December 11, 1958
When you Liverpool fans pass that solid-looking flag-pole which stands just behind the Kop at the corner of Kemlyn Road, don’t dismiss it as just another means of flying a flag, because it’s a flag-pole with a difference. And you wouldn’t guess its history in 50,000 tries.
I confess I have looked at it many times and admired its solidity, but it never occurred to me that it was the top section of one of the six masts which graced the mammoth first ship of iron, the Great Eastern, which ended its fantastical eventful days as a hulk on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey. None at Anfield remembers the pole being “planted,” but Arthur Riley, groundkeeping son of Bert Riley, the man who tended the Anfield turf almost from the days when Everton played on it, recalls hearing his father say that it was a mast of the Great Eastern and Bob Trueman, one time Tranmere Rovers chairman, tells me that the late Walter Cartwright, a Liverpool director, often spoke to him of the origin of this Anfield landmark.
Quite a journey.
I am left wondering whether there is an ancient around who recalls how this massive pencil was transported to Anfield (presumably through the streets) from where the Great Eastern lay in the river. It must have been quite a journey. Was the mast floated across to the Liverpool side of the river? How much did it cost? How was such a huge piece of timber raised into position? The several steel wires which help to support it in a vertical position suggest, as is the case, that this is no ordinary flag-pole.
Mr. Trueman tell me that the mats of the Great Eastern were named after the days of the week and that the top section of the one now at Anfield was the Wednesday mast. In delving for facts about the Great Eastern and its breaking up for scrap one came across some odd contrasts with present-day values. Tons of lead were sold for a few pounds and the metal of the lower half of the masts went £1 per ton. That lead must have been in a pretty inaccessible position.
The extraordinary thing is that there is no plaque on the mast recording its history, but maybe in those far-off 1890-days they were more concerned about value for money than with marking special occasions. Liverpool can add fresh lustre to an historic relic by doing one thing flying a flag next season carrying the inscription, Cup winner, 1958-59.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 11, 1958; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited