Unlike it's larger and more famous neighbour situated on the opposite bank of the River Mersey in Liverpool, whose docks were built along 1,200 acres of the east bank of the river, Birkenhead Docks are situated on a purpose built float known as the Great Float. This great float covers an area 110 acres of water, four miles of quay sides and two miles of inland waterways.
It would seem that the prosperity of the Wirral town of Birkenhead's docklands has ebbed and flowed in much the same way as the tide of the river on which they were built.
From the heyday of the industrious holy men who ran it’s twelfth century Benedictine priory, to a rapid decline with the abolition of the monasteries.
To rise again by way of the benevolence of Victorian industrialists, only to find yet more decline by way of Thatcherite, governmental reforms.
Throughout it’s thousand year history, Birkenhead and it’s dockside riverfront, has indeed seen it’s ups and downs, but it would seem that the town’s main industrial stronghold, could well be about to experience another up, at a time when most of the world’s economy is definitely on a downward turn.
Unlike it's larger and more famous neighbour situated on the opposite bank of the River Mersey in Liverpool, whose docks were built along 1,200 acres of the east bank of the river, Birkenhead Docks were constructed on a purpose built float known as the Great Float, an area which covers 110 acres of water, four miles of quay sides and two miles of inland waterways.
The docks were originally formed by way of land reclaimation on and around a natural, tidal inlet known as the Wallasey Pool, during the 1820's. A project which was a feat of engineering excellence for it’s time.
The area was divided into The East Float Dock and the West Float Dock , on an area which divided the two Wirral towns of Birkenhead and Wallasey. The Great Float consisted of graving docks, wet docks, quayside wharves and the vast shipbuilding empire of Birkenhead's first mayor and member of parliament, Victorian benefactor and industrialist John Laird.
Access by road to the area was gained by way of seven road bridges, a former Penny, toll bridge, a wooden road bridge and five hydraulic,swing bridges, also known as bascule bridges, three of which still remain today.
The lock gates of the Great Float were operated by the now, Grade II Listed, Central Hydraulic Tower and Engine House, designed by local, civil engineer Jesse Hartley, which was completed in 1863.
A good selection of B&C ships:
In Vittoria Dock: Rotherwick Castle, either Clan MacNab or MacNair and then either Ayrshire or Argyllshire.
Clan Sutherland on the outer berth.
The redevelopment of Vittoria Dock, showing the new Blue Funnel facilities
The company vessels shown are: Clan Malcolm on Vittoria Wharf, Rothesay Castle on No 6 berth, Clan MacNair on No 8 and Clan MacTaggart on No 10.
From B&C Review December 1966
The now completed Vittoria Terminal.
Show Clan Graham, Clan MacDougall and King Arthur alongside the two 600 ft long sheds.
From B&C Review April 1970
The old Clan Line shed in Vittoria Dock, still exists to this day