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The Picture Gallery: Photographs of Liverpool

Princes Dock in 1984, looking south towards the Royal Liver Building. Photograph © Steve Howe

"Previous to this, having only seen the miserable wooden wharves and shambling piers of New York... in Liverpool I beheld long China walls of masonry; vast piers of stone; and a succession of granite-rimmed docks, completely enclosed. The extent and solidity of these structures seemed equal to what I had read of the old pyramids of Egypt. In magnitude, cost and durability the docks of Liverpool surpass all others in the world... for miles you may walk along that riverside, passing dock after dock, like a chain of immense fortresses.
prince'sdock 2004Prince's Dock, of comparatively recent construction, is perhaps the largest of all and is well known to American sailors from the fact that it is mostly frequented by the American shipping. Here lie the noble New York packets, which at home are found at the foot of Wall-Street; and here also lie the Mobile and Savannah cotton ships and traders."

Dramatic changes: left and below- Prince's Dock in June 2004

"Prince's Dock is generally so filled with shipping that the entrance of a newcomer is apt to occasion a universal stir among all the older occupants. The dock-masters mount the poops and forecastles of the various vessels and hail the surrounding strangers in all directions:- "Highlander ahoy! Cast off your bowline and sheer alongside the Neptune!"- "Neptune ahoy! Get out a stern line and sheer alongside the Trident!"- "Trident ahoy! Get out a bow line and drop astern of the Undaunted!" And so it runs round like a shock of electricity; touch one, and you touch all. This kind of work irritates and exasperates the sailors to the last degree.
At twelve o'clock the crews of hundreds and hundreds of ships issue in crowds from the dock gates to go to their dinner in the town. (cooking fires being strictly prohibited within the dock estate) This hour is seized upon by multitudes of beggars to plant themselves against the outside of the walls, while others stand against the curbstone to excite the charity of the seamen... The first time that I passed through this long lane of pauperism, it seemed hard to believe that such an array of misery could be furnished by any town in the world."

'Redburn, His First Voyage' by Herman Melville 1849

(This magnificent record of Liverpool in the 1830s is freely downloadable as an ebook here- highly recommended!)

Above: Prince's Dock from Ackermann's Panoramic View
of 1847 and right: as it appeared around 1835

princes dock 1960s

Prince's Dock photographed from exactly the same viewpoint as the top picture, 22 years later in 2006

Brave New World: more pictures of today's Prince's Dock area...

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