Liverpool became Britain’s number one port for passengers wishing to travel to America during the latter half of the 19th century; the city was called ‘The Gateway to the West’. The shipping and commerce of the Mersey were exceeded only by those of the Thames with its Port of London and also Tilbury.
Because of the River Mersey’s very high tides, often as much as 32 feet, the docks had to be enclosed by a wall some 10 feet thick and reaching 12 feet above the maximum high-water mark. Access to the docks was by three main entrances located at Canada, Sandon and Brunswick docks and connected to the river by half-tide basins.
SS Mauritania entering Liverpool Docks.
However, having to use these sea locks caused delays to liners, which frequently spent hours at anchor in the river waiting for the tide in order to enter dock and, when tides were exceptionally low, even to reach the Landing Stage to discharge their passengers.