European Directory of Marine Environmental Data (EDMED)

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Data set name

Scanned images of historical UK tide gauge ledgers from several sites along the Mersey Estuary and the Thames Estuary (1832-1987)

Data holding centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodThe date range is different at each site, but the earliest date is January 1832 and the latest is December 1987.
Geographical area

The images are of ledgers containing measurements from several historical Mersey Docks and Harbour Board sites along the Mersey estuary and also for the Thames Estuary port of Sheerness.


Sea level; Wind strength and direction


This dataset consists of ~18000 scanned images (available to download in .jpg, but high resolution .tiff images are also available) from historical UK tide gauge ledgers. In 1993 the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) acquired the registers from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC). These registers were in the form of large, leather‐bound volumes dating back to 1853 for Hilbre Island and 1857 for Georges Pier. The earlier books for Georges Pier and Hilbre Island contain 1/4 hourly heights and the remaining volumes mainly list high and low waters. Some of the ledgers include metrological data alongside the tidal information. There was also one ledger from the port of Sheerness. There were 142 books included in this project. The majority of the sites were in the Mersey Estuary, with one in the Thames Estuary. The sites are listed below, with the time period covered (gaps not shown): Dutton Locks Lower Gauge, River Weaver (53.28778,-2.62111) 1897-1917 Dutton Locks Upper Gauge, River Weaver (53.35111,-2.90694) 1897-1906 Eastham Lock, Mersey (53.3167,-2.9499) 1892-1981 Fiddlers Ferry (53.36667,-2.65) 1891-1974 Frodsham Bridge, River Weaver (53.30167,-2.70833) 1891-1917 Garston Dock, Mersey (53.40528,-2.99444) 1892-1917 George’s Pier, Liverpool (53.28333,-2.85) 1857-1912 Hale Head, Mersey (53.38333,-2.6) 1891-1917 Hilbre Island (53.3833,-3.2276) 1853-1987 Liverpool, Gladstone Dock (53.44969,-3.018) 1971-1981 Liverpool, Princes Pier (53.4083,-2.9983) 1971-1981 Stanlaw, Mersey (53.39556,-3.00833) 1891-1917 Sheerness (51.44564,0.74344) 1832-1849 Tranmere (53.3756,-2.9978) 1974-1981 Warrington, Mersey (53.28722,-2.6225) 1891-1912 Waterloo (53.4125,-3.0031) 1986-1987 Widnes, Mersey (53.32361,-2.79306) 1892-1917 Woodside Landing, Birkenhead (53.35,-2.73333) 1847-1897 The ledger scanning was put out to tender. Most of the ledgers were quite old and fragile, the books had to be preserved in their original format and binding and care had to be taken to prevent further deterioration as they were irreplaceable. It was specified in the tender that a specialist organisation was required with a proven track record of handling antique books. They had to use an archival quality overhead flatbed book scanner/ planetary scanner to preserve the pages and spines of the books. Some of the ledgers were quite large and required a scanner that could accommodate them without damage. The aim of this project was to digitise and scan historic analogue chart and manuscript sea level records held in the archive of the British Oceanographic Data Centre and to make these records available to the wider community. These data are unrepeatable scientific measurements and we want to encourage their reuse. Extending back and infilling tide gauge records will help with, among other things, climate change research, storm surge predictions and coastal land movement studies. BODC received a grant from the JISC eContent Capital Programme 2011-13, Strand B: Mass Digitisation to carry out the scanning of the ledgers.

OriginatorsBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Data web site
OrganisationBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
ContactPolly Hadžiabdić (Head of the BODC Requests Team)

British Oceanographic Data Centre
Joseph Proudman Building 6 Brownlow Street
L3 5DA
United Kingdom

Telephone+44 (0) 782 512 0946
Collating centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Local identifier1048JISCtideledgers
Global identifier6548
Last revised2017-03-30