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Dazzling tea cosies for the Edmund Gardner

3 September 2015 by Sam

colourful tea cosy in front of a ship painted with a similar pattern

Gina’s dazzle ship inspired tea cosy

This summer Chris Moseley, shipkeeping and models conservator, took over responsibility for the Edmund Gardner pilot ship – the largest item in our collections and probably the brightest since it was dazzled last year.

Along with 700 tons of ship he also inherited a couple of old tea pots and had a tea pot polishing competition with George, one of the volunteers on the ship. The results were so good that they decided they needed two new tea cosies, so they asked if National Museums Liverpool’s knitting group, the Knitwits, could help.

One of our knitters, Gina Couch, jumped at the chance to help, as she had a family connection to the Edmund Gardner. Her late brother Gerard, who was known as Sam by most people, worked for the Pilotage Service from 1949 to 1988, so he had worked on the Edmund Garner when it was used as a pilot vessel between 1953 and 1981. 

portrait photo

Sam Couch, during the 1980s

During this time the Edmund Gardner was essentially a base out in the Irish Sea for the Pilotage Service, providing accommodation for up to 32 pilots at a time. The pilots met all shipping approaching the Mersey and guided them into and out of the docks, to ensure their safety. You can find out about the history of the Edmund Gardner on the website.

Gina remembered that Sam had enjoyed his time on the Edmund Gardner as it was a very sociable job, meeting seafarers visiting Liverpool on ships from all over the world and spending time with the other pilots on board when they were not busy working. His obituary in the Pilot magazine in July 2004 (see page 12) shows that he was highly regarded by his colleagues in the Pilotage service.

Gina has crocheted a fantastic dazzle tea cosy for one of the Edmund Gardner’s teapots, inspired by the ship’s dazzle pattern. For the second tea cosy she decided that the Edmund Gardner needed a ship’s cat, so she knitted a ginger one called Monty. To keep the family connections going, Monty is named after Gina’s mother Montserrat.

cat tea cosy

Monty the cat tea cosy, on the Edmund Gardner

You might see these rather jolly tea cosies if you book onto one of the free tours of the Edmund Gardner, which take place every Tuesday and Wednesday until the end of September – see Merseyside Maritime Museum’s events listings for full details including how to book your free place.

Gina isn’t the only creative person who has been inspired by dazzle ships, as it was the name of an album by the influential electro pop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. OMD’s interest in dazzle ships led them to play two sell out gigs opposite the Edmund Gardner at the Museum of Liverpool in November 2014.

To accompany the concerts, OMD collaborated with National Museums Liverpool to create a unique audio visual installation on board the Edmund Gardner, called ‘Dazzle Ships (Parts I, IV, V & VI)’. In October we have another exciting opportunity for visitors to experience the installation, for one weekend only. Keep an eye on the blog for further details!

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