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Behind the scenes in the Museum – creating a wash-house display

15 October 2019 by Kay

Kerrie McGiveron is the lead researcher on an amazing community-led oral history project ‘Hanging Out: The Histories of Liverpool’s Laundry Life.’

“As part of my placement working with the Museum of Liverpool, I was invited to the museum stores by Kay Jones, Curator of Urban Community history to view and select items to include in the display. As a PhD researcher, when I’m not conducting oral history interviews I often spend time alone in archives looking at documents or writing at my desk. It was great to be given the opportunity to have a look behind the scenes and to learn about the work put into a museum display. Read more…

Merchant Navy Day

2 September 2019 by Rebecca

Ships painted in geometric dazzle patterns on the Liverpool waterfront

Dazzle painted ships in the Mersey, off the Liverpool waterfront by Leonard Campbell Taylor, about 1918.

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.

Crew lists

5 August 2019 by Sarah Starkey

example of crew list from 1903

Part of a crew list of Rhynland, for a voyage from Liverpool to Antwerp. Showing crew born in Norway, Liverpool, Madras, New York, Russia and Bristol (Maritime Archives and Library reference P/SL/41)

A lot of our role at the Maritime Archives and Library is pointing people in the right direction. We spend just as much time talking about sources we don’t hold as those we do.  Sometimes the explanation of where the records are held is so complex and convoluted that people think we are making it up as we go along. A good example of this is crew lists. So, deep breath, Read more…

Liverpool Police Strike 1919 centenary

1 August 2019 by Kay

100 years ago a number of police officers across the country went out on strike. The heart of this national Police Strike was in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Bootle.

We have a number of items in the collections of the Museum of Liverpool which relate to this significant event. The most striking is this wonderful painting of Bob Tissyman who played a major organising role in the city. It was painted by renowned local artist David Jacques.

Police Sergeant Robert (Bob) Tissyman was the Liverpool leader of the ‘unrecognised’ NUPPO (National Union of Police & Prison Officers), and organiser of the union’s eight branches in the city. He was born in 1869, joined Liverpool City Police in October 1894 and lived in Edge Hill.

955 Liverpool union members went on strike for improved pay, conditions and for the right to belong to a union. Smaller strikes also occurred in London and Birmingham. Read more…

That’s the way to do it! Codman family member rekindles Punch and Judy memories

26 July 2019 by Kay

The name Codman’s Punch and Judy immediately conjures up memories for generations of Liverpool people. Many have laughed, cheered and booed at the show.

Codman’s Punch and Judy booth, previously on display in Wondrous Place gallery

Professor Codman first brought Punch and Judy to Liverpool in the 1860s. Codman’s theatre was originally located in Lime Street, then later at Williamson Square.

A member of the Codman dynasty, Paul Codman recently came to view items in the Museum of Liverpool’s collections related to the family business.

We have the original booth with proscenium arch,  Mr Punch, Judy, The Judge and Mr Crocodile puppets (previously on display in the Wondrous Place gallery and in The Museum of Liverpool Life), along with pamphlets and tickets. Seeing the objects brought back some strong memories for Paul.  As a 12 year old schoolboy in the early 1970s he helped his grandad Richard Codman and Uncle Ronnie to do the shows. They performed in schools, fetes and parks across the city in the summer holidays, including Newsham, Sefton and Walton Hall Parks. They also played at The Liverpool Show. He was paid a grand total of five bob a day. Read more…

1970s football fan culture in the picture

16 July 2019 by Kay

“Art College was a far more attractive idea than prison”

These fantastic artworks were recently kindly donated to the Museum of Liverpool. They were painted by Andrew Kenrick in the 1970s and evocatively capture football fan culture at the time. Andrew grew up in Hoylake and is a big Liverpool fan. He mostly painted these particular pieces whilst at Art College in London and when he worked as a teacher. He would travel back up to Liverpool for home games and attended away matches whenever he could.

Andrew tells us more about combining his love of football and painting –

“I always loved art and decided that Art College was a far more attractive idea than prison. I wasn’t evil or “off the rails” but had left a top academic school at 14 to live an alternative life. A couple of years travelling, hitch-hiking and sleeping rough enabled me to see the disadvantages of low paid jobs and the potential benefits of further education. I undertook a Foundation Couse at the (then) London College of Printing and then went to Hornsey College of Art to study Fine Art and History of Art. I painted and sculpted and became interested in the excitement of crowds and fights at football matches. Read more…

Etching the City

12 July 2019 by Megan

Last week we installed Whistler & Pennell: Etching the City at Sudley House. Alex Patterson, Exhibition Curator tells us more about the exhibition and what to look out for.

The exhibition was first displayed at Lady Lever Art Gallery in 2018. It was a great success and was seen by over 65,000 people. This amazing response encouraged us to share the exhibition with our Sudley visitors too. It is also a fantastic opportunity to see these works in a different context. Read more…

Family’s Blitz memories shared and displayed

5 July 2019 by Kay

Formal portrait photo of a smartly dressed young girl

Elizabeth as a child. Courtesy of Jean Phillips

As part of our exhibition Blitzed: Liverpool Lives we are gathering responses to the images and first-hand experiences featured in the exhibition.

Jean Phillips kindly contacted us via our Facebook page with information about her family in response to the photograph of Louisa Street, Everton. I have added this poignant information to the exhibition alongside the Museum label. Read more…

My favourite ship in a bottle

27 June 2019 by Jen

Bottle containing small figure seated at a table making a ship in bottle

My favourite ship in a bottle from our collections. MMM.1998.72.16

There are so many beautiful ships in bottles (and indeed in lightbulbs, matchboxes, globes and other interesting alternatives) in our collections that picking a favourite isn’t easy. However there is one in particular that stands out to me which has just recently gone out on display. We have dozens of ships in bottles in our collections but the majority of them come from one source, a gentleman who collected and made these fabulous objects, Arthur George Maltravers (‘Jo’) Dashwood-Howard. It was one of his own creations that particularly caught my eye, a ship-in-a-bottle-maker in a bottle.

Model of a man making a ship in a bottle

Close up of the miniature model maker.

In this beautiful object we can see a little man sat at a table in a workshop, a tiny ship in bottle being worked on in front of him and a larger ship model on the workshop floor. If you look very closely, there’s even a tiny ditty bag bearing the initials ADH (Arthur Dashwood Howard), suggesting that the model is in fact a wonderfully unusual form of self-portrait. Dashwood-Howard has used his skill to portray himself at work on one of his wonderful miniature creations. Read more…

John – evacuee and media star!

18 June 2019 by Kay

Our new exhibition, Blitzed: Liverpool Lives brings together dramatic images of Blitz-damaged Liverpool alongside evocative spoken memories of people who experienced the aerial bombardment first-hand. One of those people is John McEwan. John grew up in Salisbury Street, Everton and was evacuated after his family had a very close shave. John’s is one of many interviews in our Liverpool Voices archive which I spent many hours listening to and selecting highlights to be included in the exhibition.

John was invited to our press call the day before the exhibition opened to be interviewed by the local media. Just before it began I had the pleasure of showing him around the exhibition. He listened to the audio of himself in the central ‘cinema area’ and read his quote I used to bring to life a photograph of children outside of bombed homes. It brought back lots of memories for him and he was an absolute pro, recalling many experiences for Radio Merseyside, The Guide Liverpool, Liverpool Echo, Culture Liverpool, Wirral Globe etc.

Read this transcript of John’s audio in the exhibition –
“My dad would be home on leave and he heard sirens and the blackout was on and he made his way home expecting to find my mother and the three children, Betty, Tommy and myself in the air raid shelter.   When he went to the air raid shelter we weren’t there. He then went to the house and my mum was under the kitchen table, or under the dining table, with the three children.   Obviously my dad was very concerned about this. I don’t know exactly what went on other than the fact that the decision was made to evacuate us.  My mother was also pregnant at the time with my younger brother Peter, who is a year younger than myself. And as a result the three children, myself, Betty and Tommy were evacuated to St Joseph’s Children’s Home in Freshfield near Southport, and that would be sometime in 1940, in around maybe the autumn of 1940. 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.