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Thread: Liverpool docks in 1862

  1. #1
    Member Soreofhing's Avatar
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    Default Liverpool docks in 1862

    Hello again
    Since my unforgetable trip half way around the world to the town of my forebears (Liverpool) two years ago, I have been mulling over an idea.
    So now I'm starting to write a historical adventure novel which starts off in 1862 in Liverpool.
    My character wants to set off for Argentina. I have a few questions:
    1 I understand that the sailing vessels for South America sailed from Waterloo dock.
    2 Where would the ticket have been bought? From a ticket office? Where? I read somewhere that an Irishman negotiated the price of his ticket directly with the ship's captain. So where would this have taken place? Did the ticket include the passenger's name on it?
    3 Did/do the docks have a wall around them, to restrict entry? If so how high? Stone or red brick?
    4 Where would the cotton porters have gone to be hired on a daily basis? Outside the dock gates? Who hired them? A "foreman" or what was his title?Which docks? What was the going daily rate for a cotton porter in 1862?

    Sorry to be such a pest but I want to get it right.
    best regards


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    Senior Member knowhowe's Avatar
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    Hi there. That's a fascinating subject and I wish you the very best with it. I hope to get a chance to read the finished masterpiece!

    I wonder if you have ever had the pleasure of reading Herman Melville's early novel, Redburn: His First Voyage which was first published in 1849.

    It tells of a young American from a comfortable home embarking upon a trip across the Atlantic to Liverpool, where his ship, the Highlander, spends some weeks in Princes Dock while he wanders the town and neighbouring countrysiide and describes his experiences in great detail.

    I love this book very much and re-read it every couple of years or so. It is, in my view, the finest 19th century evocation of Liverpool, its docks, shipping and seafaring folk you could wish to find. I'm sure it will prove invaluable in your researches.

    Even better, you can read the whole thing for free here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=k2j...age&q=&f=false

    Good luck!
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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    Melvilles book is a good start. 1862? The US civil war was on. Liverpool was the unofficial home port of the Confederate fleet.
    Civil War

    Waterloo Dock was the dock for the American packets - mainly people. The dock mainly did North America and took millions of emigrants. I would think South America would be another adjacent dock. I would not rule out Waterloo Dock berthing South American bound ships. The cargo determined what docks they used: timber, grain, sugar, tobacco, etc.

    The lines that sailed to South America were: Pacific Steam Navigation, Booth and many others. Booth sailed 1000 miles up the Amazon to Manus and also mapped the river.
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    Default Liverpool docks in 1862

    Many thanks Knowhowe and Waterways
    I've started to read the book online and I'm sure it'll help me a lot. At the least it has lots of vivid images of nautical characters in moleskin coats, canvas hats, red neckscarves and gold earings. Jews and negroes, drunken sailors and prostitutes, gin sodden mothers....well you get the idea. It was indeed a time of rich images and that book positively reeks of the docks.
    I have read that Liverpool sided with the Southern cause and at that time many a Confederate flag flew over Liverpool.
    I must agree with your comments (in red) Waterways; I think Liverpool could make much more of it's unique dockland past.
    Best regards

    PS I wonder what those tough Liverpool men and women would have said about today's Political Correctness? I'm sure they would have used some choice words.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    Hello again
    Since my unforgetable trip half way around the world to the town of my forebears (Liverpool) two years ago, I have been mulling over an idea.
    So now I'm starting to write a historical adventure novel which starts off in 1862 in Liverpool.
    Good luck to you with this project. Sounds like a fine idea for a book. I have written several novels myself though they remain unpublished. I have had more luck with historical nonfiction books.

    Note that the time period you have chosen was during the American Civil War (1861-1865). You might know that some of the Confederate blockade runners were built on Merseyside. A plot idea for you might be to have your South America-bound vessel stopped by a U.S. Navy vessel whose commander might suspect the ship is headed across the Atlantic with supplies for the Rebels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    My character wants to set off for Argentina. I have a few questions:
    1 I understand that the sailing vessels for South America sailed from Waterloo dock.
    Waterways has answered you on this. I have no inclination to think that ships bound for South America would only sail from Waterloo Dock. In fact I am sure a number of docks handled ships in the trade with South America.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    2 Where would the ticket have been bought? From a ticket office? Where? I read somewhere that an Irishman negotiated the price of his ticket directly with the ship's captain. So where would this have taken place? Did the ticket include the passenger's name on it?
    The shipping lines would have had downtown offices or agents that sold tickets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    3 Did/do the docks have a wall around them, to restrict entry? If so how high? Stone or red brick?
    Yes stone walls some 12 to 14 feet high. You should be able to find photographs. I worked as a clerk at Wapping Dock one summer while I was in school in Liverpool. Check out Joe Neary's fine photographs of the Liverpool Docks here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/exacta2a/2050375004/

    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    4 Where would the cotton porters have gone to be hired on a daily basis? Outside the dock gates? Who hired them? A "foreman" or what was his title?Which docks? What was the going daily rate for a cotton porter in 1862?
    The dockers were, and as far as I know still are, "hired" for the day within the dock gates. Common labourers between 1851 and 1869 earned from ten shillings and sixpence to twelve shillings and sixpence a week. See information on Victorian web on Navvymen: Strikes, Truck, Cash (as you may know a common laborer was known as a "navvy"). The site also gives modern money equivalents

    Quote Originally Posted by Soreofhing View Post
    Sorry to be such a pest but I want to get it right.
    best regards
    No problem, Soreofhing! Glad to be of some help with your interesting project. Once more, good luck with it, mate. Keep us posted on how you progress.

    Chris
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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Hi Soreofhing, and welcome to the forum.

    You could also try:

    The Dock Road: A Seafaring Tale of Old Liverpool by J FRANCIS HALL, Liverpool. 1992. Paperback.

    Reprint of the book first published in 1939, a tale of Liverpool during the American Civil War. Fact based, fictional account, set in 1860.
    ----

    Also, Recollections of Old Liverpool, By 'A Nonagenarian'. 2007 Reprint of 1836 original. He's writing of the decades leading up to the Victorian Period [1837-1901], when I think only The Old Dock, South Dock [Salthouse], and St. George's Docks existed? Waterloo, I think, was active from 1834 to 1988. Although it may help you lay some foundations to the earlier town.
    ----

    Both editions quoted are currently avaible on eBay.

    Best of luck with your project, and I hope you will publish a chapter here, to give us all an appetizer when complete?

    Thanks,

    Darren

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