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Thread: Central Hydraulic Tower, Birkenhead

  1. #1
    Still alive snappel's Avatar
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    Default Central Hydraulic Tower, Birkenhead

    Another one from the 'archives'. This pumping station was once used to

    pump water into and out of the East and West Float docks in Birkenhead. Now it's disused, but the hydraulic accumulators survive, as does the incredible

    tower.




    The hydraulic

    tower


    Rails once ran in here, presumably for coal

    deliveries

    We started off exploring the old engine/boiler rooms which were mainly empty, apart from some old motors and bits of

    junk.


    Accumulators

    [IMG]http://www.forties-design.co.uk/photos/ef2/to

    p.jpg[/IMG]
    Lamp at the top of the

    ladder




    Up

    stairs, the old offices are in a poor

    state




    Scary

    stairs going up to the tower entrance

    The floor at the top of the stairs was rotten, and we couldn't see into the tower. Andy, a mate from

    the Wirral, decided 'sod it!' and just walked across, and then started saying how amazing the tower looked. I held my breath and followed, and was greeted

    with the sight of an amazing iron and wood staircase leading

    upwards...



    [IMG]http://www.forties-design.co.uk/photos/ef2/spiral.jpg

    [/IMG]


    At the top was access onto the balcony. We thought we'd reached


    ADVERTISING




    the top of the tower, but oh no - this was just the balcony below the old clock faces, meaning we were only about two thirds of the way up. It still felt

    pretty high!


    Things then started to get interesting. A short

    ladder lead up into the old clock room which was now bare. Here, the ladders, floors and walls were all one construction inside the stone tower. Shaking the

    ladders shook the whole lot, and wasn't advisable! Two ladders lead on up towards the top of the

    tower...


    And then, another lead out through the actual stone roof

    of the tower structure, into a top room...


    And after

    that, the most pathetic excuse for a ladder ever gave access to the top of the tower (excuse the picture being the wrong way

    round)...


    I'd like to get back up there, but I've heard it's

    been sealed up again. I'll just have to wait until the local kids smash a way in again I suppose...

    An interesting postscript to the story though...

    On the first picture at the top of this thread, you can see the brickwork change colour on the main building, to the right. When we were there, I wondered if

    it had been bomb damage.

    The following image, found at the Historic Warships museum confirmed that the tower had been hit, although the tower

    survived. But just look at that spire! Unfortunately the spire was removed long ago, although the fixings could still be seen. Note also the original boiler

    chimney.


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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snappel View Post
    Another one from the 'archives'. This pumping station was

    once used to pump water into and out of the East and West Float docks in Birkenhead. Now it's disused, but the hydraulic accumulators survive, as does the

    incredible tower.
    Great tower. It was used to pump water in and out of the Alfred Dock locks, also Alfred Dock and East Float and open and

    close the lock gates. I'm pretty sure West Float has its own pumps which is quite a way up the docks - I could be wrong.

    The accumulator was just a

    large cylinder with a very heavy piston to apply pressure - the piston may open topped and filled with gravel (or even water in some cases). The higher

    water is the greater the pressure as gravity pulls on the water (why tanks are on hills). To have the equivalent of a 180 metres high tower gives 6 bar

    pressure at the bottom if the water is stored at the top. 6 bar is 88 pounds per squ inch. If you have a cylinder with a heavy piston with each squ inch of

    the piston weighing 88 lbs you don't need to build a high tower - it can be at ground level. You need a pump that gives over 88 pounds per squ inch of

    pressure, but not a lot of volume, to charge up the cylinder slowly. Then the water is released quickly and in volume to open large lock gates. The piston

    accumulators apply a constant pressure on the hydraulic system.

    The towers also acted as buffers to smooth out the water pressure to various

    pumps.

    Above. the ship is at the

    vegetable oil berth at Alfred Dock. The lefty side of the bridge is East Float. The whole of Alfred Dock is used as a lock for large ships. Water is pumped

    in and out of the dock.

    I love Birkenhead Docks. The Floats are massive and great the way they spiral way inland. Ships could turn around with in

    the floats. It was the old Wallasey Pool inlet just locked off at the river and quays added. Bidston docks is now filled in and a further docks was

    earmarked to be cut in after Bidston. If this dock was built, the docks would not be far from Liverpool Bay giving the docks two entrances. That was

    suggested at one time.



    Above: Alfred Dock is the furthest small dock

    north on the river. The tower can be seen.



    Above: A large ship, with a

    red hull, is berthed at the West Float and looks very small. Bidston Dock is in-filled and where the green patch is. A criminal act to fill that in.
    Last edited by Waterways; 11-01-2006 at 10:43 AM.
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    Senior Member shytalk's Avatar
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    Great pictures, what became of the 'Four Bridges' that led to seacombe ferry, I don't see them in the ariel view?
    You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
    Winston Churchill

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    scouserdave
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    Quote Originally Posted by snappel View Post
    Another one from the 'archives'. This pumping station was once used to pump water into and out of the East and West Float docks in

    Birkenhead. Now it's disused, but the hydraulic accumulators survive, as does the incredible tower.
    What a stunning set of

    pics!

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    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Still alive snappel's Avatar
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    Interesting info there Waterways. When was Bidston Dock filled in?

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