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Conserving a Ship of War Model

15 February 2012 by Gemma

Ship model before and after treatment
Ship model before and after treatment

You may remember in my last post that I had taken a model in great need of conservation to the Lady Lever Art Gallery for demonstration purposes. The model had several snapped yards and masts, and missing blocks. Many people remarked on the blackness of the thick dirt, and how complicated the broken and twisted rigging was, and were interested to know how I would go about treating the model. As the treatment of the model has now been completed, I would like to share some of the treatment processes. Read more…

Maritime Tales – Liverpool Oars

6 January 2012 by stepheng

Ship painting

Image National Museums Liverpool

I used to enjoy going for a row on the park lake but now such an experience is difficult to come by.

There are no rowing boats left on Liverpool’s lakes, which is a great shame. No longer do you hear the iconic cry: “Come in number 12!” when your half hour is up.

Many marine paintings feature them but they are often overlooked – the humble rowing boat has always been a key part of maritime life. 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…

Ready to set sail…

23 November 2011 by Gemma

Main sail before treatment and junk after conservation

Main sail before treatment and junk after conservation

The conservation of the Chinese junk from Swatow is now complete. Being such an interesting project, I will briefly share the treatment processes which have transformed a dirty, unstable model, back to its original beauty.

Firstly the hull and wooden components required cleaning. The model was vacuumed to remove any loose dirt on the deck and inside the bulkheads. After testing to find the safest, and most effective cleaning materials, the hull was cleaning using detergent in deionised water, which made a huge difference to the models appearance, as the shine of the wood oil can now be appreciated. The painted surfaces on the model were carefully cleaned using saliva, which is a surprisingly effective cleaning material. Read more…

Chinese Junk

5 October 2011 by Gemma

chinese junk ship model

Ship models have been made for centuries, representing changes in style and function of ships and boats, all around the world, making them such interesting objects! My current project in ship and historic model conservation illustrates this point well, as it is a model of a Chinese junk. A “junk” is a ship from China, and as you can see they are most unlike the European ships we are used to seeing. This project represents a challenge as the historical context of objects is an important consideration when conserving objects, and I had no knowledge about junks prior to starting the project. Read more…

Conserving Water Lily

7 September 2011 by Gemma

Ship model of fishing boat from Rye

My name is Gemma and I am a conservation intern at the National Museums Liverpool. I am here on a year long internship in Ship and Historic Model Conservation, funded by ICON (Institute of Conservation) and the Heritage Lottery Fund. As I am now nearly half way through my internship, I have had many interesting and exciting projects to work on which I would like to share, so I will put regular updates on the blog. Read more…

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