Blog

75 years since sinking of ‘Children’s Ship’ City of Benares

14 September 2015 by Jen

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children's escort in the lifeboat with child from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Mural showing Michael Rennie, children’s escort, in the lifeboat with children from the City of Benares. Copyright The Parish Church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the loss of the City of Benares, torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic during the Second World War.  What makes her loss stand out amongst the many lost merchant ships however is the 90 children she was carrying.  They were travelling under the government’s CORB (Children’s Overseas Reception Board) scheme to evacuate children away from a Britain facing the Blitz, and the ever growing possibility of invasion, to the safer shores of the Dominions, particularly Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  Read more…

Unique dazzle ship installation – for one weekend only!

8 September 2015 by Sam

ship painted in bright contrasting stripes

Last year when OMD played two sell-out gigs at the Museum of Liverpool, concert-goers were also treated to a special installation on the Edmund Gardner pilot ship. For one weekend only, we are offering visitors another opportunity to experience this, as curator Ben Whitaker explains:

“Join us on 3 and 4 October when we will take you on a tour deep inside the Edmund Gardner Dazzle Ship to experience a unique audio visual installation.

Called ‘Dazzle Ships (Parts I, IV, V & VI)’, the installation uses music, sound and lighting to immerse you into the world of a dazzle ship under attack Read more…

Dazzling tea cosies for the Edmund Gardner

3 September 2015 by Sam

colourful tea cosy in front of a ship painted with a similar pattern

Gina’s dazzle ship inspired tea cosy

This summer Chris Moseley, shipkeeping and models conservator, took over responsibility for the Edmund Gardner pilot ship – the largest item in our collections and probably the brightest since it was dazzled last year.

Along with 700 tons of ship he also inherited a couple of old tea pots and had a tea pot polishing competition with George, one of the volunteers on the ship. The results were so good that they decided they needed two new tea cosies, so they asked if National Museums Liverpool’s knitting group, the Knitwits, could help.

One of our knitters, Gina Couch, jumped at the chance to help, as she had a family connection to the Edmund Gardner. Her late brother Gerard, who was known as Sam by most people, worked for the Pilotage Service from 1949 to 1988, so he had worked on the Edmund Garner when it was used as a pilot vessel between 1953 and 1981.  Read more…

Old Dock 300 Festival, 1715-2015

26 August 2015 by Paula

Image a Prospect of Liverpool, about 1725, is an oil painting by an unknown artist. The Old Dock is at the bottom right, behind the bridge.

Image a Prospect of Liverpool, about 1725, is an oil painting by an unknown artist. The Old Dock is at the bottom right, behind the bridge.

2015 is the 300th anniversary of Liverpool’s Old Dock – the world’s first enclosed commercial wet dock. The Old Dock was discovered during excavations in 2001 after being buried since 1826. Developers Grosvenor preserved the dock and has made it publicly accessible as an important reminder of Liverpool’s historic status. The Merseyside Maritime Museum offers free guided tours of the carefully preserved Old Dock under Liverpool One on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the year. Read more…

Fake the facts!

3 August 2015 by Andrew

Counterfeit objects seized by UK Border Force on display at Seized!

Counterfeit objects seized by UK Border Force on display at Seized!

This Friday 7 August, the Seized! education team host an informal free talk about fakes and counterfeit goods. Using the objects we have on display, learn about where they come from, who produces them and the dangers associated with buying them. Curator Katherine Lloyd writes this special blog on the subject:  Read more…

A wee tale from the ‘poop’ deck

21 July 2015 by Jen

Cropped for blog resized

Box of Bromo toilet paper. Accession number 1986.210.194

Part of my job as an Assistant Curator that I’ve absolutely loved is working in the museum stores with our fantastic collections. Sometimes though, due to the vast size of these collections, we come across some rather unexpected items. Such as toilet paper…

This item dates from the late 19th or early 20th century and was a popular brand in its day. The paper inside the box is in individual sheets, rather than the rolls we’re now familiar with, and its texture is not dissimilar to that of a paperback novel… despite it’s claims to being ‘soft and strong’ I suspect most of us would be reluctant to give it a home in our bathrooms today!

So why does the Maritime Museum have this absorbing item? Had collecting standards gone down the pan? Should we be flushed with embarrassment at this seemingly non-maritime object sneaking into our collections?  Read more…

Transatlantic 175 birthday celebration

10 July 2015 by Ellie

Maura on the Liverpool Waterfront

Maura in Liverpool on 4 July 2015. Image courtesy of Kate Warner.

One lady who enjoyed the Cunard Transatlantic 175 events last weekend is Maura Doyle. Her family arranged for her to spend her 95th birthday celebrations in Liverpool so that she could mark the special anniversary, including a visit to Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…

Lusitania 100 years later: never forget

9 July 2015 by Sam Vaux

Propaganda poster of the Lusitania sinking liner.

Following the war, the Lusitania was used as a propaganda tool. This dramatic image shows the sinking liner, while encouraging Irishmen to join an Irish regiment and ‘avenge the Lusitania’. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the tenth and final blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“The Titanic remains the most famous ocean liner disaster in history. Yet the sinking of the Lusitania is a subject that still fascinates us today. While both she and the Titanic suffered untimely demise, their lives and deaths could hardly have been more dissimilar. Read more…

Cunard 175: The ship that started it all

3 July 2015 by Jen

Model of PS Britannia

Model of PS Britannia. Accession number 33.97

If you’ve been in Liverpool over the last couple of months it will have been hard to miss the city’s excitement. Cunard, one of the world’s most famous shipping lines, is celebrating their 175th anniversary right here in their home city and, like everything Cunard does, they’re doing it in style. The Three Queens (Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2) made their magnificent entry to the city on 25 May, but Cunard’s beginnings 175 years ago were on a slightly smaller scale. Read more…

Lusitania: 7 May 1915

2 July 2015 by Sam

ship hit by a huge splash of water almost as high as the funnels

An artist’s conception of the torpedo impact on the Lusitania. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the 9th and penultimate blog post in a series by J Kent Layton, maritime historian and author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

“On the morning of Friday 7 May 1915 the Lusitania was enshrouded in fog. Captain Turner sounded the ship’s foghorn and decelerated to 18, and sometimes to 15, knots to help prevent a collision with any ship that could have been traveling through those busy waters.

Many passengers were irritated by the foghorn, believing that it could give the ship’s position away to any enemy U-Boats. 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.