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Letters from Mother

8 March 2013 by Sarah

Photograph of young man in maritime navy uniform

Willie Dailey, apprentice, c1886 (Maritime Archives reference DX/1924).

This handsome young man is Willie Dailey of Stafford who decided he wanted a life at sea and persuaded his parents to apprentice him on a voyage of the ship Benares, from Dundee to Chile and San Francisco, USA.  It was 1886 and he was 16 years old.

The Maritime Archives and Library hold some letters by Willie and his family and the ones from his mother would be achingly familiar even today.  His worried mother, Jane, tells Willie to mind his manners, wash his clothes and eat well.  She hopes his Captain is kind, his crewmates friendly and that he is warm enough, dry enough and not sea sick.  She tells him off when he fails to write.  Read more…

Happy Birthday Formica!

18 January 2013 by Sarah

Drawing of proposed cocktail bar on ship Caronia

Drawing and material sample sheet for a bar on ship Caronia, Cunard Line, c1947 (reference DX/1394)

Anniversaries are very helpful when writing for a blog and what better one to celebrate than 100 years since the invention of Formica, everyone’s favourite kitchen worktop surface, and still going strong today.  Our photograph doesn’t really do this item justice but, trust me, it is lovely. Especially if you have an interest in interior design and the wonders of plastic – and who doesn’t?  I’ve not been able to find a photograph of the bar in the Caronia so I don’t know if this suggestion by White Allom Ltd was accepted.  Read more…

Flying Elephant

7 November 2012 by Sarah

Photograph of an elephant being moved from one ship to another

Transferring an elephant on the Irrawaddy River, Burma (MAL reference D/IR/Box3)

Now I could use this image to draw some metaphor with the American Republican party as their symbol is an elephant, but I’ve heard quite enough about that election, so I’ll just tell you a little bit about the photograph.

This lovely image is from an album held by the Maritime Archives & Library of photographs taken and collected by Captain H J Chubb who worked for the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in Burma.  The company ran a fleet of vessels along the difficult waters of the Irrawaddy River until 1950 when its assets were transferred to the newly independent Burmese Government. Read more…

Merchant Navy Day

30 August 2012 by Sarah

Image of document belonging to seafarer Thomas Crone

Mariner’s Register Ticket, issued to Thomas Crone, reference DX/850

Whilst remembering the contribution the merchant navy has made, and continues to make, to Britain, you may be tempted into a little family history research on your seafaring ancestors. 

Merchant seafarers are well documented compared with other professions.  Most of the records are held at the National Archives although to complicate matters the documentation changes over time as each system set up by the Board of Trade was overwhelmed by the growth of Britain’s merchant fleet.  The Maritime Archive & Library has an information sheet that explains how to track the records down.  Read more…

Sport and the Sea

2 August 2012 by Sarah

Photograph of people using gym equipment, 1930s

Anchor Line brochure for vessels Cilacia and Circassia showing on-board gym (cropped), reference SAS/33F/1/4.

I do enjoy cycling, so the last few weeks have been fantastic. Not the weather, unfortunately, but watching the exploits of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and David Millar et al. in the Tour de France and the Olympics.  All topped off with yesterday’s brilliant time trial.  The Maritime Archives & Library are celebrating the Olympics with an online exhibition Sport and the Sea which includes images of on-board sports facilities such as this rather uncomfortable looking gym on the Anchor Line vessels Cilacia and Circassia from the 1930s. Read more…

International Mine Awareness Day

4 April 2012 by Sarah

Photograph of damaged side of a ship

Damaged hull of City of Exeter, Ellerman Lines (reference DX/1507)

It’s rather hard to make out, but this photograph shows a large hole in the Ellerman Line vessel City of Exeter caused when it was mined 200 miles off Bombay (Mumbai) in 1917.  The ship safely reached Bombay (Mumbai) and was put into dry dock for repairs.

Today is International Mine Awareness Day part of a campaign to highlight the danger to civilians from mines laid during wars.  The charity MAG (Mines Awareness Group) does a lot of work in this area, both in educating children to recognise and avoid mines and in clearing land so it can be safely used again. Read more…

Victoria Drummond, an inspirational woman for International Womens Day

8 March 2012 by Sarah

Image of wage list showing Victoria Drummond

Extract from Blue Funnel wages book showing Victoria Drummond as 10th engineer on Anchises (reference OA/986/1922).

This is an entry from a wages book for a voyage on the Blue Funnel vessel Anchises beginning in August 1922. It might not look significant, but it is. This is the first voyage of Victoria Drummond, signed on as 10th Engineer and paid £12 a month. Drummond was the first woman to qualify as a marine engineer and she managed to have a successful career at sea despite encountering prejudice and discrimination. She was awarded the Lloyd’s Bravery Medal and an MBE for heroic actions during the Second World War when her ship Bonita was bombed. More information about her life can be found online here and the Maritime Archives & Library holds a copy of her biography. Her pioneering life is also remembered by the Victoria Drummond Award given by Nautilus, the Merchant Navy Union, to women whose achievements boost the profile of women at sea.  Read more…

HMS Liverpool bids farewell

5 March 2012 by Sarah

Photograph of ship HMS Liverpool in Mersey

HMS Liverpool leaving the Mersey for the last time.

It’s lovely down by the Mersey today, as long as you can avoid the cold wind.  The crew of HMS Liverpool were braving the wind as they stood on deck during the ship’s final voyage down the river this morning.  We took this photograph from the window of the Maritime Archives & Library as HMS Liverpool, built in Birkenhead by Cammel Lairds, headed to Portsmouth for decommissioning.  It was a sad moment, but we were pleased to see that, like us, many people stopped to pay their respects.  Read more…

Iceberg

21 December 2011 by Sarah

Photograph of crew clearing ice from deck of ship

Clearing ice from the deck of Montrose, 1928 (reference PR 154)

I have been trying to find a photograph on a Christmas/Winter theme for a festive blog post to advertise the Maritime Archives & Library online exhibition Christmas at Sea. I discovered this photograph of the crew of the Canadian Pacific vessel Montrose shovelling ice off the deck after the ship struck an iceberg in fog off Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.  I could have passed this off as a winter event, but unfortunately it happened on Easter Monday in April 1928.  This is not the festival I was looking for, but a good reminder of how harsh conditions can be at sea.  The Montrose was requisitioned during the Second World War and renamed HMS Forfar.  It was torpedoed and sunk on 2nd December 1940 with the loss of 184 crew – a tragic winter event. Read more…

King Cotton

7 December 2011 by Sarah

Drawing of John Bull worshipping cotton whilst kneeling on a slave

King Cotton postcard, published New York, 1861, on loan from Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum is currently marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War with an exhibition outside the Maritime Archives & Library on the second floor and a trail pointing out relevant collections throughout the museum.  This image shows part of an envelope that we have borrowed from the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester to add to the exhibition.  It was printed in New York and was designed to send a powerful message regarding the economic and moral position of England (represented by John Bull).  England claimed to be powerful and free, but the economic success of places like Manchester was reliant on access to cotton produced by slave labour.  John Bull is kneeling on a slave while worshipping King Cotton. Read more…

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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.