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Mersey Ferries - Stormy Day - January 03, 2014

Photographs  John H. Luxton 2014

Friday January 03, 2014 saw what was predicted to be the highest spring tide of 2014 combined with forecast of severe gales. In the wake of the damage caused to Seacombe Ferry Terminal on December 05 Mersey Ferries appeared to be taking no chances with sandbags deployed and staff anxiously eyeing the water levels. Fortunately the wind did not prove to be as severe as forecast and consequently only a little water made its way into the booking hall at Birkenhead Woodside around the period of high tide at 12:14 which had a predicted height  of 10.10 metres. Sand bags were being placed by the doors of the Pier Head Terminal around 10:30 and had also been placed inside and around Woodside Terminal.

The high tide did result in the stages being higher than the land with the bridges leading down hill to the land, not an unusual phenomena in itself but the steepness of the gradient from stage to land was perhaps more pronounced than is usual.  The 12:00 sailing from Liverpool operated by SNOWDROP did call at the stage but passengers were not allowed to board or alight.

Liverpool Pier Head Terminal around 10:40
Seacombe Landing Stage at 11:17
Woodside between 12:00 and 12:05 notice the Merseytravel Staff observing the rising water levels. Sandbags were in place to protect the front entrance to the terminal building and the car park. The passenger bridge appeared to have one pane of Perspex glazing missing and another becoming detached, built it is not clear if this happened today or in previous bad weather. These panes are covered by internal panels and the damage is not apparent from inside the bridge.
Whilst the level of the river rose only waves caused it to overtop the wall at Woodside, the river did not actually overflow. However, what was interesting was that former floating roadway cut which was retained as a now poorly maintained feature was filling up with water. The water as can be seen from these pictures was pouring through the masonry joints of the blocks used to block up the side portals to the tunnel which ran along the side of the long removed floating roadway. This tunnel was constructed to allow the roadway to rise and fall evenly. These portals were blocked up in the early 1990s when the first stage of the Woodside redevelopment was undertaken.

Some water did enter the booking hall of the ferry terminal but was soon cleaned up. But if it had been a little windier and the tide just a little higher the potential for significant damage was obvious.

The above views were taken after 13:00 as the tide was beginning to ebb. 

SNOWDROP is seen approaching and berthing at Birkenhead Woodside at around 13:20 just over 1 hour after high water.



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