Blog

Father’s Day at National Museums Liverpool

4 June 2019 by Megan

The countdown is on. Father’s Day is round the corner and it’s safe to say most of us need a plan!

Don’t panic though National Museums Liverpool has something for even the pickiest of pas. So if he is a car enthusiast, art lover, astronomy nerd or would love a Sunday feast overlooking our beautiful waterfront take a look below at what we have on offer. Read more…

Volunteers Week spotlight – Mike from the Maritime Archives and Library

Mike wearing his volunteer pass

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. To celebrate Volunteers Week we are meeting more volunteers as part of a bumper Volunteer Spotlight series so we can really celebrate the different contributions that our amazing volunteers make.

This month, I met with Mike who volunteers with the Maritime Archives & Library at the North Street Warehouse. Mike has a fascinating back story and holds so much knowledge; I can see why he is a vital part of the department! Mike’s journey with National Museums Liverpool started in the 1980s as a Friend of the Merseyside Maritime Museum and following his retirement, he began volunteering with us in 2012 as a Tour Guide on the Edmund Gardner and has gone on to volunteer with the Education team and now the Archives team. Mike has been more than prepared for his volunteer roles: he has specialist knowledge acquired from his career in ship building and engineering design.

When he started as a Tour Guide on the Edmund Gardiner, Mike explained that he was terrified of public speaking and he was even more terrified after he had undergone his training! However, following the applause that he received after his first tour, he was hooked! Read more…

Remembering Lusitania

3 May 2019 by Ellie

Seafarer in uniform on board ship

James Wallace wearing his Cunard uniform. Image courtesy of Kath Kavanagh

Tuesday 7th May 2019 marks the 104th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania. Each year we hold a commemorative service alongside the Lusitania propeller on our quaysides, starting at 1.45pm. Everyone is welcome to join us to remember the 1191 men, women and children who lost their lives, as well as the survivors and families affected.

Kath Kavanagh will be attending our commemoration this year and has kindly shared her thoughts about her Great Uncle who was on board Lusitania when she was torpedoed:

“My Great Uncle James Wallace joined Cunard in 1912 as a second class waiter on board Lusitania. When the ship was attacked 3 years later, James was just 21 years old. He jumped into the water with his friend George Thomas (assistant officers’ mess steward) who drowned. Uncle Jim couldn’t swim but managed to stay afloat for approximately 5 hours before being rescued by the Julia patrol boat. I believe he was in hospital in Queenstown (now Cobh) for a while before heading back to Liverpool.

He continued to serve with Cunard for 46 years, becoming the youngest man to hold the position of chief deck steward when he was promoted in 1919. Read more…

Through the roof in 2018!

27 March 2019 by Laura

Terracotta General

Terracotta General © Mr. Ziyu Qiu

No two ways about it, 2018 was a blockbuster year for National Museums Liverpool.

In figures released today by ALVA it was revealed that World Museum was the most visited museum in England (outside London) last year. Read more…

The other Plimsoll – Samuel’s ‘untiring coadjutor’

8 March 2019 by Jen

Gold edged historic document with elegant calligraphy in gold, red and blue

“Honour to whom honour is due…” Testimonial address to Samuel Plimsoll, Maritime Archives collections DX/1110

“I like to think that the Plimsoll line should be regarded as a commemoration not just of Samuel Plimsoll, but of his wife Eliza Plimsoll, whose idea it was originally that he should initiate his campaign for the defence of sailors, and who was definitely dedicated to the cause as he was.” – Nicolette Jones lecture, 2008

As a society we are becoming more aware of the vast swathes of people whose stories have been excluded from, or side-lined within, the historical narrative. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) women, people of colour, the disabled and LGBT+ people. It can be difficult to combat this when a lack of acknowledgment from their contemporaries has often been compounded by the way history books, and museum collections, have, in previous years, focussed on the privileged and powerful. It is important we remember though that just because these stories have not been told does not mean that there is nothing to tell. Read more…

John Holt and post colonial development in West Africa

19 February 2019 by Charlotte Murray

Large ship

‘Jonathan Holt’ ship, built 1910, John Holt & Company. Copyright unknown. Maritime Archives & Library

While the Maritime Archives & Library was recently closed for refurbishment, a lot of work was going on behind the scenes. At our reserve store, which houses the archives of various local businesses, I have been cataloguing collections previously inaccessible to the public.

Here I’d like to highlight just one of the fascinating collections that are now available for the first time. Read more…

Volunteer spotlight: Randa Craig

12 February 2019 by Rachel O'Malley

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. As part of the volunteer spotlight series we are meeting up with volunteers who have been making outstanding contributions to the organisation and finding out more about the work that they do.

Randa Craig and Anne Gleave in the Maritime Archives Library

This month, I had the pleasure of meeting Randa Craig, a volunteer with the Maritime Archives and Library, whose enthusiasm for the role was clear from the get go! Randa was introduced to National Museums Liverpool and volunteering through a friend in 2012 and began working with the Archives in 2014.  Her first project was working with Paper conservation: cleaning glass plate negatives from the Stewart Bale collection.

Randa told me that it is exciting to be surrounded by beautiful art and that it is a privilege to be so close to the works. Read more…

It’s Plimsoll Day! (and we’re talking about ships, not shoes)

8 February 2019 by Jen

Detail from 1968.42, Maritime History collections.

Sunday 10 February is Plimsoll Day. Named for 19th century politician and ‘Sailor’s Friend’ Samuel Plimsoll, it’s a chance to remember his great campaign to save and improve seafarers’ lives. The most significant achievement of this campaign was the Plimsoll Line, a line painted on the side of a ship to show how low in the water she should sit when safely loaded. It’s an innovation that’s still used today. It has saved thousands of lives and spared seafarers the anxiety of being sent to sea in overloaded and unsafe vessels. Not to mention it also inspired our web team to produce a fun game based on the principles of safe loading. Read more…

Documenting a deck apprentice’s journey

4 February 2019 by Vicki Caren

bundles of letters in air mail envelopes

The Jim Fitt collection, before

Today’s guest blog post is by Brenda McCafferty, who completed a placement with us in January as part of her Masters in Archives and Records Management (MARM) degree:

“Recently I was fortunate to receive a placement in the Maritime Archives and Library in partial fulfilment and completion of my Masters of Archives degree program at the University of Liverpool.

My work placement involved arranging and describing a recent acquisition of letters and photographs received from Jim Fitt, detailing his early experiences at sea as an 18-19 year old deck apprentice with Shell Tankers Ltd, 1962-1963.  Read more…

A tale about a toboggan from the Archives!

29 January 2019 by Vicki Caren

document next to computer screen showing info on George Ashworth Cobham Jr

This guest blog comes to you from Helen Ritchie, a University of Liverpool student currently undertaking a Masters in Archives and Records Management (MARM). Helen has reflected upon her recent placement here at the Maritime Archive and Library, which included the discovery of an unexpected tale:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to complete a two-week volunteer placement at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

During my time at the Maritime, I have witnessed what it takes to be an archivist within a museum setting and the constraints that the sector often endures such as funding and space management.

The collection I was asked to catalogue belongs to the Bryson-Cobham family collection which includes a large number of personal and business correspondence relating to the Cobhams 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.