Posts by Jen
Are you stuck for something to do with the kids this half term? You could take a trip on the Mersey ferry Snowdrop on 27-31 May, which has been transformed with a fantastic dazzle inspired artwork designed by Sir Peter Blake. Dazzle was a scheme created in the First World War which saw Allied ships painted in outlandish designs to make them more difficult to target by enemy U-boats. Read more…
Last December I blogged about Brenda Shackleton’s fight for greater recognition of the remarkable story of the Merchant Navy Rescue ships and their vital contribution to the Second World War. Men of the Merchant Navy, including Brenda’s father Bill Hartley, crewed these small coastal vessels following the Allied convoys from 1940 onwards, with the sole purpose of rescuing survivors should any of the ships be torpedoed. It was a dangerous and difficult task but their actions succeeded in saving the lives of 4194 men throughout the Second World War.
The ships on all the convoys suffered high risks and terrible losses but there was one particular convoy route described by Churchill himself as:
“The worst journey in the world.”
Once again, (and, as usual, far sooner than those of us who haven’t finished the shopping yet had expected), we are fast approaching Christmas. A season as much associated with ideas of peace and goodwill as with gift giving and good food. Christmas presents have become an inescapable part of the season, one which many people (or at least those who are very well organised) start to think about a couple of months in advance.
In October 1914 one young girl seems to have been doing exactly that and her Christmas list was certainly more ambitious than most! Princess Mary, the 17 year old daughter of King George V, decided she wanted to send a gift to:
“every sailor afloat and every soldier at the Front”
Many people are familiar with the important role the shipping convoys played during the Second World War and the dangers they faced to keep Britain supplied. Shipping provided all the oil, half of all the food, and most raw materials required by Britain. By 1939 this was 55 million tons of food and raw materials per year. The convoys were famously escorted by the Royal Navy, who worked hard to offer protection to the vital shipping, but there was another group supporting them whose role is less well known. Read more…
One the most interesting aspects of working in museums is getting to hear people’s stories and explore the personal side of historic events, including the impact they often still have today.
The sinking of the Empress of Ireland on 29 May 1914 was one of the worst maritime disasters of the twentieth century. Though overshadowed now by the loss of Titanic and Lusitania this sinking resulted in more passenger deaths than either of those more famous tragedies, with a loss of 840 passengers and 172 members of crew. Many of the crew were from the Liverpool area so, like Titanic before it and Lusitania in the following year, the tragedy had strong local connections and was keenly felt in the city. Read more…
19 November 2014 by Jen
A pocket watch belonging to a Liverpool man who died in the Titanic tragedy and his wife’s fob watch have been added to the award winning Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story exhibition. Displayed next to each other, the two gold watches of Thomas Hewitt and his wife Ada were exchanged by the couple as gifts on their wedding day in September 1902. Read more…
14 November 2014 by Jen
One of National Museums Liverpool’s most iconic objects – the Titanic builder’s model, has been on the move. It has been on display for the last 8 years in the Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress gallery. This gallery is now closed and will open again in March 2015 as a new gallery Lusitania: Life, Loss, Legacy. The Titanic model has been moved up to the second floor to our award winning exhibition Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story.
But hang on a minute, just imagine the preparation and planning that goes into moving a very large (6 metres long, 1 metre wide, 1 metre tall), heavy (over half a ton), old (built in 1910), fragile (some parts are made from paper and card), and valuable object like this! For the last few months, colleagues from across divisions (Registration, Curatorial, Estates Management, Ship and Historic Models Conservation, Ship Keeping and Engineering, Exhibitions, Visitor Services) have been working hard on putting in place the logistics to ensure that the model was moved in the best and safest way possible: Read more…
3 September 2014 by Jen
Anyone visiting us down at the Liverpool waterfront this week might have noticed a distinctive red flag flying above the old Liverpool Pilotage building next door to the Museum of Liverpool. Bright red, with the Union flag in the top left corner, it’s known as a Red Ensign. Yesterday myself and a couple of colleagues had the slightly hair-raising task (it looks a lot higher up once you get up there!) of climbing up to the roof and raising the flag in time to mark Merchant Navy Day on 3 September. Read more…
7 August 2014 by Jen
Next month sees the exciting announcement of the John Moores Painting Prize winner for 2014. The shortlist has been drawn up and we’re all excited to see who the next winner of this prestigious competition will be.
Here at the Maritime Museum though we’ve been focusing on the man who founded the Painting Prize. Sir John Moores was a local businessman and founder of the Littlewoods Pools; by the mid 1930s he had made his fortune and could easily afford one of the great luxuries of the age, seeing the world on the magnificent passenger liners. Read more…
18 June 2014 by Jen
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Eastern was, in her day, the largest ship ever built. A truly ambitious project from one of the most famous names in engineering history, the Great Eastern was built to provide a ship that could travel all the way to Australia or the Far East without the need to stop and take on more coal. Despite this she was only used on the transatlantic routes, travelling to Canada and North America as a passenger liner, often departing from Liverpool and playing a part in the emigrant trade.