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Posts by Sarah Starkey

Unexpected shrapnel

10 November 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of box containing documents

File of papers relating to postwar repair of the Port of Liverpool building (MDHB collection).

The Maritime Archives & Library holds a very large collection of records relating to the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board (MDHB), who ran the Liverpool & Birkenhead dock system from 1858 until 1971. The MDHB, like most large organisations, were keen on committees and reports, and produced a lot of documents.  These are a great resource for studying the history of Liverpool, but can be a little overwhelming.  Occasionally a box reveals something unexpected, such as this piece of shrapnel stored amongst a file relating to the repair of the Dock Office, the Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head.  The note on the envelope states that the shrapnel was taken out of the ‘copper covering of Dome, Dock Office’. The Port of Liverpool Building was hit by a mine on the morning of 3rd May 1941 which caused a fire that destroyed most of the east side of the building before being brought under control. Read more…

Maritime Moustaches for Movember

1 November 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of man with moustache

William C Mylechreest, Mersey pilot, reference D/MORR/4/1/1

November is time for Movember, when men grow moustaches for a month to raise awareness of men’s health issues.  Now this is obviously a laudable effort, but there are always lessons to be learnt from the past. We’ve chosen a few examples of maritime men from the Maritime Archives & Library to demonstrate how to work a moustache with flare.  No comedy intent here, just serious style.  Can the man of today live up to the high standards set by the men of the past?  Images of Movember efforts will be posted on their website for you to judge. Read more…


26 September 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of Harrison Line ship named Politician leaving Liverpool

Politician, Harrison Line, leaving dock in Liverpool (reference McR/38/142).

Ok it’s a poor link, but as we don’t have any photographs of politicians, apart from ex-merchant seafarer John Prescot, I thought I’d throw in this photograph of the Harrison Line vessel Politician while the Labour Party Conference is on in Liverpool. 

T & J Harrison, like many shipping companies, used a theme when naming their vessels.  In their case it was professions, which are slightly easier to remember than Blue Funnel’s(Ocean Steamship Company) use of characters from Greek mythology.  Harrison Line never named a ship Archivist, but they did have 3 vessels named Custodian, which is pretty close to my job description.  Read more…

Merchant Navy Day (2)

1 September 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Cartoon of man being told not to spoke

Cartoon from Peter Rogan’s wartime log (reference DX/2503)

Merchant Navy Day is celebrated on 3rd September, to commemorate the contribution the merchant navy has made, and continues to make, to Britain.  There is a special service being held on Sunday 4th September at St Nicholas’ Church, Liverpool at 12pm.

This cartoon is taken from the wartime log kept by merchant seafarer Peter Rogan while he was a POW in Milag Nord during the Second World War.  More images from the diary are on our website in a small online exhibition.  With so much merchant navy history to cover, this is just a small example of the service given and hardship suffered by merchant seafarers, plenty more information is available in the records held by the Maritime Archives & Library or on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…

Start of a long journey

12 August 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of ship called City of Chicago

City of Chicago, Inman Line, built 1873 (reference McR/39/312)

A lycra-clad cyclist came into the Maritime Archives & Library last week wanting to know where someone arriving in Liverpool from New York in 1885 would have landed.  We pointed him in the direction of the Princes Landing Stage and the Pier Head. The reason for his interest was that he was about to start cycling around the world, attempting to follow the route of Thomas Stevens’ 1884-1887 journey that made him the first man to cycle around the world.  Read more…

Cold Stores & Ice Factory

13 July 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Image of Albert Dock Warehouse and tugboat

Merseyside Maritime Museum building from Canning Half Tide basin, c.1911, reference PR.588.

If you come down to the Merseyside Maritime Museum today, well, to be honest, we’re not looking that great.  As part of ongoing conservation work on our lovely 1846 built warehouse, the front of the museum is being covered in scaffolding. When the scaffolding construction is complete our Estates Department will be putting up some signage to explain what is going on (which I’ll need to read).  In the meantime here is a rather interesting photograph from our collections at the Maritime Archives & Library. Taken around 1911 is shows the building when it was a cold storage warehouse.  It may not look like it, but it is the front of the building, taken from Canning Half Tide basin, so the shed in front, the building on the roof and the built in section in the middle are all long gone. Read more…

Wimbledon, but not tennis

1 July 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Confederate solders reunion at Wimbledon Common 1869

B/FT 1/215:Detail of photograph; Group of Confederate States’ war veterans at Wimbledon Common, 1869.

It’s a big weekend for North America this week.  Today is Canada Day and on Monday it’s Independence Day in the USA.  At the Merseyside Maritime Museum we’re currently marking a not so happy time in North America with an exhibition on the important part played by Liverpool in the American Civil War.  There is a gallery trail throughout the museum and a display of documents outside the Maritime Archives & Library on the second floor.  This image is part of a photograph of ex-Confederate soldiers taken at Wimbledon, London in 1869, presumably during the annual National Rifle Association meeting held on the Common. Read more…

Dublin streetview

16 May 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of street scene in Dublin, 1895

Westmoreland Street (?), Dublin, 1895 BICC/VII/2/11/5 (crop)

The Queen is making an historic state visit to Ireland this week.  This image of Westmoreland Street (we think) in Dublin dates from 1895 and is from our collection of records relating to BICC (British Insulated Callenders Cables) the company formed by the 1945 merger of the Prescot based British Insulated Wire Company and the Erith based Callenders.  The collection contains a large number of photographs from many different places recording work carried out by the company, Callenders in this case.  I have to say that for me the main interest is not in the cable laying work, although I like the half hearted safety barriers, but all the general city life caught in the photograph.  The horse drawn carriages and the city gents.  We don’t know what the cables are being laid for, but Dublin’s newly electrified tram service started running on this day in 1896. Read more…

From Liverpool to Chile

21 April 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Image of launch of vessel in 1911

Launch of the tug Poderoso, Grayson Shipyard, Liverpool (reference PR585)

Launched the same year as the Titanic, but with a considerably longer working life, this photograph is of the launch of the tug Poderoso built by Grayson & Company in Liverpool in 1911.  The tug left Liverpool that year for Chile and worked there until 1988.  John Winrow, Assistant Curator at the Maritime Archives & Library, who found the image while listing a box of photographs, discovered that the vessel is moored in Talcahuano, Chile.  In recognition of its long service the Poderoso is now a National Monument with an organisation dedicated to preserving it.  However, while looking at their website we discovered that unfortunately, not long after its restoration was finished, the Poderoso was heavily damaged, turned on its side no less, by a tsunami following an earthquake last year.  We sent a digital copy of the photograph to the Poderoso preservation society, who have used it in their most recent newsletter, and we wish them well in their continuing efforts to preserve this lovely hard working vessel. Read more…

Titanic sinking, 99th anniversary

11 April 2011 by Sarah Starkey

Postcard of Titanic being held in front of model of Titanic

Postcard of Titanic showing Lady Duff Gordon’s lifeboat(PR.548)

Thursday is the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, not an anniversary that is usually celebrated, but a good day to get a bit of press attention for the new temporary exhibition at the Maritime Museum scheduled for the 100th anniversary in 2012.  So this morning I was carefully posing with some of the Titanic related items held by the Maritime Archives & Library, beside the builders’ model of the ship in the Disasters At Sea gallery.  This postcard of the Titanic is marked where Lady Duff Gordon, her husband, and her maid, Linda Francatelli, boarded the lifeboat that saved them. Linda Francatelli’s apron, worn on that night, is already on display.  The new exhibition will highlight the connections between Liverpool and Titanic.  From the fact that the vessel was registered here (we hold the registration certificate), to the stories of the many Merseyside based people involved in the design, commissioning and staffing of the Titanic and the tragedy of the sinking.  It will also give us an opportunity to display some of our more fragile material that we couldn’t put into a permanent gallery. Read more…

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