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Thread: Liverpool Forts and Coastal Defences

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    Default Liverpool Forts and Coastal Defences

    Developing out of and growing from the Bathing Houses thread. I thought the town defenses deserved its own place for discussion. I decided not to start at the fort at perch rock, New Brighton, but its opposite number on the Liverpool side of the estuary.


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    The North Fort, Liverpool, was situated on the outer river wall between Huskissson and Canada Docks, with its guns trained towards the Mersey estuary mouth. It is recorded in the 1848 OS map (see below), and featured in a much later issue of The Illustrated London News, in 1888. The print is depicting the southern end of the fort, nearest the town.



    The North Fort, Liverpool, as shown in the Giant Panorama of Liverpool in 1865 by the artists, Jackson & Sulman. [courtesy of the LRO]

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    Thanks, Daz. Almost talking to you in real time here. Looking at the plan of the fort, I'd say this is a typical later 19th century fort, with thick walls and openings for cannons. I'm pretty sure what would have been there in the late 18th century would have been different, and made for lighter cannons of the day. I have a repro copy of that 1865 panorama of the city by the way, as it is included in the Scouse Press historical prints and maps collection that was published some years ago.

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    Again Dazza,some good investigation,and pic's! Looking at the aerial shot made me realise the site of the fort was much nearer to the river,than I thought,previously! The remains of massive foundations,on the south side, of what is now a nature reserve,presumably being part of the dock system?

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Hi Chris, thanks for the info.

    I have a 1835 map which doesn't record this particular fort; the construction, presumably, would've been tied to the Huskisson Dock works - with the dock opening, c.1852. It does however show another fort south of its position, close to where Boundary Street and the Dock Road is, close to the present day Nelson Dock. I'm assuming the forts had to migrate north with the expanding dock system and city boundaries.

    Hi Steve, I think you're right. It looks like part of the fort site is still there. I wonder if any thing remains of the wall?

    Cheers,

    Daz
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazza View Post
    Hi Chris, thanks for the info.

    I have a 1835 map which doesn't record this particular fort; the construction, presumably, would've been tied to the Huskisson Dock works - with the dock opening, c.1852. It does however show another fort south of its position, close to where Boundary Street and the Dock Road is, close to the present day Nelson Dock. I'm assuming the forts had to migrate north with the expanding dock system and city boundaries.

    Hi Steve, I think you're right. It looks like part of the fort site is still there. I wonder if any thing remains of the wall?

    Cheers,

    Daz
    Get Time Team in to do a 3 day dig.

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    Excellent Daz,

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    Interesting thread Dazza,

    Steve I thought the nature reserve (Bird Sanctuary) was further North near the seaforth dock timber berth, if you go through the freeport gateway and drive towards the the radar tower its on your right, Is there any old defences in that area ?

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    Thanks Dazza for this interesting thread.

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    Brill dazza. Initially, I thought that it may have been where the Bootle Bull fog horn was sounded from later on but found this:

    http://www.mycetes.co.uk/a/page41.html


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    Thanks again, Daz.

    The fort shown in the 1888 engraving militarily speaking is a block house more than a full-scale fort -- a miniature version of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor with thick walls and sizeable cannons akin to the American made Columbiads, the high tech armament of the day.

    All the best

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    Here is a pic I took middle of last summer, its looking down the dock wall North with the Huskisson shed on the right,Wellington Dock on my right. You can see what looks like old stone debris in the river, I have often wondered what it was, now then Dazza could it possibly remains of an old buildingClick image for larger version. 

Name:	dock wall 2.jpg 
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ID:	23946 , .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    Brill dazza. Initially, I thought that it may have been where the Bootle Bull fog horn was sounded from later on but found this:

    http://www.mycetes.co.uk/a/page41.html

    .
    Hi Ged, I thought the Bootle lighthouse was an interesting subject in its own right, so I did a bit of digging and posted the results here:

    http://www.yoliverpool.com/forum/sho...tle-Lighthouse


    ---------- Post added at 09:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:31 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by johnny blue View Post
    Here is a pic I took middle of last summer, its looking down the dock wall North with the Huskisson shed on the right,Wellington Dock on my right. You can see what looks like old stone debris in the river, I have often wondered what it was, now then Dazza could it possibly remains of an old buildingClick image for larger version. 

Name:	dock wall 2.jpg 
Views:	137 
Size:	404.2 KB 
ID:	23946 , .
    Hi Johnny blue, and thanks for your photo. It makes for an interesting question: whether anything remains down there of the fort defenses? They would be easy to spot, as they where set at an angle to the dock wall. We need more photos to be certain though.

    ---------- Post added at 09:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:39 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by wsteve55 View Post
    Again Dazza,some good investigation,and pic's! Looking at the aerial shot made me realise the site of the fort was much nearer to the river,than I thought,previously! The remains of massive foundations,on the south side, of what is now a nature reserve,presumably being part of the dock system?
    Hi Steve, I would be surprized if anything is left, but as part of the site remains, there's always a chance. We'd need to get more photos to be certain though.

    ---------- Post added at 09:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:42 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    Thanks again, Daz.

    The fort shown in the 1888 engraving militarily speaking is a block house more than a full-scale fort -- a miniature version of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor with thick walls and sizeable cannons akin to the American made Columbiads, the high tech armament of the day.
    Thanks Chris, we're building up a picture of the cities defenses, and good to have your expert appraisal on board. I've got some more information on the fort closer to George's Dock, which I'll post later on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny blue View Post
    Interesting thread Dazza,

    Steve I thought the nature reserve (Bird Sanctuary) was further North near the seaforth dock timber berth, if you go through the freeport gateway and drive towards the the radar tower its on your right, Is there any old defences in that area ?
    That's true,but the couple of times that I visited the reserve,you couldn't help notice the very substantial foundations(many feet thick!) of something I rightly,or wrongly,guessed was for some sort of military type building,such as a fort! I'd read of such a building,which was complementary to the fort in New Brighton,for defence of the river approaches.
    I had a quick look on google maps,and it's apparent that there have been some major changes to the shoreline,during the history of the docks development,and the general area around Seaforth,seems to involve a large reclaimed area.

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    Liverpool Fort (c.1781-1820) was sited close to George's Dock. It is clearly shown on the maps below. I've also highlighted the only image I could find of it, which is from a Michael Angelo Rooker engraving of the Mersey and Liverpool.

    The Fort stood on the site from 1781-1820. It was equiped with 'eighteen and thirty-two pounders', source: also Richard Brooke's Liverpool As It Was During the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, pp.371. Also, Dr William Moss, writing in, The Liverpool Guide, goes further to say that 'a strong guard of soldiers is always kept here. It is open for public recreation...[affording]...a very adventageous view down the river...from which point the rock point may be very distinctly observed'. pp.83





    This is a Michael Angelo Rooker engraving [above & below] The South East Prospect of LEVERPOOL, taken from Seacombe Boat-house, dated, 1816. The fort is highlighted by the red rectangle. It looks as though there may be castilations on the wall, or they could be the town's canon's sitting proud of it? This view was taken as they started construction on Prince's Dock (which is not yet visible). The Fort would only remain in position for another 4 years, when it was demolished, in 1820, to make way for finishing the dock, which opened the following year.

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    Great pic's Dazza, one of which shows Liverpool gaol,in Great Howard st,which also disappeared soon after!

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    Thanks Steve, and yes, the gaol can just be made out. Interesting that there was no development between it and the Mersey for some years. Only the fort was visible, as a stark reminder to the French prisoners inside. That's if they had windows?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazza View Post
    Thanks Steve, and yes, the gaol can just be made out. Interesting that there was no development between it and the Mersey for some years. Only the fort was visible, as a stark reminder to the French prisoners inside. That's if they had windows?

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    The french Napoleonic prisoners of war of course built part of the dock road wall.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazza View Post
    Liverpool Fort (c.1781-1820) was sited close to George's Dock. It is clearly shown on the maps below. I've also highlighted the only image I could find of it, which is from a Michael Angelo Rooker engraving of the Mersey and Liverpool.

    The Fort stood on the site from 1781-1820. It was equiped with 'eighteen and thirty-two pounders', source: also Richard Brooke's Liverpool As It Was During the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, pp.371. Also, Dr William Moss, writing in, The Liverpool Guide, goes further to say that 'a strong guard of soldiers is always kept here. It is open for public recreation...[affording]...a very adventageous view down the river...from which point the rock point may be very distinctly observed'. pp.83
    Hi Daz

    Fine information, maps, illustrations, and analysis as usual, Daz! Well done.

    The 32-pounders and 18-pounders would have been usual for coastal defense in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. In fact, Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor was protected by similar guns in the fort itself and in nearby batteries when Baltimore was attacked by the Royal Navy in September 1814. The bigger and longer guns, 36-pounders, were actually from a French warship French warship named the L'Eole that had been wrecked off the coast of Virginia some years before and recently sold at auction. Mounted in the fort's water battery, they kept most of the British attack squadron at bay, with only the British bombships able to lob mortar shells at the fort a distance of two miles (!) during the 25-hour bombardment. See also this blog posting on Fort McHenry -- the cannons at the fort today are misleading because they are larger Rodman coastal defense cannons dating from the 1870's. The 1814 water battery though has been recently recreated with replicas of the long French 36-pounders.

    Quote Originally Posted by wsteve55 View Post
    .... the couple of times that I visited the reserve,you couldn't help notice the very substantial foundations(many feet thick!) of something I rightly,or wrongly,guessed was for some sort of military type building,such as a fort! I'd read of such a building,which was complementary to the fort in New Brighton,for defence of the river approaches.
    I had a quick look on google maps,and it's apparent that there have been some major changes to the shoreline,during the history of the docks development,and the general area around Seaforth,seems to involve a large reclaimed area.
    Thanks, Steve. You could be onto something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    The french Napoleonic prisoners of war of course built part of the dock road wall.
    According to Brooke's book, the French prisoners of war were kept captive in the Tower during the late 18th century and early 19th century... there were a few Americans in there as well.

    Cheers

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    The 32-pounders and 18-pounders would have been usual for coastal defense in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. In fact, Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor was protected by similar guns in the fort itself and in nearby batteries when Baltimore was attacked by the Royal Navy in September 1814. The bigger and longer guns, 36-pounders, were actually from a French warship French warship named the L'Eole that had been wrecked off the coast of Virginia some years before and recently sold at auction. Mounted in the fort's water battery, they kept most of the British attack squadron at bay, with only the British bombships able to lob mortar shells at the fort a distance of two miles (!) during the 25-hour bombardment. See also this blog posting on Fort McHenry -- the cannons at the fort today are misleading because they are larger Rodman coastal defense cannons dating from the 1870's. The 1814 water battery though has been recently recreated with replicas of the long French 36-pounders.
    Thanks Chris, interesting link. And great photo of the 18" & 36" pounders ... it helps put some persepective on what any vessel would be up against if they entered the port of Liverpool. Also, Baltimore looks like it benefited from some high ground to mount their defenses on. One of John Stobart's painting's of Baltimore here: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/framingfox_2178_146562927

    The USS Constellation looks like an interesting ship - presumably it's open to the public?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazza View Post
    Thanks Chris, interesting link. And great photo of the 18" & 36" pounders ... it helps put some persepective on what any vessel would be up against if they entered the port of Liverpool. Also, Baltimore looks like it benefited from some high ground to mount their defenses on. One of John Stobart's painting's of Baltimore here: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/framingfox_2178_146562927


    The USS Constellation looks like an interesting ship - presumably it's open to the public?
    Hi Daz

    The hill you see in that painting is Federal Hill which looks down on Baltimore's Inner Harbor. It is further in toward downtown Baltimore but on the same peninsula as Fort McHenry which commands the approach as vessels come up the Patapsco from the Chesapeake Bay. The hill was used by Union Troops to train their artillery on downtown Baltimore when Federal troops on their way to Washington, D.C. were attacked by a mob of southern sympathizers on April 19, 1861.

    The USS Constellation as we see it today was built in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1854, and replaces a frigate of the same name launched in Canton, Baltimore, in 1797. When the ship was brought back to Baltimore in 1955, the people in charge of it tried to pretend it was the original frigate and gussied it up with gold ornamentation on the stern in emulation of HMS Victory and other earlier period warships. I have been on board the ship on numerous occasions. See here for an article I wrote on the controversy, "Unravelling the Story of a Storied Ship."

    All the best

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    ....
    The USS Constellation as we see it today was built in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1854, and replaces a frigate of the same name launched in Canton, Baltimore, in 1797. When the ship was brought back to Baltimore in 1955, the people in charge of it tried to pretend it was the original frigate and gussied it up with gold ornamentation on the stern in emulation of HMS Victory and other earlier period warships. I have been on board the ship on numerous occasions. See here for an article I wrote on the controversy, "Unravelling the Story of a Storied Ship."

    All the best

    Chris
    Nice article you wrote...

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