Manchester Ship Canal

21st February 2011, 21:28
Recently took my grandson to the Lowry gallery in Salford Quays. Among other exhibitions was one relating to the MSC.

It reminded me that as an apprentice with BP Tanker Co in 1959 (British Strength) I had traversed the canal to the Cadishead fuel depot to discharged heavy fuel oil loaded at Old Kilpatrick. I had never stepped and dropped masts before and it was a good lesson learned but true to life...never a single question at ticket exams and never repeated.
Question asked was how did we get out again?
I don't remember going through the Barton Locks so those of you in the know please enlighten me


22nd February 2011, 08:13
Depending on size it is possible to swing below Irlam lock, bow into big lock, use the bullnose, stern round into sluiceway, you are then head down. John

Tony Shaw
22nd February 2011, 18:30
I've been wanting to put a thread out re-the Manchester Ship Canal for some time now but never got round to it. As a young lad I was never away from Latchford Locks, living in Warrington, and when I eventually went to sea I went up and down the canal several times. Leaving deep sea ,I spent a year on the Manchester sludge boat "Mancunium", after which I became lockmaster at Latchford Locks. After 8 years I returned to seagoing and went up and down it yet again on Harrison Line vessels. Unlike the majority of people I thought gthe canal was one of wonders of the world. (I even liked the smell of the water in summer !!!) It would be nice to hear of from those who have experienced the pleasures (or displeasures) of transitting 'the big ditch'

22nd February 2011, 19:33
My first of many canal transits was in 1960, when movement ceased at sunset. One of our choice pilots was Jack Warren, luckily, because he would always press on to a set of dolphins, or whatever else offered for a night berth, that was within striking distance of a pub; albeit usually involving a mile or two's hike across ploughed fields!

23rd February 2011, 02:49

you must have come up to Salford Docks to turn around unless your vessel was quite small and you swung below Irlam locks as bob2bob says. I joined an iron ore boat, Orelia, at Irlam steel works and had to come all the way to Manchester to turn round. I have also joined ships at Partington coal basin and we were small enough to swing below Irlam locks.


I spent over ten years up and down the canal mostly on Manchester Liners from 1956 to 1966. I was also on Prince Line, Robertsons of Glasgow (Gem Line), WM. H. Muller & Co.( Paris & Rouen run on the Somme) and a couple of one offs, s.s."Uskmouth" and Kyle of Lochalsh. The last time I was up there was in 1972 on the Baltic Viking.
One of the AB's on the Viking was Stan Perry who went on to become Bosun on the Mancunium. You may have sailed with him.


I cannot remember stopping navigation at sunset, in fact I remember sailing at midnight on the Manchester Fame in 1964. Don't ask me why I remember it's a long story.(Jester)


23rd February 2011, 08:58
The bank navigation lights made night movement possible, if I can recall correctly if you had a light level with your bow the next but one was in the middle of the canal.
Tony the smell from Irlam up could be a bit heavy espcially after a night on the beer, and Irlam lock full of pink foam, I can remember as a tug lad ( tug man from 68 to 84)Latchford was a regular pit stop for food and cigarettes from the shop near to the dairy and you had the time of locking up or down to get there and back. If we were fog bound it was everyone into the Richmonds club.

Most of the ships you mention I would have come into contact with, Jack Warren is a name I have not heard in a long time, No matter where on the canal you moored there was nearly always a pub apart from a few isolated berths I think Moore lane dolphins was about the worst. you could set your watch with the passage time of ore boats Eastham to berth 8hrs berth up swing and down to Eastham 10hrs.

I know it always seemed that the red container boats of Manchester liners always seemed to leave 9dock 1 after 18.00. Tony I bet it was like an office job being on the Manc after being deep sea, start Monday finished Friday morning.

Tony Shaw
23rd February 2011, 18:46
I don't remember Stan Perry but I had a friend on the "Baltic Viking", an engineer from Warrington, but I'm having a senior moment and can't remember his name !!

I know what you mean about the pink foam. I remember the Warren brothers, choice pilots for the Prince Line. Lovely chaps and neither of them could drive. I see you were on the tugs. I used to know Jim Nelson very well. I'm afraid it wasn't quite like an office job on the "Manc". I was second mate and I had to doall the steering in the canal. By Friday I was quite a zombie !

24th February 2011, 05:56
I was on the Carchester which I believe was the biggest ship to go up to Manchester.

24th February 2011, 08:25
Hi Tony
I knew Jimmy well sailed with him a few times as deckhand, when I was on the Quest he was on the Rover we worked as a pair till 24hr shift pattern started. Certainly knew his stuff, good bloke all round, I think his son was on the Clyde tugs.

I bet you loved getting stuck behind a deep tank going to Stanlow,the MSC condition known as swollen ankles.
The Carchester was moored at Old Quay Lock on her first trip up the canal , the day I started (1/1/1968) there was a problem with the draft twenty six and a half feet, loads of fun in Runcorn bridge hole and coming round Weaver Bend. Johnny Law was her appropiated pilot, and could he shift treated ships as power boats. John

Tony Shaw
24th February 2011, 17:23
I don't know about getting stuck behind a big tanker John, it was the Manchester Liner container vessels which were the bug bear. If one entered Eastham ahead of us sometimes we never passed her until Latchford, depending, of course, on the pilot's mood !
As a young lad we tried to cadge a lift, with our bikes, to the next lock on any vessel available. I remember the nice skipper of the "Bison" giving us a lift to Irlam, as well as a Harker tanker and a Cooper's sand boat.
On a cheekier note, also as a lad, I was swinging the big weight on the end of the trip wire and the whole thing parted. The lockmaster, Mr McGuiness, chased me on his bike. Several years later, I was Lockmaster at Latchford Locks and he was the telephone operator. I never let on !!

Pat Kennedy
24th February 2011, 17:42
As lads we used to cross Eastham locks to the East bank of the canal and walk as far as Stanlow Island, and have a picnic. The East bank was positively alive with rabbits in those days, they would come as close as three or four foot away and cadge crusts of bread.

24th February 2011, 21:42
I was on the Carchester which I believe was the biggest ship to go up to Manchester.


Was Ronnie Safe the OM on Carchester. Sailed with Ronnie on Silvershore and Binsnes. The only OM that had a certificate to say he was not mad.

I got on really well with him -others didn't.



25th February 2011, 12:10
Thats true of Liners Tony, anything that double slipped was a pain Shell tankers to B.O.B, Carchester just a steady 10-12hour plod especially if you had to go to a laybye or lock dolphins. Still I would go back tomorrow given the chance.
Till I was 8yrs old we lived about 200 yards from the ship canal down the street and the Bridgewater at the top so play was centred round these. in the summer families used to spend the day down "ferry hut" kids paddling and swimming in what was basically an open sewer which was only flushed out by spring tides, still ignorance was bliss I suppose a lad from our street acuall y caught dysentry or diptheria I can`t remember which.

As you say Pat great spot for rabbits the battermen used to snare them. I can remember walking as far as Manistys mount one day and the skipper started blowing for us as we had been called out, 3 of us got back absolutely knackered after climbing over bracken and pipes rushing to get back, we had to go to the Ferry Hotel that night to get over it, even talked the landlord at the time Malcolm into a stay behind till 01.00.

25th February 2011, 12:11
I was on the Carchester which I believe was the biggest ship to go up to Manchester.

Honest poverty forced me to sail on her in 74/75. She was what the pilots referred to as a "slipping job". There wasn't enough room in the locks for the ship and two tugs, so we had to let go the for'd one when we needed it most. Would be interested to know if she was indeed the largest ship to transit the canal ?. First went up the canal on the Polar Maid in 55 to discharge whale oil at Weist. I believe an American master referred to it as an uncovered sewer.

25th February 2011, 13:05
From the innumerable MSC transits I made on Esso tankers between 1972 and 1979 it was my understanding gleaned from our choice pilots and helmsmen that the Carchester was the largest vessel to transit up to Manchester. Invarably it would be a 0200 tide at Eastham to arrive Modewheel for 0900 but if the Carchester was ahead we would not make it until the afternoon?
Incidentally, we would swing below Modewheel locks using the mole to spring ourselves around. I'm sure we had at least 6 foot of clearance each end - anyway, that's what it felt like from the Bridge.
If you look at my photos in the gallery you will find some with us passing one of the Liners in the canal. You could shake hands from bridge wing to bridge wing!

25th February 2011, 20:27
Did'nt mind the MSC,even the smell.It was like comming home,especially if we were not working by,and could go home for a few days.I did a number of trips to Manchester 1965 to 1968,always to Brown and Polsons at Trafford Park.Stag line ships were regular visitors during the sixties,before they invested in larger vessels.There must have been times when it was not possible to transit the canal at night.I

25th February 2011, 20:51
Sorry about the previous message,I must have posted it by accident.I'l continue......I remember laying by at Runcorn one night ,don't know why but we could'nt transit the canal at night.I also remember the cook doing a runner at one of the locks,a trip to many perhaps.I don't think we signed on another cook,so whoever did the cooks job must have done well.A trip where food is not up to scratch is always remembered

25th February 2011, 21:21
f irst went up canal in late 50s, then occasionally till late 60s. started regularly in late 90s in arklow shipping ships to cerestar elevator ( known to locals as polsons) with grain from france, 22 hours discharge, then load scrap at irwell park or salt at runcorn. with a total crew of 6 this was quite a work up, and i agree with the arklow skipper who thought that the whole canal was prime real estate for land fill.


25th February 2011, 22:23

Was Ronnie Safe the OM on Carchester. Sailed with Ronnie on Silvershore and Binsnes. The only OM that had a certificate to say he was not mad.

I got on really well with him -others didn't.



Ronnie was the OM when I was on the Carchester as C/E. I too got on really well with him. Weren't you the lucky lad, Carchester and Binsnes. What did you do wrong

26th February 2011, 00:51
Thanks ccurtis1.

Binsnes was a memorable L______________________ONG trip with very many difficult moments for all departments - not least down below. She was GP crewed with only 2 qualified AB's and a bosun. The remainder of the GP crowd were ER chaps; they rarely got out of ER. We were proper short handed on deck and as you know they were complex and "heavy" on deck machinery. Ronnie was good to us though and he also refreshed his AB skills in times of woe.

Sorry to stray from thread!



26th February 2011, 01:13
I was delayed in joining a ship in Manchester in the mid 60s because the canal was closed.
The reason given was that the canal had actually caught fire at Bob's Ferry. It seems that a ship had spilled gas oil into the water which floated down to the ferry where a discarded cigarette set fire to it. As far as I remember there was a report of fatality(s).

Does anyone know anything about this?


26th February 2011, 09:19
I remember that well Derek, I think I posted it before, I think it was the "Tacoma", discharging at Cadishead and there was a spillage of either gas or oil.
It drifted down stream to below Bobs ferry. Men going on shift on the Partington sideof the canal were waiting to use the ferry asked the ferryman to cross, the details are a bit sketchy in my mind but the result was someone on the ferry lit a cigarette and ignited the gas killing several people on the ferry and the flash charred the bank for approx quarter of a mile, at the time Cadishead handled a lot of low flash cargo, hope that helps


Tony Shaw
26th February 2011, 14:10
The skipper on the "Tacoma" at the time of the incident was a really nice chap, especially seeing he always 'dropped' the lockgatemen five bob every timehe passed through the locks. I think Colin Broom was the other appropriated pilot n the "Carchester", and, John, I think the "Speedmaster Pilot's Trophy" went to Derek Clulow - he always put himself about 5 miles ahead of where he was when he was reporting his position to me at Latchford !!

27th February 2011, 08:05
I had forgotten Clulow as we always called him, your spot on there, a hell of a character as well, we were going down 9 dcok one day to pick a ship up he was with , he was on the wing of the bridgeas we dropped alongside he shouted down to us "hows that for a cloth eared elephant", he`d turned his pants pocket out and whipped his old man out.
Tony when I was on the Sceptre we were runnig light to Manchester with the Sabre, heading for the small lock at Latchfordwe were neck and neck at the railway bridge playing chicken, Lockmen were waving us to slow down, when the skippers of both tugs ran into the wheel houses (we were nearly swapping fender rubber). To say the other deckhand and me got a verbal was an under statement, I can still see Wally Garvey stood there in draws cellular with his skippers cap and me trying not to p##s myself laughing at the sight , to make it worse when we got settled in the lock we copped it again from the Lockmaster.

That Bobs Ferry business was terrible, we went through a day or so after and to see the banks scorched from the water line to the top of the bank and the distance it covered was a bit scarey.

Bob S
27th February 2011, 13:13
Changing the subject a bit, do the Mersey Ferries still do the occassional outing along the canal?



Pat Kennedy
27th February 2011, 15:36
Changing the subject a bit, do the Mersey Ferries still do the occassional outing along the canal?


Yes they do. Starting on April 20th and running until mid October they run every week. A great day out, I did one last year and enjoyed it immensely.
Details are at this link;

Gareth Jones
27th February 2011, 19:08
I have in my possession a volume of 'The Graphic' Newspaper which covers the inauguration of the Manchester ship canal January 1894.
There are a few sketches of scenes, along the canal. I suppose photography may have been difficult to transpose into newsprint at that time.
I thought members might be interested to see these so I've scanned them and posted them in my gallery.

Bob S
1st March 2011, 18:23
Yes they do. Starting on April 20th and running until mid October they run every week. A great day out, I did one last year and enjoyed it immensely.
Details are at this link;

Wow, every week, I only thought they did a couple of times a year (Thumb). Hopefully be able to fit it in sometime soon.

Thanks Pat


6th March 2011, 00:39
I have recently purchased 2 x DVD's of the Manchester Ship Canel Part1 & 2, these are available from the website below. Each DVD cover has a photo of the Furness Withy ship Pacific Envoy. I sailed on this ship 1962/63, hence my interest in buying. They cover a period from 1955-64 some excellent shots of many ships going up and down the canel. The Envoy is filmed outbound and homeward. Also Pacific Unity/Northwest, Prince Line, Strict, Manchester Liners, Palm and many more. I have requested permission to copy some shots for this site,but had no reply. But worth buying.

Tony Shaw
8th March 2011, 17:39
I too remember the times when only daylight navigation was allowed in the Manchester Ship Canal. As a young lad I used to stand on the island bullnose at Latchford Locks and looking down the canal towards the swing bridges there could be as many as four tug jobs inward bound. They were the days !. When I first married we bought a house at Stockton Heath, Warrington, right on the banks of the canal. Sitting up in bed we were parallel to the bridges of the larger ships and , on occasions, I would be able to give a wave to Ian Colquoun on a Manchester Liner and Brian Pownall on a Clan Liner. In those days all contact between tugs and vessel was by ship's whistle and, even though sounding off during the dark hours was frowned upon, certain of the pilots I knew would give a blast. Of course, I kept my neighbours in the dark !

9th March 2011, 08:40
Tony the place for being kept awake, as you will remember was Dukesfield area of Runcorn it is right on the bridge hole if a ship cocked it up it was ships whistle to the stern tug, mouth whistle to the head tug, and the tugs replying on their own whistles especially old liberty ships loadedto 26ft, with no waft to drive itself, it could take ages. A lot of tugmen lived in this area so even of duty they still got bow and quarter orders. John

12th October 2011, 16:45
This may seem a simple question but I can't find the answer anywhere:
Which was the largest ship ever to go all the way up the Canal, and when did it happen?
Anybody know, or know where the answer may be found?

12th October 2011, 17:06
Bart, as far as I know it was the M.V. Carchester, which used to run up to Brown and Polson's in Trafford Park from the late 1960's to the 1980's.
Photo here:

Regards, Steve F.

12th October 2011, 18:03
Bart, as far as I know it was the M.V. Carchester, which used to run up to Brown and Polson's in Trafford Park from the late 1960's to the 1980's.
Photo here:

Regards, Steve F.

I joined the s.s. Pacific Northwest as a deck apprentice in Salford one dark and rainy night in 1956. I believe she was built to just transit the canal. In some lock chambers, we had about 3" clearance each side so used 4 x 4 lumber on bridles to span the frames of the ship, all along each side. As we went into the chamber the 4" wood would be compressed to 3". Some of these fenders would break apart, some smoke from the heat generated by the friction, and some even catch fire. Needless to say, no steering needed, just dead slow ahead. Then the rush was on to re-rig serviceable fenders for the next lock. Was down and up the canal for the next 2 years or so. Only one overnight at Runcorn, close to the transporter bridge. Hot nightclub there, but can't remember the name. Never did see Mr. & Mrs. Ramsbotham with Albert their son trying to negotiate on the ferry fare of tuppence per person per trip, or part of per trip. I still remember watching the canal in Salford on a hot summer's day glubbing big fould smelling bubbles from the deep.

13th October 2011, 06:51
Nobody has mentioned, as yet, the Bowater ships that were frequent users of the Canal.


13th October 2011, 17:15
Thanks, everyone. Over on another thread I've just found the statement that ARMAGH and her sister ship NORTHUMBERLAND shared the honour of being the largest vessels ever to transit the entire length of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Elsewhere I've found that NORTHUMBERLAND's figures were: length 550' overall, 63' beam, 11,559 tons weight.
I'm wondering how this compares with the ships mentioned above: CARCHESTER, PACIFIC NORTHWEST and the Bowater ships.

tom roberts
13th October 2011, 17:47
Sailed up and down the M.S.C. a few times on the Ardetta and the Dotrell unforunatley it was in summer months .oh my God I never got over the stink ,one time the whole canal lit up it was like watching methylated spirits being ignited,the only good thing was at Salford docks the famous Clewes Hotel one end and the beautifull River Mersey at the other,the last time I ventured onto it was on my narrow boat Chemainus named after a realy lovely port on Vancouver Island,on another ship I was on the Novelist we loaded drums of waste from Octel that we dumped over the side around Las Palmas later I worked at Octel as a rigger a truly awful place toxic as hell never saw a rat or even a seagull that was daft enough to go there.

Pat Kennedy
13th October 2011, 17:56
I was tied up at Octel once on a Blue Funnel ship, the Theseus, discharging lead ingots. We used to walk through the plant to go for a pint in Ellesmere Port every evening and what an eerie, strange place that was. They used to take your tobacco and matches off you before you could go ashore, or re-enter the plant, and warn you to stay well clear of certain reactors which contained a substance which could apparently kill an elephant at 200 yards.
A friend of mine worked in there and every few months was given a few weeks sick leave to get the lead out of his system, his gums used to turn blue!
He died in his fifties of lead poisoning.

Tony Shaw
13th October 2011, 18:05
As I've mentioned earlier in this thread, the smell of the canal in mid-summer was like Chanel No.5 to me, but imagine what it was like if you were on the sludge vessel "Mancunium" loading sewage (industrial waste !!) at Davyhulme. Two aromas for the price of one. Did this for a year. Classic !!

13th October 2011, 19:47
Thanks, everyone. Over on another thread I've just found the statement that ARMAGH and her sister ship NORTHUMBERLAND shared the honour of being the largest vessels ever to transit the entire length of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Elsewhere I've found that NORTHUMBERLAND's figures were: length 550' overall, 63' beam, 11,559 tons weight.
I'm wondering how this compares with the ships mentioned above: CARCHESTER, PACIFIC NORTHWEST and the Bowater ships.

Can't tell you the numbers on the beam of the Pacific Northwest, but memory recalls 60+ feet. She was only about 515 - 520 feet in length though, so it seems the "Northumberland" fits the bill for biggest. The "Pacific No-rest" was just a little under 10,000 GRT if I remember rightly. Needless to say we were in a very light loading condition for both up and down the canal. She drew somewhere around 30 ft when down to he marks. (When leaving Glasgow with 120,000 cases of whisky aboard plus a whole bunch of other stuff like Rolls Royces, steel plate, nails, cotton waste, etc.)

Jim S
13th October 2011, 20:40
Lloyd's Register of Ships has Pacific Northwest as :-
Length Overall 501 ft - 2 in. Breadth Extreme (beam) 63 ft - 5 in.
The same dimensions are given for Pacific Reliance, Envoy and Stronghold.
The same dimension for beam at 63 ft - 5 inches is also listed for Pacific Fortune and Unity with a slightly less Length Overall of 498 ft - 6 in.
Ted Gray's book "A Hundred Years of the Manchester Ship Canal" gives the width of the canal locks as 65 feet and Furness Withy's Pacific Class were the widest vessels to negotiate the locks beyond the 80 feet Eastham Lock.
In 1954 Ropner's Swiftpool at 63 ft - 7 in. became the widest to transit the canal until surpassed in 1966 by Strick's Serbistan at 63 ft - 10 in. - I guess all give or take a coat of paint or three !

13th October 2011, 21:54
A lot of folk mention the smell.

Early 70's HMS Dundas or was it the Hardy? (Having a Craft Moment) We sailed from Portland with a Sargent Rowe and 6 Manchester Police cadets for a over night passage to you guessed Manchester. We had commenced our transist some time during the night. I awoke to Call the Hands and after morning ablutions stated to make my way to the galley to collect my breakfast. This required going to the upper deck where Sargent Rowe was stood. "Sorry about the smell boys, not the best approach to Manchester." said he.

"Can't smell a thing Sarge" said I, "I've just come out of the stokers mess mayhap I should be apologising to you"

Berthed in Trafford Wharf for four days and my introduction to Yattes Wine Lodge.

I nearly forgot we had to take the top part of the mast off prior to leaving Portland so that we could get under the Barton Bridge. Well she was a light weight single engined war canoe.

17th October 2011, 11:24
Thanks, everyone.

tom roberts
17th October 2011, 21:21
Any one remember the big shoreside crane that used to take of the top of the funnel that was just up the canal from Eastham locks it was there for years when was it dismanteld?

Tony Shaw
18th October 2011, 14:47
Yes, Tom, I remember it well, but not with affection !! I was down aft as second mate on the Harrison vessel "Dalesman", preparing to leave the crane berth after having used the crane, The after tug was pulling the stern off the quay, but, unfortunately, we still had a stern rope made fast. As quick aswe were trying to slack it off, it was getting tight again. The result was a parted stern rope and a broken femur for me landing me in hospital for 4 months and off work for eleven months. This happened on Dec.22nd !!!

Pat Kennedy
18th October 2011, 17:37
Any one remember the big shoreside crane that used to take of the top of the funnel that was just up the canal from Eastham locks it was there for years when was it dismanteld?
There were thousands of names painted on that crane berth Tom, not just on the quay wall, but all over the buildings and the crasne and the rear wall. I added mine when on the Tactician.

alan ward
21st October 2011, 11:24
The ferry accident was at Thelwall,I lived nearby at Grappenhall,locally it was known as the Penny Ferry.The explosion killed the ferryman amongst others,it often smelt odd down there,mind you it was also a notorious courting spot so we must have been determined to use it!

alan ward
21st October 2011, 11:29
This site revives so many forotten memories.Durin one of those romanticall related spells ashore I was working at Fords in Halewood and my lift from home used to pick me up at Latchford.It was dark,cold and miserable as I stood waiting,then like a vision a Manchester Liner cruised by,her saloon brightly lit and being laid up by white jacketed stewards.It looked so warm and cosy I thought of all the lads getting ready to go home on leave and I said to myself`I`m going back`and I did.

22nd October 2011, 04:13
sailed out of the man canal twice at nite time.once on the
pacific liberty nov 53. and the other on the javenese prince
jan 60.the mersey ferries still do trips up the canal/when
i went back to liverpool to see our families .i done a trip
up the was great.

John Arton
22nd October 2011, 18:03
In the 80's my sister lived on the Hill in Frodsham and when I used to visit her I would often wonder what it would be like to go up the MSC. Forward to the 90's and the MSC becomes almost my 2nd home, trotting up as far as Cadishead with Stolt's.
I found the whole canal an experience not to be forgotten and every trip found out more about what a fantastic piece of engineering it was. I had Latvian Officers under me and a number of them too became quite interested in the Canal and its history.
Sure, it was a long drag from the Bar all the way up to Cadishead, especially as the Liverpool pilots seemed to insist on boarding far too early at the Bar so you would have to creep up the Mersey and dodge around off the Bar at Eastham channel, etc. But the MSC pilots with their knowledge and friendliness made up for it and the passage from Eastham onwards was invariably a pleasure.
Capt. John Arton (ret'd)

13th November 2011, 12:42
I occasionally travelled up the ship canal on my summer holidays with my father on the Denholms ore carriers.

We berthed at Irlam, if I remember correctly - and at the age of 8, had never seen rows and rows of red brick terraced houses before. The biggest surprise was getting fish and chips locally........

fish with skin attached! Mushy peas! - couldn't understand that one, especially... :(

I remember kids used to drop bricks down the funnel though - from the bridges :(

Al :)

14th November 2011, 17:57
Many moons ago I paid off in Liverpool. Had a good bevy with my old shipmates in a bar in Lime St station. I then caught a train for Matlock Bath to visit my brother. With all the beer in me I fell asleep on the train. Some time later I woke up and there was a ship in the the middle of a field behind a hedge!!!!!!!! I thought I had the D.T.s.

14th June 2012, 12:00
The skipper of the Tacoma then was John Fairclough of Liverpool and his son - also John Fairclough, was mate. I'd left about 6 months or so before the explosion and tragic fatalities. Both John's were nice fellas and had been good old hands to me (13yr old deck boy) but they argued a lot (as families do!) and would put me between them. I'd be wearing out the haliard with hoisting the house flag up and down like a whores drawers; "Who told you to hoist that flag?" says the Mate, "The skipper" says I. "Take it down" says the Mate. "Why's that flag not up?" says the skipper..and on..and on.....

Robert Setz

Barrie Youde
14th June 2012, 12:32

Hi, John,

Getting under way early for Eastham was as much an irritation for Liverpool pilots as for anybody else. The need arose from the limited time available for the docking of largish ships at Eastham (i.e. from high-water until the ebb had fallen to a point where there was insufficient UKC in Eastham Channel). Obviously this was variable on draught, but it was rarely more than about two and a half hours. If several draught-restricted ships were due to dock within that period it was essential not only that the deepest went first, but also that the lesser-draughted ships, in strict turn, were queuing ship-to-ship for the lock, stemming the ebb-tide as closely as possible, in order that no time was then lost.

At less busy times, of course, the problem was less acute; but nobody wasted time in Eastham Channel by choice. And nobody would dare delay the man behind him. Timing was the key to the whole thing.

Hope this might explain it a bit.