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#1019306 - 6th Sep 2016 9:50pm Birkenhead Docks
granny Offline

Wiki Master

Registered: 29th Jun 2011
Posts: 14877
Loc: Wirral
I'm not sure if there is anyone left on Wikiwirral , who can answer this.

Reading through various bits and bobs of the Cheshire Sheaf I came across the following information relating to the development of Birkenhead and the Docks becoming the property of the public after 30 years.

Page 83, left hand column 'A New City' (notice the word 'City')
Can anyone expand on this ? Did it happen and when did the public lose the docks ? Maybe they should still belong to the public ?

https://archive.org/stream/cheshiresheaf00unkngoog#page/n92/mode/2up/search/wallasey
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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
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#1019310 - 7th Sep 2016 12:15am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
diggingdeeper Offline

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Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 10692
Loc: Birkenhead
The docks were owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Act 1857 after the failure of the previous 1855 Birkenhead Dock Act to be correctly implemented.
This entity was restructured as a council (Liverpool!) owned company in 1972.
The company was then sold to Peel Holdings in 2005.

Prior to 1857 the docks had troubled History with the original commissioners (who were Birkenhead Councillors) failing to agree on many matters, Parliament stepped in during 1848 and replaced the commissioners with trustees, the trustees always wanted to hand the Birkenhead Docks over to Liverpool, corruption isn't a new thing.
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#1019331 - 7th Sep 2016 9:29am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
yoller Online   content
Smartchild

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 479
Loc: Cheshire
The idea that Birkenhead docks were ever intended to become the property of the public seems unlikely, although it may well have been the intention of some well-meaning souls who saw ‘commerce and philanthropy’ going hand-in-hand.

Developing docks along Wallasey Pool was undoubtedly a major factor in the rise of Birkenhead, but it was never an altruistic scheme – the hard-headed businessmen behind it aimed to make money.

And, as has been told previously on WikiWirral, their ambitions gave rise to some murky goings-on.

In 1824, William Laird and another entrepreneur, Sir John Tobin, bought land along the south side of the Pool from the Lord of the Manor, Francis Price.

Laird set up his boilermaking yard on the Pool, founding the firm that would eventually become Cammell Laird. Then in 1828 he and Tobin put forward a scheme for building docks, based on a favourable survey by the civil engineers Thomas Telford, Robert Stephenson and Alexander Nimmo.

But Liverpool Corporation took fright at the prospect of a rival dock system on the opposite bank of the Mersey and stepped in to buy up the land from Laird and Tobin, who pocketed substantial profits. The corporation said it would build docks along the Pool, but had little intention of doing so and the land lay undeveloped.

Telford, the most famous civil engineer of the day, was appalled by what had happened. He suspected Laird and Tobin had never intended to develop the Pool, but were merely indulging in land speculation, using his reputation to drive up the price of their property. He thought he had been used as a dupe – brought in to give the impression that the dock development was a serious proposition.

Then in 1843, William Laird’s son, John Laird, bought back a large portion of the land that had been sold by his father, getting it at cut-price rates from Liverpool Corporation. The new scheme for dock development was then put forward.

After the initial rush of building, the Birkenhead dock development deteriorated into a sorry tale of technical incompetence and financial mismanagement, and in 1858 the docks along both sides of the Mersey were brought under the control of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.

The London Journal writer also seems to have got some of his figures in a twist. He says of Birkenhead that ‘seven years ago (1838) there were not three houses on that side of the Mersey – there are now about 20,000 inhabitants’. In fact in 1831, the population of Birkenhead was 2,569 and by 1841 had risen to 8,227.

I think the reference to Birkenhead as a city is just a contemporary usage, aimed to indicate the prospect of its rise to greatness. During the first heady days of its development, Birkenhead was famously dubbed ‘the city of the future’. And, of course, today it is still known as the ‘one-eyed city,’ for reasons that have been much discussed – not least here on WikiWirral.


Edited by yoller (7th Sep 2016 9:41am)

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#1019336 - 7th Sep 2016 10:29am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
granny Offline

Wiki Master

Registered: 29th Jun 2011
Posts: 14877
Loc: Wirral
Thanks guys. Very interesting and much appreciated.


Will we ever have a correct answer to 'The one eyed city' ? Probably not.
_________________________
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
~Chief Seattle

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#1020482 - 17th Sep 2016 4:31am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
mikeeb Offline

Wise One

Registered: 8th Oct 2013
Posts: 795
Loc: birkenhead
Telford and Stephenson to create plans for the Birkenhead docks and up its interest

Nice bit of info yoller wink

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#1020485 - 17th Sep 2016 10:07am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
yoller Online   content
Smartchild

Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 479
Loc: Cheshire
I got most of my information on the first Birkenhead docks scheme from an article by W R S McIntyre in the transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire ...

http://www.hslc.org.uk/documents/PDFS/1972.pdf

... the HSLC website is a brilliant resource, with searchable articles going back to 1848. This is the main search page ...

http://www.hslc.org.uk/Search-Journals?volume=1

We covered this subject a while back on WikiWirral and I remember there were some excellent contributions, so it may be worth looking them up.



Edited by yoller (17th Sep 2016 10:09am)

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#1044671 - 27th Sep 2017 6:26am Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: yoller]
dingle Offline
Newbeee

Registered: 14th Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Loc: Australia
Funny this one eyed city thing. I was on a tour at Fraser Island of the Queensland coast a couple of months back. We had a Scouser on the tour. We got chatting and he asked me where I was from, as after 47 years as an Aussie I had still not fully lost the accent. I told him Birkenhead. He said "Oh the one eyed city". Never been more proud of coming from Birkenhead as I was that day.

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#1044728 - 27th Sep 2017 6:05pm Re: Birkenhead Docks [Re: granny]
Norton Offline

Smartchild

Registered: 29th Sep 2011
Posts: 635
Loc: Wallasey
This question was raised in 'The Guardian' newspaper in 2001, reproduced below.

Liverpudlian slang

Q Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "The One-Eyed City" used by Liverpudlians to describe Birkenhead across the Mersey.

A Neither Birkenhead nor Salford, Gateshead nor anywhere else can claim to be the real one-eyed city (Notes & Queries, October 25). The OED gives "one-eyed" as a term of disapproval or contempt: "small, inferior, inadequate, unimportant, esp. of a town". It refers to an 1871 usage by the poet and painter DG Rossetti: "Lechlade... being but a 'one-eyed town', as the Yankees say"; and to other places, such as Tobago. The epithet often seemed to be given to places in the shadow of more important ones like Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.
Fritz Spiegl, Liverpool.

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