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Stephen Shakeshaft’s memories of Liverpool’s dockers

8 September 2009 by Sam

old photo of smiling dockers wearing flat caps

Dockers. Copyright Stephen Shakeshaft

With just over a week to go until the exhibition ‘Liverpool People by Stephen Shakeshaft‘ opens at the National Conservation Centre, here’s another photo from his archive that didn’t quite make it into the exhibition. Stephen took many photos of the dockers during his career as picture editor and chief photographer of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, and remembers that they were real characters:


“They provided the backbone to the city and its commerce. They also provided the material for the jokes of Liverpool comedians. They were very suspicious of a man with a camera. ‘Don’t take my picture, lad – take his – he has his makeup on!’ Whoever sold caps went out of business when the dockers went. Walking around Canada Dock you had to keep your eyes skinned and spend as much time looking up as concentrating on your subject; ‘Watch your ‘ead, lad’.

I covered dockers’ strikes and pickets, I was there when they received their redundancy notices and when they realised their jobs were gone – replaced by the container monsters of Seaforth.

All dockers had nicknames which fitted their personality or character such as ‘Stanley Matthews’ who, on the unloading of a crate, would always say ‘I’ll take the corner’.”

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