Can you help tell the untold stories of Black seafarers?

19 January 2017 by Rebecca

Archive photo of the crew on board a ship, including a Black seafarer

The ship and crew of Moel Eilian, c1889. Merseyside Maritime Museum, Maritime Archives and Library (reference DX/1328)

Hello, I’m Rebecca Smith, Curator of Maritime Art at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and I’m currently working on the forthcoming exhibition Black Salt, which will tell the story of the Black seafarers who have worked on British ships.

Sailors of African descent have been part of crews sailing from the United Kingdom for at least 500 years, but their contribution to the country’s maritime identity is often marginalised or overlooked.

Building on research carried out by Dr Ray Costello for his book Black Salt, the exhibition will put the often hidden story of Britain’s Black seafarers in the context of 500 years of life at sea. It will use the personal stories of seafarers to chart a course through the often troubled waters of Britain’s maritime past to explore the pioneering work of Black seafarers and the challenges they faced.

We are looking for families with a seafaring background who are willing to share their stories or who perhaps have objects that belonged to a relative who was at sea. Perhaps you were a seafarer yourself and would be willing to share your experience?

Please email or telephone me on 0151 478 4455. Send any postal responses to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, L3 4AQ.

  1. IT Support Dallas says:

    Another very strong and powerful post. I’ve been reading through some of your previous posts and finally decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up for your newsletter, so please keep up the informative posts!

    IT Support Dallas

    • Rebecca Smith says:

      Dear IT Support Dallas, many thanks for your kind comment! Good to hear you have signed up for the newsletter too. We have many exciting projects coming up at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, thank you for following us.
      Best wishes,

  2. Heather Collins says:

    Charles Pinheiro and Lester Ince of Barbados are my ancestors. They joined the Royal Navy in Barbados and later immigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada. I have their ratings which give a loose timeline for the ships they served on. They’re very well documented in Canada, and I know that Lester’s prior service in the Royal Navy did allow him to enlist in the CEF during WWI, which was rare for men of color.

    I’m happy to provide more information if needed. My contact information is available on my blog

  3. Rebecca Smith says:

    Dear Heather,

    Many thanks for your reply and offer to help. I will have a look at your blog.
    Thanks again.
    Best wishes,

(Comments are closed for this post.)

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