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British child refugees

20 June 2018 by Jen

Refugee Week, founded in 1998 “as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers”, is marking its 20th anniversary this week, and one of the 20 Simple Acts they have asked people to consider doing this year is spread the word.

Sadly the hostility that inspired this campaign in 1998 is still present and their work is as important as ever. I believe that it is harder to be hostile towards someone once we begin to empathise with them, and as human beings we often empathise most easily with people when we realise they are like ourselves. In keeping with that idea I want to talk about Britain’s own child refugees. Read more…

Centenary of Mersey ferries’ daring Zeebrugge raid

19 April 2018 by Jen

Black and white photograph of two Mersey ferries

The Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II at Dover soon after the vessels returned from the Zeebrugge Raid © IWM (Q 18888)

Anyone who’s looked out across the Mersey in the last couple of years has probably noticed the very colourful Mersey ferry Snowdrop in her fabulous dazzle-inspired livery. Designed by Peter Blake to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is reminiscent of the Dazzle camouflage used by thousands of ships in the conflict. If you step on board and visit the display co-curated by National Museums Liverpool you’ll discover that when the Mersey ferries played their own role in the war, their livery couldn’t have looked more different to the spectacular Dazzle. Read more…

A story of female friendship and survival

7 March 2018 by Jen

Back and white photo of a large two funnelled liner, the City of Benares

City of Benares, Maritime Archives & Library, MMM collection, reference MCR/61/371 (copyright unknown, believed to be expired)

When I first started to think about women’s stories we could spotlight this year for International Women’s Day there was one in particular that instantly came to mind. I’ve blogged before about the sinking of the Ellerman liner, City of Benares. Torpedoed mid-Atlantic in 1940 while taking child evacuees to Canada, it’s one of the most heart-rending pieces of research I’ve ever carried out. As always with such tragedies though, the larger story is made up of hundreds of smaller, more personal, ones. Beth and Bess are one of these stories. Read more…

A Valentine to seafarers

12 February 2018 by Jen

Off-white tile with red printed design showing a woman embracing a sailor with sailing ship in the background.

British Delftware tile, ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, from National Museums Liverpool’s Decorative Arts collection – M2234 i

Here at the Maritime Museum our curatorial team are busy researching the content for our new Sea Galleries, set to open in 2019 and looking at the lives and experiences of seafarers. I’ve become particularly interested in the effects of separation from one’s family and home, and have been reading through a collection of journals in the Maritime Archives kept by a Captain Porter in the 1860s aboard his ship the Jamna. Read more…

A Wesołych Świąt stranded in the Suez Canal

22 December 2017 by Jen

Large Wooden Christmas Tree floating beside two small boats.

Christmas tree created by Polish seafarers from the Djakarta.  Photograph courtesy of George Wharton.

Christmas on a ship, somewhere hot and sunny, with not a lot to do. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Let’s be honest, after weeks of Christmas preparations (which can make the holiday seem like an awful lot of work) who hasn’t nurtured a secret desire to do it all differently one year and sail off in to the sun?

The Suez Canal however is perhaps not the first place that springs to mind as a Christmas getaway. The Canal is a manmade waterway built in Egypt in the 19th century, an important trade route linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas. In June 1967 years of political tension between Egypt and Israel erupted in what would become known as the Six Day War. Faced with Israeli occupation of the east bank of the Canal, Egypt blocked both ends. Passenger ships in the canal had been allowed to leave but orders were for the cargo vessels to stay put. This left a group of 14 ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake area of the canal, where they would remain, trapped by obstacles both physical and political, for a further eight years. Read more…

‘Never at Sea’… well, never say never

8 November 2017 by Jen

Cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Mis P.G. Stubbs - 1981.730.6

Uniform cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Miss PG Stubbs – 1981.730.6

It is 1917 and for the last three years war on a scale previously unseen and unimagined has been raging between the European powers. Young men have died by the thousands and the end is still not in sight. Britain is facing a shortage of manpower and finally considering radical measures; to free up men for the front, women will be asked to volunteer with the services to fill non-fighting roles. Read more…

‘Hair-raising’ model made in top secret underground bunker

24 October 2017 by Jen

Small dazzle painted ship model of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Witch in wood framed glass case.

Ship model of HMS Witch. Accession number MMM.1993.69

It’s that time of year again and a chill caused by more than just autumn winds is upon us. Halloween is bearing down fast with its usual accompaniment of pumpkins, ghosts, and of course witches! The ship model you can see here may look fairly innocuous but this is the Royal Naval Destroyer HMS Witch and it’s rigged with real human hair! Read more…

The Oratory – a look inside one of our lesser known buildings

3 August 2016 by Jen

The Oratory at night with the steps covered in candles for a special event.

The Oratory at night with the steps covered in candles for a special event.

We often use our blog to highlight our fantastic collections, they are after all the most obvious asset of any museum or gallery. This time however I’d like to shift the focus to something a little different, because here at National Museums Liverpool we are extremely fortunate to be able to house our incredible collections in stunning buildings that are architecturally, historically and culturally significant in their own right. Read more…

A view from the Lady Lever’s South End

10 November 2015 by Jen

Port Sunlight War Memorial

Port Sunlight War Memorial

If you stand looking out of the south doors of the Lady Lever Art Gallery you take in a stunning vista from the nearby fountain, through the rose gardens, towards the Port Sunlight War Memorial. Originally these doors are where you would have entered the gallery and one of the things we wanted to do as part of the South End redevelopment was to restore this view.  When the new galleries open in spring 2016 a new pair of glass doors will allow visitors to gaze out upon the village, helping those within the Lady Lever to connect with her beautiful surroundings. Read more…

The City of Benares legacy 75 years on

20 October 2015 by Jen

John Baker holding a page from a newspaper

City of Benares survivor John Baker holding a copy of his local paper in which he was interviewed. Picture taken on his recent visit to the maritime Museum.

One of the great things about working on projects around events within living memory is that often they prompt people to come forward and talk about their own experiences or family story. At a 75 year remove, with most of the children not from the local area, I wasn’t sure how much impact our City of Benares feature would have in this respect but I was pleasantly surprised. Some people got in touch to say they’d known or knew people who had been on board, a representative of the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade (SVLB) made contact to say they were marking the 75th anniversary with a service and small display, and one of the child survivors even turned up at the Maritime Museum for a chat.  Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.