Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our dramatic main image this week shows the ocean liner Empress of Canada teetering precariously close to loading bays on Gladstone Dock after fire had broken out on board.

The date is Sunday January 25th 1953.

The 20,000-ton ship had returned to her home port for a winter overhaul before resuming service with an Atlantic crossing in early February.

Fire crews from across the North West battled the blaze at Gladstone No. 1 Branch Dock. But they could not prevent the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company liner listing before rolling over on its side on the dock bottom.

Empress of Canada, 1953
Dockers loading a ship at Gladstone Dock, Liverpool, 1965.Dockers loading a ship at Gladstone Dock, Liverpool, 1965.
Salvage work started quickly as the dock space was needed. Masts and funnels had to be cut away and the ship righted so it could be towed away.

More than a year later, on Saturday March 6th 1954, salvage crews brought the Empress back on an even keel using huge buoyancy floats filled with compressed air.

It took ten more weeks to patch the hull and refloat the stricken ship for the final voyage to the breakers’ yard in the Italian port of La Spezia.

Launched in June 1928, the Empress of Canada began life as The Duchess of Richmond. It was renamed in 1947.

It served as a troopship in World War II and carried 3,700 Russian prisoners back to Odessa from France in March 1945.

Our second image shows Gladstone Dock cleared of wreckage in August 1965.

*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777.