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12 Liver Street

Liver Street, just one block from the Wapping and Salthouse Docks, ran NE-SW between Park Lane and Hurst Street. From the 1880s until the 1930s, the southern end of the street was home to a cluster of Asturian, Basque and Filipino homes and businesses, including no. 12 Liver Street, a Spanish seamen's boarding house.

No. 12 was a pub for most of the 19th century, one of four on this short street. In 1860, it was known as the Crimea Hotel, but by 1878 it had changed its name to the Prince of Wales Vaults, as on the 1891 ordnance survey map on the right. The large building - according to the 1911 census, it had 12 rooms in addition to the kitchen - was a lively pub, which frequently advertised in the local press for piano players and singing waitresses. At some time between 1898 and 1901, no. 12 changed from a pub into a sailors' boarding house.

The new boarding house was one of several in the area that catered for Spanish seamen. The landlord, Gerónimo Güena Aldamizgogeazcoa (1858-1916), a sailor himself, was from the Basque village of Gauteguiz Arteaga. Like many sailors, he was familiar with Liverpool's waterfront; on the night of the 1881 census, he was lodging in Carpenters' Row, and when he married four years later, he gave his address as 41 Hurst St. Gerónimo married Magdalena Chacartegui de Longa (1855-1932) at St Peter's Church in 1885. Magdalena was Vizcayan like her husband; she had been born in the Basque fishing village of Ea, and at the time of their marriage, she was living up the street from him, at 13 Hurst St.

There was certainly demand for lodging on the Liverpool waterfront, as ships' crews came and went with some regularity. On the night of the 1901 census, Gerónimo and Magdalena were hosting 14 Spanish sailors (see below), and had a live-in servant to help them, 24-year-old Francisca Martínez. By 1904, a new servant had arrived - Micaela Vilarelle, from the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, who met her husband, a fellow Galician, when he stayed at the boarding house between sailings.

Boarders on the night of the 1901 census:
Eduardo Amor, Manuel Carbajal, José María García, Antonio Linares, José López, Eduardo Martínez, Elias Martínez, Lucas B Pabla, Fernando Rivas, Onacio Rodríguez, José Sánchez, Marcelino Santana, Antonio Sartín, and Pedro Suárez (all Spanish-born sailors; were they from the same ship?).

It isn't clear what happened to the boarding house after this. On the night of the 1911 census, no. 12 Liver St, with its 12 rooms, was home only to Gerónimo (now described again as a sailor), Magdalena, their married daughter Maria, and her two children. Magdalena lived at 12 Liver St until her death in 1932. By 1954, the building had been demolished and replaced by a warehouse, and the site is now a car park.


No. 12 Liver St (The Prince of Wales Vaults) in 1891


Liver St in 1973. No. 12 was on the site of the 1-story building behind the van. Photo courtesy of Liverpool Record Office.

Plan of Liver Street ©Crown Copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited (2015). All rights reserved. (1891)".