New finding regarding the famous flagpole at Anfield

Most historian connected to Liverpool F.C. or football in general have taken it for granted that the flagpole at the corner of The Kop and Centenary Stand is from one of the first iron ships – The Great Eastern.

LIVERPOOL. ENGLAND. c1912. Anfield stadium, flag pole corner- Walton Breck Road and Kemlyn Road, with the original unroofed 'Spion Kop' stand in foreground. The flagpole (still in same place today) is a 'top mast' from Brunel's SS Great Eastern.

But, an article in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph from December – 1906, reveals the history of the famous flagpole – or flagstaff as it was called in the article. I will quote the whole article:

“Few among the thousands of habitues of the Liverpool Football Ground are aware of the fact that the enormous staff which bears the red flag of the club has historic associations. This flagstaff was formerly one of the masts of the old Royal yacht Alexandra, which was once much used by the Royal Family. It was the Alexandra which took the present King and Queen, then Prince and Princess of Wales, to Dublin on their first visit to Ireland so long ago as 1864. The Football Club acquired the mast through a captain now retired and living in the neighbourhood of the club’s headquarters. The staff is a very high one, and a great deal of care had to be exercised in placing it in position. The flag it bears is of crimson colour, with a figure of the “Liver bird”, so called.”

The Royal Yacht Alexandra.
Flagstaff 3

Most books about the history of the club that touches the area about the flagpole mentioned it in connection with the Great Eastern ship. It will be exciting to see if this new finding changes the little paragraph in the club’s proud history.

Though, I must admit it sounded better with the iron clad the Great Eastern than the Royal Yacht Alexandra.

UPDATE: If the newspaper article’s content is correct – the Royal Yacht’s name cannot be correct. The only yacht that fits the time line is “HMY Victoria and Albert II” which was scrapped around 1904.

The article was found in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, December 1 – 1906.
flagstaff 4 article


  1. Amazing revelation, and I agree entirely with your update. As the Alexandra was not launched until 1908, the mast could not have come from her…..but is it possible it never actually came from the SS Great Eastern???

    1. It is typical Liverpool FC history – everything will not be revealed. I will try to look in some local papers when I am in Liverpool in two weeks time.

      I suspect the newspaper story to be correct, but with the wrong name of the Royal Yacht at the time.


      1. The Great Eastern mothered another innovation in shipping practices, when the Bath’s
        announced they would auction the parts of the ship before dismantling it.
        In 1888, Anfield Football Stadium, home now to Liverpool FC, was in need of a flag
        pole. They sent representatives to the auction of the Great Eastern, where they bid for,
        and won, the large top mast of the ship. After it had been painted it was placed outside
        the ground to fly the crest of the football club

        Source (pages 37-40)

        Click to access HENRYBATH__1308588481_Complete_Henry_Bath_History.pdf

  2. A colleague unearthed this piece of information…/HENRYBATH__1308588481_Complete_…
    @ pages 37-40
    The Great Eastern mothered another innovation in shipping practices, when the Bath’s announced they would auction the parts of the ship before dismantling it. In 1888, Anfield Football Stadium, home now to Liverpool FC, was in need of a flagpole. They sent representatives to the auction of the Great Eastern, where they bid for, and won, the large top mast of the ship. After it had been painted it was placed outside the ground to fly the crest of the football club
    Interesting information giving the flagpole a date provenance. this also means albeit it says Anfield Stadium, home now to Liverpool FC.
    The Great Eastern was broken up between 1888 and 1890. Anfield Stadium was then Everton’s home ground until 1892, after they moved out Liverpool FC came into being in this same year. So if correct this purchase of the flagpole belonging to the Great Eastern, its undisputable the flagpole was never purchased by, or for LFC. So that puts a blooper into the tour guides and local historians spiel and making it the first club crest to have flown from this flagpole. Along with the first Merseyside English League champions pennant/flag if they had one then, to also have flown from this flagpole, season 1890/91, also being to honour Everton.

    1. As a dedicated LFC fan & Anfield Tour Guide, I can assure you that everyone connected with the tours know that the flagpole was put there by Everton. We do believe that it was put there in 1891 & came from the Great Eastern.

      1. Thanks for your helpful response maybe your date time line needs a little adjustment also you could add in the mast was one of four named Monday -Thursday and its believed the one in situ was the Thursday mast.

      2. Yes, maybe the time line needs adjusting, as I don’t see why Everton, having acquired the mast in either 1887 or 1888 would wait until 1891 to erect it.
        The other point you made about the mast being called ‘Thursday’, yes, that is something we believe to be true and do mention this on Anfield Stadium Tours.

  3. Hi David,

    Thanks for your comments about the flagpole at Anfield. I know it is a sensitive case of historical item. I have seen and felt the reactions since I came across the article in the Sheffield papers.

    It is not my intention to undermine history. I am just 100% dedicated to find out about the past.

    The link to the PDF you added is of great use and shows the existing history, as I reckon, all parts wants to have it.

    But I cannot shake it off that there is something more about this story that is known. It can be as simple as that there has been more than one famous flagpole at Anfield.

    Can I ask you to take a look at this following link at the “Everton Collection”?

    You can see that a flag-pole has been donated to Everton (and Anfield?) sometime in October – 1887. When searching the minute books at Everton this is the only hit for “flag pole” appearing.

    So the questions I want to investigate is:
    (1) Who donated the flag-pole in 1887?
    (2) Why is the Sheffield newspaper from 1908 mentioning a completely different story regarding the flag pole. They have, of course, gathered that information from somewhere. I need to find that.
    (3) Can it be that there were two or more flagpoles at Anfield between 1887/8 and 1928?

    Best regards,


    Kjell, on the above page there is a sketch which seems to show 2 flag-poles, one either side of the Kop. The picture below it says 1906, but doesn’t seem to have any flag-poles at all, although admittedly difficult to see from that height. I believe the picture might actually be from 1923, as per the LFCHistory guys’ book – it seems to be a postcard with the date clearly shown below.
    Will continue to scour through various sources, including at the library.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. hello,
    there were 6 masts on the great eastern. 5 of which were made of iron. the sixth was a 120 foot pine which was harvested off of my property in innisfil ontario canada around 1850. it was shipped to england and installed on the great eastern. i was wondering if anyone here knows if that flag pole is wooden or iron. would be pretty cool if i could find the resting place of that old tree.

    1. Hello Jim, I tweeted you about this a couple of months ago but you may have missed it if you are no longer active on Twitter. If you see this, I wondered if you might be able to drop me a line at please, as your post raises some interesting questions over this story I am trying to put together. I hope to hear from you, many thanks, Simon

  6. Dear all, first of all Kjehan can I say this is a terrific LFC resource. OK, so for some time I’ve been following this discussion about all of the events, claims and counter-claims relating to how the mast came to be at Anfield, and how the plot continues to thicken. It is, in fact, this story which is the basis for a book I am writing about the social history of sports stadia. It’s something long in the planning and which I’ve been dipping into now and again for the last couple of years, but now I have the bit between my teeth after making contact with a variety of sources relating to all the stories about how the flagpole arrived at Anfield. I should make it clear at this point that I am a lifelong Red and ex-season ticket holder, which gives me the the emotional investment, but I’m also a freelance journalist who loves a good myster. I’m committed therefore to taking up this tale as far as it will go. So I’d love to speak to any of you – and anyone else – who shares my curiosity about the mast’s history. The Sheffield story is indeed a curious one, and so that’s my current focus, to try and confirm that it is the Great Eastern mast. There do not appear to be many historians who dispute this, and this is borne out by some of the comments above. But these are the Ts I must cross and the Is I must dot! If anyone would be willing to speak to me (I live in The Netherlands so perhaps email is better) then please drop me a line at Thanks everyone

    1. Hi there. Thanks for your comment and I agree that the history of the flagpole is an amazing story. I do believe that the best person to speak to as far as I know is the curator at the LFC Museum – Mr. Stephen Done. Let me know if you require his email address. He is a really helpful person and I know he has spent lots of time in regard to the history around the flagpole.



    2. Hi Simon,
      I read the article relating to the flagpole from the Royal Yacht Alexandra a few years back, and along with fellow LFC tour guides Adrian Killen & Steve Power we discussed it with Stephen Done. The conclusion was that we were as certain as possible that the current Anfield flagpole came from the Great Eastern. However, if you look at some old drawings of the Anfield ground on Kjell’s website, you will actually see two flagpoles on one of the drawings! It may well be that the smaller one did indeed come from the Alexandra, but we have never, apart from that article, substantiated that fact.
      Good luck with book.
      Ray Hughes

      1. Hi Ray, thanks very much for your reply. I’ve recently made contact with the Everton FC Heritage Society (I think both their and this website have quite strong links anyway) with regards to narrowing down the timeline. It’s the small details however in terms of people involved at the time that I am, and probably will continue to, struggle to fully ascertain. But I will plough on! Just as an aside, you say in an earlier post that you were one of the Anfield tour guides. Is that still the case and if so, to what extent is the flagpole’s origins mentioned/featured? Stephen (Done) told me in an email a couple of years ago that it was hoped it would have a bigger presence eventually but I don’t know if that’s yet been realised. Thanks very much.

  7. Hi again Simon, yes it has been realised! There is now a large photograph of the Great Eastern on a wall behind he flagpole with some information regarding both the ship and flagpole. Also, the flagpole has an engraved plaque on it.
    Further, the flagpole, although not visited on stadium tours, is always mentioned, giving visitors the option of going to see it after their tour.

    1. Hello Ray, sorry for the late reply. That’s good to hear, thanks for the update. I’ve been looking at some pictures people have posted on twitter, flickr etc of the display and it looks great. I’ve made some headway with my research through the Liverpool Echo archives from that period, and the Echo is also going to do a small article about this for me, so that may generate some fresh feedback, who knows?

  8. Just come across an essay on the Great Eastern, one section makes a reference to the rigging, dimensions of the masts and materials used based on this information it might put a question mark over the provenance of this actual flag pole (former mast) The source

    The rigging of the masts of the ship were decided on by Captain Harrison. The six masts were eventually named from bow to stern; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tuesday and Wednesday were square rigged, Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were fore and aft rigged. Thursday was also equipped to carry square sails. The total area of canvas was 6,500 square yards.
    The masts were constructed of iron with the exception of the stern mast (Saturday), which was of wood, as the compass was to be situated on or near this mast. The iron masts consisted of two plates, each formed into half circles and butt jointed with internal plates. Discs of wrought iron reinforced with angle iron were riveted inside to give additional strength. Sizes of the various masts were as follows. Heights given are from keel to truck. Monday, 2 feet 9 inches diameter, 172 feet high. Tuesday, 3 feet 6 inches diameter, 216 feet high. Wednesday, 3 feet 6 inches diameter, 225 feet high. Thursday 3 feet 6 inches diameter, 216 feet high. Friday, 2 feet 9 inches diameter, 188 feet high. Saturday, 2 feet 9 inches diameter, 164 feet high. From the keel to the upper deck they were encased in a square tube of iron plate. The lower yards of the square rigged masts were also made of iron and were 126 feet long and 2 feet 6 inches diameter at the centre. The stays were of 7 ½ inch wire rope with the exception of the stern mast where they were made of hemp.

    1. Hello David, thanks for posting this. I was aware of it and have been looking into it. Stephen Done, the LFC museum curator, confirmed to me that the mast is wooden, as was seen when they moved the mast for safekeeping when the Kop was rebuilt. Obviously if that is the case, then the ‘official’ line that EFC purchased the Thursday mast does not tally with this account above, which says that only ‘Saturday’ was wooden. Anyway…all good fun and more fuel for my digging around!

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