The Edmund Gardner

Hubby booked a tour of Edmund Gardner, the largest piece in Liverpool Museum. It was lovely, we both enjoyed it very much. He took a lot of photographs, so there is an overload of pictures from our visit.

We’ve met the curator in the Museum of Liverpool and then we went on the Canning dock to see the ship. Canning docks are the oldest graving docks on Merseyside. This dock was build in the 18th century and was a center for ship repairs. Canning docks were closed in 1965.

Edmund Gardner worked for almost 30 years and now it has a great historical value. National Historic Ships Committee recognized her importance by including the vessel in its National Core Collection of Historic Ships.


The Merseyside Maritime Museum purchased her in 1982, after she finished her work in 1981, and she is now conserved in dry dock. Having been bought straight from service, Edmund Gardner is entirely in original condition and is one of the only two large pilot boat preserved worldwide (the other one is in Australia).

The ship is open to the public for a few months during the summer.


The pot where they used to heat up the tar used to refurbish the old wooden ships.

The tar was poured thru the gutter for the men repairing the ships.

A fiberglass replica of the boats used to transport pilots onto the ships.




The Edmund Gardner was built in 1953 in Dartmouth by Philip and Sons. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board had her built as the second of a new generation of large diesel-electric powered cutters to replace the pre-war steam cutters. The Edmund Gardner and her two sister ships were all designed by naval architects Graham and Woolnough of Liverpool. Following tradition, all three were named after chairmen of the Board, the other two were the Sir Thomas Brocklebank (No 1) and Arnet Robinson (No 3).



The master’s accommodation.

There were 2 masters, each with his own room, below the bridge deck. The masters were 1st class pilots (the classes were achieved in time from 3 to 1 and it was a reflection of the size of the ship they had the authority to bring in). Even if they were on top of the hierarchy, their rooms are not the largest on the ship.



The bridge was so nice. There are many interesting things to see and the curators told a lot of stories about the crew, the controls and their need of communication. On the ship there were so many ways to communicate, in Morse code, with light, radio and many others.



This was a state of the art radar at that time.




Lounge area. The tables and chairs were bolted in the ground. The wind is very strong on the Mersey, so, sometimes, they had to put some guardrails on the table to stop things to fall down.

This area was dedicated to the masters and pilots. The apprentices and engineers had another lounge. In that time the hierarchy was very important for them.

Some old pictures with The Edmund Gardner. I love the 1st one, with the Liver building in the back.



The pilots were transported from the Edmund Gardner to the ships they needed to get in the docks. The pilot was accompanied by 2 apprentices.

The windows have protecting shields for bad weather.

The TV room, previously known as smoking room. Another recreational area for masters and pilots. They were talking about problems that appeared when they brought ships in the docks and this way, the lesser experienced pilots could learn form the more experienced ones.


The pilot rooms. There were 32 pilots on board of the Edmund Gardner and only 11 cabins, but they were for a few hours on the ship, so they didn’t need a lot of space.



Galley and pantry. The galley staff were the only people in contact with everybody on board, as the rest of the crew were separated into different rooms and accommodations and worked varying shifts, so they were an important source of news and gossip.


The cook had 2 helpers and he was cooking on a coal cooker. That cooker was replaced by a gas cooker in the mid 1970s, which was later replaced by an electric oven. The pantry was staffed by the steward and mess boy. It contains an electric oven to keep meals warm, an electric water boiler and plenty of storage space for cutlery, cups and plates.

The pilots went thru this door when they boarded the boat for transportation.

The engine room. The Edmund Gardner is a diesel electric ship, with two 640bhp National diesel engines. Using both engines would give the ship a top speed of 14 knots (16 miles per hour). Generally on station only one engine would be required. An engineer would be on watch at all times in the engine room, with a greaser to assist him.


One of the engines.


The engineer’s accommodation. He had the largest room because the engineer practically lived on the ship.



The decks.



It was a lovely experience. We learned a lot and had a great time. I definitely recommend it.



A panoramic view of Birkenhead. Click on it to see it larger.

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