We start today’s blog with a jellyfish – not something we were expecting to see in Liverpool docks, but here they are, floating along with the weed beside all the narrowboats!
Also not far from where we’re moored, there’s a statue of Billy Fury. He’s popular with narrowboat dog owners, as the closest decent sized patch of grass!
Following a hot tip from Fred and Lisa on nb Chyandour, we were booked on the morning tour of the Old Dock. Our guides Yazz and Danny showed us some sights above ground first, including a series of fountains representing the tide heights, diligently recorded for 29 years by one man, but shown here for a one month period.
Built in 1715, well before any of the UK canals, the old dock was the first commercial wet dock in the world. It revolutionised merchant trade, allowing ships to load and unload their cargoes regardless of the state of the tide as the water was kept in the dock by massive lock-style gates.
The dock is now underneath the modern Liverpool One shopping centre; it was only relatively recently rediscovered and excavated in 2001. So under the shopping centre we went, to find the walls in remarkably good condition for their 300 year age.
Leaving the old dock, Sarah did some shoe shopping (not girlie shoe shopping, waterproof locking shoe shopping!) and then we had some lunch, before heading over to the Western Approaches war museum. This was a top-secret, bomb-proof underground command bunker, the nerve centre for the Battle of the Atlantic. Here they monitored ship movements in the Atlantic ocean and coordinated allied forces against the U-boats.
Communications were critical so they had quite an advanced switchboard for the time. There was a direct line to the war cabinet in London, and they also received a lot of intelligence on enemy movements from the code breakers at Bletchley Park.
After all that excitement, it was back to Oliver for a bit of a rest (well Sarah did some laundry, I put my feet up!), before meeting up with Fred and Lisa for an evening tour around the Queensway Tunnel, one of two road tunnels going under the Mersey.
The original control room is no longer in use, replaced by keyboards and digital screens, but it made for an impressive sight. We also got to see the massive ventilation fans, the emergency refuge stations, the side of the road itself, and the underneath of the roadway, where they’d originally hoped to run a tram. Mersey Ferries were horrified by the thought of having to compete against a tram and managed to put a stop to that idea; now the underside is mainly used for power and communication cables.
We wrapped the day up with some fish and chips – something Sarah had promised to treat herself to at some point on our holiday, and by the sea in Liverpool semeed the perfect place for it!