Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,502 pages of information and 233,941 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Birkenhead Docks

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Birkenhead Docks were designed as an inland system by enclosing the tidal inlet of Wallasey Pool. The construction of a coffer dam enabled land reclamation and excavations to take place.

After the establishment of the Great Low Water Basin, Morpeth Dock and Egerton Dock, the Great Float was formed between 1851 and 1860 from most of what remained of Wallasey Pool.

1843 James Meadows Rendel made plans for docks at Birkenhead, which he defended before parliamentary committees against hostile local influence. The contest was long protracted, and the incessant labour served to shorten Rendel's life.

The plans for its construction were originally published in 1844 in the Liverpool Standard newspaper. The scheme was managed by the Birkenhead Dock Co until a financial crisis in 1847.

From 1844 to 1856, in every session of Parliament, the proposal was repeated for the Birkenhead Docks.

1855 Transfer of the Birkenhead Dock Estate to the Corporation of Liverpool

1858 1st January: Transferred to the Liverpool Dock Trustees, since recognised under the title of The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board who gained the rights to dock ownership and revenues.

The entrance was originally through the Great Low Water Basin, which was enclosed in 1877 as Wallasey Dock. After this date, access from the river was provided via Alfred Dock and Morpeth Dock.

The Resurgam, one of the first submarines, was tested in the Great Float in 1879.

In the early 20th century, Birkenhead Docks became an important flour milling centre, with numerous companies, including Joseph Rank and Spillers, located on the Great Float's quaysides. In the 1990s, long after the industry had gone into decline, most of these buildings were demolished. Two large warehouses remain, which have now been converted into residential apartments.

1909 See plan of dockyard in 1909.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Obituary of Jesse Hartley