FLASHBACK: Aerial shots from the 1980s show the industrial might of ‘The Great Float’

A FEW weeks ago we featured some images taken by Neston-based photographer Bernard Rose, who has been documenting the redevelopment of Liverpool’s waterfront since the 1970s.

In the 1970s Bernard was a trainee working for commercial photographers Elsam, Mann and Cooper and took many pictures of the changing landscape along the River Mersey.

In these three images, which Bernard kindly shared with us, we see stunning aerial views of the so-called Great Float which is divided into two large docks: East Float and West Float – both part of the Birkenhead Docks complex.

The quays stretch about two miles inland from the Mersey, dividing the towns of Birkenhead and Wallasey.

The Great Float was designed as one large quay, running from Poulton Bridge to Tower Road, but the Duke Street Bridge had to be built to maintain the old rights of way, so the Great Float was split in two: the West Float on the Poulton Bridge side and the East Float on the river side.

Taken in 1987, the photographs show the Four Bridges, four movable bridges along Tower Road: two between the Great Float and Alfred Dock, one between the Great Float and Wallasey Dock and one between the Great Float and Egerton Dock. When originally built, all four were of the hydraulic swing bridge type. In the 1930s most were replaced by weighbridges.

One of Bernard’s images also gives a great view of Spillers and Bakers Mill. It was one of four major mills in the area which helped Merseyside become the second largest milling center in the world in the 1930s. It closed in 1999 and the mills were converted into flats.

“The footage was shot for a client at the time who was doing a historical survey of the area,” Bernard said. “As a commercial photographer, one of my services then was aerial photography and these were taken from a Cessna 172 light aircraft.

“With the popularity of drone photography these days, aerial photography isn’t commissioned as often.”

n Follow Bernard on Facebook @BernardRoseLiverpoolPhotography or on Twitter @BRPimages

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