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St. George's Pier, Liverpool

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Also known as George's Pier.

1856 From the Morning Post[1]

'To strangers visiting Liverpool, few of the marvels which present themselves attract more attention, or exact mere general observation, than the landing-stage constructed on the west or river front of Georges-pier. This stage, which, floating upon tbe surface of the water, rises and falls with the ebbing and flowing of the tide, is connected with the pier by two substantial bridges, and affords a safe and easy means of embarkation or debarkation at all times and in any condition ofthe tide. It is of great magnitude, being 508 feet in length, by a breadth of 82 feet, containing an area nearly an acre in extent. The bridges referred to are 150 feet in length, by a width of 17 feet, and each of them weighs about 90 tons. They are each furnished with a carriage-way and two foot-paths. From these trifling details it must be readily obvious that the landing-stage affords great facilities for landing passengers or taking them on board, in a river the rise and fall of whose tidal wave is about 21 feet. This landing-stage was constructed exclusively for the use of the numerous steam-vessels plying on the different ferries between Liverpool and various points on the Cheshire shore; and to this purpose, ever since its erection in 1847, it has been strictly confined, with one or two exceptions, the chief of which has been the embarkation of troops in the transport ships which have frequented our port since the commencement of the present war. In all respects it has been found to answer, and, indeed, to exceed in utility the anticipations formed concerning it when first projected.

'The eminent services rendered by the Georges-pier landing-stage to the ferry steamers and their myriad passengers suggested the propriety of constructing another one on a much larger scale, adapted to the wants of the channel and other sea-going steamers, exclusive of those trading to America. After due deliberation this was determined on by the corporation, and contracts were entered into for the execution of the work — these contracts having been entered into on tenders publicly advertised for, the contracts stipulating for completion of the works in March, 1857. The construction of these works is now far advanced, and, from the magnitude as well as the interesting character of the undertaking, a passing notice of its present condition and ultimate structure may not be uninteresting to even metropolitan readers, while the intelligence and public spirit evinced in its adoption reflect credit on the sagacity of the Liverpool corporation.

'The new landing-stage which is to be erected at the Princes-pier, a short distance te the north of that already in existence, is to be 1,000 feet in length by 82 feet broad, thus presenting a platform containing double the area of the one at St. Georges-pier. It is to be connected with the upper surface of the quay wall by four bridges, and will be so moored that large steam-ships can come alongside of it at all times of the tide — the bridges affording ready access to and from the stage. To float this vast platform, which will present to the eye the appearance of an enormous deck, the exercise of great ingenuity has been called into operation, and it has given scope to the scientific skill of Sir William Cubitt, by whom it, as well as the other one, has been designed. The floating power is obtained by placing under the structure a sufficient number of rectangular pontoons to buoy the whole fabric, together with any extent of loading to which it may be subjected. These pontoons are to be 63 in number, 12 of which are of tbe following dimensions : — 96 feet in length, by 12 feet wide, and five feet deep ; three of these are to be placed under each of the bridges ; 49 are to be 80 feet long, 10 feet wide, and five feet deep; and the two outside ones are to be each 80 feet long, six feet wide, and five feet deep. These are all ranged parallel to each other at distances about five feet apart, and at right angles to the length of the stage. This range of pontoons is traversed throughout its whole length by five rows of quadrangular hollow iron girders or kelsons firmly bolted to the pontoons, so as to maintain these latter in their positions relative to each other, and to give stability to the whole. The central stretch of these kelsons is 5 feet; those next to it on each side are 4 feet 9 inches ; and the two ranges on the outer edges are 4 feet high from the pontoons, and they taper off slightly at the extreme ends, so as to secure a suitable curve for the line of platform or deck, the kelsons acting as supporting ridges and fixing points for the main timbers of the floor. These latter are to be strongly framed in diagonal compartments, and the rails, mounters, and headers, as well as the planking, are to be of Baltic pine. Each of the pontoons is divided into water-tight compartments by iron bulk-heads, so that trivial repairs may be effected in any of the compartments; or, if need be, a whole pontoon may be removed at any time, and replaced without interfering with the general structure. These pontoons are all constructed of the best rolled and hammered iron plates, a quarter of an inch in thickness, and set in angle irons, 3 inches by 3 inches, and half an inch thick; the kelsons are of the same thickness and quality of plate as the angle-irons. In the construction of the pontoons, 1,000 tons of iron will be required, and the kelsons will require 1,100 tons of the same material. The stage when completed will be moored alongside the Princes-pier by heavy chains fastened longitudinally and diagonally, so as to resist strain in every direction.

'It will, as has been already stated, be connected with the pier by four bridges, each formed on the principle of a strong suspension truss, 113 ft. long and 18 ft. wide. The whole weight of the stage, including the mooring-chains and bridges will be, it is estimated, 4,500 tons, and it is calculated that it will displace about 160,000 cubic feet of water, while its actual water-draught will not exceed three feet.

'The contract for the whole has been taken by Messrs. Cochran, of Dudley, and the estimated cost is £140,000. These gentlemen have sublet the making of the pontoons, and the placing of these, and the fastening of the kelsons, together with construction and furnishing of the woodwork and mooring-chains, to Messrs. Vernon and Son; and the fabrication and furnishing of the bridges have been intrusted to Mr. Fairbairn, of Manchester — they themselves retaining the manufacture and furnishing of the kelsons, and also the finishing of all the iron for the pontoons.

'The operations connected with this gigantic undertaking are now in an advanced condition, Messrs. Vernon and Son having erected temporary workshops for the purpose of its construction at Tranmere, on the Cheshire shore of the Mersey, and here everything is being pushed forward with energetic alacrity. Already 29 out of the 63 pontoons have been finished, and fixed in their relative position towards each other, the kelsons being securely bolted to their fastenings. Four more are all but ready for being turned out of the workshops, and placed beside their 29 fellows; and, from the facilities of construction afforded by their machinery and numerous workmen, Messrs. Vernon calculate safely on turning out six monthly till the whole are completed. The timber work is far advanced, and every thing gives indication that the whole will be completed within the period contracted for. When finished, it is intended to launch the vast fabric, and float it to its destination in four divisions. Here, then, is a combination of enterprise and intelligence, the result sought to be brought about by the union being a vast extension of the facilities afforded to steam navigation to and from the port of Liverpool.

'In carrying this improvement into effect, the corporation has manifested no narrow-minded desire for the promotion of local personal interests. The object sought to be attained was the public accommodation, and that has been carried out in the most catholic spirit of liberality. The iron- masters and the iron-manufacturers of Worcestershire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire — the timber-growers and wood-merchants of Prussia — the artificers of Manchester — the skilled labourers and mechanics of all kinds and from all quarters of the kingdom — the shopkeepers and tradesmen of Tranmere and Birkenhead, participate in the outlay, and divide the profits arising from the construction of so gigantic an undertaking. The corporation and the people of Liverpool content themselves with appropriating the glory of applying the funds, which accrue in a large aggregate, though in petty sums, from their vast commerce to purposes of permanent utility. In the new and in the old landing-stage, as they have done in numberless other instances, they demonstrate to the world that they are faithful and disinterested stewards of the public estate; and, by the execution of works of general utility, have, a priori to any contemplated accusation, disarmed the opposition to their administration of any unprejudiced set of rivals. Having such testimony to appeal to, they look with confidence to the award of that select committee which the Legislature, in its wisdom, has seen fit to appoint, with a view to inquire into their administration of the funds entrusted to their care.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. From the Morning Post, 22 March 1856:-