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You're in the Navy Now

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  • You're in the Navy Now

    The Press Gang - Naval impressment and its opponents in Georgian Britain by Nicholas Rogers

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    Affrays were numerous

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  • #2
    I used to read a lot about early seafaring when I was a kid and often had nightmares about being press ganged, waking up on a 3 year journey to China or something

    I went to Amsterdam once without pre-booking a hotel, not realising it was a bank holiday and everywhere was full

    I ended up staying a night on an empty Portugese whaling boat and thankfully survived with just a few stories to tell

    I'm always reminded of it by the Tom Waits track "Singapore"...


    • #3
      From a post by Daz at My Liverpool --

      In the book Recollections of Old Liverpool, by A Nonagenarian, there's reference to a place down by the docks called "the Devil's acre" which sparked my interest --

      "In a street leading out of Pownall-square (so called after Mr. William Pownall, whose death was accelerated during his mayoralty in 1708, in consequence of a severe cold, caught in suppressing a serious riot of the Irish which occurred in the night-time in a place near the Salthouse Dock, called the Devil’s acre), there was a famous cock-pit. The street is now called Cockspur-street."

      Why was it called that? What went on there and where exactly was it located? I found further reference to it in The Stranger in Liverpool, 1820. Here's a general description of the area.

      "Several of the neighbouring streets [in between Canning Dock, Salthouse Dock and the Old Dock] present spectacles of vice and misery in their lowest forms, from which the heart turns with a disguist... a British sailor, who, too often, for want of rational restraint, abandons himself to his passions."

      The Devil's acre was a parcel of reclaimed land between Canning Dock, Salthouse Dock and the Old Dock - incorporating Bridge Street (opposite the Old Dock pedestrian bridge), Bromfield Street and Darwens Weint.

      The 1789-90 Census for Bridge Street is perhaps more revealing: "23 males, 104 females, and several houses with no males enumerated" reinforces the image of seedy bawdy houses, brothels, transient sailors, molls and madams being tightly packed in amongst the docks. Before there was Lime Street, as the hook-up place for illicit sex, there was Bridge Street!

      The Press Gangs hunting ground in Georgian Liverpool, as quoted from the book, History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque.

      "When the Press Gangs came on shore the upmost confusion and dismay took place between the denizens of Bridge Street, Wapping, Little Bird Street, and thereabout."

      I couldn't find "Little Bird Street" - there was a Bird Street (noted below) between George's Dock and Canning Dock [Dry Dock] and both Bridge Street and Bird Street have one thing in common - they are communicating corridors/passages between the docks.

      1824 map (with Bridge Street and Bird Street noted)

      "Men of War, Bound for the Port of Pleasure" [Chatham in this example]

      Hugh Jones singing "Maggie May" --

      Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

      Also describing Liverpool's Sailortown, here's "Paddy West" sung by Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers.
      Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical" Hear sample song at

      Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
      Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at