FORT PERCH ROCK

FORT PERCH ROCK

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Liverpool Courier, September 1825

Captain KITSON of the Royal Engineers, has been sent to this town by the Honourable Board of Ordnance to construct two large works for the defence of this important port. The one to be erected on the Rock Perch will contain a number of very heavy guns, and is to be built of stone, the other will be constructed on the site of the North Battery on the North Shore.

Liverpool Mercury, March 24th, 1826

In addition to the Battery now erecting on the North Shore, which when completed will be not only very useful as a work of defence, but as an ornament to that part of the town, there is likewise to be a stone fort of much greater importance to be built on the Rock Perch, where every preparation is now making, also under the superintendence of Capt KITSON of the Royal Engineers, who projected the work. We have heard that a just and proper compliment has been offered to our worthy Mayor P. BOURNE Esq as Chief Magistrate of port and docks, for which these long hoped for defences are constructing, to lay down the foundation stone of the Rock Perch Battery, which he has been pleased to accept and the ceremony will take place on the Rock next Wednesday. The strength and the position of the Battery will be such as to completely command the entrance of the river, and may be considered as the key to our wealthy port.

Liverpool Mercury, April 7th, 1826

Rock Perch Battery

On Friday last a number of gentlemen, including members of the corporation, assembled at the town hall to accompany our worthy Mayor to the Rock Perch, where he was to perform the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for a battery about to be erected by our Government for the defence of the port. The company embarked from the Princes Dock slip on board the Ormrod steamer, and proceeded down the river at a rapid rate. The day was fine, several other steam-boats conveyed spectators to the spot, many spectators hurried along the beach, many hastened on horse back on the Cheshire shore to witness the ceremony. Near the site of the battery which was covered with a dense crowd the party was landed in boats, and the Mayor was received by Capt KITSON. R.E, the projector of the works, and Capt PRICE, R.N, and were welcomed by a salute from two field-pieces. From the nature of the ground, comparatively few of the assembled multitude could gratify their curiosity by witnessing the ceremony. The trench in which the foundations stones were to be deposited, were dug in the solid rock, which is here of good red free stone, and was hewn quite smooth at the bottom with an inclination, rectangular, we presume with the intended slope of the battery wall.

To the first stone was affixed a plate of copper with the inscription :-

"This foundation stone of the Rock Perch Battery, projected by and under the direction of John Sykes KITSON Esq, Captain in the Royal Engineers, for the defence of the port, was laid on the 31st March 1826, by Peter BOURNE Esq, Mayor of Liverpool, in the 7th year in the reign of His Majesty , George the Four, His Grace the Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance."

The assemblage was one of the most motley description, from the wealthy citizen to the toil-embrowned plough boy, and amongst them close to the scene, two very old women who had made their way to the front of the crowd with as much determined loyalty, as though they yet hoped to see the day that the guns from the battery would repulse the hostile attempts of the foe upon the shores trodden by their great grandchildren.

Some inconvenience was experienced by the gentlemen in the trench, who were in immediate attendance upon the Mayor, from the pressure of the multitude, particularly as a direct sun shone upon them, reflected from the merry and shining faces, rising in tiers on each side, and rendered more intense by the brilliant eyes of the ladies, who, as if, like their fair prototype sprung from the pure foam of the adjacent ocean, stood, " the guardian Naiads of the Mersey's strand." The gallantry of Capt KITSON in making room for the ladies, convinced us, too, that he confesses the potency of the battery from a lady's eyes, as well as the artillery of the fortification. Every preparation being at length completed, the first stone was lowered, by a crane, to its position, and the mortar or cement being spread, the second stone was placed upon it, there to rest for ages yet to come. Capt KITSON on presenting to the Mayor a handsome silver trowel, stated, in a neat address, that he was highly honoured by his Worship's presence, on the occasion. He [Capt K] had, had, the honour of projecting the work, and his plans had been approved by the Master General of the Ordnance, and the battery would, he trusted, be an effectual defence to the port. He also thanked the gentlemen who had favoured him with their attendance.

The following is the inscription on the trowel:-

"This trowel was presented by Capt John S. KITSON, Royal Engineers, to Peter BOURNE Esq, Mayor of Liverpool, on his laying the foundation stone of the Rock Perch Battery, on the 31st March 1826."

The Mayor on politely receiving the trowel said, "I receive with pleasure, the trowel, Sir, which you have just presented me. I feel highly honoured by having been selected to lay the foundation stone of a battery which is intended for the defence of my native town. Nature has done her part to protect it from the attack of an enemy. It is, however, not more wise than prudent, at a period, when happily for England and the world, peace almost universally prevails, to prepare the means of defence in the event of future wars. The battery which is intended to be erected on this rock, and which you, Sir have had the honour of projecting, and will, I trust have the satisfaction of seeing completed, will not only be an ornament to the entrance of the Mersey, but stand, to the remotest period, the bulwark and the defence of this great and flourishing seaport. I shall now, Sir, proceed to lay the foundation stone of this battery, and I sincerely trust that the first gun that shall be discharged from its walls, will be to announce the arrival of fleets from the east and west, from north and south, laden with the produce of foreign climes."

The completion of the ceremony of applying the plumb-rule, square, bevel etc. was hailed by three cheers from the multitude, and a royal salute from the artillery. Cheers were also given for His Majesty the King and for the projector of the works. The Mayor and his suite were then taken by Capt KITSON to a tent, erected with sails, on a part of the site of the battery, only covered at high tide, here, an ocean bed was exhibited as a model, sanded, as if of stone, of the intended battery, and a model of the sort of ordnance with which it is to be mounted. The fort is to be of a quadrangle form, the guns to be worked on approved carriages, on pivots, and so contrived that they will each be peeping over the battery wall, and not in niches as usual, commanding a great extent of the ground. On one side, below which the lighthouse is to be erected, there are to be no guns, on the three other sides, [including two towers on two corners each with a gun] will be mounted with 15 guns.

The Mayor and his party re-embarked, under salute on the Nimrod, the other steam-boats decked in numerous flags received their passengers, during the whole afternoon which was extremely fine, the beach towards Seacombe was lined with numerous persons, who now availed themselves with a pleasurable walk homewards along the sands.

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New Brighton sands, from the "Graphic" October 3rd 1874

Liverpool Times, February 7, 1846

Fortifications for Liverpool, the new batteries about to be erected at the northern extremities of the docks will be so situated as to cross their fire with that of the fort on the Rock Perch, and to command both the narrow channels by which alone Liverpool is accessible to a hostile force. Should a war take place [God forbid] we shall probably have our share of block-ships, as they are now called, that is floating-batteries to strengthen the land batteries, and thus to protect the port from the possibility of annoyance.

Liverpool Mercury, January 1, 1850

Friends in Need

On Friday evening the crew of the Brig Mary Sarah, with oil from Newfoundland, composed of the captain, four seamen and a boy, were drifted in a small boat on the rocks at Rock Perch Battery. The brig struck the sands at 4pm and the unfortunate crew were from that hour until 8pm in making land, the boat being half full of water, and only one oar. The hands were in a deplorable state, owing to the exposure and the severity of the weather, the boy not being able to walk or speak, was carried from the boat to the battery by the men of the detachment of the 46th Regiment, stationed there, who employed every means in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the crew, by having their wet clothes changed and dry ones immediately supplied. The boy, being in such an exhausted state, was put to bed, and warm flannels and rubbing restored him from danger. After the crew had put on warm clothes and dried themselves, the soldiers refreshed them with hot coffee and bread and meat, and had them put up in their own beds. Too much praise cannot be given to the detachment of the 46th Regiment for their kindness and attention to those distressed men.

Liverpool Mercury, October 1, 1863

On Monday the 100-pounder Armstrong gun on the Rock Perch Battery, New Brighton, was fired for the first time by the men of the Coast Brigade under the command of Lieut MARSHALL. R.A. The range was 3400 yds, although a strong wind prevailed very good practise was made

Liverpool Mercury Jan 7th., 1868

Attempted attack on the Rock Battery

On Sunday morning at 3am, a boat with muffled oars containing several men, was observed from the Rock Lighthouse and Battery [which guards the entrance of the river Mersey] standing off and on towards the battery, the object of the men being to effect a landing. The boat, on being hailed from the battery stood away, and was not afterwards seen. It is suspected that a Fenian attack on the Rock battery was meditated, but, that the watchfulness of the guard on duty prevented the landing of the men from the boat. It may interest the Fenians to know that the gunners at the battery have now been served with 20 rounds of ammunition, and further, that the heavy guns are to be shotted. In the event of any attack on the Fort the assailants are likely to meet with a warm reception.

The Times, Thursday, Jun 19, 1958

Mersey Fort Sold

Perch Rock, Fort at New Brighton built in 1829 at a cost of, twenty seven thousand pounds, to protect the approaches to the river Mersey, was sold yesterday at auction for, four thousand pounds, to private buyers who intend to turn it into a nautical museum.

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LIGHTHOUSE PERCH ROCK

LIGHTHOUSE PERCH ROCK

Liverpool Mercury June 15th, 1827

The Rock Perch Lighthouse

Friday last was appointed by the Mayor for laying the foundation stone for the lighthouse about to be erected at the Rock point, his Worship attended by several of the members of the Common Council, and a company of 100 to 150 merchants and other respectable inhabitants of the town, embarked at 1 o 'clock on the Post Office steamer, DOLPHIN, Capt SMITHETT, for the purpose of proceeding to the performance of that ceremony. The party being all on board the packet, a beautiful vessel, leaving the Prince's Pier, shot into the middle of the stream and pursued her course up the river to the quarantine station, and then, wearing, the tide being on the ebb, rushed rapidly along the Cheshire shore, affording the company the delightful views of the beautiful scenery on each side of the shore. On reaching the Rock Perch she was anchored amidst a numerous flotilla, formed by Sir R. PULESTON'S, yacht, the MARS steamer, and a number of other handsome sailing boats which had preceded her, the company from which, together with the concourse of inhabitants from that part of the country formed on the beach a numerous assemblage of spectators. The party having landed [ an operation which as well as the subsequent re-embarkation was, was effected with considerable facility and expedition, by the judicious management of Mr ASKEW the harbour master], attended his Worship to the scene of the intended work. The spot where the foundation stone is laid is within 5 or 6yrds of the Perch, to the north or seaward of the fort. Here a trench was cut in the rock, over which was suspended by chains and pulleys, from temporary shears, a square stone of 5tons weight, with a projecting dovetail on each side.

The Mayor commenced the ceremony by reading the inscription on the brass plate to be first deposited, which was as follows :-

"This first stone of the lighthouse was laid by Thomas LITTLEDALE Esq, Mayor of Liverpool, on the 8th day of June 1827."

Thomas BRANCKER Esq, and John EWART Esq, Bailiffs, John FOSTER Jnr, architect.

Mr FOSTER then presented the Mayor with a silver trowel, saying, "Mr Mayor:- Sir, in presenting you with this trowel, allow me to express the pride and gratification I feel on the present important occasion. Art never appears to such advantage as when combined with utility. I feel that I shall never be connected with any work, the completion of which will be of such importance to the town and trade of Liverpool."

The plate being laid on the rock at a signal from the Mayor three hearty cheers were given, a square stone was then placed upon it, to receive and cover which a hole had been cut into the centre of the under side of the suspended stone, which, on the mortar being spread, was lowered into its place, amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, followed by repeated discharges from the DOLPHIN'S six-pounder. The Mayor, in an impressive tone, then said, "May the blessing of God attend this undertaking! May it be the means of saving the lives of the seamen of England, and also those of other countries who may visit our shores!"

The ceremony of fixing the stone being concluded, the Rev Jonathan BROOKS pronounced the following prayers:- "Almighty God! Thou, whose omnipotent voice the raging winds and the storms obey; thou, who guidest the mariner in safety through the trackless deep, we laud and magnify thy holy name, for that thou hast been pleased to put into the hearts of thy servants to erect this building, the foundation of which we now consecrate to they name, a structure destined to be the future beacon and star of safety to many a weary sailor, to guide him to his wished for home. Visit it, O God, with thy most gracious favour, and further it with thy continual help! Protect it, in its progress, from the fury of the elements, and bring it, in thy goodness, to a prosperous completion."

The ceremony concluded, the company re-embarked on board the DOLPHIN, which bore them, with amazing velocity, back to Liverpool, followed [but at a considerable distance] by the fleet of boats which had congregated around the scene of the day's operations.

During the excursion the party, at the invitation of the Mayor, partook of a sumptuous cold collation, served by Mr LYNN in his best style, accommodation for fifty guests at a time being prepared in the cabin, and for an equal number on the deck, who were plentifully provided with solid viands, accompanied with a good store of pastry, confectionary, jellies, ices etc, with grapes and other fruits, and copious supplies of champagne and other wines. The company, highly delighted with the excursion, and deeply interested in the important work of which they had witnessed the commencement, landed about 7pm under a salute, fired with admirable rapidity, from a single six-pounder, by Capt SMITHETT, whose urbanity and attention excited the admiration of the whole party.

Liverpool Mercury, March 5th 1830

Opening of Rock Perch Lighthouse

On Monday evening last the Worshipful the Mayor, attended by a select party, consisting of Mr LITTLEDALE, Mr Peter BOURNE, Mr T. BRANCKER, Mr FOSTER, the architect of the lighthouse, Mr ASKEW, Mr WILKINS, the contractor for the light apparatus and several other gentlemen, embarked on board a steamer under the direction of the harbour master, to witness the experiment of opening this new lighthouse, which has been completed at the entire cost of the Corporation, for the accommodation of the commerce of the port.

The building is a splendid specimen of mechanical art, not less creditable to the architect who designed it than to the skill with which the masonry is constructed by Mr TOMKINSON. The company while cruising about, were entertained with a substantial cold collation. As the object of the party was to witness the effect of the light, and its adaptation for giving facility of entrance to the harbour at night, the excursion was extended in the direction of the Floating light. When it had become dark the light at the Point of Ayr, that of Hoylake, Leasowe, Bidston and the Rock Perch, were visible at the same time, but the latter very distinguishable from the rest, by presenting a brilliant revolving light, exhibited in an apparatus consisting of three faces, two of which are white and one red, attaining the most luminous effect once in every minute, the light emanating from thirty large lamps and metal reflectors, forming thereby a very conspicuous and not-to-be-mistaken beacon, marking the entrance to the river. The party returned home about 9pm, delighted with their trip, and perfectly satisfied of the utility of this new establishment, in reference to its situation and every other point involving its capacity of answering the design for which it had been erected. A bell, to warn vessels off, will be kept ringing during thick and foggy weather.

Liverpool Mercury, December 20, 1897

The somewhat peculiar name associated with the New Brighton Lighthouse of, "Perch Rock" originates from the fact that many years ago the light guarding the entrance to the Mersey was mounted on a perch. That, however, was found insufficiently strong to withstand the gales which occasionally arise in this latitude, and the present substantial structure was erected, the old name being retained.

Grave of John Thompson Francis who was head keeper at New Brighton lighthouse from 1875 to 1902

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