Below is a brief summary of a talk given to the Liverpool Group in March 2018 by one of the members, Margaret Clare.


The history of the docks goes back to 1710 and the commissioning of the first docks.  Liverpool grew to be one of the most advanced ports of the world because of the deep river which accommodated the increasingly large steam ships of the 1800s and the enclosed dock system with locks operated by the steam engines which allowed faster turnround of cargoes.

The Liverpool Dock estate covered 250 acres and by 1857 £55million of exports passed through the ports representing 50% of the nations trade.

At their peak there were more than 250,000 horses working on the streets and in 1885 the Mayor of Liverpool is quoted as saying there are more than 10,000 Carters working - he was trying to get 1d per week from them to set up a hospital fund!

By-laws were introduced in November 1837 which meant as well as certain rules they now had to pay 2s 6d to register a license for a cart 20cwt and above, and 1s 6d for everything under that weight.


The horses were second to none - mainly Shires, Clysdales and Suffolk Punch bought at sales in Wrexham, Crewe, Chester and Shrewsbury.  In 1887 the council set up its own stud under vet Richard Reynolds with 300 horses.

The working day was long approx 12-14 hours per day, wages 26s-29s per week  (For full details please see our next Journal)


The Mersey Quay and Railway Carters Union was formed in 1889 later renamed The Liverpool and District Carters and Motormen's Union.  This bought set hours of work and also the Quarter Badge system.
Fees: 5s to join 
Weekly contribution 3d
Benefits: death, accident and superannuation.
Threatened strike action in 1890 brought wage increases of 
30s per week for team drivers and
27s per week for a single horse
Saturdays to end at 5pm 
No Sunday work!
These were legendary - first official footing 1863 - several clips on "youtube'
Memorials and exhibitons 
'Waiting" outside Liverpool Museum and inside the museum on the ground floor  - section on the Carters
Plaque on Scotland Road 
Margaret Clare

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