‘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:-


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.

Insurance – It is indeed a racket and probably always has been

I read a book not so long ago about Samuel Plimsoll (he of the Plimsoll Line on ships) called ‘The Plimsoll Sensation’ by Nicolette Jones. Within that book, which I heartily recommend, you read of the very worst aspects of insurance in that ship owners insured ships that were unfit to leave port knowing that they would be paid out if and more likely when their overloaded coffin ships were lost at sea. The lives of seafarers were not of importance but the insurance of the cargo carried by the overloaded ships was.

That it took so long to put a stop to unfit ships being sent to sea is a chapter of our history, as a seafaring nation, that shames us but it also highlights how insurance was manipulated for gain by the unscrupulous.

Modern-day insurance also has its scandals and probably the biggest is the one whereby a personal injury claim is made and paid out when a person travelling in a vehicle involved in an accident has probably not been hurt at all. These are the infamous whiplash claims that we all get phone calls about from claims specialist companies who want us to make a claim so that they can make a few bob by helping us get a payout.

Here’s an example – A very, very minor incident of little consequence involving a reversing manoeuvre where one car bumped into another parked car travelling at walking pace or less. The cars were hardly damaged one needing just a bumper respray and all was well again. Yet the number of telephone calls the driver of that car has had since (and is still getting I understand!) begging them to make a claim has been utterly ridiculous. The police were not involved, no injuries, no witnesses, hardly an event at all. A quiet hello, sorry and exchange of insurance information. So who gave the ‘accident’ information to the many claims companies who have been relentlessly calling? Some of those calls have even been to a mobile phone number not even given out during the incident.

But then some weeks later the driver, who had admitted responsibility for the minor bump, was told that the people sat in the parked car that they had rolled into had made personal injury claims! Surely a joke, how on earth could anyone have been injured, it made no sense.

Moving on the insurance company then asked the same driver if they would be willing to help them fight the claim and if necessary go to court to give evidence. The driver agreed and thought a positive and robust defence of the frankly ridiculous claim would be the outcome with the personal injury claims being thrown out. Sadly no, it all came to nothing and you may not be at all surprised to hear that a payout for personal injury was actually made.

But, and here’s the rub, the driver was told by a legal representative working for the insurance company that they had decided not to defend the claim in the end because the occupants of the car bumped into said they could detect movement and that, believe it or not, seems to be the test for a payout! Goodness me someone slamming a car door can create movement which a person sat in the same car can detect, so does that qualify for a payout too!?

So as far as I can see if you make a personal injury claim following a vehicle accident and are willing to say you could detect movement you are almost bound to get a payout! No wonder insurance premiums are through the roof. Car insurance sadly really is a racket and maybe only fools say they were not injured when they were not in fact injured.

Forgive me but has insurance moved on much since the days of the coffin ships?

Plimsoll – The man, the MP and the line

Via Jen Robertson’s research I have become aware of the man behind the famous Plimsoll Line on ships.

He was clearly a fascinating chap and no ordinary campaigner, indeed he was an extraordinary campaigner for the rights of seafarers. The line on ships was indeed the result of his campaigning against the overloading of ships which led to them capsizing. Wikipedia has this to say about him:-


It’s interesting to learn that Plimsoll shoes were so named because of the line around them, not because Samuel invented them, which of course he didn’t.

But one aspect of his time in public life, probably more than anything else, singled him out as being a Liberal to his core. The story comes from a book The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea by Nicolette Jones

Charles Bradlaugh was an MP who fell foul of Parliament because of his lack of religious beliefs. Elected for Northampton in 1880, he was banished from the House of Commons because he would not say ‘So help me God’. Plimsoll was a very religious man but never the less he wrote to Bradlaugh and The Times newspaper backing the banished MP.