The Ocean Tide and the Port of Liverpool

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Crosby Beach
The Ocean Tide and the Port of Liverpool

Saturday 11 May 2019


A meeting at the Merseyside Maritime Museum open to anyone interested in the tides and the port of Liverpool.

This meeting is organised by the National Oceanography Centre and the University of Liverpool, in association with the Centre for Port and Maritime History (University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Merseyside Maritime Museum) and the Liverpool Institute for Sustainable Coasts and Oceans (National Oceanography Centre, University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University). 

This meeting marks the 100th anniversary of the world-famous Liverpool Tidal Institute, founded at Liverpool University in 1919 before moving to Bidston Observatory on the Wirral.

Most of the speakers below come from the National Oceanography Centre and Liverpool University and are some of the world experts on these topics.


10.00 Introduction  and Welcome by Philip Woodworth and brief history of the Liverpool Tidal Institute

10.30 The science behind the ocean tide  Presenter David Pugh 

11.00 Opportunities for the UK in tidal energy Presenter Judith Wolf

11.30 Break (coffee provided)

11.45 The tides and the oceanography of our neighbouring seas  Presenter Jonathan Sharples

12.15 The large Mersey tides and the Port of Liverpool Presenter Simon Holgate

12.45 Tides and the Earth’s climate  Presenter Chris Hughes

13.15 The tides and the banks of the Mersey Presenter Andy Plater 

Although this is a free event, we would be grateful if people could register to attend by clicking here .  Please see this web site nearer the time for any changes to the programme.

From 1 - 4.30 pm there will be an open day at the National Oceanography Centre, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool for anyone to see the two historical Tide Prediction Machines on display there. These two machines were used by Arthur Doodson, Director of the Liverpool Tidal Institute. One of them was used to make tidal computations for the D-Day landings in World War II. For more information on these interesting machines, see:  and

This Tide Prediction Machine exhibition at NOC does not require registration – just come along.

There are also plans, details to be announced later, for activities at Bidston on that day. For example, there is a special connection between Bidston Lighthouse and the tides, other than the lighthouse being located alongside the Observatory, via the famous Liverpool privateer and dockmaster William Hutchinson. Hutchinson measured the tides at Liverpool for almost 30 years from 1764 which was the first extended set of measurements of the tides in the UK. He also designed the reflectors for the first Bidston lighthouse, which are now on display in Trinity House museum in London.

Liverpool Tidal Institute Background

The Liverpool Tidal Institute (LTI) was founded at Liverpool University in March 1919 with funds from Sir Alfred Booth and his brother, Mr. Charles Booth, to "prosecute continuously scientific research into all aspects of knowledge of the tides". This marked the start of Oceanography as an area of research and teaching at Liverpool University, and the first university oceanography department in the UK. Professor Joseph Proudman became its Director and Dr. Arthur Doodson its Secretary. It was located initially in the Holt Physics Building and moved to Bidston Observatory on the Wirral in stages during the next decade. The LTI became the world centre for knowledge of the tides, with Proudman taking the lead in dynamical theories, and Doodson in the analysis of tidal information from around the world, and on tidal prediction. The latter included the construction of analogue computers called Tidal Prediction Machines. Proudman and Doodson were both Fellows of the Royal Society, a distinction that was later awarded also to Dr. David Cartwright, Director at Bidston, for his work on the global ocean tides.

The LTI was renamed the "Liverpool University Tidal Institute" in 1961 and went through other name changes including the “Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory” until it became a component of the present “National Oceanography Centre” in 2010. 

Please keep your eyes out for further events to mark this very special occasion.