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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…

Maritime Tales – Blue Funnel Titan

5 January 2012 by stepheng

Ship model

Courtesy Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I remember following closely the Six Day War in 1967 when Isreal defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

 

At this time I was a 19-year-old junior reporter staying in lodgings at Preston while taking a block release course in practical journalism.

 

We did not have access to a TV so listened to the news reports on the radio. The war was one of the shortest in history but created major disruption to shipping.

 

The Suez Canal was closed for eight years, forcing operators to change their routes and commercial strategies.

 

The canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, opened in 1869 and slashed journey times between Europe, the East and Australasia.

 

The Six Day War and the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict resulted in an Egyptian blockade of the canal and shipping lines assumed correctly it would remain closed for a very long time.

 

The huge bulk oil tanker Titan was one of many Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) designed during this period when operators knew they could not use Suez. They were too big to go through the canal but their large size made them more cost-effective for travelling the extra distances.

 

Oil transportation was one of the most profitable shipping sectors at the time. When OPEC (the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) quadrupled oil prices in 1973 it triggered a worldwide slump in shipping.

 

Titan was built in 1970 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and registered in Liverpool with the famous Blue Funnel Line (Ocean Steam Ship Company).

 

There is a superb six-foot long model of the 113,551- ton tanker on display in Merseyside Maritime Museum (pictured).

 

Titan only sailed under Blue Funnel colours for five years before being sold to Mobil Oil in 1975. Just seven years later she was sold for scrap in South Korea.

 

By 1982, when there were 577 VLCCs in the world, it was found that 326 of them including Titan were surplus to requirements.

 

Photographs show other VLCCs of the era including a deck view of BP tanker British Admiral about 1970. The main engine room of the British Mariner shows crew members dwarfed by enormous pipes and machinery.

 

Titan was the fourth and last Blue Funnel ship to bear that name. The first Titan was built in 1885 by Scott & Co of Greenock and broken up in 1902.

 

The second Titan, built in 1906, was torpedoed and sunk in 1940 by the German submarine U-47 with the loss of six lives.

 

The U-boat was commanded by Günther Prien, a notorious ace who sank more than 30 Allied ships including the veteran British battleship Royal Oak. Titan was the 18th vessel he sent to the bottom.

 

This is an edited version of the Maritime Tale that originally appeared in the Liverpool Echo.

Read more…

Maritime Tales – Twice Lucky

9 November 2011 by stepheng

ship model

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

Many ships survive attacks in wartime and stay afloat and I like this story because the ship concerned was obviously built to last.

 

Some ships have a certain look about them – this is one reason vessels hold a great deal of interest to lots of people.

 

Eight men died in the torpedo attack by a German U-boat submarine but the ship stayed afloat – and went on to survive a second attack later in the First World War. Read more…

Merchant Navy Day (2)

1 September 2011 by Sarah

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…

Maritime Tales – Secret Victory

7 June 2011 by Lisa

A WREN at work

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I think this story illustrates how timing and quick-thinking can create major shifts in events. 

In wartime things move very quickly and often with momentous consequences. I have often wondered what would have happened if war leaders had made different decisions. So often the individual plays a key part in the drama.

 

The controversial sinking of a British liner just hours after start of the Second World War and the foundering of a German U-boat submarine are strangely linked. Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinese community during the Blitz

4 May 2011 by Lucy

Francesca Aiken, Assistant Exhibition Curator for the Global City Gallery in the new Museum of Liverpool writes:


Seventy years since the May Blitz, the spirit of Pitt Street lives on.

 

Seventy years ago this month, a devastating aerial bombardment struck Liverpool, ending lives, demolishing homes and displacing whole communities. It is in tribute to “the spirit of an unconquered people” that Liverpool’s Anglo-Chinese community were part of the effort to keep calm and carry on, piecing back together not just buildings but homes and livelihoods.

Pitt Street, 1915, shaped by tall converted warehouse buildings and cobbled streets, stretches out under the constant watch of St Michaels Church spire, busy with dozens of Chinese businesses, from boarding houses to grocers and tobacconists. This was the birthplace of Liverpool’s Chinese community, the destination for seamen from all over the world including Spain, the Philippines, Italy, the West Indies and Scandinavia – to name just a few. To the people who lived and grew up there, this was ‘world’s end.’ Pitt Street was the place to go, bustling with shops and cafes all within easy reach of the docks. Kwong Shang Lung was one of the city’s earliest grocers to specialise in Chinese food, trading from 1915 until the bombs fell in 1941. Read more…

Maritime Tales – Vital Support

11 April 2011 by stepheng

Model boat

Seaforth Conqueror – image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

 

I had several toy boats as a child ranging from wooden yachts to a plastic submarine that fired red torpedoes.

 

These paled into insignificance with the huge model sailing ship my friend treasured – it was kept in the bath. I can see it now with three masts towering above the soap dish.

 

I think they used to put it on the model yacht lake at Liverpool’s Newsham Park. I haven’t seen anyone use this pond for boats recently but there are plenty of fishermen. Read more…

Maritime Tales – Human Toll

8 April 2011 by stepheng

Map of sea routes

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

 

Until I studied this map (pictured) I was unaware of some of the great distances German U-boats travelled in search of prey.

 

I had heard stories of people taking pot shots at surfaced submarines coming up for air in Caribbean palm-fringed lagoons. This creates amazing pictures in the mind far from a conventional view of subs as oil-soaked tin cans.

 

Towards the end of the war there were U-boats capable of travelling from Germany to South America without refuelling and there are rumours top Nazis escaped this way. Read more…

Maritime Tales – Johnston’s Beef

28 March 2011 by stepheng

Ship model image

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I used to watch a lot of cowboy films and was amused when a cowpoke would offer refreshments out on the range.

“We got coffee and beans,” was always said with the relish more associated with the announcement of a huge feast.

I suppose it was all they could carry in their saddle bags but what about beef – dried, corned or salted? They were literally up to their withers in it. Read more…

Chinese Artists

14 March 2011 by stepheng

Chinese painting of sailing ship.

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I like the way Chinese artists have depicted the West over the centuries, particularly on ceramics and canvas.

Their work shows a fine delicacy which is charming as well as inspirational. Chinese marine art perhaps lacks the sense of movement captured by European artists but I am drawn in by the incredible technical detail.

A number of Chinese artists worked in Far East ports specialising in ship portraits for Western captains.

Several fine examples from the period 1850 to 1910 are on display in Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Art & the Sea gallery. Read more…