The Liverpool Pilotage Service – which has navigated ships in and out of the River Mersey for 250 years – is to be awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.
The organisation has been guiding vessels in and out of the river to the locks, docks and jetties since 1766.
The service was introduced by Act of Parliament to improve safety on the Mersey following the loss of 18 ships and 75 lives in just one year (1764).
It has seen many changes to the facilities on the river over the years, ranging from the original Old Dock to the brand new Liverpool 2 container berth built to handle the biggest vessels in the world.
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden said: “The Liverpool Pilotage Service is very much at the heart of Liverpool’s history, ensuring the safety of ships of all nations arriving and departing the port.
“This honour recognises the vital role it plays and the invaluable work supporting trade and industry which is vital to the city region’s economic success.
“Without them, we would not be able to welcome cruise liners to the city or have hosted the hugely successful Three Queens event last year.(pictured above)
“I am delighted to be able to confer on them the Freedom of Liverpool in tribute to their contribution to the maritime industry over the last 250 years.”
The Freedom of Liverpool will be conferred on them at a special thanksgiving service at Liverpool Parish Church on Thursday 28 July led by the Rector of Liverpool, the Reverend Dr Crispin Pailing.
Captain Chris Booker, Chairman of Liverpool Pilotage Services, said: “To be a Mersey River Pilot is a very real privilege.
“From small sailing vessels to mighty container ships, bulk carriers to huge cruise liners, Liverpool Pilots have met the challenges of the tide and the wind on a daily basis for 250 years.
“It is easy to forget that over the first two centuries a considerable number of pilots lost their lives in the course of their duties due to the hazardous nature of a seafarer’s life.
“Today’s pilots have a sophisticated electronic simulator to hone their skills, but they still have the knowledge and skill to allow them to bring ships safely in and out of the River Mersey whatever the weather conditions may throw at them.”
In its 250 year history there have been some 1,600 River Pilots, and today the service is provided by 55 self-employed River Pilots.
For more information about the Liverpool Pilotage Service, visit http://www.liverpoolpilots.com/