The year 1911 was one of Liverpool's most turbulent. Tension among the city's seamen was to spill over into a general transport strike that would paralyse the "Second Port of the Empire" for 72 days and bring hardship to the thousands of families dependent on the men's wages.
But for a young Irish woman living in a tiny flat at 102 Upper Stanhope Street in the Toxteth area, the times were good. Bridget Dowling had met the man of her dreams at a horse show in her native Dublin the previous year. With his handsome features, fashionable clothes, and handlebar moustache the young Austrian, called Alois, appeared every inch a man of the world.
Telling her he was a wealthy hotelier studying the industry in other parts of Europe, he swept the impressionable 17-year-old off her feet. "Everything he said was so new and interesting that even his broken English seemed charming," she later recalled.
But the course of Bridget's love was not to run smoothly. As the couple enjoyed trysts at Dublin's National Gallery and planned a future together, the girl's father, William, was growing concerned about the relationship. Not least because he had discovered his daughter's suitor was a waiter in the Shelbourne Hotel - a position he had been sent to by a London employment agency.
Pre-empting their disapproval, Bridget and her boyfriend eloped to London and were married on 3 June 1910. The wedding infuriated William Dowling who tried to have Alois arrested for kidnap. But by 1911, peace had broken out in the family and Bridget's father had made the sea journey to Liverpool to attend the baptism of his first grandchild. The child's name was William Patrick Hitler.