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Posts tagged with 'seized - the border and customs uncovered'

Strange cargo

17 May 2010 by Stephen

museum display with large model of an official building

Model of Liverpool’s former Customs House in Seized!

This unusual story appeals to me because it reveals how attitudes have dramatically changed in the past 200 years.

Our ancestors had ideas which sometimes stretched belief to the limits and, even then, many people must have been shocked by this theatrical display by a man used to playing to popular sentiment.

A great crowd gathered on the Liverpool quayside to greet the famous radical pamphleteer and journalist returning home after more than two years of self-imposed exile.

William Cobbett fled to the United States after hearing the British government were planning to arrest him for sedition. His pioneering newspaper, the Political Register, was mainly read by working class people. This made Cobbett dangerous in the eyes of many members of the establishment. Read more…

Changes at Seized!

7 May 2010 by Sam

Seized! The Border and Customs uncovered logo

Here’s some news about changes at the popular Seized! gallery in Merseyside Maritime Museum, from Karen Bradbury, Curator of UK Border Agency National Museum:


“The museum is now working with a new partner, while also maintaining close working relationships with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and this is opening up new and exciting opportunities.

Our new partner is UK Border Agency and to reflect this change, we are amending our name to Seized! The Border & Customs uncovered.

As you will probably know, we have been working closely with HMRC for 15 years to tell the story of the work they have done through history. The story was brought right up to date when our new displays were opened in the basement a couple of years ago.

There was departmental restructuring of HMRC and Immigration in 2009, resulting in the inland taxation elements staying with HMRC. The protecting role of HMRC merged with Immigration to form the new UK Border Agency to promote stronger borders. Read more…

Major award for the Rush project

16 March 2010 by Sam

people at an award ceremony

Museum staff met Linford Christie at the ceremony

The innovative Rush programme, run by the Education team for the Seized! Revenue and Customs uncovered gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum, has been recognised with a prestigious award at the Kids Count Inspiration Awards 2010. Rush won the UK’s Best Contribution by a Community Group Award. Last week museum staff were presented with the award at a House of Commons ceremony attended by leading politicians and sporting celebrities including Olympic Gold Medalist Linford Christie.

Rush has been developed in response to concerns from teachers and youth leaders about the growing impact of drugs misuse on young Merseyside people and their families. Young people observe a commissioned theatre piece presenting an account of a girl who faces choices relating to experimenting with ecstasy and are then given the opportunity to question characters in the play which opens up discussions around the topic of drug use and its consequences. Read more…

Dreaded diseases

7 September 2009 by Stephen

Photo of man looking in another man's mouth

A ship’s crew is inspected for disease. Image courtesy Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

I admit to being wary of catching infections and take the precaution of washing my hands whenever possible. Other useful safeguards are adding disinfectant to the bath water and gargling with mouthwash. It was impressed on me at a very early age the awful things you can catch – especially when travelling. I caught TB as a child but threw it off – a natural immunity, I was told later.

Passengers and crews of ships have always feared outbreaks of contagious diseases that could sweep through vessels like wildfire, affecting everybody’s safety and wellbeing. The words typhus, cholera, yellow fever, smallpox and plague were enough to chill the bones of the most seasoned traveller. Read more…

Horrible murder

10 August 2009 by Stephen

Illustration of men on horses.

The Hawkhurst Gang. The text beneath the image reads: Galley and Chater falling off their Horse at Woodash, draggs thier Heads on the Ground, while the Horse kicks them as he goes; the Smugglers still continuing thier brutish usage.

When I was at primary school in the 1950s we used to enjoy singing the popular Smugglers’ Song with words by Rudyard Kipling:

Five and twenty ponies
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson,
Tobacco for the Clerk:
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
And watch the wall my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodpile if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy wine;
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor take them for your play;
Put the brushwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day!

It is a song that races along but embraces a popular myth masking the brutal reality behind smuggling. It is true that gangs of smugglers operated right along the coast with whole communities involved.

However, sickening violence could be used by smugglers driven by greed, poverty and lack of employment. Customs men often assisted by soldiers, used counter-measures which were both brutal and harsh, including the death penalty. Read more…

VIP Zone – Videos, Interactives, Podcasts and more!

10 July 2009 by Lisa

Across the National Museums Liverpool website, we have loads of great games, e-cards, online-only exhibitions, videos, interactives and podcasts for you to enjoy. And we’ve just launched our new VIP Zone as a hub for all these cool features that really bring our collections and exhibitions to life.

You can watch a video of a Pharaoh talking about life in ancient Egypt or download a talk by curator Pauline Rushton and photographer Francesco Mellina about our Sound and Vision exhibition – photographs of Liverpool music and fashion from 1978-82. Read more…

The Little Book of Big Highlights

23 February 2009 by Lisa

Little Book of Big Highlights

We’ve just published a cute little pocket guide to many of the fab happenings at NML in 2008. It’s good to revisit highlights like Ben Johnson’s residency, the Superlambananas, the opening of Seized! and exhibitions like Art In The Age of Steam and The Beat Goes On.

You can download your copy of The Little Book of Big Highlights here (pdf 6mb).

Loo-ney Tunes

19 November 2008 by Dawn

It’s World Toilet Day.  There’s no polite way of introducing it – you’ve just got to say it. You have to wonder who thinks these things up, but then there is a serious and worthy message about the state of the world’s sanitation to be gleaned.

Actually, museums and art galleries have formed a healthy relationship with the toilet that goes back beyond Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ or urinal.  What self-respecting museum would be caught out without the humble (or in some cases the ridiculously ornate) chamber pot? You can see one that was designed for Napoleon, no less, in the Walker’s Craft & Design Gallery. Read more…

Where there’s a wool there’s a way

17 November 2008 by Sam

two women knitting

Workshop leader Ildi Szabo wearing one of her amazing woolly creations, with museum demonstrator Pam Hale

I went to a great knitting workshop at Merseyside Maritime Museum at lunchtime. It was organised by the Seized learning team who normally hold events looking at how smugglers try to get firearms, drugs and other illegal substances through customs – and how customs officers stop them. Apparently wool also used to be smuggled out of the country centuries ago – I never knew that I had been knitting with such a precious material before!

As a fledgling knitter I had great fun learning some new techniques and making a few mini projects. If you want to have a go then the good news is that Ildi will be back at the Maritime Museum on Sunday afternoon with some fun things for knitters of all ages and abilities to make in the ‘Where there’s a wool there’s a way’ workshop. Have a look at the Seized! events page for further details. Read more…

Seize the day!

16 May 2008 by Sam

Seized! Revenue and Customs uncovered logo

Strange things are afoot in the basement of Merseyside Maritime Museum, where a brand new permanent gallery ‘Seized! Revenue and Customs uncovered’ opens this weekend.

The gallery reveals the mysterious world of smuggling and surveilance that’s all in a day’s work for Customs Officers, with help from unusual exhibits including exotic birds, dangerous weapons and a highly suspicious garden gnome.

To celebrate the opening a busy weekend of events is planned, including displays by sniffer dogs and hopefully a visit by a Customs cutter – as long as it isn’t called away for an official operation. 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.