The Eric Hardwicke Rideout Archive

Scope and Content

The archive of Eric Hardwicke Rideout was collected during the late 1920s and early 30s. Rideout was interested in the Shipping Ports of the North West during the period 1700-1850, especially in terms of Customs and Excise and related topics such as trade and quarantine.

The main areas of research for Rideout were: the Ports of Liverpool, Chester, Poulton, Isle of Man, and Whitehaven; their Customs Houses, Trade, Quays, and Quarantine regulations. The archive also contains material relating to Rideout MA thesis, submitted to the University of Liverpool in 1931, on Navigation Law in the 18th Century.

Much of Rideout's research was done at various Customs Houses in the North West with a huge body of transcriptions being made from the Customs Letter Books of the various Customs Houses. These recorded the day-to-day activities of the Houses and the events of the port. The archive is littered with these transcripts, both typescript and manuscript but the majority are based upon Rideout's original transcripts which, recorded onto index cards, are gathered at Rideout II.2 .

Also of use will be a file of letters located at Rideout I.6  which includes his correspondence with various individuals concerning his research, visits to various Customs Houses and correspondence concerning the publishing of his findings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eric Hardwicke Rideout was born in 1898 in Liverpool. He attended the Liverpool Institute up until 1915 from where he went to the University of Liverpool to study Botany and Chemistry. His education was interrupted by the First World War where he served with the Liverpool Scottish , R.E. & R.A.F. from 1916-1919. He returned to University to finish his education, graduating in 1921 with a B.Sc First Class Ordinary degree in Botany and Chemistry and a B.Sc First Class Honours degree in Chemistry. He also followed courses in Geology, Physics and Zoology.

Rideout set up practice as an Agricultural Consultant but he had a strong interest in local history. By 1923 he was giving papers to the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, publishing Wirral Watersheds and River Systems and their Influence of Local History andWirral Field Names in their Transactions of 1923.

Around about this time, Rideout appears to have developed a deep interest in the Customs Houses of Liverpool and the North West and undertook extensive research into this area. He visited numerous Customs Houses in the North West and upon the Isle of Man, spending several holidays undertaking his research. He continued in his professional role as an Agricultural Consultant and applied for the post of Agricultural Organiser on the Isle of Man in 1928 and by this point he had already published his work The Custom House, Liverpool (1927). His interest in Customs, trade and quarantine extended and the archive contains several areas of research which were presented in the form of talks and papers.

His interest in the Navigations Laws of England resulted in his return to the University of Liverpool and the submission of a thesis, The Operation of the English Navigation Acts during the Eighteenth Century, for which he received his MA on 4 July 1931.

Little is known about Rideout's life. The dedication in his book, The Growth of the Wirral (1927) indicates he was married and his various correspondence indicated he spent much of his life based in Liverpool. He seems to have developed an interest in film, publishing a book, The American Film, in 1931. He eventually ended up in London from where he deposited his Customs manuscripts and research notes with the University of Liverpool Library in 1954 on "permanent loan".

His date of death is unknown.


The material is arranged in the order in which it was previously listed. The original item reference numbers have been retained.

The material is divided into 5 main sections: 

  • I-XIII: The Port of Liverpool
  • XIV-XV: The Port of Chester
  • XVI-XIX: Ports of Lancashire
  • XX-XXI: Other areas of research by Rideout
  • XXII-XXIV: Miscellaneous

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers.

Acquisition Information

The material has been on indefinite loan to the University since 1954 when it was deposited by Rideout himself. See Rideout XXIV.4.1 . The University Library Report for Session 1953-54 records that "Mr E. H. Rideout deposited on indefinite loan a valuable collection of transcriptions and notes relating to the history of the Customs, many of them from originals, now destroyed, in the Liverpool Custom House." (p.5).At the same time "The Library acquired from Mr. E. H. Rideout a miscellaneous collection of 215 volumes, including useful periodicals on English local history and numerous rationalist pamphlets of the 19th century." (p.9). Presumably these have been absorbed into the libraries book collection.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the reading room.

Archivist's Note

This finding aid was edited and amended for inclusion on the Archives Hub by Roy Lumb in August 2004.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and Licensing Rules available upon request


It is not expected that any further material will be deposited.


Where a copy is held at the University of Liverpool Library, the appropriate call number has been given.

A list of professional articles concerning agriculture by Rideout can be found attached to his CV at Rideout XX.2

  • Botany: Vegitation of Liverpool and DistrictMerseyside: A Handbook to Liverpool and District, ed. A. Holt, 1923.
  • Wirral Watersheds and River Systems and their Influence of Local HistoryTransactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1923.
  • Wirral Field NamesTransactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire , 1923  (SJL: DA 670.C6.W79)
  • The Sites of Ancient Villages in Wirral, Cheshire. Liverpool, 1926
  • The Custom House, Liverpool. Liverpool, 1927.  (SPEC S/DA 690.L8.R54)
  • The Growth of the Wirral. Liverpool, 1927. (EDUC ZF07.4)
  • Calendar of Parliamentary Papers before 1801 in Liverpool Free Library. Liverpool, 1929.  (SJL: J300.L78)
  • Development of the Liverpool Warehouseing SystemTransactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire , 1930
  • The Operation of the English Navigation Acts during the Eighteenth Century. MA Thesis, University of Liverpool, 1931.  (Thesis 389 RID)
  • The Episode of the Irish Beef: [Extracts from the Customs House Letter Books 1723-1728]Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire , 1932
  • The American Film. London, 1937