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Pooley gates return to 'Pool

Campaigners finally bring back magnificent ironwork from lost Sailors' Home

Written by . Published on August 10th 2011.


Pooley gates return to 'Pool

A LITTLE piece of Liverpool’s maritime history has finally returned home after an absence of 60 years.

The ornate Henry Pooley gates which once stood outside the long demolished Liverpool Sailors' Home, have been installed just a few yards from their original home which opened in 1840.

They’ll act like a new gateway to Liverpool One, standing in Paradise Street outside the John Lewis store.

Liverpool Sailors' HomeLiverpool Sailors' HomeFor 60 years, the gates stood outside the Midlands factory of Avery, the company that has produced weights and scales for generations of shopkeepers.

To bring the gates home to Liverpool has taken months of delicate and diplomatic negotiations, particularly in Sandwell where the Grade II-listed gates were treasured.

As an irony, the gates, which feature a glorious Liver bird, arrived on the back of a lorry on the day job losses were announced at Royal Liver's Pier head headquarters.

The gates were created at a Liverpool foundry seven decades before the Liver birds perched themselves down on the waterfront.

The ironwork also show mermaids, dolphins and maritime paraphernalia such as rigging, capstans and ships’ wheels.

Back after 60 yearsBack after 60 yearsAccording to campaigners for the gates to be brought home, it was ex-Liverpool man John Smith who first noticed them at the Avery factory where he was working. He quickly realised the significance.

Enter campaigner and well known thorn-in-the-side of politicians Gabriel Muies. Ex-mariner Gabriel decided to put pressure on local councillors, and those who know Gabriel realise he doesn’t take no for an answer.



He regularly attended council meetings to badger people like Joe Anderson and other leading politicians, pleading for their help.

And help they did. Liverpool’s World Heritage Officer John Hinchliffe was put on the case and spent months making the arrangements.

Watch the birdieWatch the birdieProblem one was the gates were by now officially listed by the council in the Midlands borough of Sandwell – so there was an avalanche of red tape to cut through.

The gates had also fallen into a state of disrepair and had to be moved some months ago on safety grounds.

Luckily the Wolverhampton foundry, Barr and Grosvenor, tasked with the rescue mission, is owned by Rock Ferry born Dominic Grosvenor (no relation to the Duke!).

The restoration of the gates became a labour of love for Dominic who spent his boyhood days admiring the architecture of Liverpool. He brought in restoration experts Dorothea Restorations of Bristol to help return them to glory.



Mr Hinchliffe was there to greet the gates and re-patriate them to their birthplace.

From 1938From 1938“It has taken many months of hard work but it has been worth it. The gates will look magnificent in their new setting and I am sure they will become quite an attraction,"he said.

“We had to overcome the problem of the gates being listed and then convince the conservation team at Sandwell the gates would be well looked after and given a new home. Their Conservation officer even came to Liverpool to check out the proposed site.

“Luckily there was an acceptance the gates should rightly be returned to their historic home of Liverpool.”



The gates will not serve any function other than a monumental one and will remain sealed.

Missing from the homecoming was campaigner Gabriel. He missed the excitement as he was enjoying an afternoon scoop, aptly in The Blob Shop drinking den. 

Gateway to the world

Inside The Sailors HomeInside The Sailors HomeArchitect John Cunningham designed the building. Influenced by Elizabethan great houses such as Wollaton and Hardwick Hall, the foundation  stone was laid by Prince Albert in July 1846.

Cunningham modelled the magnificent five storey interior upon ships'quarters with cabins, in galleries around the internal rhomboidal court.

The home was a philanthropic venture erected from the subscriptions ofshipowners and merchants to provide good, clean and inexpensiveaccommodation and give seamen a refuge from the grog shops - "drunk for 1d  and blind for 2d"



The two outer panels were fixed whilst the two centre sections rolled behind them on rails where they were hidden from sight while the home was open for business.

Just before demolition, 1974Just before demolition, 1974The gates were responsible for at least two deaths in the 19th century after they fell on people , sparking t reported hauntings around Canning Place. 

As part of the repair to war damage following the Liverpool Blitz it was decided to remove the gates. In 1948, W & T Avery who had swallowed-up Henry Pooley's successful weights and measures company, Pooley's and Sons, were offered the gates by the Sailors' Home Committee.

The home was finally demolished in the mid 1970s and John Lewis now occupies the site.

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    7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

    Angie Sammons shared this on Facebook on August 10th 2011.
    AnonymousAugust 11th 2011.

    It's great to see the gates back home. But isn't it a typical Liverpool tragedy we allowed the demolition of the building. Today it would be as treasured as the Three Graces, standing as one of the jewels of Liverpool. Architect John Cunningham was inspired by the great Elizabethan mansions such as Hardwick Hall for what was after all, just a lodging house for sailors. It was finally demolished in 1974, many say needlessly as the land was not really required. Indeed the site remained vacant until it was gobbled up by Liverpool One and the new John Lewis store. The things Liverpool has loved and lost is incredible.

    1 Response: Reply To This...
    GeorgemciverOctober 14th 2011.

    It was falling down...

    Bob the caring builderAugust 11th 2011.

    Great article. That is one amazing looking interior and I had no idea that this stunning looking building ever even existed in Liverpool.

    We love to demolish our history and culture in this city, and it still goes on today in that so-called cultural quarter Hope Street. Not just talking about needlessly dropping the Everyman either, but also Josephine Butler House and the list goes on and on, including the beautiful Victorian housing stock in Liverpool 8.

    Absinthe & TurksSeptember 13th 2011.

    It was a disgrace how the Council had it demolished. The big hole in the ground that was left afterwards lay untouched for thirty years apart from the erection of some ugly scaffolding to support advertising hoardings.

    Time and time again Liverpool's Councils decide that the best thing to do when there isn't enough good stuff to go round is to destroy more good stuff.

    Of course those responsible for these hare-brained decisions ought to be slung into a lunatic asylum - but they've already sold off or destroyed them.

    1 Response: Reply To This...
    GeorgemciverOctober 14th 2011.

    Speaking from experience'no doubt'..or..speaking from far away..E by NE ?

    AndrewOctober 14th 2013.

    I had the pleasure of staying at the Sailor's Home in 1963 whilst completing my merchant navy training and revisited the city this year to see if it had changed. I went to see if the building was still there but all I found was the gates albeit in better condition than I remember. I was also amazed at the overall change in the city particularly Albert docks where I did lifeboat training. Andrew

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