Liverpool and the Mersey, Vol. 1: Gladstone Dock and the Great Liners


Front Cover, Liverpool and the Mersey, Volume 1: Gladstone Dock and the Great Liners by Ken Longbottom, 1995.

Front Cover, Liverpool and the Mersey, Volume 1: Gladstone Dock and the Great Liners by Ken Longbottom, 1995. Top Image is An Aerial View of Gladstone Dock During the Second World War. GGA Image ID # 20138c42ee



More than 190 rare archive photographs and maps, many never before published, recount the story of this most famous dock and the Great passenger Ships that were once a regular sight there.


History of the Gladstone Dock

Gladstone Dock is a dock on the River Mersey, England, and part of the Port of Liverpool. It is situated in the northern dock system in Bootle. The pier is connected to Seaforth Dock to the north and what remains of Hornby Dock to the south. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company operates part of Liverpool Freeport, Gladstone Dock.

The dock is named after Robert Gladstone, a merchant from Liverpool and second cousin of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstone Dock was designed in the first decade of the twentieth century, and construction of the dock was eventually completed in 1927. It consisted of 3 mi (4.8 km) of quays and extensive warehouse space.

The graving dock was completed in 1913 before the rest of the pier became operational. At 1,050 ft (320 m) long and 120 ft (37 m) wide, it was designed to take the largest trans-Atlantic steamers of that time. The graving dock has since been converted into a wet dock (Gladstone Number Three Branch Dock).

The tremendous new dock, named the Gladstone Dock, has been essentially planned to be a graving dock for the repair and overhauling of those vast vessels that are now provided for the transatlantic traffic and for the still larger ones, which many predict will be constructed before this dock will have been in existence for many years.

It will be available as an ordinary wet dock for loading and discharging cargo and stores when not engaged for this purpose. The largest ocean liners at Liverpool should generally be taken into the docks to discharge their passengers, who typically leave via the great Prince's floating landing stage.

The new pier, while therefore of suitable length, is intentionally narrow compared to the more extensive wet docks, as it is only intended to hold one vessel at a time. In contrast, a wet dock would have a base width for ships at each side wall and a passageway along the center.


Timeline of the Gladstone Dock to World War II


1908 was the time of the huge Atlantic liners. Gladstone Dock is designed to receive them but will not be finished for several years.


A huge graving dock is completed at Gladstone Dock. It measures 1050ft long and 120 ft wide. This is large enough to take the largest transatlantic liners of that era. Gladstone also has an extensive entrance lock - 1,070 ft long and 130 ft wide. Gladstone Dock is the largest on the river.


The Cunard liner, RMS Aquitania, was in Gladstone Graving dock when World War I broke out. She was damaged off the coast of Ireland in July 1914 and was converted into a trooper carrier while at Gladstone. The war slows the building of the dock.


Passenger liner companies are putting pressure on the dock company to complete the job at Gladstone Dock. They are in urgent need of suitable space.

Gladstone Dock is finished. There is:

  • A Wet Dock
  • Two Branch Docks with a River Entrance
  • A Massive 58 Acres of Water Space
  • Three Miles of Quays
  • Single, Double, and Triple-Floor Transit Sheds



An anti-u-boat fleet was based at Gladstone Dock during World War II. The dock is also a base for transatlantic escorts and minesweepers.


Back Cover, Liverpool and the Mersey, Vol. 1: Gladstone Dock and the Great Liners



From The Back Cover

Many docks in ports throughout the world can lay claim to fame, but it is doubtful if any can match the importance and significance of Liverpool's Gladstone Dock. Throughout its history it has been associated with some of the world's most celebrated ocean liners, and has reflected Britain's changing mercantile and naval fortunes.

Intended to relieve the acute congestion in Liverpool's docks, the Gladstone's construction began in 1910. Interrupted by the outbreak of war, it was not officially commissioned until 1927, and immediately entered the record books as having the largest area of enclosed water of any dock in the world, playing host to such ocean legends as the Lusitania, Aquitania, the second Mauretania and the Canadian Pacific `Empresses'.

During the Second World War the principal naval forces of Western Approaches Command were based in Gladstone Dock and played a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic. However, post-war economic recovery was followed by a steady decline from the late 1960s onwards, and today Gladstone Dock is but a shadow of its former self.

However, if Liverpool's position as Britain's `Gateway to the West' at the start of the present century becomes Europe's `Gateway to the West' at the beginning of the next, then it may be that the final chapter of the story of Gladstone Dock is yet to be written.

Maritime historian Ken Longbottom has selected more than 190 rare archive photographs and maps, many never before published, to recount the story of this most famous dock and the great passenger ships that were once a regular sight there.

Mercey Docks and Harbor Board, The Port of Liverpool, Ninth Edition, © 1935, Littlebury Bros. Ltd., Liverpool, England, Soft cover, 160 Pages + 121 Pages Advertising + Fold-out Maps. Subjects include: History of the Port of Liverpool, Northern Extension Works, Bidston Dock, The Liverpool Docks, The Birkenhead Docks, The Landing Stage, Railway Traffic at the Mersey Docks, The Commerce of the Port, Histories of Shipping Companies, Histories of Insurance Companies.


Listing of Ocean Liners Referenced in This Book

  1. Adriatic
  2. Adriatic (II)
  3. Alsatian
  4. Albertic
  5. America
  6. Andania
  7. Andes
  8. Angelina Lauro
  9. Aquitania
  10. Ascania
  11. Athenia
  12. Aureol
  13. Ausonia
  14. Baltic
  15. Belgic
  16. Berengaria
  17. Britannic
  18. Britannic (II)
  19. Caledonia
  20. Calgarian
  21. Calgaric
  22. California
  23. Cameronia
  24. Campania
  25. Canada
  26. Canopic
  27. Carinthia
  28. Carinthia (II)
  29. Carmania
  30. Carmania (II)
  31. Caronia
  32. Caronia (II)
  33. Cedric
  34. Celtic
  35. Ceramic
  36. City of Benares
  37. City of Ely
  38. City of New York
  39. City of Paris
  40. City of Sydney
  41. Clan Campbell
  42. Clan MacTaggart
  43. Columbia
  44. Columbus
  45. Corinthian
  46. Corsican
  47. Cretic
  48. Dann Princess
  49. Dario
  50. De Grasse
  51. Demara
  52. Demosthenes
  53. Deseado
  54. Desna
  55. Devonian
  56. Dominion
  57. Dominion Monarch
  58. Done
  59. Dresden
  60. Drina
  61. Duchess of Atholl
  62. Duchess of Bedford
  63. Duchess of Richmond
  64. Duchess of York
  65. Empire Brent
  66. Empire Clyde
  67. Empress of Australia
  68. Empress of Australia (II)
  69. Empress of Britain
  70. Empress of Britain (II)
  71. Empress of Britain (III)
  72. Empress of Canada (II)
  73. Empress of Canada (III)
  74. Empress of England
  75. Empress of France
  76. Empress of France (II)
  77. Empress of Ireland
  78. Empress of Japan
  79. Empress of Scotland
  80. Empress of Scotland (II)
  81. Essiquibo
  82. Estranadurian
  83. Etruria
  84. Fairwind
  85. Florida
  86. Franconia
  87. Franconia (II)
  88. Galatea
  89. Georgie
  90. Germanic
  91. Gigantic
  92. Gladstone Star
  93. Great Eastern
  94. Hanoverian
  95. Hanseatic
  96. Haresfield
  97. Heliopolis
  98. Ile de France
  99. Imperator
  100. Ivernia
  101. Justicia
  102. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria
  103. Labrador
  104. Lancastria
  105. Lanconia
  106. Lapland
  107. Laurentic
  108. Letitia
  109. Leviathan
  110. Lucania
  111. Lusana
  112. Lusitania
  113. Majestic
  114. Manhattan
  115. Mardi Gras
  116. Margareta
  117. Marlock
  118. Mauretania
  119. Mauretania (II)
  120. Media
  121. Media (II)
  122. Megantic
  123. Melita
  124. Memphis
  125. Metagama
  126. Minnedosa
  127. Missenabie
  128. Monarch of Bermuda
  129. Mona's Queen
  130. Montcalm
  131. Montclare
  132. Montréal
  133. Montrose
  134. München
  135. Napier Star
  136. Newfoundland
  137. Newfoundland (II)
  138. Northland
  139. Nova Scotia
  140. Nova Scotia (II)
  141. Oceanic
  142. Ocean Monarch
  143. Olympic
  144. Oranje
  145. Orbita
  146. Orca
  147. Orduña
  148. Oronsa
  149. Oroya
  150. Ortega
  151. Parthia
  152. Pasteur
  153. Patriotic
  154. Politician
  155. Queen Anna Maria
  156. Queen Elizabeth
  157. Queen Elizabeth 2
  158. Queen Mary
  159. Queen of Bermuda
  160. Recorder
  161. Regina
  162. Reina del Mar
  163. Republic
  164. Royal George
  165. Samaria
  166. Saxonia
  167. Scythia
  168. Statendam
  169. Stirling Castle
  170. Sylvania
  171. Tasmania Star
  172. Teutonic
  173. Tynwald
  174. Umbria
  175. Vandyck
  176. Van Heemskerck
  177. Vaterland
  178. Vedic
  179. Victorian
  180. Volendam
  181. Voltaire
  182. Wakefield
  183. Waverley
  184. Wild Goose
  185. Windsor Castle


GG Archives Catalog Listing

  • Author: Ken Longbottom
  • Title: Liverpool and the Mersey, Vol. 1: Gladstone Dock and the Great Liners
  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • ISBN: 1-85794-053-9
  • Publisher: Silver Link Publishing Limited
  • Location: Wadenhoe, Peterborough, United Kingdom
  • Pub. Date: June 1995
  • Language: English UK
  • Subjects:
    • 1. Background to the new dock, 1895-1913,
    • 2. The First World War, 1914-1918,
    • 3. Completion of the Gladstone Dock and the inter-war years, 1919-1939,
    • 4. The Second World War, 1939-1945,
    • 5. The Post-war era, 1945-1995.
  • Description: A Volume from the Maritime Heritage Series.
  • Notes: Large Format Paperback.
  • Size: 8 3/8" x 11"
  • Dust Jacket: No
  • List Price: GBP 14.99


Additional Text

"Timeline of the Gladstone Dock to World War II," in Trading Places: A History of Liverpool Docks, 2009.

"History of Gladstone Dock," in Wikipedia contributors, "Gladstone Dock," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 3, 2023).

Th. Osborne, "The New Liverpool Dock," in International Marine Engineering, New York-London: Aldreich Publishing Company, Vol. XVIII, No. 10, October 1913, p. 431.


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