Our venues

Blog

Posts tagged with 'lusitania'

Rare photos of Cunard Building on its centenary

1 July 2016 by Sarah

Foundations of Cunard building, dated 28 July 1913. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Foundations of Cunard building, dated 28 July 1913. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

On Saturday, Cunard is celebrating the centenary of its former Liverpool headquarters – the iconic Cunard Building on the city’s world famous waterfront. Did you know that in our Maritime and Archives Library, we have some very rare images of the building under construction 100 years ago? Anne Gleave, Curator of Photographic Collections, Merseyside Maritime Museum tells us more:

  • What are the photos of?

The four photographic prints show the progress of the construction of the Cunard Building.

They were taken by the former Liverpool based firm of Stewart Bale Ltd, who were commercial, industrial and shipping photographers from around 1911 to 1982.

The photos are all stamped and dated, and are held in our Maritime Archives and Library, as part of our wider Stewart Bale collection. This provides, amongst other things, an excellent social and commercial history record, primarily of Liverpool and the North West – but also nationally, due to Bale’s extensive client base, making it a collection of national relevance and importance.

Early Cunard building progress of the lower storeys dated 4 September, 1914. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Early Cunard building progress of the lower storeys dated 4 September, 1914. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

  • Why were the pictures taken?

The firm of Stewart Bale was often commissioned to produce ‘progress’ photography; as the name suggests, this involved photographs being taken at regular intervals of time to create a visual record of construction progress, as with the Cunard Building, from the foundations to completion. The Stewart Bale order books record that the photographs were commissioned by the well known construction firm of Cubitts (Holland, Hannen & Cubitts). We know from the original documentation that there were at least 76 images taken for this project but only these four prints from a recent donation exist in our collection.

The architects of the Cunard Building were the Liverpool based firm of Willink & Thicknesse along with Mewes & Davis who had made a design submission prior to Willink & Thicknesse’s appointment, close to the form of the completed building.

  • How did the photos get to the Museum?

These photographs were generously donated to our collections in September 2015 by Colin Powell, a former employee of the architectural practice of Gilling Dod (successors to Willink & Thicknesse).  Mr Powell rescued the prints when the firm relocated from the Cunard Building to other premises. We are extremely appreciative of this significant gift.

  • Why are the photos important?

These photographs are significant on many levels.

The Cunard Building is one of Liverpool’s three iconic waterfront buildings, the last to be constructed, it was completed in 1916 and filled the earlier gap between the then Mersey Docks & Harbour Board headquarters and the Royal Liver Building, all of which were built on the former George’s Dock site.  These three structures, close to and parallel to the River Mersey, visibly manifest Liverpool’s assured position as a wealthy maritime power built on commercial enterprise and its status as a major transatlantic port.

Advanced building progress to the top storey, dated 2 June 1915. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Advanced building progress to the top storey, dated 2 June 1915. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

The Cunard Building housed the headquarters of one of Liverpool’s most prominent and long standing shipping companies, the Cunard Line, which also included a passenger terminal.  The Cunard Building’s prominent location at the Pier Head alongside the Royal Liver and Mersey Docks & Harbour Board buildings, close to the Liverpool Landing Stage, meant that it was part of the trio of iconic forms clearly visible from across the Mersey and at the approach to the Liverpool Landing Stage by the huge influx of people who arrived at or departed from the city by ship.

Therefore these four images of the construction of the last of the group to be built record an important aspect of Liverpool’s history in the making by documenting the changing landscape of this iconic location and contextualizing the period in which it occurred.  In particular the 1915 image, which features building progress to the top storey, also features World War I forces recruitment posters pasted to the hoardings around the base of the building; a noteworthy historical reference to the time when the building was constructed and a further glimpse into the Liverpool of WWI.

The building is of architectural consequence; it is broadly Italian Renaissance in style and clad in Portland stone and has been recognized as part of Liverpool’s UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City, which makes the images that we have recently acquired even more valuable as they both detail and site historically the Cunard Building’s construction.

Last but not least we believe that the earliest image of the four Cunard Building photographs, dated 1913 is actually the oldest image within the Bale collection; this makes this donation of major importance.

  • How can I see them?

Reproductions of two of the four images (the 1913 & 1914) were displayed in our recent ‘On the Waterfront’ exhibition. This has now ended, but the original photographs are still accessible by appointment at our reserve North Street store; please contact us for an appointment.

Cunard building virtually completed, dated 8 August, 1916. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Cunard building virtually completed, dated 8 August, 1916. Credit: Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum)

Online collections – Lusitania and Liverpool’s First World War at sea

6 May 2016 by Ellie

Dry-point etching on paper of RMS Lusitania

1987.306 Lusitania in the Mersey, by W L Wyllie

This time last year, RMS Lusitania was a focus of local, national and international attention as we marked 100 years since the sinking of this famous Cunard ship on 7 May 1915. Read more…

Lusitania families reunited

3 May 2016 by Sam

two women

Joyce Percival and Mary Jones at the Lusitania commemoration in 2015

Every year on 7 May Merseyside Maritime Museum marks the anniversary of the tragic loss of the Lusitania with a commemoration and minute’s silence at the quayside, by one of the ship’s propellers which is now part of our collection.

For the centenary of the sinking in 2015 there was also a special service at Liverpool Parish Church Our Lady and St Nicholas. The service included an unexpected twist for Mary Jones, who attended in memory of her great grandfather Michael Cooney, a fireman in the engineering department on board the Lusitania who lost his life in the tragedy, along with his son, also called Michael. Read more…

A wee tale from the ‘poop’ deck

21 July 2015 by Jen

Cropped for blog resized

Box of Bromo toilet paper. Accession number 1986.210.194

Part of my job as an Assistant Curator that I’ve absolutely loved is working in the museum stores with our fantastic collections. Sometimes though, due to the vast size of these collections, we come across some rather unexpected items. Such as toilet paper…

This item dates from the late 19th or early 20th century and was a popular brand in its day. The paper inside the box is in individual sheets, rather than the rolls we’re now familiar with, and its texture is not dissimilar to that of a paperback novel… despite it’s claims to being ‘soft and strong’ I suspect most of us would be reluctant to give it a home in our bathrooms today!

So why does the Maritime Museum have this absorbing item? Had collecting standards gone down the pan? Should we be flushed with embarrassment at this seemingly non-maritime object sneaking into our collections?  Read more…

Lusitania 100 years later: never forget

9 July 2015 by Sam Vaux

Propaganda poster of the Lusitania sinking liner.

Following the war, the Lusitania was used as a propaganda tool. This dramatic image shows the sinking liner, while encouraging Irishmen to join an Irish regiment and ‘avenge the Lusitania’. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the tenth and final blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“The Titanic remains the most famous ocean liner disaster in history. Yet the sinking of the Lusitania is a subject that still fascinates us today. While both she and the Titanic suffered untimely demise, their lives and deaths could hardly have been more dissimilar. Read more…

Lusitania: 7 May 1915

2 July 2015 by Sam

ship hit by a huge splash of water almost as high as the funnels

An artist’s conception of the torpedo impact on the Lusitania. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the 9th and penultimate blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

“On the morning of Friday 7 May 1915 the Lusitania was enshrouded in fog. Captain Turner sounded the ship’s foghorn and decelerated to 18, and sometimes to 15, knots to help prevent a collision with any ship that could have been traveling through those busy waters.

Many passengers were irritated by the foghorn, believing that it could give the ship’s position away to any enemy U-Boats. Read more…

The Lusitania’s last voyage

24 June 2015 by Sarah

Captain Turner spots a film crew on the New York pier as the Lusitania departs for the last time. © J Kent Layton Collection

Captain Turner spots a film crew on the New York pier as the Lusitania departs for the last time. © J Kent Layton Collection

This is the 8th blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…

Lusitania: ‘If business demanded’ it

19 June 2015 by Sam

Large ship being led into docks by 3 small tugs

The Mauretania being manuevered around the Liverpool docks by tugboats. © J Kent Layton Collection

This is the 7th blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“As the winter months began to wind down in early 1915, bookings were increasing on the North Atlantic again. Fears were beginning to subside, and with the threat of naval dangers at sea seeming more remote to prospective passengers, there was apparently less reason not to travel. As a result, Cunard began to see an increased need for passenger capacity. Indeed, on her 202nd crossing, headed east from New York on 1 May, the Lusitania’s second class spaces were overbooked, and overall it was her longest east-bound passenger list since the war’s outbreak.  Read more…

Lusitania and the world crisis

10 June 2015 by Sam Vaux

Two leaders standing side by side

Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II and England’s Winston Churchill together before the outbreak of war. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the sixth blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“On 28 June 1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Very few people in the world had ever heard of this unfortunate couple, nor could they possibly have imagined what would soon result from the crime.  The problem was that all of Europe had for years been divided into two armed camps. Several times incidents had threatened to become all-out European war, but each time the peril had been averted—sometimes by only a narrow margin. Read more…

Lusitania: a fantastic success

6 June 2015 by Sarah

A color portrait of the Lusitania at the Landing Stage in Liverpool. © J Kent Layton Collection

A colour portrait of the Lusitania at the Landing Stage in Liverpool. © J Kent Layton Collection

This is the fifth blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…



About our blog

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.

Subscribe

RSS RSS Feed

Disclaimer

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.