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Report - Victoria Clock Tower, Liverpool, Sept 2016

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by tallginge, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. tallginge

    tallginge 28DL Full Member
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    The History

    Victoria Tower is a Grade II listed Gothic Revival Clock Tower located alongside Salisbury Dock in Liverpool, England. Positioned among the two river entrance gates to the Salisbury Dock itself, the tower acted as an aid to ships by providing both an accurate time and also warning of impending meteorological changes.

    Victoria Tower was designed by Jesse Hartley and was constructed between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Salisbury Dock. Its design was based upon an earlier drawing by Philip Hardwick in 1846.

    Victoria Tower, which was often referred to as the 'docker's clock', was built as an aid to ships in the port, as it allowed them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish Sea, while its bell warned of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. Upon its completion is also served as a flat for the Pier Master.

    In 1975, the building was added to the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest with Grade II status.

    Due to the decline in docking within Liverpool, the tower has fallen into a state of disrepair suffering significant decay due to both water and wind damage. The tower is also overgrown with vegetation and has a leaking roof. Nonetheless, despite being in a state of dereliction, Victoria Tower is part of the Stanley Dock Conservation Area and also Liverpool's World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

    In April 2010, it was announced that Victoria Tower, along with several other buildings around Clarence and Salisbury docks, would be repaired by owners, Peel Holdings. The tower and the areas around it are also included in the proposed £5.5bn regeneration programme, Liverpool Waters.

    Hartley's inspiration for the tower's design was the castle architecture of the Rhine region in Central Europe and is clearly visible in the numerous embrasures that are cut into the tower walls. It was constructed from 'irregular shaped' blocks of grey granite, a building material that was used in many of Hartley's other construction projects. The tower can be roughly split into three portions:

    • The tapered circular base, which has several arched alcoves
    • The central hexagonal column onto which the tower's six clocks are attached
    • The roof, which consists of an overhanging castellated parapet that is supported by several corbels
    ................................................................................................................................................................................

    On 4th December 1845, Jesse Hartley, submitted a design to the Dock Committee for "a tower in which to place a clock for the use of the public, to be erected upon the middle pier of the southern entrance from the river of the new dock works, which tower might be made available for the purpose of a telegraph or lighthouse.”
    The river he was referring to is the Mersey and the new dock works, Salisbury Dock. Hartley was the Dock Surveyor, and his design was accepted. The tower, known as Victoria Tower, was completed in 1848.
    Victoria Tower has a circular base that changes to a hexagonal plan above its corbelled balcony. It tapers slightly as it rises to the projecting castellated top above its sixth floor. A navigation light in an ornamental structure was planned for the top but not constructed. Instead, a 9m flagpole was installed (now gone). Each of the six sides of the tower has a clock face at fourth floor level.
    Granite from Kircudbright, sandstone and brickwork were used for the tower's construction. It's faced with ashlar granite and the doorways and windows have dressed voussoirs and quoins. The corbels, balustrades and castellations feature fine workmanship.
    The floors above ground are each supported by two cast iron inverted V-shaped beams. Between these is vaulted brickwork. The beams are set at angles that differ from floor to floor by 60 degrees. This spreads the load evenly. The floors are laid with clay tiles, except for the lower three floors, which have tongue and groove boarding, as these floors were the living accommodation for the tower keeper. The fifth floor is an open belfry with a single brass bell by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel Foundry, London. It is dated 1892.
    The tops of the castellations are 31.6m above the ground and the centres of the clock faces 17.4m. At ground level, the tower's diameter is 9.6m. Up at roof level, each of the six sides measures 6.3m across.

    The Explore

    Visited here Saturday evening, having spent the afternoon in Wapping Tunnel. Ideally i'd have done it the other way round but the approach is very exposed and anyone within a half mile radius can see you. Apparently you never walk alone in Liverpool, well I did plenty of that. Access to the clock tower itself wasn't too hard, its just getting to it that requires a bit of planning!
    Its a pretty cool spooky building this one, especially at night, on yer lonesome! There's lots of dangerous spiral staircases, empty but shapely rooms (including the clockworks and belfry) and a good view of the docks and Liverpool at the top. Plenty of pigeon shit and plenty of pigeons to contend with as well.
    There wasn't any sign of any work having been done recently but the building has definitely changed since previous reports. The little building connected to the side is no longer there and neither is the bell

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    Unfortunately the board was fixed securely in place so i couldn't access the roof. The pigeons are friendly though, if surprising. Bloody things!
     

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  2. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Good effort mate. Not seen this for ages. I Like your clock shots. That 6-way bevel gear is the only one I've seen.
     
  3. tallginge

    tallginge 28DL Full Member
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    Thanks. First clock tower for me so was all fascinating stuff!
     
  4. The Kwan

    The Kwan Easily Led
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    Well in tallginge, I am glad that you got in to take pics, I really wanted to see the old graff in the basement but when I last went earlier this year with KMPunk it was all concreted up, right up to the 1st parapet.
    Nice photos :thumb
     
  5. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    I never added the pics of the graff, I shall dig them out, shame it's been filled in
     
  6. The Kwan

    The Kwan Easily Led
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    I dont know how I missed it Tbh Ojay but I was sick when Xan posted his report complete with graff...doh :)
    I wasnt clear in my reply sorry but The windows and doors had been concreted up on my last visit but obviously not filled up inside judging bu tallginges report.
     
  7. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Ah I see, been years since I looked in there
     
  8. The Kwan

    The Kwan Easily Led
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    The lowest access seemed to be the castellated parapet so we wandered off to the tobbacco warehouse.
     
  9. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    Has the busted bell gone?! Never seen anything like that in my life!
     
  10. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Looks pretty grim in there. Great structure though, and some awesome views too.
     
  11. tallginge

    tallginge 28DL Full Member
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    Yeah it has. It used to be in the big empty space on pic 7. Its a shame
     
  12. Gone

    Gone
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    yes yes, nice one. great seeing this place again!
     
    Ojay likes this.
  13. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Nice to see inside that, seen it so many times over the years and always wondered what inside looked like :)
     
  14. skgogosfan

    skgogosfan 28DL Full Member
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    It's great to see back in here - it hasn't been done for a while,but I see it's still consistently rank thanks to the pigeons and their leavings. Thanks for braving those nasty conditions to get in there and those pics across the river and docks are great!

    Incidentally,the modern extensions that were demo'd were Peel's work as part of the Liverpool Waters scheme. You missed very little.

    Dave.
     
  15. jSolo

    jSolo 28DL Full Member
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    Cant believe there was a board! Someone must have been very recently to do that because I went about 2 weeks ago and it wasn't there
     
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