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When Jack Stamper was a lad, he used to ‘skip’ into town from Liverpool’s Coburg Dock on the back of the nearest passing coal cart or goods’ wagon.
Jumping on a horse-drawn cart and getting a free lift along the bumpy cobbles, in the shadow of the Docker’s Umbrella was an accepted mode of transport back in 1930s Liverpool.
And as he rode along, little did the young Jack know that he’d be back more than 80 years later to pay a lasting tribute to the great age of the city’s ocean-going steam liners.
If you follow in Jack’s footsteps today and head into the city centre along Sefton Street, at its junction with Stanhope Street, you’ll see a new addition to the street scene.
On the front of The Coburg Pub is Jack’s newly installed plaque commemorating the start of transatlantic passenger journeys between Liverpool and New York.
The plaque details how shipping magnate Samuel Cunard and partner Robert Napier joined with other investors to form the British and North American Steam Packet Company.
The plaque reads:
It was on the 4th July 1840 that the 1,500-ton paddle and sail ship, RMS Britannia, loaded up with mail and cargo here at Coburg Dock. It then sailed down river to Princess Landing Stage to take on bard fare-paying passengers, before setting off for her maiden voyage, bound for the New World. Britannia reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 12 days 10 hours, sailed onward to Boston, before proceeding to New York, its final destination.
Such was the success of the service, that the Britannia was joined by the Arcadia and the
Caledonia in 1840 and by the Columbia in 1841.
Jack approached Liverpool City Council for support with the project and sought
permission from The Coburg’s landlord Dean Corbett to place the plaque on the wall.
Jack said: “Liverpool has a rich maritime heritage that we must recognise and preserve for future generations. The Britannia was the ship that took Charles Dickens to America from Liverpool in 1840. It’s a real honour to see the plaque in place and hopefully, it will remind generations to come of how important our great city is.”
Jack has had a lifelong association with Liverpool’s waterfront, he was apprenticed as a ship’s carpenter more than 60 years ago. And he is also no stranger to commemorating the city’s seafaring history. In 2013 he organised a plaque at Liverpool Pier Head in memory of the RMS Lancastria, which was sunk off the coast of France in 1940.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson was on hand to unveil the new plaque alongside Jack outside The Coburg.
Mayor Anderson said: “Jack is a real ambassador for Liverpool’s maritime history and it was a privilege for us to support him with his latest project. Liverpool became internationally famous as a seafaring city and it continues to flourish to this day. As well as recognising our proud heritage we are looking forward to a bright future for the waterfront. Plans are underway for the creation of a new Cruise Liner Terminal, which will help to secure more than 500 new jobs. We are also looking forward to the creation of the new Isle of Man Terminal. Both of these projects will play a major part in the continued regeneration of our city and continue our association with the sea for generations to come.”
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