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The GBLA reunion at Merseyside Maritime Museum

19 July 2017 by Ben

Attendees at the recent GBLA Suez Canal 50th anniversary reunion event at Merseyside Maritime Museum

Here is a post from Cath Senker, co-organiser of a special reunion event held recently at the Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“In June 1967, at the outbreak of the Six-Day War, 14 merchant ships were passing through the Suez Canal. As hostilities erupted, they were ordered to halt in the Great Bitter Lake. Although the war was brief, after it finished, the Egyptian government refused the ships permission to leave. Those ships remained stranded in the Suez Canal until June 1975.

Four of them were British-flagged, including three from Liverpool shipping lines: MS Melampus and MS Agapenor from Blue Funnel Line, and MS Scottish Star from Blue Star Line. Over the period, 3,000 seafarers served on the trapped ships in the middle of a war zone, maintaining the vessels and protecting their valuable cargos. Although they came from both sides of the Iron Curtain, they formed a close community.  Read more…

Shipping posters online

7 June 2017 by Ellie

Shipping company poster

Pacific Steam Navigation Company poster 1984.269.1

As part of our ongoing efforts to make the collections of Merseyside Maritime Museum more accessible, you can now find out about some of our posters on our new works on paper collection pages.

The first works to be featured are the Liverpool shipping posters that were previously displayed in our Sail Away exhibition (May 2014 – April 2016). They were selected from over 100 posters in our collection, illustrating the history of more than a century of sea travel. Read more…

“Those monstrous funnels coming down on us”

8 May 2017 by Ellie

Portrait of Lusitania survivor Winifred Hull

This photograph of Winifred Hull was taken in Liverpool, just three weeks after the sinking. Courtesy of Geoff Pawling.

Geoff Pawling, who spoke at this year’s Lusitania commemoration, describes a remarkable letter written by his grandmother and the emotional impact on one family of the sinking:

“Our home was haunted by the Lusitania. My grandmother Winifred Hull, travelling alone to visit her parents in Wallasey, was fortunate.  She survived the torpedoing of the great transatlantic liner on 7th May 1915. Yet the terrible scenes she witnessed stayed with her for the rest of her life and cast their shadows over the childhood of her daughter, Ruth. Ruth, in turn, passed on to me and to her other two sons that legacy of memory: another family story, but this one, in its scale and horror, unlike any of the others. Read more…

Osmund Bartle Wordsworth – a survivor of Lusitania

2 May 2017 by Ellie

Osmund Bartle Wordsworth in military uniform

Courtesy of The Warden and Scholars of Winchester College

As we approach the 102nd anniversary of the tragic sinking of RMS Lusitania, guest blogger Lucy London is here to tell us about her research project and how she came across a Lusitania survivor as a result:

“Since 2012 I have been researching the First World War for a series of commemorative exhibitions. I began by researching women poets and discovered quite a few poets with a link to Merseyside, for instance, May Sinclair, very famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 20th century, was born in Rock Ferry, Wirral. I then moved on to forgotten male poets and, again, found quite a few with links to Merseyside who were not as famous as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves.

The role of women during the First World War came next; then I added the heading ‘Fascinating Facts’, such as Rin Tin Tin the American film star dog found as a puppy in a bombed out kennels by an American soldier.

During the course of my research to commemorate 1917, I discovered a writer called Osmund Bartle Wordsworth, who was related to the poet William Wordsworth of ‘Daffodils’ fame. I was interested to discover that Merseyside Maritime Museum was looking for further information about Lusitania survivors, and Osmund was one of those.  Read more…

Stranded in the Suez Canal

22 March 2017 by Ben

Flags flying from one of the Suez Canal ships, 1967. Reproduced with permission of George Wharton.

On 1 June Merseyside Maritime Museum is hosting a special reunion event to mark the 50th anniversary of ships being stranded on the Suez Canal between 1967 and 1975.  Three of the stranded ships were from Liverpool; MS Melampus and MS Agapenor from the Blue Funnel Line and MS Scottish Star from the Blue Star Line.

Our guest blogger Cath Senker explains how the event came about:

Read more…

Surviving the TSS Yorkshire sinking

6 March 2017 by Ben

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

TSS Yorkshire painted by Ernest Barrett. 1987.118.3.37

The maritime history department at Merseyside Maritime Museum have recently collected an object connected to the sinking of the TSS Yorkshire in 1939.

TSS Yorkshire was built in 1920 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Liverpool based Bibby Line.  The ship was on her way to Liverpool from Rangoon as part of the allied convoy HG-3.  The Dixon family had joined the ship at Gibraltar, including brother and sister Cyril (aged 15) and Maureen (aged 8), and their mother and father.  On 17 October, 1939 the convoy was in the North Atlantic 160 miles off the north-west coast of Spain.  That afternoon the convoy was attacked by the German U-boat U-37.  Yorkshire was hit and sank with the loss of 58 lives.  Read more…

Celebrating 100 years: Seafarers UK

22 February 2017 by Ben

Atlantic star ship image

Container ship Atlantic Star approaching Liverpool. Image courtesy of Phillip Parker

Seafarers UK is a charity that helps people in the maritime community by providing vital support to seafarers in need and their families.

The charity does this by giving grants to projects and organisations that make a real difference to people’s lives, across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. In 2016 Seafarers UK gave grants totalling £2.5million to more than 70 maritime welfare charities.  Read more…

Caught by the Wolf: remembering the SS Matheran

26 January 2017 by Ben

men on the deck of a ship

Prisoners on the deck of SMS Wolf. © IWM (Q 53085)

In today’s Times newspaper, there is a small but poignant notice:

“BOY ABDUL, Indian Merchant Service. Sole casualty, SS Matheran, Brocklebank Line, Liverpool, Captain Maurice Addy. Sunk by a mine off Cape Town, SA, 26 January 1917. Remembered today on the Seamen’s Memorial in Mumbai and by his Captain’s family.”

100 years ago today, the Liverpool ship SS Matheran was sunk by a mine laid by one of Germany’s most notorious ships – the SMS Wolf.  Read more…

Centenary of the sinking of White Star Line’s Laurentic

25 January 2017 by Ellie

Laurentic at Belfast

MCR/82/167 Copyright unknown, believed to be expired

As we continue to mark the centenary of the First World War, I wanted to highlight a Liverpool ship that was lost on 25 January 1917.

Laurentic (originally named Alberta) was built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff in 1908 for the Dominion Line. During construction, Alberta and her sister ship Albany were purchased by White Star Line and were renamed Laurentic and Megantic.  Laurentic departed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Canada in 1909, and over the next few years carried thousands of passengers across the Atlantic. Read more…

Can you help tell the untold stories of Black seafarers?

19 January 2017 by Rebecca

Archive photo of the crew on board a ship, including a Black seafarer

The ship and crew of Moel Eilian, c1889. Merseyside Maritime Museum, Maritime Archives and Library (reference DX/1328)

Hello, I’m Rebecca Smith, Curator of Maritime Art at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and I’m currently working on the forthcoming exhibition Black Salt, which will tell the story of the Black seafarers who have worked on British ships.

Sailors of African descent have been part of crews sailing from the United Kingdom for at least 500 years, but their contribution to the country’s maritime identity is often marginalised or overlooked.

Building on research carried out by Dr Ray Costello for his book Black Salt, the exhibition will put the often hidden story of Britain’s Black seafarers in the context of 500 years of life at sea. 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.