Sailing Directions from Point Lynas to Liverpool


Here is a transcript of the 1840 sailing directions to the Rock and Horse Channels. Original spellings are retained, direction is given as magnetic bearings (variation 26° west); some fractions have been rewritten as decimals. Page numbers, illustrations and appendices refer to the original.
See original images.

See below for sections on Lighthouses; Lifeboats; and the Northwest Lightship.

Denham's chart (sketch for orientation, East up) of the area:


These channels unite in continuous order, forming a bending course of stream, southward and then eastward, from the N.W. Light-ship to the Rock Lighthouse. The Horse Channel is the seaward portion, bounded on the south-western hand by East Hoyle Spit and high sand-bank, which ranges 4.5 miles right out north-westward from Dove Point; and, on the north-eastern hand, by the Sixfeet Flats, which outlie the North Spit 1.5 mile N.W. by W. The Rock Channel is formed by the main strand on the southern hand, which outlays the high-water mark in a flattened shelf of sand, that dries out from Dove Point 1 mile (called Dove Spit), from Leasowe Castle 0.75 of a mile (called West Wharf), and from Wallasey Sandhills 0.5 a mile (called East Wharf); the whole beach called Mock-beggar Wharf; and, on the northern hand, by the continuous margin of North Spit, North Bank, and Brazil Bank, a trend of North and steep sands that extend, laterally with the main, 5 miles westward of the Rock Lighthouse, and may be considered as presenting the southern side of that great triangle of sands, known and dreaded as the 'Great Burbo Banks'. The Horse Channel terminates in limit and water at the North Spit, beginning at 1 mile within (S.E.1/2S.) the Lightship. It carries 9, 7, and 5 fathoms at low water, until a 0.25 of a mile eastward of North and Dove Spits, or when the Hoylake Lights come in one, (S.W.3/4S.) view L.
  The first half-flood and last half-ebb sets fairly up and down this channel, but after half-flood and before half-ebb it sets obliquely over North Spit for Rock Lighthouse. The whole length of this channel is 3.5 miles, and at its narrowest part (abreast of a nine-feet patch) is 0.33 of a mile wide. The N.W. Spit and south-western margin of the channel is guarded by 4 red buoys, numbered inward, and bearing the initial of the channel, H. The north-eastern side is only intruded upon by the nine-feet patch, and there guarded by a black and white nun-buoy, (marked H 1), known as the Buoy of the Flats, inasmuch that the patch lies upon an eleven-feet spit, which springs 0.33 of a mile westward of the Six-feet Flats. The Rock Channel is guarded on the southern hand by four red buoys, numbered from outer approach, and bearing its initial, R; and on its northern margin by seven black buoys, alike numbered in succession, and marked R. This channel is 4.75 miles, trending E. by S. contracting so as to be a blind channel at low water, by uniting with the main beach (at 0.25 of a mile below the Rock Lighthouse) awash at low-water great springs, forming a bar of 0.5 a mile, in and out, with 2 feet here and there, and called the Rock Gut. To appearance, the Rock Channel widens at the lower, or western end, on account of the black and red buoys being twice the distance apart; but it is sadly interrupted and in a choking state in that space, by reason of a bank, called 'Beggar's Patch,' of 0.125 of a mile wide, and stretching 1.25 mile obliquely, in line from West Wharf to the North Spit, having as little as 5 feet upon its western part, and admitting but 10 feet between that part and North Spit, in a passage of only 0.125 of a mile wide; whilst the passage between its eastern part and beach, abreast of Leasowe Lighthouse, is nearly as shallow and narrow. Both ends of this patch present a quartered black and white buoy, marked B 1 and B 2, and it is above this buoy that the tide-stopping anchorages of 'Leasowe Hole' and ' Wallasey Hole' still retain 3 and 4 fathoms water.
  Time was when the largest ships of Liverpool could retreat to, or proceed from, these good holding-grounds, and tolerably-sheltered road-steads, at low-water springs; but at this date it is barred up from 3/4 ebb to 1/4 flood for ships 18 feet; a sad declension in the approaches to Liverpool, as the next anchorage, which a sudden backing of wind upon a young flood imposes on a ship, is terribly exposed to northerly winds, viz. the N.E. Buoy anchorage, i.e. between Dove and North Spits. The approach to this occasional anchorage, up the Horse Channel, is rendered of late a tortuous and baffling channel under a strong, or very light, south-west wind, in consequence of the north-east elbow of East Hoyle Bank having advanced to the N.E. and the North Spit Flats to the S.W. since the line of sea lights were established to lead up in one. The necessity, therefore, of opening them one way, then crossing them and opening the other, is obvious, but when to do so at night was most vague and hazardous, until I had the satisfaction of masking the two Hoylake Lights upon defined lines, in 1836. - [See Notice to Mariners, in Appendix]. By this application of the breast-lights, the forward steering-lights, Leasowe and Bidston, (both fixed bright lights, situated 2 miles apart, on the bearing of S.E.1/4S. Bidston elevated 244 feet, and Leasowe 110, above half-tide mark, [see special description, page 10], are subservient to easy night navigation with a leading wind; pilots, indeed, manage to beat up to North Spit under a S.S.E. wind, which affords a lay-up the Rock Channel. Even at night, therefore, you have only to consider the lift of tide according to draft and tide-gauge table, half-tide always giving you 16 feet through the Rock Gut; the lower light at Rock at night indicating 12 feet lift, as a black ball does by day.


I suppose you at the Lightship - the land objects clear, but some of the buoys adrift, or obscured in spoon-drift, (flying spray), - you must, in fact, look to leading-mark objects - it is, of course, proper advance of tide. You bring your head S.E.1/2S. when Bidston Lighthouse shall appear its apparent breadth, open eastward of Leasowe [view D]; on this line you enter and proceed up Horse Channel, and ought to see H 1, 2, 3, red buoys, a cable's length, on starboard hand, with a chequered white and black buoy right a-head; look out when Upper Hoylake Lighthouse bears south, or when you are midway between the red buoy H 3, and black and white buoy of the flats, or when you shoal your water a fathom; whereupon, haul across southward, to avoid the said flats, and open the lighthouses, Bidston and Leasowe, twice as much to the westward; then haul for Bidston again, passing another red buoy, H 4, on starboard hand, 0.25 of a mile off, and H 1, black and white, of flats, a cable on larboard hand; now lookout towards the Rock Lighthouse, and a tall Water-work's chimney, generally smoking, will appear on the flat land, north of Mark for Liverpool, known as Bootle Stack, and directly it and the Rock Lighthouse come in one, bearing E. by S. 1/4S. [view F], haul upon that course, passing close southward of a large black can-buoy, with a perch, R 1, called 'Spencer's Buoy,' and showing the extreme of North Spit; proceed, passing the Beggar's Patch Buoys, black and white, on starboard hand, and R 2 and 3, black buoys, on Course up the larboard; observe when Bidston Mill opens eastward of Leasowe Castle, (S. by E.) (the former is situated 0.25 of a mile southward of the lighthouse, and the latter, a castle-cluster of buildings, at highwater mark), or when Leasowe Lighthouse bears S.W. or better, when abreast of R 3, red buoy, on starboard hand; then, haul due east, passing R 4 and 5, black buoys, on the larboard hand, until Bidston Mill opens eastward of the lighthouse, (S.S.W.) or when you are two cables past R 4, red buoy, your water shoaling a fathom; when you must steer E.S.E. passing R 6 and R 7, black buoys, on your larboard hand. The leading-mark for this reach, and for carrying the best water through Rock Gut, being the frame-work beacon on Walton-hill, (situated half way between the 'Bootle Stack' and Walton Church,) called Inner Bootle Mark, brought 1/3 nearest the northern of the two white, cut black, obelisks, (E.S.E.) situated on the beach at Bootle, on the Liverpool shore, [view G]. Pursuing this line you may haul southward into the Mersey, as soon as you deepen your water 5 fathoms, or have passed the buoy on 'Rip Raps,' (red, R 5,) upon your starboard hand; or, when Rock Lighthouse comes on Red-Nose Cliff, bearing W. by S.1/2S.

Your taking up anchorage, preparing for docking, or backing and filling, until tide time, must depend on circumstances. If too stormy for a pilot to come off, even in the river, (which I have known to happen,) anchor one-third towards the Cheshire (western) shore, as soon as you can, after rounding the Rock Lighthouse. If not intending to dock, proceed to the Sloyne anchorage, or, if proper, the quarantine ground, already described in page 42.


If turning up the Horse Channel in hazy weather, the lead will warn you of tacking time, by shoaling gradually, when standing eastward; but the lead gives no warning when standing westward, the margin of East Hoyle being so very steep. In like manner in the Rock Channel, you may feel your way with the lead along the main shore, but will receive no timely check when standing northward, towards the abrupt edge of North Banks. You should be reminded of 12 feet water being ensured over the Rock Gut Bar, whilst a steady bright light is exhibited at the Rock Lighthouse, from the lower chamber, or a black ball, shown by day, above the balcony. You should, at the same time, be cautioned against hugging the main too close, lest you trail upon the strip of shingle that stretches from the lighthouse, parallel to the channel, upon the shore, a little within low-water mark, trending altogether, W. by N. for one mile; and in rounding the Rock Lighthouse, beware of the rocky ledge that extends from the lighthouse base, one cable off, north-eastward; also, of the steep sand elbow, called 'Rip Raps,' guarded by a red buoy, (R 5,) outlying lighthouse and fort, two cables eastward. You will have observed, on coming through the Rock Gut, the vast expanse of working channel which the north and south course of the Mersey presents, compared with the funnel-like channel you have come from, and so abruptly connected at right angles as the Rock Channel is; and true it is, that when you look south from the Rock Lighthouse, steep shores, densely populated, on the east, (Liverpool,) and thickly studded villas, hotels, etc. on the western margin, present the confines of a vast column of tidal water, in no part, for 6 miles, less than 0.5 a mile wide, nor less than 30 feet (off Birkenhead as much as 60 feet) water at low-water springs, with a velocity of stream as much as 7 miles per hour on the ebb; discharging 779 million cubical yards of water at a tide; producing in its continuous and natural course northward, the broad channel of 'Crosby' reach, 5 miles by 1 broad, and 40 feet deep at low-water period. The question naturally is, why bring me through any other than Crosby Channel, seeing that is a leading channel under all winds, except south, and then I could turn a line-of-battle ship up it? Alas! it is the penalty of rivers joining the sea at the bight of a bay, that their impetus of disgorge must exhaust itself before reaching the cross-stream of open sea, whereby vastly-spreading and indefinite deposit takes place, forming, as it were, a threshold-bank of shallows, denominated bars, just where free access is most to be coveted, because remote from leading objects, much exposed to ocean swell and instant breakers, and more difficult to control or coax. But as such position signifies the very clue to a port, so should it incite the ceaseless attention of the marine surveyor, and the cordial dedication of local means on the part of the port's guardians, to disperse, by occasionally vigorous (and constantly moderate) dredging and harrowing process; accumulations that - whether by splitting the column of ebb, or presenting a barrier to it - may obstruct early-tide intercourse of shipping. Such has the port of Liverpool to consider at this date; for, at the lower end of that mighty column of water which rolls past the extensive docks and Crosby line of coast, when it arrives off Formby, super-charged, as it most reprehensibly is (and heedless of my frequent remonstrances) with 75,000 cubical yards of dock mud and silt, cast annually into the river abreast of the docks, a cruel addition to its natural turbidness. In a word, the Great Crosby column so deposits its silt 7 miles below the Rock Lighthouse, its exhausted point, as to be split into three escapes, each of which become, in course of tidal rise, tributary, but (for the wonted purposes of the second emporium of Great Britain) inadequate avenues from sea.


In 1834 I had occasion to resist, by detail argument, the proposition of removing the
N. W. Light-ship two miles farther to the northward, whereby to adapt her chiefly to that remote and ever-varying New Channel region. The depriving the Horse Channel of its long-accustomed beacon would, of itself, one would have thought, have negatived such a proposition as soon as conceived. But I added to the inducements of preserving her present station, (until, upon the spit of East Hoyle, a screw-pile lighthouse supersedes her and her casualties altogether), the essential finger-post, or point of departure, she presented for that straight-forward passage into an occasional refuge, Helbre Swatch, of the value of which none know better than the Liverpool pilot-boat masters. It has the advantage of being straight up from the Light-ship in Liverpool Bay; is buoyed on either side, and led by two conspicuous beacon-frames on Helbre shore. Its entrance, however, is crossed by a ten-foot bar; but as neither Hoylake, to which it leads, nor Lime-wharf Flats, leading to Dalpool, can admit 12 feet draft until two hours flood, so is the bar no impediment to inner intercourse; excepting the case of a heavy Liverpool ship in a crippled state, in vicinity of Light-ship, desiring access to the upper part of the Swatch, under a severe north-easter, a wind that would preclude her laying through any of the present channels into Liverpool, but which is sheltered until four-hours flood, anywhere between Helbre Island and West Hoyle: with such a view, if requiring 17 or 18 feet water, you must be sure it is not earlier than first-quarter flood, nor later than three-quarter ebb.
  Helbre Swatch Bar is a curved sandy shelf, 0.25 of a mile from edge to edge, and connects the two nine-feet spits of East and West Hoyle together, upon an east and west trend of 1/2 a mile spread; its centre-line intersection of outer edge is 0.75 of a mile, S.1/2E. of the Light-ship, rising abruptly from 43 feet, sand and mud, to 11, sand and shells, falling to 19 feet at 0.33 of a mile within, 30 feet at 0.75 of a mile, 9 fathoms at 2 miles up, 10 fathoms at 3 miles, and 8 fathoms at 4 miles up; the Swash extends 4 miles, upon the bearing of S.1/2E. washing the base of north extreme of Helbre Island, bending thence S.S.W. for 1 mile more, in 7 fathoms, with no part of the 5 miles less than 0.5 of a mile wide; its margins are steep-to, and the general water too deep to obtain soundings with working way; flood and ebb sets true, but as the lead will not guide you, except from four-hours flood to two-hours ebb, (when the margins are well covered, and yield a slope for borrowing); and as you have no guiding object at night but the back bearing of the Light-ship, so I would not recommmend its inducements except for day-light, when, in clear weather, you have frame beacons, with diamond-figured tops, 70 feet high, situated upon a S.1/2E. line, a 0.25 of a mile eastward of Helbre Island, the inner upper and southern one standing on the rocky islet called 'Eye,' and the outer and lower one upon the main beach abreast of Helbre Island. These marks produce the quickest action, even upon the bar; therefore, on leaving the Lightship, you have only to bring them in one [view J], bearing S.1/2E. and run upon their line, passing two black buoys on your larboard, and two red upon your starboard hand, merely hauling for Helbre Island 0.25 of a mile short of the black buoy, with perch, which marks the turning into Hoylake; or when Bidston Mill (dark) comes in line with Lower Hoylake Lighthouse (white), bearing E.S.E. (southerly).
  Should you be too early upon tide, or mayhap on a falling tide, anchor upon the line of Upper Hoylake Lighthouse (white) and Bidston in one, (E. by S.3/4 S.) close over to West Hoyle high shoulder, which dries 17 feet up out of the water, when you will be on the leading line into Hoylake at half-flood, or in a fairway track for proceeding, at tide time, round to 'Mostyn Deep,' through 'Welchman's Gut,' (to be described,) or for Dalpool, upon a S.S.W. course for 2 miles, when you will perceive a black nun-buoy (marked 'Seldom-seen') placed upon the western elbow of Lime-wharf sands, and 1/3 of a mile (N.W. by W.) off a patch of flat rocks, called (from being at spring-tide low-water mark, and often sanded) 'Seldom-seen'. From this buoy, left on larboard hand, or, if absent, when Grange Mill and Kirby Church come in one, (bearing E.) you should haul S.E. for 1 mile, which will place you at the same anchorage in Dalpool, (to be described under Dee), a 0.25 of a mile N.N.W. of Salisbury bar-buoy, red.

Should it be thick weather when you arrive off the N.W. Light-ship, and determine to proceed up Helbre Swash, you have a fairway course of S.1/2E. a fair setting tide from the bar, and 6 buoys to guide you, viz. H 1, red, with perch, on the larboard side of bar, denoting the N.W. Spit of East Hoyle, which divides the Horse Channel into Liverpool from the Swash; and a red and white striped buoy on the starboard or western side of bar, bearing the initial character of the 6 buoys of of this channel, HE 1. The first of these buoys bears S.E. by S.1/2S. 1 mile from the Light-ship; and the second HE 1, S. by W.1/4W. 0.75 of a mile from her. It is desirable you make and near the latter, to avoid the flood in-draught of Horse Channel, and in the first mile advance a black can-buoy, HE 1, will appear on the larboard hand, guarding the western margin of East Hoyle Bank; then, at 1.25 mile intervals, HE 2 and 3, black can-buoys, along the same margin in succession; whilst HE 2 and 3, red and white striped, lie south-westerly on the starboard hand, guarding the eastern edge of West Hoyle. The last of the red and white buoys denotes the eastern elbow, very steep-to, of West Hoyle; and the last of the black, HE 3, with perch, marks the S. W. sharp elbow of East Hoyle; whereat, the western entrance of Hoylake falls into Helbre Swash; which entrance is strongly marked on the southern hand by Helbre Islands, if such they may be called, for they dry up at their bases several feet above low-water level, upon a flat of sand that stretches a mile from the main; the outer south-western part of which is called Lime-wharf.

Helbre islands: These islets consist of three at high water, but are united upon one strand at low water, presenting a ridge of sand-stone rock, trending 1.75 mile S.S.E. and N.N.W. The outer and northern Great Helbre islet is the greatest; it is a 0.25 of a mile long by a sixteenth broad, presenting reddish sand-stone cliffs, of 40 feet height, flattened and verdant on its surface, with a telegraph at the outer quarter, and a white-faced dwelling-house on its eastern cliff. Middle Helbre is of same character, but of half the size, and separated by a rocky causeway of 0.125 of a mile. The inner islet is of mole-hill figure, of 30 yards diameter, situated 0.5 mile S.S.E. of middle isle, and called 'The Eye,' upon which the southern beacon for Helbre Swatch was erected at my suggestion, in 1834. A drainage-stream gutters down, affording a muddy dyke for flats, close along the eastern side of Great Helbre, with 6 feet at two-hours flood. The low-water rocks range out a cable's length from the cliff at north end of Helbre, with 13 feet close to, where the tide rises upon equinoctial springs 32 feet, ordinary springs 29 feet, neaps 22, with a mean centre or half-tide level of 16 feet, and flows upon full and change of the moon 37 minutes past 10 o'clock. The passing stream makes 5 knots upon springs, and 3 on neaps. The telegraph on Helbre is one of the Liverpool and Holyhead line, and is the intervening station between Bidston and Voel Nante. The island is situated in the port of Chester, but let on 21 years' lease, by the Dean and Chapter, to the Liverpool Dock Trust, who sub-let a part of it to the Trinity Board for storing duplicate buoys for the Dee, instead of their depot being at Chester, as in 1836. Helbre Swatch is also within the port of Chester, but was buoyed and beaconed by the Liverpool Dock Trust, at my suggestion, in 1835. Helbre Island may be termed the turning or terminating feature of the eastern arm of the Dee estuary, but it is the isolated point; the actual main land angle is Helbre Point; a low sand-hill elbow, forming the north-western angle of the Cheshire promontory that divides the Dee from the Mersey. This point lies 1 mile E.S.E. from Helbre Island, with a ridge of sand-stone rocks running out 0.25 mile due north of it, called the Red Stones, which mark the western limits of the port of Liverpool. From this point the high-water coast-line trends in gentle curvation E.1/4N. for 6.5 miles, to Rock Lighthouse, the whole line presenting sand-hills and sea-walls, with marshes running 2 miles within, except at the last half-mile, where the north-eastern shoulder of Wallasey, now called 'New Brighton,' and its red and yellow sand-stone cliffs, present remarkable features, and serve to mark that northeastern angle of Cheshire as Grange Hill and Mill do the north-western; though Grange does not rise nearer Helbre Point than 1.25 mile S.S.E. of it, but its relative altitude, with the half-tide mark, being 173 feet, commands useful attention for identity of Kirby Church, for instance, on its western slope, when working in the bay.


In the foregoing, frequent reference has been made to Hoy-lake Church, Hoy-lake Hotel, and Hoy-lake Lighthouses. The natural inference to a stranger will be, that some haven or creek-anchorage exists; and so there does - a shadow of what was, but worthy of particular description and the attention of others besides the ever-necessitous and grateful mariner. It occupies the western limit of the port of Liverpool, and here forms the closing section of my commentary on its navigation. Right abreast of, (and close to them), Hoylake Lighthouses, (described in page 12, and drawn in Appendix,) is situated Hoylake:
  A coaster's anchorage at all times of tide, and fishing-craft rendezvous, now; but once the road-stead of Britain's fleet, and where William III embarked with his army for Ireland, in 1690, then called Hyle, or High-lake, being behind or in-shore of Hyle-sand, and where, in those days, the "great ships put out part of their lading, to lighten them for sailing over the flats into Liverpoole." Indeed, within the present century, the 'Princessa,' frigate, found mooring room there. It is more the business of these pages to touch upon things as they are, than as they were; but the evident declension in tidal capacity of Hoylake, between 1690 and 1839, claims retrospective view, if only to take warning from progressive results upon original channels, when permitted to diverge, or, in fact, not directed and guided, to preserve hitherto valuable courses of tidal stream. We look back only 150 years and perceive Hyle-lake half-a-mile wide, with 15 feet water at its western and 30 feet at its eastern entrance; sheltered from N.E. to N.W. by one extensive sand bank, only covered at high-water springs, and known as Hyle-sand. At the present day, we behold it a mere dyke of 70 fathoms wide, having but 18 feet water retained at low water, in a small pool, 0.25 of a mile long, at its centre; with but 2 feet at its western entrance, instead of 15, and actually dry across its eastern, where there were 30 feet at low-water. Mark, however, the cause, and how more than proportionate to this silting up is the scouring away of sand and forcing of another channel, in the same interval. The eastern branch of the Dee, then navigable in 15 feet, at low water, right up to Parkgate, was so resisted in its reflux by Hyle sand, that it found escape through the lake, even at the rounding interruption which Helbre Island presented; but when Lime Wharf extended itself out to the Seldom seen Rocks, the deflected impetus struck incessantly upon Hyle Bank, and we now have a division of that bank, of 4 miles long, by 0.33 of a mile wide, carrying a column of water as deep as 60 feet, at low water, where the bank did not cover at high-water neaps; so that, in fact, the tidal scour has been 80 feet deep, and a positive removal of 147,739,975 cubic yards of sand by tidal action alone. Hylelake became gradually our present Hoylake, and from my five years' observation, the drift sand from the shoulder of Hoyle Bank, with north and westwardly winds, after the tide leaves it dry, will fill it up altogether, continuously with the main, in comparatively few years. If, however, this loss of Hoylake was the only result to be deplored, it were well: but when we perceive that by this extraneous channel of 'Helbre Swatch,' the waters of Chester navigation, were, and are so divided and impoverished as to cause remarkable declension of its commerce, by reason of forked banks and bars depositing, whilst the eastern division of Hoyle Bank, known as 'East Hoyle,' has spread itself one whole mile to the north-eastward, thawting the original tidal course and channel into Liverpool, known as the Horse Channel; in fact, over-lapping the line of sea lights, (Bidston and Leasowe), since they were erected upon a clearing line. A similar extension of Hoyle is manifested at its south-eastern elbow, which overlaps the line of Hoylake Lighthouses, that led into Hoylake, when erected, and within the last 30 years. Now, I consider that, had the growth of Lime-wharf been arrested by timely harrowing or dredging, or the eastern branch of Dee brought through between Helbre and the main, Hoylake and Horse Channel would have been preserved to the mutual benefit, instead of growing disadvantage, of Chester and Liverpool.[F1]. These circumstances may suggest a reply to the too-ready, but fallacious, retort, "Oh! Nature will take care of us; she first formed the estuary, and established connexion with the ocean waters; she may change her course, but will preserve some channel somewhere; and the ascertaining and portraying that 'somewhere' is your only business". Alas! such could paralyze the energies of a marine surveyor, if not self-nourished by ardent zeal; but Nature proves that her business is to provide for egress of waters, without reference to ships; her purposes are attainable by innumerable rivulets, if bulky escapes are resisted by obstinate sands: a concentration of water can alone serve the artificial objects of man - his 12 and 18-feet drafted ships are baffled and shut out by Nature's rivulets. It is, therefore, not only the marine surveyor's duty to trace the voluntary courses of a navigation, but to anticipate the season for diverting, assisting, and guiding them, mayhap forcing; but then Nature must alone present the difficulties: his suggestions must not be pronounced chimerical, whilst delay in adoption increases the evils discovered; nor his energies be cramped and discouraged by cold reasonings, or his labours rendered harrassing by fretting parsimony.[F2].

An additional buoyage and beaconage was laid by me in 1835, when adding 18 buoys to the Liverpool navigation. Two hours' flood will give you 10 feet at the eastern entrance, and 14 at the western. It should be observed, that the first half-flood sets in at both ends of Hoylake, meeting in the centre, i. e. off the lighthouses; and after half-flood the chief set is westward until low water. No leading mark presents itself for leading right in, but buoys are placed at the elbows. The western entrance out of Helbre Swash is assisted (if buoys are adrift) by bringing Bidston Lighthouse in one with Upper Hoylake Lighthouse, (E. by S.3/4 S.) which leads obliquely over the bar; and you must edge northward when your water shoals. On this track you will have left 2 black buoys, HE 3, with perch, and L 4, black, upon your northern hand; a red buoy, L 3, will then appear 0.33 of a mile further eastward, which guards the main beach, as the others do the S.W. elbow of East Hoyle; you must pass the red buoy close to the northward, and steer for lower lighthouse, E. by S.1/4S. until you deepen a fathom, or the large hotel is abreast of you, and closing with Kirby Church, S.1/2W. when steer east, or for the craft or mooring-buoys, a 0.25 of a mile, and choose your berth for best water with either of the lighthouses on with Grange Mill, dropping your anchor as close to Hoyle Bank as possible, which you will see, except at high-water springs. With that bank as a break-water, you have only to veer cable on the flood, and heave it in upon the ebb, and you will ride out any gale, retaining 3 fathoms water under you at low-water springs; but take care to have a kedge to the southward, in case of shift of wind to that quarter trailing you on the steep edge of Hoyle Bank upon the fall of tide. If indifferent about taking the ground, you will have soft flat layer upon the main, without any sea at half-ebb. A guide is afforded at twilight, or moonlight nights, to the deepest water of the lake, by bringing Point of Air Light on with north extreme of Helbre Island, and will ensure your being clear of Red Stones. The actual lake may now be said to exist only from the hotel to the parsonage, i.e. two-thirds of a mile, the rest of the 3 miles being shallows each way. To come into the lake from the eastward, you will find 10 feet at half-tide, directly over Dove Spit from the Rock Channel, by bringing Helbre Telegraph W. by S. until up to Jackson's Buoy, marked L 1, and red, lying upon south-eastern angle of East Hoyle, leaving it on the starboard hand, and steering S.W. by W.3/4W. up to the next red buoy, L 2, 0.75 of a mile advanced, when the Hoylake Lighthouses will come in one; after which, leaving it on your northern hand also, you will take up your anchorage as before.

If you are after half-tide on the ebb, or before it on the flood, you must bring the two Dove Beacons in one, (bearing S. by E.) taking care that you are northward of Hoylake line of lights before bringing the Dove Marks in one, whether you be running in from the Horse Channel or Rock Channel; those beacons will lead you to Jackson's Buoy, from whence haul S.W. by W.3/4W. as before. On leaving Hoylake you will be guided by wind and the place bound, as to which direction you take out. The chief importance of Hoylake now is, affording shelter to pilot-boats - a life-boat station - to passing flats and a short passage for steamers to Wales - and is of local importance to a fleet of trawlers. Vessels of burthen can only look to it according to exigency and last resource.


F1: Not only is the Helbre Swatch baneful to the navigation into Liverpool as respects the twisting of Horse Channel, but by disgorging so vast a bulk of the Dee-scour into that part of the bay where the first of each flood takes up suspended matter, and trails it over the Burbo and North Banks.

F2: Under such circumstances, the Marine Surveyor should not hesitate as to the alternative: a pause, beyond certain extent, in the exercise of moral courage, may jeopardise the vast concerns of a confiding community beyond redemption, and compromise his own judgment and reputation: open demand for operative means should take place of unavailing supplication. The crisis may require his retiring, but the designed work will be forced into realization at any rate; when honour and duty will be satisfied.

  Rock Lighthouse (Liverpool Dock Trust) situated at the mouth of the Mersey a cable's length within the low water extremity of rocks upon which it is based, 12 feet above LW level at a quarter of a mile outside HW mark. An isolated Fort constructed of red sandstone stands midway between it and the elbow of Sandhills recently called New Brighton Point. This point forms the north eastern elbow of the north promontory of Cheshire, where part of the Mersey still turns at right angles westward into Liverpool Bay, endeavouring to keep open the Rock Channel. The Lighthouse is not easily distinguished amongst the passing vessels and numerous straggling land objects on the Liverpool side, the eye, however, will be assisted by reference to the views in Appendix, and bearing in mind that it stands at the very throat angle of Liverpool Bay. The building presents a beautifully proportioned Eddystone or bell-shaped tower of a lime stone greyish colour, surrounded by the tide from two hours flood till four hours ebb. Its lantern is elevated 77 feet above half tide level commanding a 10.5 mile range of horizon, but visible 14 from the deck of a ship. Its light is remarkably good and well distinguished from all others in this bay or in the Irish Sea being of intermittent colours as well as revolving: its order of showing is two bright faces and one red in uniform gradual succession; the refulgence of each being at intervals of one minute. A momentary obscuration of light occurs at like intervals; the length of its darkness increases as you distance it.
  In 1835, I arranged tidal signals for night and day guidance at this Lighthouse, and subsequently caused Fog Bells to be rung in succession towards the Rock Crosby and Mersey Channels. The tide signals are thus: when the tide has risen so as to produce 12 feet over Rock Gut Bar, a fixed bright light is exhibited from a lower chamber half way down the building, down the Rock Channel and up the Mersey until 12 feet water ceases on the bar. A black ball indicates the same by day, when hoisted above the balcony. The Lighthouse bears from NW Light ship SE by E 1/2E 8 miles, from Leasowe Lighthouse E 1/4N 3.25 miles, from Formby Floating Light S by E 1/2 E 6.25 miles, and from north end of Docks N by W 1/2 W 2 miles. I had the satisfaction of improving the brilliancy of the red light, at the same time as lessening trouble and expense, by adopting red cylinders instead of red shields. The mariner desiring life boat assistance will be relieved in his suspense on perceiving a blue flag hoisted at this Lighthouse, in token of assistance preparing. The thanks I have received for this arrangement alone, afford a vivid proof of how the slightest anticipation on shore can relieve the helpless afloat.

  Bidston Lighthouse (Liverpool Dock Trust) a dark stone coloured octagonal tower situated upon the ridge of high land which rises from Wallasey Pool and Bidston Marsh, trending 1.25 miles SSW upon the promontory of Cheshire which divides the Dee and Mersey, and helping the eye to distinguish the first stretching of the western arm of Liverpool Bay. The shoulder of this hill (known as Bidston Hill), upon which the Lighthouse stands, is situated 1.25 mile in-land, a dark looking wind mill stands on the same ridge 1/3 of a mile SSW. The Lighthouse lantern is elevated 244 feet above half tide level, permitting a range of 17.5 miles or of being distinguished 21 miles from a ship's deck; it sends forth a fixed bright light in fullest refulgence north westward right over Leasowe Light, two miles seaward of it in conjunction, affording an active transit of lights for navigating the Horse Channel. Bidston Light is masked for local inshore effect upon a NNE line, i.e. indicating when you are abreast of the East Wharf Buoy in Rock Channel.

  Leasowe Lighthouse (Liverpool Dock Trust) a conical white tower situated near the high water mark, 2 miles seaward NW 1/2N of Bidston Lighthouse and 3.5 miles westward of Rock Light. It exhibits a fixed bright light from a lantern, elevated 110 feet above half tide level, throwing its focal strength to the NW over the Light ship, commanding a 12 mile horizon but visible 16 miles from the deck of a ship. Its only desired object was in conjunction with Bidston to act as a line of sea lights for the Horse Channel, until 1837, when I masked it as well as Bidston for checking course in the Rock Channel, so that when Leasowe Light disappears in the Rock Channel (bearing SW) you are abreast of the West Wharf Buoy.

  Hoylake Lighthouses (Liverpool Dock Trust) Two white buildings situated obliquely to the line of Hoylake coast line 3/4 of a mile eastward of Helbre Point at the northern extremity of Cheshire. The one nearest high water mark is a rounded gable of a dwelling house, with its lantern 47 feet above half tide level, ranging 7.5 miles. The inner and upper Lighthouse is a sugar loaf tower, with lantern 72 feet elevated, and ranges 9.5 miles. The buildings lie SW 3/4 S 1/5th of a mile apart. They throw their best light bright and fixed directly in their line NE 3/4 N, forming a leading mark clear of Dove Spit, and checking the Bidston and Leasowe line for turning up Rock Channel, or anchoring. The lower light is so masked as to denote when you are abreast of NW Spit of East Hoyle, S by E 1/2 E, upon line of the Sea-lights (Bidston and Leasowe so called). And the upper light is so masked as to indicate when you are due north of it, and checks the sea-lights course half a mile NW of Buoy of Flats in Horse Channel. These are the southwestern lights in Liverpool Bay.
Point of Air Lighthouse.
Crosby Lighthouse: a wooden structure erected by the Dock Committee of Liverpool and lighted October 10th 1839. It acts upon the line of direction in conjunction with a floating light pointed out by me in especial report to that Committee, dated October 4 1838 urging the necessity of, and my undertaking to, produce a fresh entrance into the New Channel, and for superseding the Formby Light as no longer applicable to that channel. The new fabric presents to the eye from seaward a flat faced shaft in width one fifth of its height and shored up on either side. It exhibits a red fixed light at an altitude of 81 feet above HW level, 96 above half tide level, or 111 above LW level, ranging to an average horizon in the western aspect which permits its being picked up 16 miles off from the deck of a ship, but it is limited for local purposes to a 95 degrees embrace of aspect viz from SW by W 3/4W to N by W 3/4 W. It stands at the HW margin of Sandhills which form the rounding trend of coast line between the Liverpool Docks and Formby Point, bearing from the recently lighted tower - Formby SE mark - SSW 1.5 miles. Crosby Church (dark square tower) and White Mill lie at equal breast-distance Southward, as the SE mark does Northward, affording well known objects for identifying the low-stretching eastern arm of Liverpool Bay when, approaching from the Northward or N Westward, in the event of Crosby Lighthouse being prostrated by fire or gale. Its site is situated in latitude 53° 30' 48" N longitude 3° 3' 53" W.

Lifeboats: The Life boats are stationed at Point of Air, at Hoylake, at Formby Point and at Magazines, just within the Rock Lighthouse; and now that a Lighthouse is on Crosby Land, I do hope a Telegraph there will be conceded. Bidston station may take up its signals, though unable to do so from Formby Lighthouse during the last four years' necessities of the northern approaches.

Northwest Lightship: It will appear from this figure of the bay that the Light-ship, not only lies in the actual fairway ESE from Point Lynas, but occupies a safe offing position in the bay, being 1 mile from the outer sand heads, East and West Hoyle Banks, where they form the Horse Channel into Liverpool, and the Helbre Swash into the Dee or Hoylake. She lies in 7 fathoms at low water springs and, from her being the outer (north western) beacon object of the port, is called the North-West Light-Ship; presenting a bluff-built hull of about 130 tons, with a short bowsprit and painted black: she is three masted carrying at the main a large black ball by day, and exhibits three brilliant bright lights (between sunset and sunrise) from lanterns fitted round the masts, with 8 lamps and reflectors in each appearing in the order of fore, main and mizen tops, respectively elevated 32, 40, and 26 feet above her water line, so that they cannot blend as one light, except at a considerable distance or in hazy weather, to provide for which and to distinguish her from all other lights in the region, a blue light of 3 minutes duration is burnt on board of her every two hours of darkness according to the seasons and mean time at Liverpool: thus during November, December, January and February, 6, 8, 10, 12 pm, 2, 4 and 6 am; March, April, September and October, 8, 10, 12 pm, 2, and 4 am; May, June, July and August, 10, 12 pm and 2 am. See copy of Advertisement of April 30 1836 in Appendix. To allow for difference of time at ship, a look out should be kept, in the anticipated bearing, 5 minutes before the respective hours. These blue lights, being elevated on a pole, can be seen in the horizon as soon as her mizen lantern rises to view, which is at 10 miles distance. During fog, this vessel rings her bell and sounds a gong alternately, and, to give a chance of being peered out under a dense haze, the mizen lantern is lowered level with the gunwale. It will also be useful to know, by those who possess the Liverpool code of signals, that this vessel can take them up and pass them on in telegraphic order to Helbre semaphore. I would suggest that steamers running up in a fog, heave to occasionally, to catch the sound of the gong, uninterrupted by the paddle noise, and would observe, to those who may be hovering in her region waiting for water through the Rock Channel, that it is desirable they keep two cables off the Light ship, or they may very unthinkingly obscure her lights by their smoke and steam-escape. To vessels that may be arriving in the bay about the usual time of the Government Mail-boats, it will be useful to know that the Light-ship repeats a gun for every one supposed to be fired in hazy weather by those packets. This Floating-Light lies on the fairway-course into the Horse Channel, (S.E.1/2S), and into Helbre Swash, (S.1/2E). Her best adapted site at this date is intersected by the following cross-marks, bearings, and distances, viz.

Bidston Lighthouse - its apparent breadth open eastward of Leasowe Lighthouse, S.E.1/2S.
The Helbre Swash Marks - their apparent breadth open eastward, S.1/4E.
Crosby Lighthouse, E.1/2S distant 9 miles.
Rock Lighthouse, S.E. by E.1/2E distant 8.75 miles.
Leasowe Lighthouse, S.E.1/2S distant 6.33 miles.
Helbre Telegraph, S.1/4 distant 4.75 miles.
Point of Air Lighthouse, S.W.3/4S distant 5.75 miles.

She lies in 7 fathoms (fine sand) at low-water springs, with 9 fathoms between her and the entrance of Horse Channel and Helbre Swash; whilst the soundings shoal up from 10 fathoms (fine sand) in her western horizon, 10 miles off, and at that distance to the northward 10 fathoms (sand and mud) will likewise be found; but vessels approaching cautiously by the lead from that direction, should expect to get soundings on a five-fathom ridge, of 0.5 a mile width, when 2.5 miles north of the Light-ship, deepening again to 7.5 fathoms between her and the ridge. The ship's position is upon the western extreme of the seven-fathom under-shelf, which trails from the Newcome Knowl, and on the eastern margin of the Horse Channel stream, where the EBB-tide sets past her W. by S. during the first hour, W. by N. the second hour, and N.W. the last 4 hours: the FLOOD-tide sets by her the whole 6 hours S.E. by E. being rather towards the Six-feet Flats than the Horse Channel fairway. Each tide turns as it ceases to rise and fall, (which is 3/4 of an hour earlier than at the docks), but no perceptible difference in flood and ebb velocity exists. From the following table, however, the mariner will gather at a glance the rate of his hourly drift in calm hazy weather, upon springs and neaps.

Progressive velocity of stream at NW Lightship.
Time Rate of Springs Rate of Neaps
Hour   knots   knots

And thence, the extent of his offing with reference to the time he passed the Light-ship on the ebb, or suggesting when he should anchor with reference to his draft of water on the flood; observing that the whole amount of spring-tide drift in the vicinity of the Light-ship is not more than 8.5 miles, and a neap-tide drift 4.5 miles; therefore, as the nearest shallow (Six-feet Flats) in the tide's-course is 4 miles from the Light-ship, it would be half-flood (15 feet rise) before he drifted there, which would yield thereon 21 feet water; the fourth hour drift would bring him to the North-bank Spit, with 12 feet over it, but on neaps it would be high water before he could drift to that spit at all. It is therefore also clear, that, if a ship is becalmed at half-ebb abreast of the Light-ship, she will have attained an offing of her on springs of 4.5 miles, and on neaps 2.5 miles, from whence the whole flood cannot drift her upon a shallow.