View Full Version : Merchant navy `Pool`. [Shipping Federation].

07-04-2010, 07:59 PM
Calling Liverpool seamen of the 40s/50`s regarding `the Pool` in old Canning Place.

I seem to remember the merchant navy `Pool` [The Shipping Federation] as being in a large building along one side of open ground at Canning Place. Just across from the `Pool` was The Seamens Union in a separate building on its own. Then at the top end of that open space stood the old `Sailors Home`, near to a `firing` school. Or should I say a school for firemen ? [of the stoking variety].
Now, I`ve just read that the `Pool` was actually in the ground floor of the `Sailors Home` building, and I feel sure that unless my memory is playing tricks on me, that just cannot be true.
Is there someone out there who can confirm the accuracy of my memory ? OR :- Is someone going to tell me that my `head is gone`, and that there is now nothing between my ears but `space` ?
Come on then, I can take it !!!


captain kong
07-05-2010, 08:29 AM
Hi Trampshipman,
here is a copy of a post I did on the Home and the Pool.

Originally Posted by captain kong
This is a note I sent to Kay Jones of the Liverpool Museums, They are going to do a feature of the Home in the new 72,000,000 Museum of Liverpool near the Pier Head in 2011.
If anyone has any experiences of the Home, Kay Jones would like to hear about them. on kay.jones@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

I first stayed at the Sailors Home in 1952 as a green Deck Boy. Wow what a culture shock,
It was rumoured at the time as once being a prison with the galleried balconies going around the inside with wire netting across each floor, in case anyone fell over the balconies. This was wrong as it had been purpose built as a Sailors Home.
I had left the Vindicatrix Sea Training School in Sharpness Glos. and had to await nearly six weeks to find a job on a ship.
The price was four shillings a night for bed and breakfast for men, Boys were about three shillings. It was just a bare cabin. wooden panels, painted green on the walls, iron framed bed and a chest of drawers. a communal bathroom and toilets, There was a room for the breakfasts, Sausage [these were usually thrown out of the window, they were awful. always a big pile of them outside the Home.]
egg and a piece of bacon, slice of bread and a mug of tea.
Alongside of the home was a bomb site from WW2 and at night the plonkies and winos would doss down for the night amongst the rubble, with a bottle of Meths or cheap plonk.
One night, I was 16 years old, I was walking back in the pouring rain, to go into the Home. a plonky shouted to me, "Hey lah, av yer gotta room there." I said "Yes". "Its cold and wet out `ere, let us sleep on the floor in yer cabin." Being a bit soft I said `OK`.
Then six of them got up from the rubble and followed me in, when I opened the cabin door, two crashed onto the bunk, two slid under the bunk and the other two curled up on the deck. I was stood in the doorway, couldnt believe in what I saw. There was no room for me.
I went back down stairs and back into the rain, the only place I could go to was The Gordon Smith Institute for Seamen across the road and round the corner. That building is still there. I got a bed there for three shillings and six pence in the Dormitary, a large room with about twenty beds in, all occupied, with the sound of snoring and other types noises coming from them. they Night Man told me to lay my suit and any money under the mattress and shoes under the pillow or they wouldnt be there next morning.
Next morning I had a breakfast there and then went back to the Sailors Home and had the other breakfast I had already paid for. Then I went up to my room, all the plonkies had gone, amazingly all my gear was still there.
I stayed there many times over the years, it was very handy for somewhere to stay when in Liverpool, I lived in Bolton. When I joined a ship in Liverpool and after the end of a voyage of four or five months and we paid off in London we would all get the train back to Liverpool and have a few bevies up on Lime Street, the Sailors Home was ideal for some where to stay before going home the following day.
The ground floor of The Sailors Home was the Shipping Federation or more better known as "The Pool". A place where seafaring men went to to find their next ship.
The door on the left hand side of the Pool opened into a large room with a long counter, This was covered with wire netting to prevent some of the Characters attacking the Staff
if they got a bum deal from their last ship or if they were turned away with no job, if the man was approved they would open the turnstile to the next room.
Sometimes if the Man wasnt looking we could drop onto the floor and slide underneath the turnstile and into the inner room. There was a counter for each department, Firemen, Catering and Deck, again wire netting covered the three desks. Behind the desks stood the Man who gave out the jobs or number of men required by the Ship owner for each ship.
These Men were legends at the time. Mr Repp, Mr Griffiths, Mr Slater, Mr Deakin and so on.
While stood there you had to learn to read the book upside down to see what name of ship he had on the page, you got to know what ships were good and which were the ones to stay clear of in case you got Shaghaied for a two year trip. If Mr Repp or Mr Griffiths called you by your first name you knew he had a bad ship for you. Sometimes Mr Repp had his hand over the bottom of the page where he had some good jobs for his favourites. the trick to find out what ship he was hiding. If you were given a ship he gave you forms to take for a Doctors inspection then you went into the next room. The Doctors assistant would call you in then you dropped your trousers and he held your right groin saying `Cough`, then the left side, cough again . open your mouth to see you had some teeth, `OK you`ll do`, he would say and sign the form then you signed on the ship and went to sea.
Some of the old guys had no teeth, and a fellow would say . "eh lah give us a go at yer teeth" and the other fellow would take out his teeth and he would put them in, didnt matter if they didnt fit, he had teeth, so he passed the Medical, on the way out he would give the teeth back and someone else would borrow them.
After the Sailors Home closed the new Shipping Federation or Pool was at Mann Island. now gone.These Characters and events are now gone , just a fading memory of the few of us still hanging on. The Home should have been saved, it was a fantastic design, that Classic structure would have lasted for centuries, and a great memorial to all the Sailors who passed through its doors, now just a memory of a by gone age that can never happen again.
The people who demolished it should have been gaoled.
Cheers , in the first photo the building on the left is the Customs House, bombed and destroyed by German Bombs in the Blitz. They never did pay us for it.

The Sailor's Home in Canning Place, foundation stone of this home for Liverpool seamen was laid by Prince Albert in July 1846. Demolished in 1970s.
Photographs of Liverpool
by Steve Howe thanks Steve for the use of your pictures in a good cause.

captain kong
07-05-2010, 08:34 AM
Here are the photos of the Pool and the HOME.

07-05-2010, 10:07 AM
i remember going into the pool with my mate in the 1960's, it was in a small building in canning place opposite the sailors home, think it was like a portakabin type building

captain kong
07-05-2010, 10:37 AM
The `new `Pool or Shipping Federation, was open at Mann Island around 1957 ish.

the NUS Union office was still in Canning Place.

see some interesting photos of the HOME and stories and history on here................

The Sailor's Home, LiverpoolThe Sailor's Home in Canning Place, Liverpool was designed by John Cunningham. .... Home closed the new Shipping Federation or Pool was at Mann Island. ...
www.chesterwalls.info/gallery/sailorshome.html - Cached - Similar

07-06-2010, 01:06 PM
Hi Captain Kong,
Thanks for your `post`. My brain is still argueing that the `Pool` was NOT in the old `Sailors Home`, but was in its own seperate building. However having received quite a few replies [from other sites also] that it WAS in the sailors Home, then I must assume that my memory is somewhat `adrift`. I went on the `Pool` in 1949 and it seems that so far there is no one out there who remembers it that far back. My memory remains as confused as ever.


captain kong
07-06-2010, 02:06 PM
In 1949 the `Pool` was on the ground floor of the old SAILORS HOME, in Canning Place, if you stood facing the main Door of the Home the entrance the Pool was on the left hand side of the building, taking you into the Unestablished Seafarers room. The door to the Established Seafarers was further up the left side of the building. So the whole ground floor was the `POOL`.
Next to the Pool was a bomb site that we used for meetings in the 1955 and 1960 Seamens Strikes, then next to that was the Union building for the NUS.
The Home faced the bomb site of the old Custom House, bombed by the Germans.
On the wall surrounding it was a grafiti ," 28 a month for all Seamen"
This was from the 1947 Seamens Strike organised by Billy Hart..

Norm NZ
07-07-2010, 03:09 AM
i remember going into the pool with my mate in the 1960's, it was in a small building in canning place opposite the sailors home, think it was like a portakabin type building

Your right Bidston , In the 60' it was a single story building (but I think it was brick) on the approach road to the Pier Head cnr of the Dock Rd. (south)

captain kong
07-07-2010, 09:15 AM
Hi Norm and Bidston,
The NEW `Pool` was a single story building opposite the Kingston House, a Seamans Mission with accommodation at the bottom of James Street, The NEW Pool backed up onto part of the Salthouse Dock, this area is known as Mann Island, the Pool was a new building and the Kingston House was also a new building. The New Pool opened around 1957 and the one in the old SAILORS HOME was closed, and then later demolished, The `NEW` Pool was on a diagonal opposite corner to the old White Star Line Building, later PSNC, at the bottom of James Street and on the Dock Road about 300 yards from Canning Place.
The "NEW" Pool was closed a few years ago and then demolished and a new building is now in its place.
See the SAILORS HOME and where the old POOL was on this link.....................interesting.www.chesterwa lls.info/gallery/sailorshome.html -

Norm NZ
07-07-2010, 11:37 PM
Thanks Capn! I have long ago forgotten the road names, but do remember the building well, picked up the guys there in the 60's when I was taxi'ing for them!

07-08-2010, 04:30 AM
There was a wartime-built brick canteen, alongside the home, much like the few dockers' canteens built on the northern docks. The pool was still there in late 1953. Believe me.

alan williams
02-11-2011, 07:10 PM
In 1951 the shipping fed. was in Cornhill I think. You went along Park Lane till you got to where there was a Swedish or Norsky church and Cornhill was opposite. It's still on map.

02-11-2011, 08:22 PM
Cornhill was the Shipping Office where initial documentation, signing on and off ships articles, issuing ration cards and coupons ( during that period) Lifeboatmans, qualification certificates, and other sundry administrative actions were taken. The "Pool" was still occupying the old accomodations down the side off the Sailors' Home in Canning Place.

The full title was Mercantile Marine Shipping Office. I have it on certificates.