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History Victoria Tower, which is also known locally as ‘the Docker’s Clock’, is a Grade II listed Gothic Revival clock tower located alongside Sailsbury Dock in Liverpool. It was designed by Jesse Hartley, an eminent engineer who was responsible for the construction of a large number of the docks and warehouses along the River Mersey. Hartley’s design was inspired by the castle architecture of the Rhine region in Central Europe; this is why the structure was built using irregular blocks of grey granite and why it has embrasures that have been cut into the tower’s walls. The tower was built between 1847 and 1848, to commemorate the opening of Sailsbury Dock. It was also constructed to aid ships using the port. It allowed them to set the correct time as they sailed out into the Irish sea (the time ball was apparently controlled by a signal from the Liverpool Observatory) and was equipped with a bell to warn vessels of impending meteorological changes such as high tide and fog. A navigation light encased inside an ornamental structure was originally planned for the roof of the tower; however, a 9 metre flagpole was installed instead when it was agreed that the structure would not function as a lighthouse. An additional lesser known feature of the tower is that the bottom three levels of the structure served as a flat for the Pier Master. These floors were boarded and designed to be much more comfortable than the rest of the building. On account of the decline in shipping along the Mersey, the condition of Victoria Tower has deteriorated significantly, primarily due to water and wind damage. In addition to these problems, the tower has become overgrown with vegetation over the years, and is now also infested with a large number of pigeons. Although it was announced in 2010 that the clock tower, along with several other historic buildings around the area, would be repaired and fully restored as part of a £5.5 billion restoration programme, no work has yet been initiated. Our Version of Events It was getting late on in the evening and we were all keen to get back to our digs for the night to drink beer and play poker, but we also wanted to have a quick wander over to Victoria Tower. We’ve stared at it enough times from the other side of the water, so it seemed about time we paid it a visit. Plenty of fucking around certainly ensued trying to figure out which part of the dock we had to trespass on to get to it; as we were to discover, it’s situated on a piece of land that’s tricky to get to if you’re not very familiar with the area. But, in the end we figured out where we needed to be; right on the other side of a drive-thru movie night. We entered through the main gates of one of the dockyards and wandered towards a small congregation of cars. The plan had been to blend in, but having left the car behind this was very difficult. Fortunately, however, the film was a decent one: Die Hard 1. And we’d entered at the good bit – the scene on the rooftop where Alan is making a last-bid attempt to get rid of Bruce. At this stage in the film Bruce’s vest top was well and truly green. Using the film to our advantage we crept through the cars. We passed a blue Ford Fiesta first, where, much to our delight, the couple inside seemed distracted enough without the film. It looked as though the woman in the passenger seat had dropped her revels somewhere on the driver’s side and was frantically looking for them. She had her head positioned over the driver in a very unusual position. The driver seemed to be helping to force her head down a bit lower too. There must have been an orange flavoured one in his lap or something. A red Volkswagen Golf had to be passed next. The passengers in this one didn’t seem to be focused on the film either though. A rather large flabby woman in her late 50s was pressed up against the windscreen, with both enormous breasts, a cheek and two plump lips firmly plastered against the glass. To our horror she was bouncing up and down a bit, so her folds sounded a bit like window wipers in turbo mode during a heavy downpour. Slightly scarred, psychologically, we made it to the other side of the dockyard. From here to the tower the journey was much less eventful. We had to make haste, however, since the tall palisade gates at the entrance would be closing soon – as soon as the movie was finished. Nothing like a bit of time pressure to spur you on. Unfortunately, though, when we did finally reach the door to the tower we quickly discovered that it was locked up tight. A bit frustrated that we’d already used up some of our gambling and drinking time, we decided to get the ball sacks out and climb our way inside instead. A tiny barred gate wasn’t stopping us from getting into the tower! It was around the halfway mark that we decided the climbing part of the plan was a bad idea. It was a chilly night and much more difficult that we’d first imagined. Hartley didn’t think it through when he designed overhanging ledges on the tower, which are now caked in a fine layer of slippery moss and pigeons’ cloacal secretions. Nevertheless, we’d watched the classic Stallone movie Cliffhanger three nights previously, so we knew we should probably just man the fuck up and get the climb done. Each of us had more than a t-shirt on too, so I don’t know what we were complaining about. We reached the top just as Alan was hanging off the side of Nakatomi Plaza. Everyone gathered at the top of the tower and peered through the crenels as Alan was plummeting to the ground; we were glad we’d made it in time to see the best scene in the film. You know what they say after all, it’s not really Christmas until Hans Gruber falls from a building. A few minutes were spent taking shots from the roof, but it was very a windy evening so the tripods ended up taking quite a battering. In the end we had to make do with the few usable nightscape shots we’d managed to take. Some luck was on our side, though, since some thoughtful chavs, who I presume were wearing Burberry check, had smashed the lock off the hatch. This made getting inside the tower much easier. An explosion of pigeony disease-ridden gas erupted as we lifted the lid. It smelt like thousands of them were down there, slowly drowning in their own shit and piss. For some reason we decided to crack on anyway, as you do. So, we climbed down the several broken rungs we could see into the depths of the festering pit of doom. A very sketchy bendy ladder came next. It was clearly some sort of improvisation to make up for the lack of staircase. At the bottom the situation didn’t improve either, as we found ourselves literally knee deep in shit and rotting carcasses. Pigeon pie was definitely off the menu later that evening. We hastily plodded on, racing down the rusted spiral staircases, trying our best not to disturb the crusted layers of poo. After all, you can’t leave an explore until you’ve seen absolutely everything there is to see. We didn’t hang about inside the tower for long after reaching the bottom, especially since we’d recently discovered that you can catch Chlamydia psittaci from contaminated bird droppings. That’s right, you can catch ‘the clam’ while urbexing! Although, having said that, this type is definitely a lot worse than the kind you’ll get from having ‘protected’ sex with a resealable sandwich bag. Anyway, back to the story. We managed to get back out onto the street just as the credits of the film were rolling down the screen. Thank fuck too, because climbing the fence would have been shit! After that we headed back to the car and, for most of us, this signified the end of the night where the rest of the evening would be spent drinking beer and playing several games of poker and pigeon toss (it sounds like a dirty game, but we assure you it’s quite innocent). Explored with Ford Mayhem, Rizla Rider, Husky and Soul. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
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