Posts by Rebecca
Tuesday 3 September marks Merchant Navy Day when we honour the brave men and women who made many sacrifices to keep Britain alive during both World Wars, and appreciate the UK’s modern day seafarers who are responsible for transporting most of our every day items, such as food and fuel. On this day the Red Ensign, the official Merchant Navy flag, will be flown across the UK.
In the Merseyside Maritime Museum’s Battle of Atlantic gallery and on our website you can find out more information about the Merchant Navy’s vital role in keeping Britain going during these very difficult times. From 1939 the Battle of Atlantic lasted six years and was the longest campaign of the war. Liverpool was Britain’s most important port during the war as the UK depended on its vital North Atlantic shipping routes for food and other imports, which therefore made the city a major target.
Liverpool’s merchant seafarers, ships, dock workers and sailors played a major role to ensure Britain’s survival. Liverpool registered ships were part of Britain’s ocean going merchant fleet. Between 1939 and 1945 the Port of Liverpool handled more 75 million tons of cargo. The Liverpool Pilotage Service was responsible for guiding ships amongst an unlit Liverpool waterfront, whilst also contending with enemy mines and air raids.
It’s fitting on Merchant Navy day to recognise the sacrifices made by seafarers in the First World War as well. In 2012 the museum acquired the painting, ‘Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront’ by Leonard Campbell Taylor which shows camouflage ships with these patterns during the First World War, the main ship we believe to be the Cunard line ship Mauretania. The painting on display in the museum’s Lusitania gallery, is a reminder that even during times of conflict, the Port of Liverpool and its ships and seafarers continued to work to keep the country supplied with food, fuel and other cargo, just as they do today.
Hello, I’m Rebecca Smith, Curator of Maritime Art at the Merseyside Maritime Museum and I’m currently working on the forthcoming exhibition Black Salt, which will tell the story of the Black seafarers who have worked on British ships.
Sailors of African descent have been part of crews sailing from the United Kingdom for at least 500 years, but their contribution to the country’s maritime identity is often marginalised or overlooked.
Building on research carried out by Dr Ray Costello for his book Black Salt, the exhibition will put the often hidden story of Britain’s Black seafarers in the context of 500 years of life at sea. Read more…
As a child I first came across ships in bottles at my late uncle’s house. He used to make them and I remember being fascinated about how the ship ended up in the bottle. Now as Curator of the ship models collection, the Museum’s ships in bottles still evokes the same fascination and intrigue.
The maritime art of making ships in bottles can be traced back as early as the 18th century. Read more…
27 April 2015 by Rebecca
Liverpool writer George Garrett worked in the boiler rooms of Mauretania and called the ship “a big scouse boat”. Mauretania and her sister ship Lusitania, were the true ‘Monarchs of the Sea’ and were later affectionately known in Liverpool as ‘Maury’ and ‘Lucy’.
Mauretania was built by Swan Hunter of Newcastle for the Cunard Line and was one of their most successful liners. Cunard and its ships were a central part of Liverpool’s maritime story and the firm was based in the city. Cunard’s 1916 headquarters are one of the most recognisable buildings on the city’s waterfront and one of the iconic three graces. Read more…
8 January 2014 by Rebecca
It has been nearly two years since this exhibition opened and we have been delighted by the public response to the Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story exhibition. I wanted to mention that the exhibition is still open, admission is free and it is worth a visit if you haven’t had the opportunity. We like to refresh the gallery with new displays when possible, the most recent being a new costume display.
Here is a post from assistant curator, Anna Ruchalska:-
Lady Duff Gordon’s dresses, which for almost two years were a very popular part of the Titanic exhibition, were returned to the Bath Fashion Museum today. The objects were replaced by beautiful evening dresses from the National Museum Liverpool’s Decorative Art collection. Both pieces were made by T&S Bacon of Bold Street, Liverpool and are Read more…
4 November 2013 by Rebecca
There was an impressive arrival at the Maritime Museum today, as the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos berthed outside the museum in the Canning Half Tide Basin. The British built vessel is a training ship operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust and is due to spend the winter next to the museum.
There’s more info on the Trust and the Stavros S Niarchos, on the Tall Ships website.
31 October 2013 by Rebecca
Ben Whittaker, Curator of Port History, has some exciting news to share:-
“Congratulations to two of our longstanding volunteers on the Edmund Gardner Pilot ship, who have been honoured with national awards. James Dulson and George Collinson were awarded the prestigious Marsh Volunteer award which recognises outstanding volunteers in the conservation of historic vessels in the UK. George attended the awards ceremony on HMS Belfast in London which was presented by TV personality Julia Bradbury. Read more…
9 July 2013 by Rebecca
Today marks 60 years to the day since the former pilot ship Edmund Gardner was launched. For 28 years the Edmund Gardner was used as base at sea for Liverpool pilots, who would be transferred from the Edmund Gardner to inbound ships to guide them into Liverpool, or off ships they had guided out of the port. Read more…
29 May 2013 by Rebecca
Today marks the anniversary of the sinking of ‘Empress of Ireland’, which sank on 29 May 1914 at around 2.30am.
‘Empress of Ireland’, along with her sister ship ‘Empress of Britain’, were built for the Canadian Pacific line. They provided a weekly service from Liverpool in 1906. They quickly became popular due to their speed, size and comfort.
On her last journey, the ‘Empress of Ireland’ set off from Quebec, Canada, and collided with the Norwegian ship ‘Storstad’ in thick fog in the Saint Lawrence River. The ‘Empress of Ireland’ sank within 15 minutes and 1,012 passengers and crew lost their lives only a few miles from the shore. Read more…
17 May 2013 by Rebecca
Lorna Hyland, Assistant Librarian at the Merseyside Maritime Museum Archives shares this update:
Liverpool’s Literary Festival, “In Other Words” is now drawing to a close and as the festival celebrated the city’s reputation for producing much loved story-tellers, poets, authors and playwrights, I thought I’d mention the library at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Read more…