Tag Archives: Liverpool

Special Agent O’Brien

Synan Meehan, who absconded from Kilrush with £76, and was apprehended in Liverpool by Mr P O’Brien, the Dublin Steam Packet Company’s [Kilrush] agent, was brought up at the Limerick Police office on Thursday, before T P Vokes Esq, who ordered him to be sent on to Kilrush for final examination, and whither he proceeded by steamer in charge of two policemen. When arrested in Liverpool, he was in a state of intoxication, and but a few shillings were found in his possession. He stated that in February last he lost £30, which he had to make good every month when closing his accounts, and fearing it would be discovered he was induced to make off. The offender was regarded in Kilrush as a strict teetotaller, but having violated his solemn pledge to Father Mathew, little confidence could be reposed in him.

Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier 12 August 1845

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Travelling

Newry steam-packet

The Waterloo will sail hence for Warren’s Point, This Day (FRIDAY) the 16th instant, at Three o’clock; on TUESDAY the 20th, and SUNDAY the 25th instant.

Dublin steam-packets

The Mountaineer, C H Townley, will sail hence for Dublin, on SUNDAY next, the 18th instant, at Three o’clock.

The Belfast will also shortly resume her station between this Port and Dublin. These being the only Steam-packets which land their Passengers AT THE CITY, by them the Public avoid the dangerous landing at Dunleary in small boats, the hazardous and expensive mode of conveyance thence to Dublin (a distance of several miles), the disagreeable disputes with boatmen, the impositions practised by the lowest order of society, with various other difficulties; against which the complaints are universal.

Days of sailing from Liverpool will be, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Apply at the Packet-office, bottom of Redcross-street, or to WILLIAM STEWART.

Liverpool Mercury 16 May 1823

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

New Engine and Propellers for Canal Navigation

Mr Peter Taylor, of Hollinwood, has recently taken out patents for two inventions — one for a rotary high-pressure marine steam engine on a new principle; and the other, that which chiefly calls for notice, for paddles or propellers, also of an entirely new construction. His principal object was to attain that desideratum in steam navigation on canals, sufficient motive power for considerable speed, without the injury to the canal banks caused by the action of the ordinary paddles.

The apparatus consists of a series of vanes or curved blades, placed obliquely, like the sails of a windmill, or like portions of a continuous screw. The apparatus is placed at the stern of the vessel in a small enclosure of water, the sides of the boat being continued beyond the stern, and the rudder being fixed beyond the propellers. They occupy a space of about a yard and a half in length, and, in the instance under notice, seven feet in breadth.

There are two parallel axes or shafts, which project from the stern, each shaft having four pairs of vanes or blades, at short distances, and so placed as to strike the water in quick succession, and obliquely, like the scull of a boat. The oars or blades on one shaft have an action like that of a right-hand screw, and those of the other like that of a left-hand one; and the vanes of each shaft work nearly up to the other shaft, and thus their joint action has the effect of propelling the boat forward, or when reversed, by altering the motion of the driving-wheel, in a direction stern first. They are said to differ (amongst other respects) from all propellers previously invented, both in their screw-like action, and in the axles being wholly under water.

By way of trying experiments with these propellers, Mr Taylor has had a set of them fitted to an old iron boat, about fifty-two feet in length, and seven feet in width, formerly worked on the canals by Messrs Buckley, Kershaw and Co. One of Mr Taylor’s new rotary engines of only five horses’ power has been fitted into the boat, which has been named “The Experiment of Hollinwood“. After several private trials, this boat made its first experimental trip on the river Irwell, yesterday week.

Mr Taylor and a few friends proceeded from the Old Quay, Manchester, as far as Barton-on-Irwell, and on the whole they state that the action of both engine and propellers was satisfactory; though in returning there was a deficiency of steam, from the filling-up of the fire-tubes with coke; a casualty which was remedied as soon as discovered. The speed was regarded as in a high degree satisfactory; being, it is stated, generally at the rate of six, and occasionally seven miles an hour. The motive power was deemed inadequate to accomplish all that the inventor had a right to anticipate; but it is mentioned as one proof of the superiority of his inventions, that the Jack Sharp, a passage boat belonging to the Old Quay Company (whose first trip, after being fitted with engine and stern paddles, we noticed some time ago), was not at all able to keep up with the Experiment, though the engine of the former is twelve horses’, and that of the latter is only five horses’ power.

On Wednesday the Experiment steamed down to Runcorn, by river and canal, and the whole distance was accomplished in about five hours’ working; including the stoppages at the locks, and those caused by the parties on the boat having themselves to open the bridges on the Runcorn Canal. The boat stopped a short time at Barton, and several hours at Warrington, which place it did not leave until dark, and performed the distance between Warrington and Runcorn (which, it is said, is about seven miles and three quarters) in about an hour, including delays from the cause just noticed. This increased rate was attributed to having obtained a better description of coke at Warrington.

The boat remained at Runcorn for some hours, and, having so far performed her work to the satisfaction of the voyagers, they determined to proceed in her to Liverpool. They started from Runcorn at half-past three o’clock on Thursday morning, with the tide, and reached the Rock Ferry, opposite Liverpool, by five o’clock, performing the distance in about an hour and a half.

The Experiment is considered to be by no means well adapted for the purposes of canal steam navigation. She is described as in form more like a box than a boat, and as drawing two feet nine inches water; a manifest disadvantage with so small an engine. We are informed, that all who have seen the boat’s performance, including several engineers who took a trip in her, have expressed themselves much pleased with her speed and general action. We understand there is some probability of the Old Quay Company making a trial of the propellers and engine in one of their twin quick passage boats on the Runcorn Canal.

The Experiment, in these trips, was placed under the care of Isaac Taylor, an experienced captain in the Old Quay Company’s employ, the aid of whose services, as pilot and steersman, was afforded for the occasion by Mr T O Lingard. Taylor says the boat answers her helm readily, turns well, and is very manageable. When at her greatest speed, it was found that the agitation and swell caused by her passing through the water, and by the propellers, had very little effect on the canal boats, the stream from the propellers being thrown off in the centre of the canal, leaving a considerable wake there.

Newcastle Courant 5 June 1840, quoting the Manchester Guardian

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

Rail, road and river: steam in 1829

Four news items, all in the Varieties section of the Hampshire Chronicle on 19 October 1829.

Rail

The trial of the locomotive carriages near Liverpool was continued on Saturday, when Mr Stephenson’s engine, the Rocket, disencumbered of every weight, shot along the road at the almost incredible rate of 32 miles in the hour! So astonishing was the celerity with which the engine, without its apparatus, darted past the spectators, that it could be compared to nothing but the rapidity with which the swallow darts through the air.

Road 1

Mr Gurney’s steam carriage can be stopped dead within the space of two yards, though going at the rate of from 18 to 20 miles an hour, and this without any inconvenient shock to the machinery or passengers. It is capable of dragging a carriage, weighing three tons and containing 100 passengers, over a level road, at the rate of eight, nine, or ten miles an hour: will drag the same carriage, containing 25 passengers, up the steepest road in England, at the same rate. On ascending hills, for every cwt that is shifted from the front to the hind wheels, the carriage requires an additional drawing power of 4 cwt and on level ground an additional power of half a ton. The contrivance by which the carriage may be retarded at pleasure on descending hills, acts independently of the wheels, so that the sliding and cutting effect of the ordinary drags is entirely avoided.

Road 2

Sir James Anderson has entered into a contract with the Irish Post Office, by which he undertakes to convey the mails throughout Ireland at the rate of 12 miles an hour, in coaches impelled by steam, calculated to carry two or three passengers, in addition to the coachman and guard. This invention of Sir James Anderson, for which he has obtained a patent, has seldom been exhibited out of the yard in which it was constructed; but it is said to bear very little resemblance to the drag-coach of Mr Gurney. The contract is understood to be for 14 years, and the only pecuniary stipulation made by Sir James is, that he shall receive half the money which the Government shall save by adopting his system. He will shortly commence carrying the mails between Howth and Dublin. The road is level and good, and the distance not more than nine or ten miles.

[Note: an 1841 proposal by Sir James Anderson is covered here. And here is a longer piece about Sir James and the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland.]

River

An iron steam boat of a peculiar construction, and having the paddles in the centre, has been built at Liverpool, by Messrs Fawcell and Co for the Irish Inland Steam Navigation Company. This vessel was tried in the Mersey on Monday, and the result was highly satisfactory. Another iron vessel, of 60 tons burden, was launched on Tuesday from Messrs Wm Laird and Son’s yard, on the banks of Wallasey Pool.

[Note: the Fawcett steamer and the 60-ton barge were destined for the Shannon. The barge was the first iron vessel built by Lairds.]

DUKWs? Fiat lux

I have written here about a series of misfortunes suffered by DUKWs in Liverpool and London. On 16 June 2013 I put up some photos of DUKWs in Dublin and Liverpool; I pointed to what seemed to me to be two differences between practices in the two cities:

First, before they enter the water at Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend, the DUKWs are fitted with extra buoyancy in cylinders that slide into racks along their sides. I saw the VikingSplash crew removing the cylinders from the yellow DUKW; it took only a couple of minutes, and I presume that it didn’t take much longer to put the cylinders on.

Second, the Dublin passengers are issued with buoyancy aids before they take to the water. I can’t see any buoyancy aids on the Liverpool passengers, although it’s possible that they are out of camera shot.

There are links on that page to photos, news reports and a seriously scary video of the sinking of a DUKW in Liverpool. Then, in September 2013, a DUKW went on fire on the Thames; my brief report and links here. In October 2013 the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch issued a safety bulletin (my report here, with links) pointing to foam buoyancy as a common factor. The Liverpool DUKWs did not have enough buoyancy to keep them afloat if they started taking water and MAIB thought it would be impossible to get enough into them. On the London vessel,

… the most likely cause of fire was the action of the rotating drive shaft (or other moving parts) on the oil contaminated surfaces of the buoyancy foam blocks.

In November 2013 I noted that the wearing of lifejackets had been discussed in London and I commented on the policy of the Dublin operator, VikingSplash:

The point that strikes me is that, in both UK accidents, passengers had little time to don lifejackets and would have been trying to put them on in a confined space and under less than ideal conditions. It seems to me that Viking Splash’s policy [having passengers don lifejackets before taking to the water] is the right one.

In December 2014 the MAIB published its report into the two accidents. There’s a Guardian news report here [h/t gjb] and you can download the MAIB’s full report and annexes from this page. The London and Liverpool accidents are covered in the same report.

It’s well worth reading and pulls (as far as I could tell) no punches, even tearing strips off the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, both within the UK Department for Transport and both involved because the DUKW is an amphibian.

I took three main points from the report.

The Irish approach

First, the Irish authorities seem to have thought seriously about the safety problems. My understanding of the buoyancy requirements was mistaken: the UK DUKWs had added buoyancy (although not enough, and adding more foam caused fire) and the Irish buoyancy cylinders are not designed to keep the vessel afloat. Here’s what MAIB says:

In Ireland, APV operators have been permitted to operate vintage DUKWs without having to provide any residual buoyancy. To mitigate the consequences of serious flooding, the Irish regulator required the operators to:

  • Fit external buoyancy tubes designed to slow the sinking process and make the vehicle sink bodily [my emphasis].
  • Retract the canopy roof and open the side curtains prior to entering the water.
  • Require passengers and crew to wear PFDs while on the water.
  • Provide a fast rescue craft, rescue crew and an inflatable liferaft at the slipway.
  • Limit operations to a non-tidal area.

This approach focused on passenger survivability by reducing the risk of entrapment and drowning, rather than vehicle survivability, and introduced several of the interim measures recommended by the NTSB following the sinking of Miss Majestic.

The Irish model demonstrates that open topped APVs can be operated successfully in similar weather conditions to those experienced in the UK, and that passengers are willing to wear PFDs.

So big it up for the Irish Maritime Administration.

The speed of the sinking

Second, if you’ve seen the video of the Liverpool sinking you may have been struck by its speed. In both Liverpool and London passengers had very little time to get out and the report’s synopsis says

In both instances, the crew had little time to co-ordinate the evacuation process and the confined nature of passenger spaces made it almost impossible for them to control or assist the passengers.

And in 4.3 Common safety issues:

8.  It was extremely fortunate that all on board WQ1 and Cleopatra were able to evacuate into the water unharmed. In both cases the passengers were forced to act on instinct and exit the vehicles under their own initiative.

Any of several issues could have cut the time available and “the risk of entrapment and the likelihood of loss of life would have been considerably higher”.

So Figure 63 of a Dublin DUKW doesn’t just show the external buoyancy cylinders: the passengers are wearing buoyancy aids, there is a crewman already stationed at the stern and the side and roof canopies are open, all giving more chance of escape.

I’m not in any position to assess the overall safety of the Irish DUKW operation. What interests me here is a more general point about the evacuation of passengers from trip vessels: getting a large number of people out of a small space in a short time is not easy. And the recent problem of getting people off the Norman Atlantic didn’t make me feel any better.

Photo

Third, I am delighted that my photo of a DUKW in Liverpool was useful to the  UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (see the report’s Figure 16) but they really should have asked for permission to use it.

 

Fuel consumption

The Dublin Monitor of 3 December 1839 quoted the celebrated Dublin-born adulterer and polymath Dionysius Lardner [who said that Victorians were prudish?] as saying

A train of coaches, about eighty tons, and transporting 230 passengers, with their luggage, has been taken from Liverpool to Birmingham, and from Birmingham to Liverpool, the trip each way taking about four hours, stoppages included. The distance between these places by the railway is ninety-five miles.

This double journey of 190 miles is effected by the mechanical force produced in the combustion of a quarter of a ton of coke, the value of which is 6s.

To carry the same number of passengers daily between the same places by stage coaches, on a common road, would require twenty coaches, and an establishment of 3,800 horses, with which the journey in each direction would be performed in about twelve hours, stoppages included.

Dr Lardner on the Steam Engine

The fuel consumption figure seemed odd to me, because I had recently read about the fuel consumed by a steamer on the Shannon in 1851. This was evidently one of the two screw steamers put to work by the Grand Canal Company in 1851, on which Sir John MacNeill conducted the experiments described here.

A luggage boat propelled by steam, on the screw principle, has been for the first time placed on the waters of the Shannon between Shannon Harbour and Limerick, taking in Portumna, Dromineer, Williamstown [probably Hollands], Killaloe, and the river and canal, to the terminus lock at Limerick.

As a specimen of aquatic architecture, the boat presents no very peculiar or striking features; it is built of iron, with a flush deck; it is capable of carrying about thirty tons, and the rate at which it goes on the canal, is about three and a half miles an hour, whether singly, or as a tug boat with two or three heavy lighters after it; whilst on the broader waters of the river, it is capable of going at a rate of seven and a half miles an hour!

This phenomenon may be explained by the fact that on the canal, which is comparatively narrow, there is no expansion of the waters displaced by the boat, whilst there is always a considerable swell raised about the prow, causes which conspire to retard her speed, and which do not operate when she is on the river.

The expense of working this boat is considerably less than that of the ordinary boat drawn by horses. A ton of coal supplies the engine between Limerick and Shannon Harbour; whereas the horsing alone of a boat between Limerick and Killaloe amounts to something about ten shillings.

The experiment, however, has not been sufficiently tested; and there is some doubt that it may succeed according to the expectations of its projectors. Just now several industrious persons with horses are employed on the canal: and it is to be hoped that in this season of dearth and destitution, no hasty means will be adopted to force them for subsistence on overgrown poor rates.

Limerick Reporter 27 May 1851

The Limerick Reporter article does not say, and I cannot determine, whether this was  Towing steamer No 2 [Appendix 3 in Ruth Delany The Grand Canal of Ireland David and Charles, Newton Abbot 1973], the twin-screw vessel which MacNeill, confusingly, called the No 1 Boat, or the single-screw Towing steamer No 1, which MacNeill called the No 2 Boat.

But I was surprised that the railway train could do 190 miles on a quarter ton of coke while the steamer required a ton for the (roughly) 54 miles from Shannon Harbour to Limerick.

On consulting the online Gutenberg version of the seventh edition of Dionysius Lardner The Steam Engine explained and illustrated; with an account of its invention and progressive improvement, and its application to navigation and railways; including also A Memoir of Watt Taylor and Walton, London 1840, I found that there were some differences between that and the Dublin Monitor‘s version:

A train of coaches weighing about eighty tons, and transporting two hundred and forty passengers with their luggage, has been taken from Liverpool to Birmingham, and back from Birmingham to Liverpool, the trip each way taking about four hours and a quarter, stoppages included. The distance between these places by the railway is ninety-five miles.

This double journey of one hundred and ninety miles is effected by the mechanical force produced in the combustion of four tons of coke, the value of which is about five pounds.

To carry the same number of passengers daily between the same places by stage-coaches on a common road, would require twenty coaches and an establishment of three thousand eight hundred horses, with which the journey in each direction would be performed in about twelve hours, stoppages included.

So 240 passengers, not 230; 4¼ rather than 4 hours — and most significantly 4 tons of coke, costing about £5, rather than ¼ ton costing 6s [£0.3].

Did the Dublin Monitor get it wrong — and, if so, why and how? Or were the lower figures in some earlier edition of Lardner’s work?

 

 

A missed opportunity for railways

The Leeds Intelligencer of Saturday 16 September 1837 reported on the seventh annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which had begun at Liverpool on the previous Monday. The Mechanical Science section met, appropriately, at the Mechanics’ Institution with Professor Robinson of Armagh, President, in the chair.

It heard papers from Mr Williams on the Treffos Pump, Mr Kingsley on the Perspective Drawing Board, Mr Henwood on the Expansive Action of Steam in Cornish Mine Engines and Mr Russell on the Motion of Steamers in Shallow Waters. But the first and greatest paper was not delivered by its author, Mr G Remington [presumably George Remington, railway engineer], who was absent, but by Dr Lardner. Its subject was

… the Railway Balance Lock. The object of this was to do that upon Railways which is accomplished on Canals by means of Locks, namely, to raise the trains to any given height, according to the inequality of that surface.

You can read more about it here; interweb search engines will find more references. Perhaps it is not too late to have this innovation adopted.

DUKWs and lifejackets

On 31 October 2013 I mentioned the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s safety bulletin about the DUKW fire in London and the DUKW that sank in Liverpool. There is more on the London fire today with a Guardian report on proceedings at the London assembly’s Thames passenger boat investigation committee. The Guardian headline read …

Duck boat passengers not wearing lifejackets when jumping into Thames

… and the story reported the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s maritime safety and standards director as saying that wearing of lifejackets would not have been usual on “such boats” and that lifejackets were safely stowed above the seats. The story also said that

London Duck Tours’ managing director, John Bigos, said the Cleopatra had the required legal number of lifejackets on board and that it was company policy that lifejackets were not worn on tours. He went on: “We have our reasons for this (non-wearing) but they are not to do with commerciality.”

There is a different policy in Ireland, where the Dublin Viking Splash operation says

Lifejackets: At the water entry point, customers are required to put on a lifejacket after the driver delivers an outline about safety on the water. The lifejackets supplied by Viking Splash Tours are Solas and CE approved buoyancy aids […].

The point that strikes me is that, in both UK accidents, passengers had little time to don lifejackets and would have been trying to put them on in a confined space and under less than ideal conditions. It seems to me that Viking Splash’s policy is the right one.

DUKWs

In June 2013 I reported on the sinking of a DUKW in Liverpool, the second of the year, and in September on the fire aboard a DUKW in London. Oddly enough, it seems that the two accidents had a common element: the foam added inside the hulls to improve buoyancy.

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has found that the DUKWs in the Liverpool fleet had not been fitted with enough foam to provide 110% buoyancy, enough to keep the vessel afloat when flooded. MAIB’s tests on the Liverpool vessels

… raised serious questions about whether the operators of DUKWs could fit sufficient foam internally to comply with the current requirement for 110% buoyancy without compromising the safe operation and the practical day to day maintenance of these vehicles.

The “safe operation” part affected the London vessels. In July 2013, a DUKW had to be towed in after a drive shaft universal coupling failed when it overheated and ran dry of lubrication: engine bay temperatures were too high because of the volume of foam inserted. And a report commissioned by the London Fire Brigade into the September fire concluded that:

… the most likely cause of fire was the action of the rotating drive shaft (or other moving parts) on the oil contaminated surfaces of the buoyancy foam blocks.

MAIB has issued a safety bulletin [four-page PDF] with this conclusion:

The MAIB identified significant difficulties in fitting a DUKW with the volume of foam required to meet the buoyancy standards set out in MSN 1699 (M). Further, the nature of these old amphibious vessels, specifically their weight in relation to their size and the complexity of their propulsion arrangements, makes it difficult for operators to comply with the standards applicable to more conventional craft by solely using internal foam buoyancy. An alternative standard, ensuring that DUKWs have the necessary level of damage survivability, therefore needs to be established if they are to be operated safely.

It has recommended that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency should

… ensure that the means used by DUKW operators to achieve the required standard of buoyancy and stability for their vessels does not adversely impact on their safe operation. Furthermore, these vessels should not be permitted to operate until satisfactory levels of safety can be assured under all feasible operating conditions.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s website doesn’t seem to be working, but there is a BBC report here quoting an MCA person as saying

We will not be permitting the vessels to operate until we are satisfied that the necessary safety measures have been achieved.

VikingSplash DUKW in Dublin

VikingSplash DUKW in Dublin

All of this may help to explain why the VikingSplash DUKWs operating in Dublin are fitted with additional external buoyancy.

Elfinsafety and DUKWs

In October 2011 I was in Liverpool, where I took a couple of photos of DUKWs taking trippers around the still waters of the no-longer-used docks.

DUKW in the Salthouse Dock, Liverpool

DUKW in the Salthouse Dock, Liverpool

DUKWing under the bridge into the Albert Dock, Liverpool

DUKWing under the bridge into the Albert Dock, Liverpool

In Dublin, Viking Splash offers similar tours, with the regrettable addition of horned helmets, as not worn by Vikings. The Dublin operation seems to have added two other items that were not discernible on the Liverpool DUKW.

VikingSplash DUKW Thor 18_resize

Extra buoyancy on the Dublin DUKWs

First, before they enter the water at Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend, the DUKWs are fitted with extra buoyancy in cylinders that slide into racks along their sides. I saw the VikingSplash crew removing the cylinders from the yellow DUKW; it took only a couple of minutes, and I presume that it didn’t take much longer to put the cylinders on.

VikingSplash DUKW Thor 25_resize

Buoyancy aids being collected after the trip around the dock

Second, the Dublin passengers are issued with buoyancy aids before they take to the water. I can’t see any buoyancy aids on the Liverpool passengers, although it’s possible that they are out of camera shot.

Sometimes we complain about extra health and safety (which often means insurance) requirements. Then something like this happens: a yellow DUKW sank yesterday in Liverpool — for the second time this year. I don’t know whether the precautions taken in Dublin would have averted the accident or enhanced the safety of the passengers but it does suggest that the Maritime Safety Directorate bods in Dublin do have a point.

Addendum: the speaker on this clip says that passengers began putting on buoyancy aids, which suggests that aids were issued but not worn. Given how quickly the vessel sank, and how constricted the space inside is, it seems to me that passengers should wear their buoyancy aids throughout the waterborne trip.

Later: scary video.

Later still: a BBC story saying that a tyre may have caused the problem, the Liverpool mayor’s opinion (and some good photos) and the firm going into administration.