A Day in the Life…
“….on Sunday mornings we’d make our way to the Pier Head and following a brief chat with the dock-gate policeman he’d let us in to wander through, and wonder at, the innovative Albert Dock...
Despite having no experience of dock building, Jesse Hartley, the civil engineer created a global first for Liverpool when it opened in 1846. The massive warehouses, built from brick and stone were supported on immense cast iron columns; with no structural wood, it was the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world. But it didn’t stop there, the revolutionary design of the dock enabled ships to be loaded and unloaded directly from – or to – the warehouses with speed and efficiency whatever the tide or weather.
Today, when the ship’s crews had departed for the city’s high-life, the quays took on a different ambience. A deserted world that pervaded all the senses. The distinctive maritime aroma of engine oil, old rope, molasses and palm oil. The still waters of the dock basin reflecting Hartley’s warehouses. And an almost tangible silence, heightened by mewing gulls and clattering pigeons.
We strolled through the evocative atmosphere, speaking little and visualising the boatloads of immigrants arriving in the port during the last century. Poverty stricken Irish fleeing the Great Famine. Lines of persecuted German Jewish refugees shuffling across the smooth, worn cobbles of the quays for a better life in the melting pot that’s still evident in Liverpool today, the city that supports the oldest Black African, Chinese and Irish communities in England…”
The above is an extract from “Flights of Fantasy” : a memoir and miscellany of stories, paintings, sketches, photographs and memories from both World Wars and the years of peace between. It took me many years to complete and as you can imagine, it was delightful to see it published – even if it did land in the midst of the pandemic – but c’est la vie.
The inspiration, backstory behind its genesis and availability can be found by clicking here.