Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Docks


From school Dad took a clerical post for a while. He then joined one the Lever Brothers companies (later the Unilever Group) as a maintenance engineer for a stevedoring group, working on equipment and vehicles such as cranes and fork-lift trucks. He remained on the electrical engineering side with various Unilever companies throughout his working life, retiring in December 1972 from Liverpool Maritime Terminals (formerly Liverpool West African Terminals), a subsidiary of Palm Line, Unilever.

The first dock I can recall him working at was Queens Dock, one of the South Docks, and this photo was taken from there when I was a teenager. I had a docks pass which allowed me to take photos on the docks. Without such a pass one stood a good chance of being arrested by the Dock Police to check what villainy you might be up to.

Later on Dad worked at North Brocklebank Dock, one of the North Docks, by which time there was no shipping left in the South Docks and they were largely derelict. This photo is of one of the Palm Line boats – the Lagos Palm – in Brocklebank Dock.

I used to visit him down on the docks when I was a teenager and sometimes went down there with him on his scooter before taking the scooter off for the day to explore North Wales. Upon my return from a chilly day out I would be offered what was alleged to be a cup of tea in his little office in the corner of the dock warehouse. The tea was so strong that it melted the spoon, the amount of sugar meant that you needed bigger muscles than I to try stirring it, and the large dollop of conny-onny (condensed milk) turned it into something that more closely resembled a Gaelic Coffee. The conny-onny always had two holes punched in the top of the can, both of which quickly crusted over with a sickly yellowish substance if it was left for more than ten minutes without being used. When poured, the milk slowly oozed out of the can in a sticky dribble that one had to more or less cut off with a knife to drop into the mug.

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