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Posts tagged with 'maritime history'

Chinese seafarers drop-in event at Maritime Museum

20 April 2018 by Andrew

Blue Funnel vessel, Cyclops

Recent visitors to the Merseyside Maritime Museum will have noticed works taking place on the second floor where we’re developing what will become the new Sea Galleries. As part of this work, we’re looking for help from the Liverpool public to help tell the stories of the city’s unique maritime communities. On 26 April there will be a drop-in afternoon focused on finding out more about Liverpool’s Chinese seafarers. Deputy Director and Curator of Maritime History, Ian Murphy, talks about how the gallery needs the input from one of Liverpool’s oldest communities.

Read more…

Centenary of Mersey ferries’ daring Zeebrugge raid

19 April 2018 by Jen

Black and white photograph of two Mersey ferries

The Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II at Dover soon after the vessels returned from the Zeebrugge Raid © IWM (Q 18888)

Anyone who’s looked out across the Mersey in the last couple of years has probably noticed the very colourful Mersey ferry Snowdrop in her fabulous dazzle-inspired livery. Designed by Peter Blake to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is reminiscent of the Dazzle camouflage used by thousands of ships in the conflict. If you step on board and visit the display co-curated by National Museums Liverpool you’ll discover that when the Mersey ferries played their own role in the war, their livery couldn’t have looked more different to the spectacular Dazzle. Read more…

“He was a fine fellow”: Henry T Wilde and Titanic

17 April 2018 by Michelle

Henry T Wilde about 1900. Images are not to be reproduced without permission.

Sunday 15 April marked the anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic. At the time of her sinking she was the largest passenger ship in the world and the dramatic circumstances of her demise reverberated around the globe. In 1910 one ship in every 100 was lost, yet by 1912 technological advancements in shipbuilding led Titanic’s owners White Star Line to believe she was unsinkable.

This was not to be the case. Four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York she struck an iceberg south-east of Newfoundland, and sank two hours and forty minutes later with the loss of over 1500 lives.

The sinking of Titanic is as famous as it is tragic and as such the individual impact of the disaster can be overshadowed by the catastrophic nature of the event.

Last week I was able to re-display some of Chief Officer Henry Wilde’s personal effects in our exhibition Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story. On display are his White Star Line cap, a pair of epaulettes and three letters; two to his eldest daughter Jennie and one to his children’s nanny. We are very privileged and honoured to be able to display these items and I would like to share his story with you.  Read more…

Ann Davison – the first woman to sail the Atlantic single-handed

9 March 2018 by Ellie

Ann Davison and her boat Felicity Ann

Ann with ‘FA’ at the New York Boat Show. Image courtesy of Shelly Randall. Copyright unknown.

This week National Museums Liverpool is celebrating International Women’s Day through displays, talks and events at many of our venues.

I want to share the story of Ann Davison (1914-1992), a amazing woman who was the embodiment of strength, courage and determination. She was a skilled pilot, a gifted author, an intrepid adventurer, and the first woman to sail the Atlantic single-handed.

“It wasn’t courage that sent me scurrying across the ocean. It was a little curiosity and a lot of desperation that went into the making of that particular dream…”

Last October I was lucky enough to attend an event at Mere Brook House, Wirral, to unveil of a blue plaque commemorating Ann. Until then I admit that I didn’t really have any knowledge of her, but when I started reading about her I was immediately drawn to her audacious nature and fearlessness.  Read more…

A story of female friendship and survival

7 March 2018 by Jen

Back and white photo of a large two funnelled liner, the City of Benares

City of Benares, Maritime Archives & Library, MMM collection, reference MCR/61/371 (copyright unknown, believed to be expired)

When I first started to think about women’s stories we could spotlight this year for International Women’s Day there was one in particular that instantly came to mind. I’ve blogged before about the sinking of the Ellerman liner, City of Benares. Torpedoed mid-Atlantic in 1940 while taking child evacuees to Canada, it’s one of the most heart-rending pieces of research I’ve ever carried out. As always with such tragedies though, the larger story is made up of hundreds of smaller, more personal, ones. Beth and Bess are one of these stories. Read more…

A Valentine to seafarers

12 February 2018 by Jen

Off-white tile with red printed design showing a woman embracing a sailor with sailing ship in the background.

British Delftware tile, ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, from National Museums Liverpool’s Decorative Arts collection – M2234 i

Here at the Maritime Museum our curatorial team are busy researching the content for our new Sea Galleries, set to open in 2019 and looking at the lives and experiences of seafarers. I’ve become particularly interested in the effects of separation from one’s family and home, and have been reading through a collection of journals in the Maritime Archives kept by a Captain Porter in the 1860s aboard his ship the Jamna. Read more…

A Wesołych Świąt stranded in the Suez Canal

22 December 2017 by Jen

Large Wooden Christmas Tree floating beside two small boats.

Christmas tree created by Polish seafarers from the Djakarta.  Photograph courtesy of George Wharton.

Christmas on a ship, somewhere hot and sunny, with not a lot to do. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Let’s be honest, after weeks of Christmas preparations (which can make the holiday seem like an awful lot of work) who hasn’t nurtured a secret desire to do it all differently one year and sail off in to the sun?

The Suez Canal however is perhaps not the first place that springs to mind as a Christmas getaway. The Canal is a manmade waterway built in Egypt in the 19th century, an important trade route linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas. In June 1967 years of political tension between Egypt and Israel erupted in what would become known as the Six Day War. Faced with Israeli occupation of the east bank of the Canal, Egypt blocked both ends. Passenger ships in the canal had been allowed to leave but orders were for the cargo vessels to stay put. This left a group of 14 ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake area of the canal, where they would remain, trapped by obstacles both physical and political, for a further eight years. Read more…

Remembering the loss of the Alfred H Read pilot boat, 1917

20 December 2017 by Ben

The Alfred H. Read pilot boat. From the Norman Morrison Collection, National Museums Liverpool.

Since the Liverpool Pilots Service was created in 1766, the pilots have risked their lives on a daily basis to ensure the safe passage of ships to and from Liverpool.  There are many tales of bravery where a pilot’s actions have saved lives and cargo from disaster.  Unfortunately there are also tales of tragedy, where the Pilot Service laments the loss of one (or many) of their own.  On 28 December 2017, it will be the 100 year anniversary of the worst disaster to befall the Liverpool Pilots.  This was the loss the Alfred H Read pilot boat in 1917.  Read more…

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…



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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.