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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.

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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

11 replies »

  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???

    • 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.

      Kjell

  2. A colleague unearthed this piece of information https://www.henrybath.com/…/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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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”?
    http://www.evertoncollection.org.uk/object?id=796%20EFC%2f1%2f1%2f1&p=9&q=pole

    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

  4. https://playupliverpool.com/anfield-liverpool-f-c-football-ground/
    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!

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