Pilot memorials unveiled at New Brighton

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© John MacLeod Photography

Two memorials were unveiled in New Brighton on 19 May 2014 to commemorate the losses suffered by the Liverpool Pilot Boat Service in the First and Second World Wars.

For hundreds of years the Pilot boats have been invaluable to ships entering the docks at Liverpool and on the Wirral. They supply a local Pilot who boards the visiting ship and guides it safely through the difficult channel and into the docks. 

The Pilots continued this work throughout the two World Wars, providing an essential service to the wartime convoys. The wars made the Pilots more valuable than ever but also added massively to the difficulty and danger of their job. In 1917 the Pilot boat Alfred H Read struck an enemy mine and sank within minutes. Of the 41 men on board only 2 survived.

The importance of the dangerous work the Pilots were undertaking during wartime was demonstrated in the Second World War by the entire Liverpool Pilot Service being declared a reserved occupation. Sadly this conflict quickly brought further tragedy for the Pilots. They were operating under blackout conditions, with the riverfront in total darkness and lighting on ships drastically reduced; at the same time the river was crowded with ships far beyond their normal experience. Under these conditions in November 1939 the Pilot boat Charles Livingston ran aground during a storm with the death of 23 men.

These two losses are now recorded on a pair of plaques mounted on two rocks opposite New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion.