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Carpathia’s role remembered

19 July 2018 by Sam

metal nameplate with embossed lettering: SS Titanic

This week it is 100 years since RMS Carpathia was lost. The ship is of course best known for the role it played in the rescue of survivors from one of a much more famous liner – RMS Titanic.  In this guest blog, student Hannah Smith from the University of Liverpool explores the story through the nameplate of Titanic’s lifeboat No. 4:

“It is 100 years since RMS Carpathia was struck by three torpedoes from a German U-55, amid the Celtic Sea on 17 July 1918. Just six years earlier, on 15 April 1912 under the captaincy of Arthur Henry Rostron, the Cunard liner undoubtedly experienced its most memorable voyage. When Carpathia’s radio received the Titanic’s distress signal at 12.25 am she turned off her course to travel the 58 mile distance to the wreckage. From 4-8am all 705 survivors were brought aboard the Carpathia. Although sadly 1,503 people were to lose their lives in the sinking, without the Carpathia’s sense of urgency, the cold would have ultimately claimed more.  Read more…

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…

Stranded in the Suez Canal

22 March 2017 by Ben

Flags flying from one of the Suez Canal ships, 1967. Reproduced with permission of George Wharton.

On 1 June Merseyside Maritime Museum is hosting a special reunion event to mark the 50th anniversary of ships being stranded on the Suez Canal between 1967 and 1975.  Three of the stranded ships were from Liverpool; MS Melampus and MS Agapenor from the Blue Funnel Line and MS Scottish Star from the Blue Star Line.

Our guest blogger Cath Senker explains how the event came about:

Read more…

Wonderful watercolours and drawings

10 June 2016 by Lisa

Belem-Tower-Lisbon

Belém Tower, Lisbon (April 30th 1877) by Dr Richard Caton (1842 – 1926)

Curator, Alex Patterson, tells us some of the stories behind the watercolours in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection…

“Digitising the works on paper collection is such a great project to work on. I get to see all the wonderful watercolours and drawings that are rarely displayed due to their light sensitivity. Read more…

Boaty McBoatface and other unusual ship names

28 March 2016 by Sam

sketch of a ship in the river Mersey

Sketch of the unpronouncable Tyrrhenia leaving Liverpool by EW Barrett, 26 January 1924. Accession number 1987.118.4.14

Just across the river from Merseyside Maritime Museum, Camell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead has produced many well-known ships over the years – HMS Ark Royal and Mauretania II to name just two. However a ship is currently being built there which is arguably more famous than any of these – quite an achievement when it isn’t due to be launched until 2019. But then this is the £200million research vessel that the British public want to call Boaty McBoatface. Read more…

Lusitania and the world crisis

10 June 2015 by Sam Vaux

Two leaders standing side by side

Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II and England’s Winston Churchill together before the outbreak of war. © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/J Kent Layton Collection

This is the sixth 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 28 June 1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Very few people in the world had ever heard of this unfortunate couple, nor could they possibly have imagined what would soon result from the crime.  The problem was that all of Europe had for years been divided into two armed camps. Several times incidents had threatened to become all-out European war, but each time the peril had been averted—sometimes by only a narrow margin. Read more…

Lusitania: a fantastic success

6 June 2015 by Sarah

A color portrait of the Lusitania at the Landing Stage in Liverpool. © J Kent Layton Collection

A colour portrait of the Lusitania at the Landing Stage in Liverpool. © J Kent Layton Collection

This is the fifth 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. Read more…

Victory for the Lusitania

29 May 2015 by Sam

old photo of the Lusitania cruise liner

The Lusitania approaches the Prince’s Landing Stage in Liverpool for the first time. © J Kent Layton Collection

This is the fourth 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.

“Saturday 7 September 1907 was an unforgettable day in the annals of maritime history: the Lusitania was to begin her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England that evening. Excitement was running high and bookings for the crossing were strong.

Britishers, alarmed at the way their maritime prestige had been usurped by German liners during the preceding decade, were keen to see their new greyhound take back the Blue Riband. Read more…

Lusitania: cost overruns and teething troubles

20 May 2015 by Sarah

The Lusitania stands on the ways nearly ready for launch. J. Kent Layton Collection

The Lusitania stands on the ways nearly ready for launch. J. Kent Layton Collection

This blog post is the third in a series written by maritime historian and author J Kent Layton, the author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy:

“Over the years, I have tried to ‘fill in the blanks’ in the Lusitania’s history. One of the most fascinating things about the construction of the Lusitania and Mauretania is that not everything went according to plan. Read more…

Lusitania: an engineering triumph

15 May 2015 by Sam Vaux

Ship painting

Contrary to popular opinion, the decision in favor of turbines on the Lusitania and Mauretania had nothing to do with the success of the Carmania over her sister Caronia, pictured here. (J. Kent Layton Collection)

This blog post is the second in a series written by maritime historian and author J Kent Layton, the author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy:

“In order to propel the Lusitania at an unprecedented 25 knots, it was clear that something unique was going to be required in the design of her powerplant. Read more…



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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.