‘Life on Board’ Exhibition at Mersey Maritime Museum

Yesterday we went to have a look at this new exhibition which has recently been put tpgether by curators at Merseyside Maritime Museum. I say recently but it should have opened back in March however a certain lockdown stopped that happening. But with the relaxation of Covid 19 rules the exhibition indeed the Museum itself is now open for public viewing again, although it’s wise to pre-book your visit. It’s all free I might add.

‘Life on Board’ is a look into the lives of both crew and passengers of merchant ships and passenger vessels and it tells a story, indeed many individual stories, via the people who experienced work and travel by ship over many decades.

Now having been shown around this new exhibition by our daughter (one of the team behind it) means that my view of it must be biased; that said both Sheila and I really did find it fascinating and well worth the visit. What’s more, clearly great thought has been given into trying to keep visitors and staff safe during this awful pandemic.

I’m no maritime historian so the best way I can illustrate the exhibition is via the photos I took while at it. So here goes:-

There’s quite a bit about the loss of this ship including video interviews. So sad but the families got to the truth in the end thankfully.

The medal above was interesting to see as I’d blogged about Samuel Plimsoll a while back – Here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/06/21/plimsoll-the-man-the-mp-and-the-line/

I picked this shot of a Harrison Line poster due to it’s connection with my former home town of Maghull – Historic England says – Harrison Home [at the junction of Sefton Ln & L’pool Rd Sth] was named after Frederic Harrison, the President of the [Maghull] Homes in 1902 who operated a shipping line out of Liverpool. The home was constructed by Brown and Backhouse at a cost of £5421 and opened in June 1902.

To add to the photo above my Mum worked at the Harrison Home in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and I recall going into the building (which is Listed) at the time and thinking how beautiful it was and indeed still is. The Maghull Homes, as it was then known, was an epileptic colony and this was one of their buildings, it’s now known as the Parkhaven Trust.

I took a lot more photos as the exhibition covers many shipping issues and matters but the ones I’ve picked for this review are those which particularly interested me. Of course, other aspects will be of greater interest to others so if this review has piqued your interest it’s best to go see the the exstensive collection for yourself – I’m sure you’ll not be disappointed.

Please click on the photos above to enlarge them.

Liverpool & The Mersey – Cruising the Cut

Liverpool Waterfront Panorama

My good friend Andrew Blackburn has a bit of a thing about vlogs entitled ‘Cruising the Cut’ of which there are a great many. He showed me a few some time ago and you know there’s something mesmerising about them and I’ve now watched quite a few myself, although I’m told that therapy may help:-)

The reason I’m blogging about this is that in October 2019 the vloger, former TV presenter David Johns*, came to Liverpool to experience crossing the Mersey estuary in a narrow boat. And here’s his vlog of the experience which sits with his many other vlogs on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v9wASAnIvY

Museum of Liverpool and Link from the docks to the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

I hope you enjoy this vlogger’s take on Liverpool & the Mersey and you never know you may even get hooked on Cruising the Cut!

* He used to work as a local TV news reporter for ITV in the south east of England. After 13 years of doing this and working in radio, he decided to chuck it all in and buy a narrowboat to cruise around the canals on.

David even does his own merchandise and yes I bought one of these mugs for Andrew.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Merseyside Maritime Museum – A woman navigating a STEM* career in the 18th century

History is a overwhelmingly male thing and women rarely get much of a mention so it’s interesting and informative when someone digs into our history to find out how a woman, working in Liverpool, was helping sailors to navigate at sea in the 18th Century.

The story is on Jen’s Blog on the National Museums Liverpool (NML) – Merseyside Maritime Museum web page which is linked below:-

blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2018/08/a-woman-navigating-a-stem-career-in-the-18th-century/

I hope you’ll agree that Jen’s investigations into the life and works of Ann Smith helps to redress the balance and bring to the surface the enterprising and important works which Ann was a very big part of.

*STEM – Yes I had to scratch my head over that too. It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics as Jen explains in her blog posting.

Jen is my daughter I should add

Liverpool/Birkenhead – It’s railways in and around the Ports are all but ignored

A Mersey Docks & Harbour Board ‘Pug’ steam engine in OO scale.

Liverpool is famous the world over for many things and it celebrates the vast majority of them but one thing that seems to be all but ignored is the huge network of railways which once served the ports of Liverpool and indeed Birkenhead.

The other day, quite by chance, I came across this link (see below) to Bristol Museums:-

www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/whats-on/train-rides/

Clearly in Bristol its port railways are being celebrated with a real railway run by the local museum.

Surely as the powers that be look for new attractions to celebrate the history of Liverpool and Birkenhead (and to
bring more visitors into the area) they can seriously look at following the Bristol model, can’t they?

Liverpool North Dock (LMS) 20th August 1926. A Simplex loco is on the left.

National Museums Liverpool already have a lovely 0-6-0 Mersey Docks and Habour Board dock steam loco in storage. It used to be on display but was sidelined when the new Museum of Liverpool was built. Having said that the thrust of this posting is not about just taking that old loco out of storage and displaying it (much as that would be a welcome bit of progress), it’s about trying to replicate something along the lines of what Bristol have managed to do on one or other side of the Mersey.

I have blogged on this subject previously – back in 2014 -, see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/10/02/albert-dockmerseyside-maritime-museum-liverpool-whats-missing/

And here are a couple of links to You Tube videos about the Bristol Harbour railway:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n1qeulrvXk

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTpjqfS-58k

Here’s hoping a penny will drop somewhere one day.

Refugees Travelling Dangerously – A guest posting from Jen Robertson

Today I met with a child refugee. John was just 7 years old when his parents entrusted the lives of him and his 12 year old brother to a ship they knew might never reach it’s destination. It did not. He was one of a handful of survivors that did not include his brother. John is not from Syria though, he’s from Southall in London and he’s now in his mid-eighties. He was one of more than 2,000 British children evacuated overseas during World War Two under the CORB (Children’s Overseas Reception Board) scheme. The idea behind the scheme was to send children who could not afford private passage to foster homes in Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand where they would be safe from bombing and the threat of invasion. Their parents were not able to go with them.

city-of-benares-ship-at-sea

I spent several months earlier this year researching a ship involved in the transport of these CORB children. The City of Benares was sunk by a U-boat in the Atlantic more than 600 miles from land 75 years ago today. There were 90 evacuee children on board, John was one of only 13 of them to survive.

I have seen comments lately calling into question how parents of children amongst the Syrian refugees could do something so seemingly reprehensible as putting their children on a boat they know may be unsound. I would imagine for exactly the same reason parents flocked to the CORB scheme, fear and desperation, having had to weigh terrible options and work out what you think will give your child the best chance of survival and a better life. British parents 75 years ago were making a similar decision.

The CORB children weren’t called refugees, they were known as Seavacs but though the terminology is different the facts are the same, children fleeing overseas in dangerous conditions to escape a war zone. Only then the nations they were fleeing to had opened their arms and literally their homes to them. More than one person has commented to me over the last couple of weeks how particularly poignant the City of Benares tragedy seems in light of current events. Perhaps 75 years on it may serve to remind us that refugees are not an invading force, they are people like us, and that this is not just something that happens to other people in far-flung parts of the world.

For anyone interested in reading more about the City of Benares the Merseyside Maritime Museum has a brand new online exhibition.

www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/collections/city-of-benares/

Mauretania – Not coming home to Liverpool

Sadly, I have just received this message via e-mail having given a small donation to try to assist Merseyside Maritime Museum in their bid to acquire a shipbuilder’s model of this famous Liverpool Liner at auction.

image001

Mauretania Auction update

Many thanks once again for your recent gift towards our appeal to bring the Mauretania home to Liverpool.

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our bid.

Here is a quote from Janet Dugdale, Director of Merseyside Maritime Museum:

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s outcome. Our intention was to bring the Mauretania home to Liverpool, at a critical time in the city’s maritime history. It is sad that we cannot do this. However, I would like to thank every single person who contributed. The donations raised were fantastic and will be used to improve the Merseyside Maritime Museum and its collections”.