Articles from the Illustrated London News on the opening of the docks and park on Monday 5th April 1847 and Saturday 10th April 1847.From The Illustrated London News - Saturday, April 3, 1847
Opening of the Birkenhead Docks
Monday will be an eventful day for the fast rising town of Birkenhead, on the shore of the Mersey, immediately opposite Liverpool. It is then proposed to open, with great ceremony, the Birkenhead Commissioners' Docks and the Dock Company's Warehouses, an extension line of the Chester and Birkenhead Railway to the Docks and the Park. Here are alike prospects of business and recreation for many years' realization.
The proceedings, we learn, from an official programme, will commence by the Birkenhead Dock Commissioners, the Birkenhead Improvement Commissioners, the Directors of the Birkenhead Docks (Warehouses) Company, the Directors of the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway, and the Directors of the Cheshire and Birkenhead Railway, receiving Lord Morpeth on board a steamer lying off Monks' Ferry, which will then proceed past Woodside Ferry Pier, and the whole extent of the Dock Works, and enter the Birkenhead Docks by the Woodside Basin. After passing through the Woodside and Bridge End Docks, the steamer wull moor alongside the south wall of the latter, when the party on board will disembark, and then proceed to the Warehouses, where a Déjeûner will be provided for a company of eight hundred.
After the Déjeûner, Lord Morpeth will proceed to open the Park, the distance from the Warehouses to the Grand Entrance being about half a mile, The quays of the new Docks will be lined with the several clubs, the pensioners' and other bands, flags, &c.; and, after the opening of the Dock, they will proceed to the Park, so as to be in waiting to receive Lord Morpeth.
In the evening, a Ball and Supper will be held in two of the warehouse rooms, and a display of fireworks will take place; and rural sports and amusements will be provided in the Park in the course of the afternoon.
Next week, we intend to illustrate these festal proceedings. Meanwhile, we present our readers with a substantial specimen of the Birkenhead progress - the New Market, nearly approaching in extent the vast market of St. John's at Liverpool. In the Birkenhead structure, iron has been employed wherever available; and the result is great security combined with a more ornamental character than, under normal circumstances, have been attained.
From The Illustrated London News - Saturday, April 10, 1847
Opening of the Birkenhead Docks and Park
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF BIRKENHEAD
Another glory on the Mersey's side:
A town springs up as from a magic wand.
Behold those noble docks - amerchant's pride,
And the fair park extening o'er the Strand
The gallant bark that often had defied
The wild Atlantic, may no longer dread
The treacherous shore: in safety now 'twill ride
Within the waters of fair Birkenhead.
Good, great, and glorious is the work. The bond
A brotherhood between two worlds, hereby
Is knit more closely; and affections fond
Will spring up where before frown'd enmity
Success to Birkenhead - its commerce, trade,
And may true worth its people's heart pervade
On Monday last, a portion of the immense docks at Birkenhead was opened with the éclat befitting such an important incident, and a vast concourse of persons assembled to witness the ceremony. The works thrown open form but a small part of the magnificent and comprehensive scheme, but what has already been accomplished gives a goodly promise of a speedy completion of a most useful and efficient series of docks, the promotors of which may hope, at no very distant day, to see them, on account of their extensive usefulness, worthy of being associated in importance with those on the other side of the Mersey. Birkenhead may now be said to have entered into competition, or rather into articles of partnership, with Liverpool, the great north outlet and inlet of our foreign and transatlantic trade. At any rate, it will henceforth divide the palm with Liverpool, and participate in the prosperity and profit derivable from its immense mercantile marine. Birkenhead may fairly be looked upon as of Liverpool lineage and alliance, and having been literally called into life by that leviathan of trade itself in its effort towards finding an ampler field for the accomodation and convenience of its over-grown trade. Birkenhead will now become a sort of chapel of ease for the redundant commerce of the mother port, and probably there is no port in the kingdom, not excepting Liverpool itself, that presents such grand natural facilities. A few years hence, and Birkenhead will become a second Liverpool, launched upon the Mersey; for time was when, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Liverpool itself, now the entrepôt of all our trade with the Americas and Indies, was simply a fishing village. The same a few years since might be said of Birkenhead. At present it is not even mapped out as a town upon the Mersey, a few years ago,
Whereon it stands
The vacant winds did whistle, and the laugh of sunshine
Sported in wild freedom.
Both are probably the finest examples on record of the brilliant results of unfettered British enterprise. Anciently the settlement and consolidation of a town was the work of generations; now, thanks to steam, they spring up and prosper with all the rapidity of the famed ice palace of the Queen of Russia. Great advantage may be expected to accrue to the public and frequenters from froeign ports from the generous emulation that will be established between the old and the new ports, and in a few years the northern, no less than the eastern arm of the Mersey, may be expected to be the seat of a crowded and busy community. It will give no insignificant idea of the immenseness of Liverpool, that it extends for three miles along the Mersey., and is upwards of a mile in depth. Liverpool has for years had at her command a comprehensive and splendid chain of railways, and unsurpassed port facilities. Upon these Birkenhead is only just entering. Monday gave England, in the latter respect, a new point of ingress and egress to the western seas; but Birkenhead will have to wait awhile for the completion of her railways. It is true that she has long had one, but this is less than half what she wants. Ere long she will be the very "rosette" of railways, for, in addition to the existing Chester and Birkenhead, she will have the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction, operations on which have just been commenced by the contractors in real ernest, and which, in addition to drawing all the commerce of the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire to the Mersey, will give to Birkenhead the mineral trade of Wales, the salt traffic of Cheshire, the immense products of the potteries, besides having with Holyhead the traffic to Ireland. If Rome was not built in a day, Birkenhead, by a figure of speach, assuredly has been. We have in it a great mercantile community, with all its moral and commercial apparatus springing simultaneously and almost magically into action under the vivifying power of English enterprise. We have it put in possession, at the same time, of docks for forests of foreign masts, with warehouses for hiving their wares, and with a railway for their transit to inland homes.
OPENING OF THE DOCKS
To enable a large party from London to attend the entertainment an express train was harnessed for six o'clock, and started precisely at that hour from the splendid station of the London and North-Western, at Euston Square. The arrangement under the superintendence of Capt. Huish, the superintendant, and Mr. Brookes, the traffic-manager, were excellent. The train worked its way at a slashing pace, time and space apparently being secondary things - say at forty miles an hour - to Liverpool, with as much ease, and apparently in as little time, as it would take to peregrinate between Hammersmith and Hampstead. Having breakfasted in London, the next consideration was that of practically achieving of luncheoning at Liverpool. There were five first-class carriages to the express train, and two luggage-vans, weighing together 32 tons. To draw this special load, one of Stephenson's long-boiler engines, with an outside cylinder, and seven feet driving-wheel, was selected. The line was understood to be laid out for the special performance of this engine, and it was anticipated that she would make a splendid run to Birmingham, (a hundred and twelve miles) in two hours and a half, and to Birkenhead (two hundred and twelve miles) in five hours, at forty-two miles to the hour; but , owing to the over-straining of the staple works of the engine in order to attain the attempted velocity, the cylinder became heated, which prevented its accomplishment. It is only fair to state, that a strong lateral wind prevailed the whole way, which presented, of course, considerable retardation. At ninety-three miles up the line, which from starting at 6 A.M., was reached at 13 minutes past 8, the cylinder gearing became red-hot, and the speed was slackened to 8 or 10 miles an hour, the old coach average, for several miles, and for some distance to 3 or 4 miles an hour. Close upon Birmingham this engine came to a dead stop, and it was found necessary to supersede her by a new pilot engine, and lay her up in the locomotive hospital. Ultimately, the train fell foul of Birmingham at 28 minutes past 9, doing the distance, 112 miles, in 3 hours and 5 minutes, or at a rate of 40 miles an hour. The train, after stopping 13 minutes, started from Birmingham for Birkenhead at 16 minutes past 9, passing Stafford and Crewe, where there is a splendid new station, built in the Elizabethan style, and at a minute or two past 12, the train, amidst the mingled artillery of its own rattle, salutes from six-pounders and the artillery of tongues, made a triumpha entry into Birkenhead, amid strains of "See the Conquering Hero comes", to throw open
Here the scene was truly splendid and imposing. The immense estuary of the Mersey, one of the noblest arms of the sea in England, was mirrored over with multitudes of masts and men - with steamers stemming its tumultuous tide, with vessels of all climes sleeping tranquilly on its surface, bellying at intervals with their white wings to the breeze. It was a scene of animation such as the waters of Liverpool have never seen before, nor perhaps ever will see again, burdened with all the beauty of which both Birkenhead and Liverpool could boast. The proceedings of this part of the inauguration were commenced by the Birkenhead Dock Commissioners, the Birkenhead Improvement Commissioners, the Directors of the Birkenhead Dock (Warehouses) Company, the Directors of the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway, and the Directors of the Chester and Birkenhead Railway, receiving Lord Morpeth (the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests), Lord Lincoln, and other distinguished visitors, on board a new steam packet, the Lord Warden, built by Mr. John Laird
, which was in readiness at Monk's Ferry.
The Lord Warden is a beautiful iron steam-vessel, just completed, under the superintendence of Mr. Morrison, the foreman of Mr. Laird
. She is a companion to the Clementine, of quick-sailing celebrity, and is expected to prove a clipper. She is now fitting out in Trafalgar Dock.
Leaving Monk's Ferry, the Lord Warden, with the party on board, proceeded, amid vociferous cheering and music, past Woodside Ferry Pier, and the whole extent of the Dock works, and entered the Birkenhead Docks by the Woodside Basin.
The two docks already constructed are the "Passage Dock", near Woodside Ferry, and the "Bridge End Dock", now so called from its being on the site of a small valley, formed originally by a rivulet, or more correctly by a creek, or armlet of the sea, the tide having passed up it, under a bridge, time out of mind.
The walls of both of the new Docks are built of red freestone, principally quarried on the ground, and with ashler bindings. There are a number of arches (facing the river) of the upper Dock, on each side of a tongue forming a quay running westward, which protect the mouths of the sluices, intended to scour out the Great Basin, yet to be constructed on the east. These arches, apparently about twenty in all, and also the piers, are beautifully built of Bolton and Longridge stone.
ENTRANCE TO THE PARK
Steamers were plying between Liverpool and Birkenhead the whole day, and carried thousands, at 2d a-head. The shops in each place were nearly all closed, and the day universally observed as a holiday. The Docks are two in number, forming part of the grand scheme which, in all its comprehensive details, has so long occupied public attention. The extent of shipping accommodation afforded by these Docks alone will equal that of Prince's Dock, and no doubt is entertained that they will almost immediately be called into active operation. A procession was then formed and proceeded to
Amongst the number being Viscount Brackley; Colonel Bell; Sir Philip Egerton; Lady Egerton; Mr. Egerton; Mrs Legh; Sir Thomas Fremantle and family; the Rev. R. M. Fielden and family; T. Grimsditch, M.P.; F. H. Goldsmith, esq.; Count H.D. Avigor; Lord Ingestre; Honourable Wellington Talbot; George Cornwall Legh; Earl of Lincoln; Lord Monteagle; R. Neville, M.P.; Professor Owen; R. N. Phillips; Mrs Phillips; Major Robe, R.A.; Peruvian Consulate and Lady; Hon. E. H. Stanley; E. J. Stanley; T. Thornley, M.P.; Captain H. Vyner; Baron and Baroness Goldsmid; Russian Ambassador; Peruvian Minister; Henry Thomas Hope, esq.; the Mayors and Town Clerks of Manchester, Salford and Chester; and the Consuls representing the different powers in Liverpool. Twelve of the warehouses, each capable of holding 4000 bales of cotton, are already completed. They have been erected in the best style of workmanship, by Messrs. Hilton and Morris, and will form three long tiers, running rectangularly from the shore. They are two stories in height, and are, in every respect, highly convenient and substantial. Along the lower story of each warehouse run two lines of iron pillars, the floors being laid with asphalte cement. The stairs leading up to the upper story are of iron, and projecting from the upper windows are hoisting cranes. In fact the whole is furnished with every requisite to make a warehouse valuable and complete.
The Superintendent of the Dock Warehouses is Mr. W. H. Slomon, late of the Southampton Docks, and formely of the East and West India Dock, London.
The extensive line of railway from Grange-lane to the Docks has been formed in an incedibly short space of time, and, although in a somewhat rough state, was sufficiently advanced to allow of its opening at the same time. It runs in a diagonal line, by means of an open excavation across the town, from the Grange-lane station through Oliver-street, Conway-street, Price-street, and Cleveland-street, and continuing along the Dock Warehouses even to the water's edge. This arrangement affords facilities and advantages which few railways or few docks enjoy. From the main line branches run along each side of the warehouses, one side will be made available for the storing of goods by vessels just arrived, the other for conveying goods to vessels loading for sea. The rails run so close that the goods can be hoisted direct from, or lowered into, the trucks, and thus all confusion and necessity for carting will be avoided; neither will there be delay or hazard from exposure on the quays.
OPENING OF THE PARK
THE OPENING OF THE PARK
The park, which was thrown open to all, is a splendid enclosure, and has been formed at a cost of £127,775. A refreshment tent was fitted up, 170 feet long; and various other booths, camps, &c were erected. Cricket, football and other athletiv games, rural sports, and divers amusements, occupied the holiday throng in that vast and picturesque arena. An efficient committee of the most respectable tradesmen had undertaken the superintendence of this portion of the day's proceedings, and nearly all the tradesmen of the town, in addition to a holiday, agreed to give each person in their employ half-a-day's wages. The programme of these sports comprised sack-races, pig-chases, pole-climbing, and, with a variety of other rare and spleen-curing sports, "a foot-race for women of all ages!". The far-famed Lancashire Bell-ringers were engaged, and were placed in the Boat-house, on one of the beautiful serpentine lakes; and the effect of their melodious notes added considerably to the interest of the scene.
The new Market, on which a sum of £26,000 has been expended, likewise presented its attractions. Of this we gave an engraving last week. On the east quay of the new Docks, facing the river, six pieces of ordnance were placed, for the purpose of firing salutes; the cannons being under the management of a detachment of the Royal Artillery from Chester Castle.
No procession was formed, but the quays of the new Docks were lined with the pensioners, the several clubs and societies with theur bands, flags, &c.; and, after the opening of the Docks, they proceeded to the Park, to be in waiting to receive Lord Morpeth. A stand was erected on the west side of the Bridge-end Dock, capable of holding 1200 persons.
For this entertainment four of the warehouse-rooms, each 140 feet long and 50 feet wide, were beautifully and tastefully fitted up with pink and white drapery, by Mr. Shaw 81mw, upholsterer, of Birkenhead, assisted by Mr. Hornblower and Mr. Brine, architects. The suite included reception, retiring, and refreshing, ball and banquet rooms. In the former, a magnificent cascade, furnished, by Mr. Highfield, Mr. Jackson’s manager, sent forth a silvery and refreshing jet, amidst a profusion of choice conservatory plants and flowers. The walls of all the rooms were lined with alternate white and pink, arranged in the Grecian tent style, and finished round the top with Roman drapery. The prevalence of pink shed a rich and warm light into the rooms. The ball-room was furnished with an orchestra in the centre, its walls decorated with four stars. The banqueting-room had a very gay appearance. In addition to drapery decorations, the roof was decked with evergreens. A high table, 140 feet long, ran along the side, at which the Chairmrn, with the dlstinguished guests, were arranged. Transversely were about twenty lower tables.
About 600 persons were present. The chair was taken by Mr. Bailey, Jun., M.P. supported by Lord Morpeth, Earl of Lincoln, Lord Monteagle, and other eminent individuals.
The usual loyal toasts having been proposed,
Lord Morpeth was received with great acclamation. He assured them he felt sincerely the kind and cordial manner in which the toasts had been received. Ever since he had been called to that office which he now held, of First Commisioner of Woods and Forests, and which connected him with the property of the Crown, he had felt the strongest interest in the rising fortunes of Birkenhead. They were probably aware that besides the general interest which the Crown might be supposed to take in all that was represented by the abstract idea of its subjects, it had also motives not so purely abstract or disinterested for meaning well to the port and town of Birkenhead. He avowed this the more readily, in asmuch as it was quite obvious that the proportion In which the undertakings here set on foot could become profitable mnst be according to the degree In which they were made available to the accommodation of commerce and the public good. The Chairman had alluded to his (Lord Morpeth’s) visit to America, and he could only say, In reply, that he hoped the ports of Birkenhead would be instrumental to the relief of an afflicted country by importing from them the crops which line the rich banks of the Ohio and the innumerable streams of the mighty Mississippi. He hailed it as a good omen, and hoped that the first use of the ample basin through which their vessel that day had for the first time glided, and all those striking and startling specimens of engineering skill and admirable natural resources by which It was surrounded, would be consecrated to the admitting the surplus harvests of foreign fields, and make provision for the bread that keeps alive. Next in the progress of time - he hoped in the course of the ensuing autumn - they would be able to bear their part in accommodating the timber trade and without proceeding through the long vistas of usefulness and enterprise, and of the success which he trusted would attend on Birkenhead, he hoped that the proceedings of that day eloquently foreshadowed an auspicious commencement, and a powerful impulse. He would only express a hope that the best feeling would always prevail between them and the great city immediately opposite them - Liverpool - which divided with London the supremacy of the commerce of the world and, so London could not but feel benefited by the improvements of Southwark, as Liverpool could never have cause to repine at the prosperity of Birkenhead; and, even should the majestic Mersey become lined with a double line af docks, be trusted that there would never he more than room enough for the corn that waves in the western hemisphere. He trusted that they had that day forged another link in that chain of amity which ought to connect England with America. While they remembered that Rendel had constructed their Docks, they had also had a Paxton to lay out their promenades, and they were one of the first cities which had given a sympathetic attention to the great subject of the public health. He hoped that, when the pageant of the day had passed away, it would still leave them ground to remember that it had not been a triumph which gained ita trophies from the strife of nations or the engines of destruction.
Lord Lincoln rose amid cheers to propose "The Commerce of the Mersey;" and expressed a hope that the only rivalry that would exist between Birkenhead and Liverpool would be for their common interest. The Oregon, a large American vessel, had that day entered their harbour, freighted from abroad with guano, to fertilise the broad acreo of Cheshire.
Lord Menteagie proposed "Manchester and the Manufacturing Interests," and dwelt emphatlcally on the improvements that had been effected in the sanatory system of the districts, and remarked upon the great advantage it would be to other towns to follow, in this respect, the example of Liverpool and Birkenhead.
Subsequently, the "Members of the County," the "Chairman," the "Birkenhead Docks," and other toasts of a local character were proposed, and responded to briefly. Mr. Toole officiated as toastmaster, with great spirit.
A spectal train atarted from Birkenhead at six, with the visitors from London, and arrived at the Euston terminus at twelve, accomplishing the distance of 212 miles in the short space of six hours, making a total area of space run over during the day of 424 miles, a feat for the first time accomplished in the annals of steam, and ranking amongst its most remarkable achievements.
At seven o’clock there was a magnificent display of fireworks near the Dock gates. At eight o’clock the warehouse-rooms were thrown open for a ball and supper. Horabin’s quadrille band was engaged for the ball, where a novelty was introduced by Mr. Turvey, professor of music, called the "Birkenhead Qnadrilles." The ball was opened, by Mr. J. Bailey, M.P., and Mrs. Shaw, of Arrows; the company were received by Mrs. Bailey.
Medals, commemorative of the opening were struck off, and presented, to Lords Lincoln and Morpeth. The workmen to the number of 2000 had each a day’s pay.
The celebration was attended by vast crowds; 58,000 persons being carried over by the Woodside ferry-boats.