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Posts tagged with 'merchant navy'

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…

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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 Stephen

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…

Convoy HX 219

8 March 2011 by Stephen

Small model ships

Image courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post and Echo

I would not like to be a pirate – apart from being illegal, the chances of meeting a violent end are too great– but I do like the swashbuckling aspects.

The sight of the Jolly Roger (the pirate skull and crossbones) being raised is pretty exciting – it is a part of pirate lore which has been adapted by submariners. 

A British commander first flew the notorious flag in modern times nearly 100 years ago. Read more…

Down Argentina way

8 November 2010 by Stephen

ship model in a display case

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

Several of my seafaring ancestors headed for South America – some got there, others did not for a variety of reasons so this story has added poignancy for me.

It underlines the dangers of carrying too much cargo despite Samuel Plimsoll bringing about reforms which outlawed overloaded ships.

It was ironic that the ship in this story sank because she was carrying too much cargo, which was badly stowed.

This was more than 50 years after the Plimsoll Line was introduced, ensuring a clearly visible line on a ship’s hull indicating how much she was carrying. Read more…

War imports

25 October 2010 by Stephen

archive photo of men unloading cargo from a ship

Image courtesy of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

I have many memories of Liverpool’s docklands when they were labour-intensive before the widespread use of containers.

Once I was flung off my motorcycle when the wheels got caught in the dock railway lines. The windscreen and front mudguard were shattered.

As I wheeled my machine past the police officer he joked: “You crunched!” (This was a catch phrase from a crisps advert of the time, 1968.)

Some 25 years earlier the Port of Liverpool fought a daily battle of survival bringing in vital supplies. Read more…

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