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#333354 - 1st Jul 2009 11:16pm Bromborough Dock
uptoncx Offline

Registered: 24th May 2008
Posts: 683
Loc: Wirral

The tidal creek of Bromborough pool has been used as a port since at least AD 44. Stone from Storeton Quarries was dragged to Bromborough and loaded onto boats. The stone was often damaged while being transported to the boats, so in 1837 the owner of the Quarry, Sir Thomas Stanley Massey, commissioned a tramway to safely carry the stone without damage from Storeton to a stone quay at Bromborough Pool. The tramway opened on 15th August 1838.

Bromborough Quay c1850

William Hesketh Lever arrived at this quay on the steam barge 'Warrington' to cut the first sod for the building of his soap factory and village on the 3rd March 1888.

As the soap factory grew, a dock was built at Port Sunlight, to enable sea going vessels to unload their cargo, this opened in July 1895.

Port Sunlight Dock c1903

In the mid 1920s, plans were drawn up for a new, bigger dock to be built on the mud flats at the mouth of Bromborough Pool. A bill was introduced into parliament to enable this. The bill had its first reading on 14th March 1928. On the 7th June 1930 the bill had its third reading and was passed.

This new dock, called Bromborough Dock, officially opened on the 17th April 1931, although the first ship had arrived in February of that year.

Bromborough Dock

The docks primary purpose was to import raw materials for Unilever companies in the Bromborough and Port Sunlight area, these included copra and palm kernels, vegetable oils and fats, whale oil, sardine oil, resin, tallow, palm oil, timber and paper.

Warehouses and an extensive tank farm were built on the quayside to store these materials Barges, with names like 'lifebuoy' 'lux' and 'sunlight' were used to transport them both to the Port Sunlight factories and to the Warrington factory.

Bromborough Dock

In its first four years of operation, the dock handled over 1,600 ships and more than a million tons of cargo.

A private railway was built from the dock to the factories on the Port Estate, with a ‘main line’ going to the Port Sunlight factory. As well as transporting goods to and from the dock, a passenger service was also run to take workers arriving at Port Sunlight station to the dock.

Bromborough Dock

Levers had their own dredger called 'Sand Swallow' which was used to keep the dock and the channel in the Mersey clear of silt.

During the second world war, the dock became strategically important as ,being further up the Mersey, it did not suffer as much bombing as the docks at Liverpool and Birkenhead.

In its heyday Bromborough dock had 3,500 feet of quays, and covered an area of 7.69 Hectares making it one of the largest privately owned docks in the world.

Bromborough Dock

In 1971 the dock was modernised to attract more shipping for both Unilever companies, and other companies on the Port Estate.

By the 1980s business at the dock was falling, with road and rail transport taking over. On 24th June 1986, a bill was presented to Parliament to allow Bromborough Dock to be closed. This bill was passed on 22nd July 1986 and the dock closed in September of that year. In August 1990 approval was given for a landfill scheme at the dock.

Port Sunlight Dock

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#333355 - 1st Jul 2009 11:21pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: uptoncx]
diggingdeeper Offline

Wiki Master

Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 10385
Loc: Birkenhead
Good stuff Upton - fantastic report & pictures.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates

#333359 - 1st Jul 2009 11:31pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: diggingdeeper]
Stegga Offline


Registered: 28th Feb 2009
Posts: 261
Loc: woodchurch
I never knew Bromborough dock was so big. Fantastic pictures and info. Keep it coming Upton

#333390 - 2nd Jul 2009 6:21am Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: Stegga]

Many thanks for that upton. Great stuff !

#333603 - 3rd Jul 2009 12:01am Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: ]
w10694 Offline

Registered: 31st Dec 2008
Posts: 243
Loc: cheshire
terrific report, History and pics.

#333607 - 3rd Jul 2009 12:14am Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: w10694]

Green Meanie
Wiki Master

Registered: 10th Apr 2008
Posts: 13467
Loc: Underground
good report man!!
Please do not adjust your mind, there is a slight problem with reality. #backscovered

#333668 - 3rd Jul 2009 1:24pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: TRANCENTRAL]

Brilliant work uptoncx. clap thanks for Sharing bud happy

#333715 - 3rd Jul 2009 6:11pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: ]
hoseman Offline
Forum Master

Registered: 30th Sep 2007
Posts: 2346
Loc: Bromborough
One of my biggest customers. Still plenty of rail lines down there. Anyone want to go and have a mooch just let me know, will be no probs to go down and "escort" them round the site. In the offices there, they have some goos arial pics of the docks in the 60`s and 70`s. see if can be "borrowed"


#333721 - 3rd Jul 2009 6:36pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: hoseman]
KevinFinity Offline

Forum Master

Registered: 30th Apr 2009
Posts: 2324
Loc: Wirral
Excellent report. I never knew there used to be a dock there.

#810827 - 26th Jul 2013 1:55pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: KevinFinity]
bigpete Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 7th May 2009
Posts: 336
Loc: Thingwall
Bromborough Dock was extremely busy in WW2 - and was one of the main import focuses for the US Forces - in terms of ammunition and materials - to such an extent that the USATC (Transportation Corp) maintained a couple of the famous USA Tank engines (see Southampton docks) there to handle the incoming traffic.

It was apparently chosen as it was separate and distinct from the other Mersey Docks - so if there was an explosion it would not have affected the rest of the port..!

Edited by bigpete (26th Jul 2013 1:56pm)

#810829 - 26th Jul 2013 2:04pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: uptoncx]
Sallybear Offline

Registered: 5th Apr 2009
Posts: 587
Loc: Wirral
I'd definitely be up for a mooch if anyone is up for it?

#812819 - 2nd Aug 2013 5:52pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: Sallybear]
TommyThumb Offline

Registered: 21st Mar 2010
Posts: 33
Loc: Bromborough
Played down there in the late 80's. Didn't realise the History of the dock back then.
Excellent report!

#812974 - 3rd Aug 2013 7:47am Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: uptoncx]
Tatey Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 14th Apr 2009
Posts: 1413
Loc: New Brighton
Dived in the dock many years ago to look for a lost anchor. Found a rather deep hole in the mud where it had disappeared. It never was recovered to my knowledge!

#813033 - 3rd Aug 2013 12:08pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: uptoncx]
pacef8 Online   content

Registered: 27th Dec 2008
Posts: 480
Loc: south wirral
Like Sally says i would love a visit around the site. My old neighbour worked on the docks there.

#813060 - 3rd Aug 2013 1:36pm Re: Bromborough Dock [Re: uptoncx]
barrybrown Offline

Registered: 2nd Aug 2013
Posts: 3
Loc: Wirral
I worked at Bromborough Dock when I was 16 around 1967 for Westminster Dredging I have fond memories of the dock and of Westminster Dredging it was a good company to work for.

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