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An amazing escape

3 April 2014 by Sarah

A black and white photograph of sea and sky with an upturned table barely visible in the centre of the image.

Photograph taken during the aftermath of the sinking of Nova Scotia, Mozambique Channel, 28 Nov 1942 (Maritime Archives reference DX/2592).

This photograph doesn’t look like much, just a grey sea and sky, but if you look closely there is a speck in the middle of the image.  This is a photograph of the aftermath of the wreck of the Liverpool registered Furness Withy ship Nova Scotia which was torpedoed on 28th November 1942 off the coast of Mozambique.  The speck is Read more…

Pancakes at sea

4 March 2014 by Sarah

Recipe for pancakes

Recipe for pancakes, from Sea Cookery by Richard Bond (Maritime Archives & Library reference 413.BON)

I’m sure there are plenty of pancake batter recipes available on the internet, but there’s always room for one more.  This is from a 1911 edition of ‘Sea Cookery’ by Richard Bond, which the author describes as ‘a cookery book which will on sensible and plain lines give a number of recipes of value both on sea and shore’. Read more…

Valentine’s Day menu

12 February 2014 by Sarah

Menu from ship Baltic for 14th Feb 1913

This Valentine Day linked item is a menu from the White Star Line vessel Baltic for 14th February 1913, when the ship was approaching New York on a voyage from Liverpool.  It’s an impressive array of food, so is probably a first class menu.

The Maritime Archives and Library holds a lot of ship menus and I find them fascinating.  Read more…

National Register of Archives

14 January 2014 by Sarah

Photograph of wounded disembarking from a hospital ship during the First World War

Photograph of wounded disembarking from a hospital ship during the First World War (Maritime Archives reference D/APB)

Here at the Maritime Archives & Library, I am in the process of preparing our annual return for the NRA, which in the world of UK Archives stands for National Register of Archives.  Read more…

Movember Moustaches

4 November 2013 by Sarah

Black and white photograph of W Roberts, shipbroker

W Roberts, shipbroker, from the De Wolf photograph album (Maritime Archives reference DX/2243)

 As the leaves fall from the trees and the nights draw in my thoughts turn not towards Christmas, but to moustaches.  We have again updated our gallery of moustached maritime men in support of the Movember health campaign. Read more…

Moscow Cables

16 October 2013 by Sarah

Photograph of workmen cable laying in Moscow

British Insulated & Helsby Cables
Company installing electricity cables in Moscow, (ref: BICC/VII/4/1/2b)

No this isn’t evidence of an early, unsubtle, attempt by the west to spy on the Russian government, although you never know.  This is a photograph from our British Insulated Callendars Cables (BICC) archive and shows the then named British Insulated & Helsby Cables Company installing electricity cables in Moscow. Read more…

Merchant Navy Day

29 August 2013 by Sarah

Image of a seafarers discharge certificate

Discharge certificate of Charles Yates, Maritime Archive reference DX/1977

Merchant Navy Day is celebrated on 3rd September to commemorate the contribution the merchant navy has made, and continues to make, to Britain.  This year the Maritime Archives & Library is holding a drop-in family history helpdesk Read more…

High Seas not SW19

26 June 2013 by Sarah

Photograph of tennis game on deck of ship Araguaya

A game of deck tennis on board Araguaya, Royal Mail Line, 1924 (MAL reference DX/1201)

Well it’s not quite the green grass of Wimbledon, but a lack of space isn’t going to put off these tennis players.

Actually this is deck tennis on board the Royal Mail Line vessel Araguaya in 1924. The game was played by throwing quoits, rather than with rackets and balls, which presumably had a high probability of being lost overboard. This picture was taken by Miss V. Maughfling on a cruise around the Mediterranean. The Maritime Archives & Library holds a number of her photograph albums which show images of cruising and tourism in the 1920s. Read more…

Does anyone write letters these days?

8 May 2013 by Sarah

Handwritten letter

Letter from Major Caleb Huse to Charles K Prioleau, November 1862 (Maritime Archives and Library reference B/TF/BOX1/27).

Palaeography, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the science or art of deciphering and interpreting historical manuscripts.  It normally refers to ancient manuscripts in long dead languages, but I will make a case for applying it on the many handwritten letters within our collections.  The technique is more or less the same.  You need to know a bit about the context (in this case the American Civil War) and a bit about word and letter forms (for example, initial lower case ‘p’s that go both above and below the line) and the right balance between thinking what is likely to be being said and putting your own words in the mouth of the author.  Then the squiggles turn into prose before your eyes.  Read more…

Here be dragons!

18 April 2013 by Sarah

Drawing of a dragon on the back of a playing card.

Blue Funnel playing card, 1960s (Maritime Archives Reference OA/25/4/2/8)

The recent posting about the St George’s festival in Liverpool this weekend made me think about dragons.  These spectacular dragons are on the back of a pack of playing cards made for the Blue Funnel Line (Ocean Steam Ship Company) in the early 1960s.  Shipping companies, especially those that carried passengers, put a lot of effort into corporate branding, producing items such as ashtrays, crockery, menus and calendars. 

The Ocean Steam Ship Company, commonly known as Blue Funnel for reasons I’ll leave you to work out on your own, were a large Liverpool shipping firm who sailed predominately, but not exclusively, to the Far East and China.  The Maritime Archives & Library holds a large collection of records from the company, including examples of their marketing material.  These playing cards would have been a useful distraction during long hours at sea. Read more…

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