Marine were formed in 1894 by a ground of local businessmen and were, imaginatively, called ‘Marine’ after the hotel they met in. Luckily for them the hotel wasn’t called The Dirty Dicks (Bishopsgate, City of London). Although that may have been more apt. Their claim to fame is that they lost 7–1 to Dulwich Hamlet in front of a 22,000 crowd at Upton Park, in 1931/32.
My hope of many a seafaring story effervescently spewing from the history of the Dirty Dicks was sadly and cruelly dashed.
Manchester has more of a seafaring history and none of our clubs has the slightest hint of seafaringness in their names. Although badges and songs do allude to a maritime tradition. We may not have a sea but we have rivers, canals, reservoirs and rain galore, sufficient water to satisfy any seagoing vessel. Our water is spread about a bit, testament to Manchester’s commitment to fairness and equitable distribution.
The very first vessel to unload at the Port of Manchester was the ‘Pioneer’, owned by the Co-operative Wholesale Society. I want to know if the Co-op still owns boats because as a co-owner I want to have a go on one. I’ve always fancied myself as a seafaring captain, bellowing orders, ‘Hoist up the John B sail’, ‘See how the main sail is set’, no that’s me singing. ‘Grapple the yard arm’, ‘Set the row locks’.
The Manchester Ship Canal, built in 1894, enabled the port of Manchester to become the third busiest port in Britain despite being 40 miles inland, much to the dismay of the owners of the Liverpool docks. The building of the Manchester Ship Canal was popular amongst the working class; it was reported, at the time, that “the rich men of South and East Lancashire, with a few notable exceptions, have not rivalled the enthusiasm of the general public”.
The canal took six years to complete and is still the longest river navigation in the world. An average of 12,000 workers were employed on the canal. ‘Regular navvies’ were paid 4½ d per hour for a 10-hour day, equivalent to about £16 per day (2010).
The canal also had its own police force, and a railway with more than 200 miles of temporary track, 180 trains and more than 6000 trucks and wagons. The scheme included the Barton Swing Aqueduct, the first and only swing aqueduct, hence the name and the world’s first industrial estate at Trafford Park which is still the largest in Europe.
Fred Tingle was a local lad when he became a merchant seaman with Manchester Liners, he worked in the engine room. On his first trip he worked on the Manchester Spinner, sailed to Montreal, hit a reef and ripped the bottom out of the ship. When he got back to Manchester he tells us, ‘you didn’t want them tinned foods…so what we did we used to sling them over ….the children used to swim down and get the cans.’
Stephen Buckley from Urmston worked in the merchant navy and for the Manchester Ship Canal company. He travelled to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago carrying engineering equipment made in Manchester. He then worked on a survey boat on the ship canal. ‘Noah Royal at Partington taught me how to drive his train and I taught him how to drive my boat. I drove diggers and JCBs and all sorts of things and taught all sorts of people to drive my boat.’
Songs of the Inland Waterways promote the following, ‘Bring the Sea to Manchester’. Probably the worst song ever. http://www.waterwaysongs.co.uk/bring_the_sea_to_manchester.htm