Liverpool Dockers 1945-1950
My father Albert Stewart worked on the docks after the war. I remember him coming home with sores and blisters
thorugh working on bag or black ash. Does anyone know what was in the cargo that caused the problem?. Asbestos or chemicals maybe. He was paid extra as
this was termed a 'dirty' carge. Wet hides was another job in this category.
I now live in Australia but am writing as much as I can remember
about growing up in Liverpool, for my family. . I want my grandchildren to learn what a happy time I had despite the war and poverty that we all
It's a fascinating exercise.
There are three children in our family. Don, born 1934, Joan 1935 and me. Beryl in 1937. We lived in
Aintree and attended Hall Lane Infants, Rice Lane Juniors and Alsop High School or Queen Mary High School. Please ask your parents or grandparent if these
facts ring a bell.
Re: Queen Mary High School, I am trying to find out what has happened to Jackie Borrows, Bunty Lawson, Lynette Williams, Fay
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The cargo your Father worked on was Carbon black yes they got extra pay and it was a very dirty and dusty job also it was transfered of the ships on to barges at the dock it did not matter how many baths or showers you had it would still be in your pores for about a week after you worked on it I only worked on the docks for about 6 months in the early 60s and it was still comming in then i worked on dry hides and that was hard work also bales of cotton.
Many dockers were hurt badly. My Dad was always in and out of hospital. I recall a bale of rubber broke from a crane and bounced all over the place with all scattering eventually getting him. Bales of cotton dropping was common.
Originally Posted by Fergie
There was cargo swinging about continuously and vehicles moving continuously: trucks, bogies, mobile cranes, trains. A very dangerous place.
Help find Madeleine
Which carried the further hazzard of likely containing the anthrax spore. I well remember bringing a cargo of hides back aboard a Blue Star ship from Fray Bentos, Uruguay and our carpenter (chippy) died enroute to Liverpool and as we were in the middle of the South Atlantic with no land for days he was buried at sea. Upon arrival at the bar we were quarantined. The quarantine lasted for 48 hours then we came into port and the dockers proceeded to discharge the ship. How the couple of port health officials who came on board could discern whether or not a man who died of respitory problems and was buried at sea, did not die of anthrax, i'll never know. I was glad I wasn't a docker.
Originally Posted by Fergie
Last edited by Sloyne; 11-12-2006 at 03:40 PM.
If it was carbon black - wasn't that the stuff used in dunlops tyre factory? It was pretty toxic stuff and was linked to an increased risk of cancer. They did a survey of people working in tyre manufacturing many years ago and identified the increased health problems from people exposed to it. My dad has the cancer that is most linked to working in the industry. He worked at dunlops in the 60s and 70s.
I will read your message to my folks, they are the same age as you.
Good on you for writing about growing up in l'pool back then! It is very important history and will be treasured by generations to come.
all the best
this cargo was bag ash (soda ash) which was a chemical which usually came by barge from ICI ,if you had any cuts this made them sting and it also made your nose run.this was just one of the many obnoxious cargoes dockers worked (hooves& horn<carbon black,asbestos,etc)Iworked on the docks from1968-95 when conditions were better than my father and yours worked under.
Originally Posted by BerylB
Have any of you been to the catalyst museum at Spike island?
Yes, I didn't even know it was there but was having my car serviced at some units down by the Widnes/Runcorn bridge and stumbled upon it, only went in initially as I needed a sarnie and soup - it was approx 23rd/24th Dec 2004.
Garston dock tales
My dad was a garston docker from 1930s toi 1970's he was a contemporary of the Union leader jack Jones who went off to the Spanish Civil War.
My Dad used to unload Sulphur (he would come home covered in this smelly yellow powder, not very healthy or hygenic), bananas (we used to live eat and breath bananas in the 1960's either side of the fireplace we had cupboards filled with ripening bananas, complete with tree frogs and the odd tarantula....cur Harry Belafonte deyyyyyyyyyyoooooo) oranges and peanuts. He had a sling of timber drop on his foot and broke it, with the over £100 compensation was spent on our first telly in the late 50's (I was born in 56)
We used to live off King Street just a stones throw away, me dad also had his "dog" with him all the time, his dog was a sort of long handled thing with a metal point at the end he also had a range of dockers hooks.
Every Sunday me Dad would dress up and take me for a walk aroudn the docks, on one of these walks I remember an old fashioned diver being lowered into the docks looking for a docker or a seaman who had fallen and drowned.
My Dad like his ale and would often spend the afternoon on the "welt", a sort of drinkign session which was condoned by the unions and bosses. He would often go for a drink with Soviet Captains of the Timber Ships and bring home
metallic russian badges wiht pictures of Lenin and marx.
The dockers also all had nicknames, cant remember me dad's. Anyone else got stories of garston dock.
Steve, cracking read mate.
Help find Madeleine
Not really, I sailed into and out of Garston a few times aboard skin boats (Elders & Fyffes). Matina, Chicanoa, Chirripo and Tilapa mostly to the West Indies, places like Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica, Antigua, St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Cuba etc. Probably carried the bananas you ate. We didn't always return to Garston, sometimes we would sail into Avonmouth, Southampton or London. I would usually have a pint in a Wilson's house near the Garston docks on sailing day.
Originally Posted by SteveFaragher
Last edited by Sloyne; 03-12-2007 at 10:50 PM.
Help find Madeleine
Does anyone remember any of the dockers nicknames. I saw a list recently but for the life of me cannot remember where but it did make me laugh.
My Uncle Jack was known as the sweaty sock because he was always in The Boot (a local pub)
Anyone got something to add.
has anyone got information on my grandad his name was joe hogan he was a docker in the 50s 60s his nickname was joe the blow.
The MDHB docks were in Liverpool and Birkenhead. The dockers had their "pens". They would work on ships local to their pens, howebver if needed be they would go anywhere, south to north end, or to Birkenhead.
Originally Posted by SteveFaragher
Although in Liverpool Garston Docks were not owned by HDHB. Was was the situation with movement there?
Also when rating tonnage, etc, Garston Docks were never taken into account with Liverpool Docks.
One man was a chargehand and would direct operations when maneuvering heavy loads with teams of men. When one man needed to let go of a rope he would point and shout "let that man go". He was known as "The Lenient Judge". That was his name, he was called that by everyone.
Originally Posted by munchkim
When I was in the Police I used to visit Garston Docks. I loved going there as it was very old and victorian. There was an old Stevadores office and I often wondered whether it was still in operation. I was last there about 12 years ago and there was a Russian ship in offloading small military tanks that had been brough over from the Eastern block to be sold in this country.
Hello you Mersey Lurkers,
My dad was a docker for about 40 years and was a gang leader. He built up quite a reputation just after the war when men used to go to the 'PEN' to try to get a days work to put food on the table. He knew all of the local men even though there were hundreds of them and what he used to do was to select men for work if he knew that the family was short of food and in a desparate situation. He was well respected for this and apparently nobody ever complained when not selected for his gang because they all knew the main reason for selection.
He was a very quiet man and had numerous nicknames one of which was 'the mouse'. The men who worked alongside him worked hard because he used to get stuck in and do his share of the work and they seldom complained because of this.
When they had lunch break in the pub, they would all go in and throw their 'carrying out' on the table. These were butties containing jam or spam or cheese or bananas with sugar, sometimes real meat. Anyway, they would all choose a butty that was not their own because they were fed up getting the same one from the wife every day. None of them said anything during this process and when I used to watch this it was amazing team work and spirit. they all munched away contentedly swilling an odd ale.
My dad died of cancer in 1998 and before he went to the Woolton hospice, he was in the Liverpool hospital. Just before he was moved to the hospice I was talking to him about the docks and I noticed a man about 50 years of age watching us. He eventually came over and asked me was my dad dying and I told him yes. He told me that he had been listening to us and asked me had he heard right and was this man Johnny Wallace, the docker. When I replied yes, he told me that his father and his brothers were all dockers and that my dad was held in a kind of awe by lots of dockers for the method of selection that he had used in the pens during hard times. His family used to whisper a word of thanks for the bread on their table some days because of a man called the mouse. He told me that I should be proud of my dad because he was a kind of folk hero among many of the older dockers. Anyway, this chap asked me could he shake my fathers hand which he did and then he smiled and walked away with a little swagger in his stride. I have never this chap again and I wonder what he tells his mates about this encounter.
As my dad was wheeled out of the cancer ward I stopped the porters by the window(5th floor) and told my dad to take a look at the Mersey. When he looked at me I knew that he was aware that this would be the last time that he would see it and he smiled a look of thanks. He then said, 'come on John, get me to the hospice' and off we went.
He died a couple of weeks later and I often wonder what other stories he took with him.
My dad was one of thirteen kids and all of the men were the old breed of Liverpool Dockers and do you know what, I am so proud to be a dockers son because of this hard working quiet bunch of hard men. I don't think that anyone could be prouder.
They lived between the Anglican cathedral and the docks and got bombed continuously during the war. The family were bombed out of Great george Square and were moved to Alfred Street about 200 yards away and just carried on working.
What else can I say except they were scousers.
Some dockers nicknames. Recalled to me by my dad years ago though he may have read them somewhere once.
The Cat - Is meow'll fella down there?
Stanley Matthews - I'll take this corner.
The lenient judge - Let that guy go (the guy rope was used when unloading)
Delux - He wore a great big army coat (delux as in one coat covers all)
Al Capone - Where's the gang
Batman - Doesn't go anywhere without robbin'
Big Ben - worked during the strike
Acker Bilk - Let's have a blow lads
Guy Fawkes - This place wants blowing up
Dr Jekyll - I need a change
The lazy brief - Always struggling with a case
Lord Nelson - Keep your eye out for the boss
Cassius Clay - Where's the gloves
Cinderella - Always leaves before twelve
Diesel fitter - When stealing garments or shoes etc - these'll fit her, these'll fit her
The Doctor - 'What no overtime', 'Have a heart boss'
John Wayne - Always says he's shooting at one (O'Clock)
The Olympic torch - Never went out
The Sheriff - Always saying 'what's the hold up'
The spaceman - always shot off to ma's for dinner
The Undertaker - always says' lay them out over there'
The plazzy surgeon - A good grafter
The Mersey fog - Won't lift
The weight lifter - he waits while you lift
Lino Joe - He's always on the floor
The pianoman - People are always playing on him
The Sick lobster - I'm off home, my nippers are bad
The Broken clock - give us a hand i've got a bad ticker
The depth charger- I'm going down for a sub
The bobby beater - lets get stuck into this copper
The reluctant plumber - wouldn't do a tap
The balloon - don't let me down now boys
The drug addict - There's some morphia here
The baker - I'm off home to the tart
The Blacksmith - Makes a bolt for the door when it's his round.
The Hungry rabbit - he's never got a carrot
The park Keeper - says 'mind that swing' (as the bales are lowered)
The broken boomerang - Never comes back
Last edited by Ged; 03-11-2008 at 02:53 PM.
Alan Stewart,the Dockers,Bunty Lawson
Hi Beryl B,
The cargoes your Dad would be working on would be Carbon Black,Sulphur Powder,Probably Pearl Caustic,Chemicals nobody knew the Dangerous ones(except of course the supplier and the user).Asbestos of Course I'm one of the lucky ones I have about 1 1/2 inches in each of my Lungs which has calcified.Only found that out when I had a scan about 7 years ago and the Doc and Operatort noticed the bottom of my luings.They asked my permission to ring my Doc and if it was OK with me to have the x ray taken right away.He made me aware of why and what it was but was pretty positive that there was no problem as I was 70.I was in reasonably good health and the scan was just a check.I served 2 1/2 years as an Apprentice at Bromborough Power Station when the Asbestos laggers started to Asbestos lag the High Head Boilers it was like a snow storm and every one was breathing it in.The next 2 1/2 years I spent at the main works of B & W at Renfrew in Scotland.Where we used to have (apprentices only) asbestos wool and rope fights with each other in the Oil Heater Shop,lagging them.My Uncle John was a Docker in the Pool and my Grandad was Capt.Alf Berry on the "Bramley Moore" tugboat and I used to go on the tug for 2 - 4 days with him starting about 1939 up to 1942 and he used to explain the different ships carrying some of the bad handling cargoes.My other reason for Answering your email is Bunty Lawson.My G/G Ma ( Bigmama) and G/G Dad (Bigdada) they lived at 25,Toft Street off Holt Road, Kensington,Edge Hill. Their son had a daughter "Bunty" her Dads name was Albert Edward Lawson and his wife was Ada Jane Lawson (nee Jennings) I am just researching My Mums side of her family Alice Rothwell Lunt (nee Lawson).
Bunty Lawson I am still trying to find her,would you know her given name.Her Mum and Dad had also a son Robert W. Lawson in the July Quarter 1939.So he was at least 7 - 10 years younger at a quess.Now this is the interesting part he was born in Newcastle T. Registration at:- Cumberland,Northumberland/Westmoreland.I am going to have a go at Ancestry U K tonight and the next few days,if I get anymore clues will let you know ASAP.Best Regards Ken Berry
My dear old Dad used to work on the South end docks from when he came out of the Merchant navy after the war until he retired in the late 80's.
He used to come home covered in "all sorts" he would strip off in the back yard and Mum would wash his works clothes right away, as they did not want whatever was on them carried into the house.
Dad had so many accidents, he fell down the hold a couple of times and ended up in the Southern hospital often, his arms and legs where never straight again, as for splinters !!, he would get a needle and start poking about in his flesh for the offending piece of wood or metal.
My Uncle was known as "The good shephard" or "The aga khan".
During the many strikes times were very hard !, weeks on end without much money, we lived on the little money my Mum earned cleaning, and family memebers brought "food parcels" for us !.
My Dad had many happy times too !, there was a massive family feeling between the dockers and they looked after each other.
I remember him telling me of the trips to the tropical school of medicine with the many and often deadly snakes ,and assorted other creatures found whilst unloading the ships.
The men worked hard for their money and earned every penny.
I worked for reas steverdores north to south and birkenhead,saw many cargoes , carbon black we used to get dirt money couple of pennies remember a docker coverd in carbon b,going past a cloured fella loading bags of flour on a b r s motor and tellng him to claim dirt money ,there was a irish foreman who stripped off grabbed a wet hyde rubbed it across his back to proove it was ok for the dockers ,they stunk slimmy & at times had maggotts on them another time ,unloading talc (a white powder)in big paper bags that often got burst ,an old time docker asked captain dick for dirt money his reply was its clean dirt ,so he threw it over him ,problem with all this obnoxious cargo was the fact you never had dissposable overalls you could finnish a ship of carbon black at lunch &time and be unloading meat at one oclock,all very unhygienic,,not to mention the toilets & urinals washing facillities for dockers ,i was there 1950s must have been very rough then ,All great Scousers with out a doubt joe
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