December 1, 1892
It is becoming daily more evident that the competition to which Liverpool is about to be subjected in the Atlantic trade is to be no kidglove affair. Already the trade has been hit very hard by the McKinley tariff, which has diverted from this port certain articles, such as tinplates, which being produced at a distance can be more cheaply, if less conveniently, carried from ports nearer their place of production.
But the active rivalry that is promised from both Southampton and Milford can no longer be passed by as of no practical moment. The Inman flag will shortly disappear from the Mersey, and will ply thenceforth on the waters of the Solent.
A new American line is to be established which will run to Milford, where large developments in the way of provision for an important traffic may very shortly be looked for. It will not do for the Mersey Dock Board to sit down quietly in face of these and other contemplated changes and persist in the same quiet old jagtrot policy which seemed sufficient when this port had no rivals worth considering.
Even sleepy old Bristol has been waking up of late to the necessity of “doing something” if its trade is not to fall into a condition of stagnation, and improvements are to be made in the docks at the mouth of her narrow and tortuous river which will afford greater facilities for ocean traffic. Anyone of these sources of opposition, considered singly, might not be regarded as of very great importance.
The significant and, indeed, ominous fact in connection with them is that they are all coming forward at one and the same time, and at a time, too, when the inconveniences of the Mersey in regard to the handling of vessels of the largest size is beginning to be most keenly felt. The deputation which, on Monday afternoon, waited on Sir Charles Tupper, the High Commissioner of Canada, to point out the advantages of Milford as the port for Canadian mails, made out, as the Commissioner admitted, a strong case.
Sir Charles Tupper, indeed, laid down with singular felicity the conditions of the whole subject. He said he was sure the Canadian Government would be willing to co-operate with those who could establish the quickest, safest, and most convenient means of communication between the two countries. Here we have the whole problem in a nutshell. If Milford, which has no bar, and where the largest steamers can safely bring up alongside a jetty, can set down passengers and mails in London six hours in front of those who travel by Liverpool, she will win the day in the Atlantic passenger and mail trade.
The passenger business has now grown to be of so special character, and has so little dependence on the cargo trade, that the lack of general traffic at Milford will affect in far less than it would have done ten years ago. It has become merely a question of speed, safety, and convenience.
if Southampton or Milford can beat Liverpool in these respects they will undoubtedly win the day. Liverpool, therefore, must look to it that her rivals gain no such advantage as to divert any more of her valuable traffic from the Mersey.
(Liverpool Echo: December 1, 1892)
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