, no doubt it is so, but here lies the moral of my story. Anyone else might have done what William SIMPSON did, but anyone one else does not do it, [applause] we none of us leave our homes in the morning that before returning at night a hundred opportunities occur of doing a kind action - [hear, hear] - speaking a kind word, aiding some useful object, but from indolence, indifference, false pride, we let the opportunity slip by. Now the merit of Mr SIMPSON was that he took advantage of these commonplace opportunities and turned them to the advantage of his neighbours and the cause of charity. [Applause] Surely here is a lesson we may all take to heart. He earned the blessing pronounced by our Lord, on a very earnest but humble woman, “She hath done what she could." - [applause] - and in the words of the Divine Master commenting on an act very similar to those of William SIMPSON, I may say to myself and to you all, "Go thou and do likewise." [Loud applause]

Landing Stage Cafe

Daily Post

Sept 30th 1940



A well known Merseyside landmark, Simpson's Refreshment and Luggage Rooms on the Liverpool Landing Stage is to disappear, 3wks hence.

In consequence of recent changed conditions the business has ceased to be a paying proposition and the Misses Simpson are consequently relinquishing their tenancy under the Dock Board and retiring.

The original cafe was established by the late Mr William Simpson on the Princes Landing Stage in 1858. These premises were destroyed by fire in 1874, and in order to maintain his tenancy Mr Simpson made shift with a vacant hut which had been left standing after the fire, and here for a time he dispensed light refreshments to his patrons. 20yrs ago the business was transferred to the present premises on the Georges Stage facing the Birkenhead and Seacombe Ferry landing berths.

Simpson's Bowl

During the Indian Famine in the 70's Mr Simpson collected £1,765 for the relief of the distress, using for the purpose an oriental copper bowl. This which became known as the Simpson's Bowl, has since been used many times for similar purposes. By its means £521 was collected in 1880 for the Irish Famine Fund, while its most recent was for the Thetis Fund, to which £175 was contributed.

Mr Simpson died in 1883, 2yrs later a memorial fountain, provided by public subscription was placed in the wall of St Nicholas Church being formally dedicated by Sir James A. Picton.

Mrs Simpson survived her husband by nearly 40yrs dying in 1921, aged 91yrs. The two Misses Simpson, who have since carried on the business, are now regretfully leaving their floating home, where they were born and where they have always lived.


Copyright 2002 / To date