The `Mersey` of Yesteryear.

Oh Liverpool, Liverpool, great port of my youth,
how the years have changed your face.
How well I remember your docks and your ships,
and the hustle and bustle and pace.
They called you a `gateway` in those days gone past,
a great gateway to the west.
The Mersey gate to the Atlantic wide,
when your pride was at its best.
I sailed out of you when just a young boy,
a sailor I wanted to be.
Went down to the `Pool` in old Canning Place,
where a ship they gave to me.
I left you behind, way out of mind,
a sailorman `outward bound`.
To find the world o`er there were Liverpool men,
and Liverpool ships to be found.
I remember the end of many a `trip`
through seas often raging and cruel.
How fine at last to be Mersey bound
steaming back to old Liverpool.
There lay the pilot boat out at the `Bar`,
and the lightship swung to her chain.
Whilst ships of all nations plied in and out,
keeping place in busy lane.
I remember the Mersey as a river of ships,
flags and colours of every hue.
So busy was trade that many a ship
for a berth had no choice but to queue.
I remember great liners anchored midstream,
busy tenders plying alongside.
Bluff tugs tied up, two or three abreast,
waiting work which came with each tide.
I sailed in tankers which plied this great river,
bound for Stanlow or Ellesmere Port.
And in battered old trampships which came to your quays,
bringing cargoes of every sort.
I remember the coasters, the hoppers, the dredgers,
ships of all trades and all kind.
An endless parade on the `Mersey`s wide face,
in those days now left long behind.
Ships plying inward and ships standing out,
steaming to and from every sea.
Tug boats fussing and great sirens blowing,
that`s the way it used to be.
The Dock Boards `Vigilant`, and the `William Gregson`
lying alongside the stage.
The North Wales steamers `St Seriol` and `St Tudno`,
now just memories of a bygone age.
I remember great sheds filled up to their crossbeams,
and majestic cranes towered about.
Forests of masts, and tall funnels smoking,
and dockers shouting as derricks swung out.
I saw lighters alongside and cargo nets swinging,
heard the clatter of steam winches from every side.
Dock engines rumbling, their brass bells a`clanging,
shunting long lines of wagons along the dockside.
I saw teams of strong horses slipping and sliding
on shiny wet cobbles along the dock roads.
Snorting and panting, sweating and straining
to pull those big carts piled high with great loads.
The overhead railway from Seaforth to Dingle,
known as `the dockers umbrella`, a line of much worth.
Carried thousands of dockers to work at the hatches,
and thousands of seamen to many a berth.
Old Liverpool`s name was familiar worldwide,
a great seaport, a town of great fame.
A centre of commerce, a maritime hub,
to which ships of all nations came.
Oh the hustle and bustle of both night and day,
on a river which knew no sleep.
Tides rolled in and ships came and went,
busy schedules they had to keep.
Oh the sights and sounds of those times yesteryear,
the adventure which beckoned the bold.
The excitement and challenge of those days long gone,
the wonder of those days of old.
Those times are gone and can never return,
they exist only in memory.
New challenge we have, but it cannot compare
with old Liverpool of ships and the sea.
New riverside attractions are all very grand,
of much interest it must be said.
And the` Maritime Museum` an attraction of worth
bringing crowds down to the `Pier head`.
These places are fine but when all`s said and done,
to your men who were used to the sea,
they`re just shadows and ghosts of times long ago,
of the `Mersey` that used to be.
Now your river lies lonely, your docks mostly empty,
your south end deserted, it`s ships all gone.
Tis sad to remember your maritime grandeur,
tis sad to reflect on those great days done.


[ Ref`s to south docks lying empty and to the Albert Dock
Village when it was new and vibrant indicate
that I wrote this poem quite some years ago. The south
end areas are now of course all redeveloped, and the
Albert Dock Village seems to be rapidly losing its charm
with half its enterprises now closed down due to
unaffordably high rents and rates.]