Liverpool?s glory days as shipping gateway highlighted in new online archive

Oct 21 2008 Liverpool Daily Post


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LIVERPOOL?S glory days as the most popular shipping gateway to the UK have been highlighted in a newly-created archive.

Focusing on the twilight years of the British Empire, the online list of passengers arriving by sea between 1878 and 1960 shows more than 5.7m people entered the UK via the River Mersey.

Website ancestry.co.uk also shows that among Liverpool?s many visitors was former US president Ronald Regan, who arrived in November, 1948, on board the MV Britannic.

He is listed as staying at the Savoy Hotel in London with his occupation simply as ?actor?.

The list was officially launched by Tony Robinson yesterday and one of the guests was Anthony D?Souza, 53, from Hayes, Middlesex, who works at the National Archives.

He found the entry listing his arrival at six months old on November 23, 1955, in the port of Liverpool, accompanied by his mother and his uncle, having endured a four-week journey by ship from Karachi.

His father followed later, and the family, originally from Goa, who were refugees from the violence following the partition of India, settled in Birmingham, he said.

He said: ?It is history. It will there for the next thousand years, if we are still around.

?I work with documents from the 12th century and to see this is amazing.?

Southampton was the second most popular entry port in the UK with 5.1m, and London was also a favourite, receiving more than 3m visitors, many from the West Indies.

The list also reveals the arrivals of tourists, business travellers and celebrities in the country.

Those named include Joe Wal-cott, grandfather of Arsenal and England footballer Theo Walcott.

Mr Walcott, who was born in Jamaica, is shown in the records arriving into Avonmouth in 1949 on the SS Cavina on his way to Weston-super-Mare to carry out RAF duties.

Julia McIymont, the mother of Diane Abbott, the Labour MP and the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, is also listed in the records sailing into Bristol from Jamaica in 1950 on the SS Ariguani.

The father of celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, Chester Leroy Harriott, is also listed coming to the UK as a student at the age of 17 from Jamaica, aboard the SS Eros in 1950.

The list also provides glimpses of celebrity travellers, including film star Elizabeth Taylor and Bond star Roger Moore.

Elizabeth Taylor is shown arriving at Southampton in 1947 with her intended address as the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Winston Churchill also features in the list arriving from New York into Southampton on July 6, 1954.

His occupation is listed as Prime Minister and his address as 10 Downing Street, London.

Actor, broadcaster and cam-paigner Tony R obinson said that the list was a ?good news story?.

He said: ?It is in a nutshell the story of immigration, the story of colony and the story of the transformation of this country into what it is today.

?It is also the story of those journeys by tourists, by business people and by ex-pats, and I do suggest that you browse through some of these documents.

?The first class lists look like something out of an Agatha Christie. They are absolutely wonderful.?

Josh Hanna, senior vice-president of Ancestry International, said the collection, digitised in partnership with the National Archives, was an exciting development. He said: ?With more than 4.5m Britons being from an ethnic minority, we think there is going to be much public interest around this collection.?

Organisers said the collection finished in 1960 when the development of commercial flights made aircraft the preferred mode of international transport.

laurasharpe@dailypost.co.uk