Blog

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…

Our advent calendar is going to the dogs!

30 November 2017 by Sam

advent calendar illustration of a winter scene with Liverpool landmarks

With Christmas approaching it’s time for one of my favourite annual traditions – the unveiling of National Museums Liverpool’s free online advent calendar! Each year we ease you into the festive season with daily treats from our collections and displays, including a few surprises, incredible tales and fascinating facts along the way.

Last year’s advent calendar featured cats from our museums and galleries, so to restore balance to the universe, the theme for 2017 is dogs. Read more…

‘Never at Sea’… well, never say never

8 November 2017 by Jen

Cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Mis P.G. Stubbs - 1981.730.6

Uniform cap belonging to Chief WRNS Officer, HMS Eaglet, Miss PG Stubbs – 1981.730.6

It is 1917 and for the last three years war on a scale previously unseen and unimagined has been raging between the European powers. Young men have died by the thousands and the end is still not in sight. Britain is facing a shortage of manpower and finally considering radical measures; to free up men for the front, women will be asked to volunteer with the services to fill non-fighting roles. Read more…

‘Hair-raising’ model made in top secret underground bunker

24 October 2017 by Jen

Small dazzle painted ship model of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Witch in wood framed glass case.

Ship model of HMS Witch. Accession number MMM.1993.69

It’s that time of year again and a chill caused by more than just autumn winds is upon us. Halloween is bearing down fast with its usual accompaniment of pumpkins, ghosts, and of course witches! The ship model you can see here may look fairly innocuous but this is the Royal Naval Destroyer HMS Witch and it’s rigged with real human hair! Read more…

Marilyn’s personal Sankofa journey across the Atlantic

23 October 2017 by Mitty

group photo of smiling people in a car

Marilyn with her activist artist friends

This summer I was fortunate to meet Marilyn Young, when she made her second visit to Liverpool. Marilyn is an independent researcher from the US, whose interest in Black diasporic communities has taken her all over the world.

In this guest blog, Marilyn describes how retracing cities along the Atlantic has led to her personal Sankofa journey.

“I was born in the state of Alabama so naturally I’m familiar with the topic of the transatlantic slave trade. But visiting Liverpool for the first time 10 years ago struck me and in many ways started my Sankofa journey.

I saw what my ancestors experienced from another side of the Atlantic and this piqued my interest to dig deeper.  Read more…

Black Salt at the Maritime Museum

29 September 2017 by Andrew

Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors exhibition opens today. Revealing the historically overlooked experiences of Black seafarers, the exhibition and the book it is based on – Black Salt: Seafarers of African Descent on British Ships – reveal how Black sailors contended with the dangers and hazards of life at sea, and challenged inequality on board and ashore. The book’s author Liverpool historian Dr Ray Costello, blogs about some of the roles those sailors would have had. Read more…

Black Blossoms exhibition in Liverpool

19 September 2017 by Mitty

traditional African design of a Sankofa bird

One of a series of carved laser cut panels based on the Ashanti Adinkra symbols by Artist Merissa Hylton

About a month ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bee Tajudeen and Cynthia Silveria when they were up visiting Liverpool and popped into the International Slavery Museum. Bee is the founder of Black Blossoms, she and tell us about the organisation and their incredible exhibition which is on until 30 September in the Royal Standard in Liverpool. Artist Merrissa Hylton also talks about her work which is featured as part of the display.

Black Blossoms, an organisation which aims to amplify the voices of Black women in the creative industries, have begun their art exhibition tour across the UK. Their first location is The Royal Standard Gallery in Liverpool. The exhibition explores socio-political issues, feminism and self love from the perspective of self identifying Black women artists, living in Britain in 2017.  Read more…

Tell your own story at our ‘how to archive’ workshop

12 September 2017 by Mitty

family photograph

Rare picture that all of my siblings and both parents are in as one of us would usually be taking the picture. I still can’t keep my eyes open in pictures!

Heritage consultant Heather Roberts will be leading our Tell your story- How to archive workshop on Saturday – the latest of our fantastic free Sankofa project events. You can book your place by following the link here.

Heather tells us about some of the really interesting work she’s been doing in Manchester to support communities uncovering their own hidden histories:

“On the Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians project with Manchester Histories, I am working with five community groups on a wonderful archive project. I am guiding them through the process of finding, valuing and displaying their history.

One such organisation is Oldham Youth Council. They wish to reveal the heritage and histories hidden in their members’ families to highlight how diversity makes for stronger teams with shared goals. Read more…

100 days until Christmas parties start at National Museums Liverpool!

9 August 2017 by Eleanor Webster

world-museum-dancing-christmasCan you believe it’s August? With friends and family jetting off on exotic holidays and the parks full of children enjoying their summer break, it hardly seems like the right time to start talking about Christmas. But at National Museums Liverpool, we’re talking about Christmas all year round, whether it’s our innovative team of chefs planning next years festive dinners, or our award-winning events team sourcing decorations for our unique venues. But with only 100 days to go until our first all-inclusive festive party, the pace is really beginning to pick up. Read more…



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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.

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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.