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A Guide To Liverpool 1902 - On the Landing Stage

In 1902 the book, 'A New Illustrated Guide To Liverpool' was published by Littlebury Brothers. The book included many sketches of the period by Leonard Pattern. It has since been re-produced by Liverpool Libraries and Information Service. In this chapter they give us an insight into what the Pier Head and landing stage was like in 1902.

The structure was replaced after a fire in 1874.

A considerable portion of the Stage is taken up by covered-in waiting rooms, refreshment rooms, and offices of various kinds. It measures a little less than half-a-mile in length, and is formed of two distinct parts, which, however, to all intents and purposes are practically one. At the southern end we have the George’s, and at the northern end the Prince’s stages Stage, the greater portion being under the latter name.

We have communication with the mainland at certain points along the entire length of the Stage by iron bridges, of which there are seven. In late years a handsome gangway has been made, which will immediately strike us as being the most important. The Floating Bridge, as it is called, forms the chief entrance for vehicular traffic going to or from the City. Space is reserved also on each side for foot passengers. This bridge floats on pontoons, and is constructed to meet the heavy rise and fall of the tides of the Mersey, which are such that at one time we shall on arriving at the Stage find ourselves almost on street level, and at another have a considerable ascent to make before we reach the roadway, and then the horses struggle with difficulty to drag their heavy loads.

At the southern end of the Stage, the gangways take us to George’s Pier- head, where we have the City directly facing us. We notice here a convenient pavement and ample covered-in space to meet the stress of traffic, which at times is very great at this spot. We may truthfully say that all roads lead to George’s Pier head. Should we happen to be on the Stage at one o’clock, we shall hear the time gun fired, and have the amusing sight of watches being examined by what seems a simultaneous movement on the part of their owners. The gun is situated at Birkenhead directly opposite the George’s Pier head, and is fired electrically from Bidston Hill Observatory.

The Prince’s Landing Stage is connected by covered ways with the Prince’s Parade, as it is called. This must not be confounded with Prince’s Avenue, situated amid vastly different surroundings. The Parade occupies a similar position to that of George’s Pier head, but over us here we find a covered way, and in front of us the spacious Riverside Station. We refer to this Station later, and for the present return to the Stage. Let us imagine that we are here on this breezy water-front on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon. What do we see ? From end to end a moving crowd of people. Boats about to leave, cross river ferries close at hand (very punctual they are too !) for pleasure trips. Next to the passenger ferry boats we see the Birkenhead goods boats laden with extremely varied cargoes -furniture vans, Black Maria, a hearse, and mourning carriages, butchers’ carts, brewers’ drays, and endless other conveyances. Tugs and larger steamers are seen in the distance, and a huge Liner (if it be Wednesday afternoon a “ White Star” boat, if Saturday a “Cunarder”) showing her beautiful lines and towering above her neighbours. She will be flying the “ Blue Peter ” at the foremast. Near at hand the ferry bell rings. Late comers make a rush for their boats, up go the gangways from stage to ferries, and off go the boats to their cross-river destinations. Strolling further along we get a nearer view of the ocean going monster. As we approach the outward bound liner, we find the number of people considerably increases, and at length our progress is checked by barriers and stalwart policemen, unless we have obtained a special permit to enter the enclosed space.

Let us cross one of the bridges and thereby reach the Prince’s Parade. We may look in at the Riverside Station. This is built especially for the Trans-Atlantic traffic, and if the visitor wishes The Cunard Liner 'Lucania' off the landing stage. To see the interior, he must take an opportunity such as the present. The London and North Western express, having travelled from Euston in four hours, stands at the platform, which is 700 feet in length. Passengers are speedily transferring themselves and their belongings across the Parade down the covered way to the vessel. In a remarkably short space of time all is clear at the station. Whispering something of a friendly nature into a constable’s ear, we go down the gangway with the passengers. We are on the Stage again and get a splendid America view, and are able to realize the dimensions of this monster vessel. The last good-byes are being said. Handkerchiefs are waving. There is a stentorian blast, and, under the escort of her tug, the leviathan glides away from her mooring, and, heading for the open sea, quickly disappears from view.

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